Author Topic: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty ("Complete")  (Read 84964 times)

Offline Trident

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 60, 6/22)
« Reply #275 on: June 24, 2014, 10:02:42 AM »
Veggie burrito!

Bronson, shhh. Heph's crazy is part of the complete Waverly breakfast.

Offline Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 60, 6/22)
« Reply #276 on: June 25, 2014, 04:07:36 PM »
Responding now because shooting things in Roaring Heights takes forever. Not because of any performance issues (the town performs very well, for anyone curious), but because set design and story polishing for the "framework story" is a slow-going task. ::)

lol!  Welcome little Tegan!  Poor Hephaestus (you have no idea how hard a time I have in remember how to spell his name XD), dealing with an overprotective daddy who's in the military lol.  Little does Bronson know...

I've gotten used to typing his name out, between playing him and properly describing my memories on the official site. Don't worry about how complicated names will get; there is only one more that is possibly more complicated than Hephaestus, and it's because it's a two-part name.

Simnation strikes me as the most neutral country around, so Bronson has to fight his battles outside of work. No smelly men will touch his little peapod.

Bronson is in overprotective daddy mode. Heaven help anyone who so much as looks at his little peapod the wrong way. Be afraid, Heph...be very afraid.

That last little bit from Annette's perspective...a bit of foreshadowing if ever I've seen it. ;)

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Bronson might be in overprotective daddy mode, but with that bit of foreshadowing, he has to go through Annette too. It will be a beautiful battle. :P

I've really been enjoying these chapters. Lily is a gorgeous young adult, and Heph is such a vibrant character. It's good to see the arrival of Tegan and a lightening of the atmosphere - I can't wait to see the foreshadowed relationship between her and said vibrant character...

Thank you! As with many relationships in the story, their possible relationship was a lot more complicated than it needed to be.

Veggie burrito!

Bronson, shhh. Heph's crazy is part of the complete Waverly breakfast.

Lettuce wrap! That might work well because it has a green exterior.

And Bronson's meanness is too. They need to have a truce.



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Offline hazelnut

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 60, 6/22)
« Reply #277 on: June 26, 2014, 04:03:35 PM »
Just caught up again.  Random comments:
  • I love the 'Gage Briody' explanation for the clone faces.
  • Also, Julian's skull-patterned jumper was awesome  :).
  • I initially thought Hephaestus was going to be a ghost hunter but I'd guess not in view of his artistic tendencies.

Offline AkonIsAwesome

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 60, 6/22)
« Reply #278 on: June 28, 2014, 10:06:22 AM »
Took me long enough, but I've finally caught up. I love the Waverlys, they are all so unique in both appearance and personality! It must have taken a lot of work to make sure all those original townie genes stuck around for so long!

Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 60, 6/22)
« Reply #279 on: June 28, 2014, 10:29:14 AM »
I'm still in the process of playing catch-up and really enjoying doing so but I thought I need to post a comment because I'm not getting my notifications... I don't want to miss a single bit!
because... Math *Pippin The Most Tenacious Simmer*

Only 2 things are infinite... The universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the universe. *Albert Einstein*

Don't believe all the quotes that have been attributed to me. *Albert Einstein*

I can't ignore ALL of the voices in my head - Some of them actually make sense! *Blayzen*

Offline Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 61, 6/29)
« Reply #280 on: June 29, 2014, 10:31:53 PM »
A little late. There was a recent tragedy in my family. My mum's cousin lost her battle with cancer, so while I haven't been grieving much because I didn't know her well, it's really affected my mum, so I had to lend her a supporting hand, and go halfway across the state for the funeral.

I know you guys understand. Keep the cousin's family in your thoughts and prayers. It's a very rough time for them.



Just caught up again.  Random comments:
  • I love the 'Gage Briody' explanation for the clone faces.
  • Also, Julian's skull-patterned jumper was awesome  :).
  • I initially thought Hephaestus was going to be a ghost hunter but I'd guess not in view of his artistic tendencies.

I loved Julian's sweater. I think the skulls are a side-effect of that Rotter blood.

His obsession with ghosts actually foreshadows in a different way. But yeah, he had no time to do much other than sculpt. I wanted to squeeze that mortal talent for all it was worth.

Took me long enough, but I've finally caught up. I love the Waverlys, they are all so unique in both appearance and personality! It must have taken a lot of work to make sure all those original townie genes stuck around for so long!

It took a lot of planning indeed! Like, my notes for my classes were peppered with plans to keep one line afloat and when to merge another with the family. But it was more than worth it for the end result; I really can't wait to show off all of my immortals!

I'm still in the process of playing catch-up and really enjoying doing so but I thought I need to post a comment because I'm not getting my notifications... I don't want to miss a single bit!

Good luck with catching up!



Chapter 61: Binding Bridge



After the initial shock of the arrest passed, I had the time to find my place again. I am here, at 38 Palm Tree Avenue, Roaring Heights, with a roommate that fills me with my favorite word: ambivalence. My suitcase sits under the bed, half-unpacked, and my progress in finding any answers about Annette has barely begun. Eileen? She’s still waiting to be picked at for clues, or she is a sharp-toothed red herring caught on my fishing line.

Things are slow as molasses, but I have Agnes, right? I have her hopeless romanticism and I can’t leave that on the roadside, tied up in a cardboard box.



As I said, she is an endless spring of ambivalence. In my embrace, Agnes is my perfect feminine prize, from her nipped-in waist to her scarlet lipstick, not to mention that she saved me from both continued police troubles (I hope!).



I thank her for those things.



But give me a few hours, and I’m slipping out the door, holding my shoes in my hand and tip-toeing outside barefoot, as not to create a sound. The bad side of ambivalence guides me around Roaring Heights, to the best views of the sunrises and sunsets. The hues of sand dunes and cherry blossoms are quite lovely, but if that is all I’m here for, then why am I here? True to its name, Sunset Valley has its own beauty when the sun lowers in the sky.

I’m as directionless as my strolls around the city with this project of mine. So little progress.

At home, I still have my suitcase under the bed, with pairs of lacy underwear and backup jackets neatly folded and packed in the edges. Shampoo and soaps in the pockets of the suitcase, and one small, hard, rectangular object pressed up against a bottle of peppermint foot lotion.

Why? It’s my flash drive, with its 32GB of storage taken up by folders of short stories, poetry, and romantic vignettes full of lesbians and crude, dark humor. Text takes up little space, but the official PDFs of Eight Ways do, with each chapter and its pictures organized onto a page for easy printing and pressing. Now, I don’t travel without my flash drive, but it made sense for the leisure trip I took to Isla Paradiso last year, where there were plenty of computers to plug that little stick into. I’m out of luck here.

“Odd thing to bring,” Agnes says, as she passes by with a bag of dirty laundry, “I gotta commend you on that Arthur guy. I’m cringing at the cost, but my stuff hasn’t smelled cleaner.”

“Yeah, force of habit.” I put the drive back in the suitcase and zip up that pocket. Hopefully none of my shampoo leaks out and damages it.

After my undergarments are in the right drawers, I cross one thing off my mental checklist. Suitcase is emptier. I also forgot to pay Eileen for her services. While she hasn’t given me a reminder call or sent some criminal henchperson to kick me to the ground until I sign the check, it has been a few days, maybe a week by now. She’s a nice person, with mortgages to pay and grocery bills, and bobby pins to buy for all of that dark hair.

She handed me her business card when we last met: Eileen Stone, Attorney at Law. 53 Sunburst Street. 555-555-1666. Explains itself well enough.

“This is her secretary speaking.” The voice on the other end is more than youthful, so high-pitched and non-resonant, it most certainly does not belong to her secretary. Eileen has her own little munchkin, likely a daughter.

“You think this is funny?” I ask, “Where’s your mother?”

“She’s out.”

“Can you take a message? I want to know a good time to drop off a check. She did some very good things for me.”

Some wrangling on the other end. “You’ve had your fun, Bridge,” Eileen says in the distance, in her distinctly chipper voice, “Eileen Stone. Please disregard my niece.”

Niece. Okay. Things are a little different.

“Hey, it’s Josephine,” I say, “From the other night. I can give you that check. What’s your rate?”

“You dragged me out of bed at some ungodly hour, so I’m amping this up. It’s 500 ‘moleons.”

“Fine, fine,” I mutter, “Should I drop that off at your office?”

“Sounds like a plan. I’m there right now. Oh, and you checked the back of the card, right?” I didn’t.

“It has the info you need to write a check to me. See ya then,” she hangs up the phone with a click.

Pay all checks to the order of Eileen Stoneham.

Well, that’s fitting for what I last read. I don’t care if this new “Stoneham” created another question or several; if she can sit still for some late-night herbal tea or a nightcap and listen to a few questions, maybe I won’t stagnate after this, and I can justify my long, lonely walks on a beach away from my beachside home.



And what lies inside that house? Is she leading me somewhere personal for a reason, or did I just end up with a lawyer who loves the comfort of her abode?



What I can instantly infer without question is that Eileen will not answer the door. I knock, feigning oblivion to the girl behind the glass. I then swallow a wad of saliva in nervousness, right after catching a glimpse of her dark eyes, the steel-blue skin, the blonde hair. I’m used to sims of all colors, but someone I used to know looked like that.



Superficially, anyways.



She opens the door with a smile and a wave. “Here to see my aunt?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say, flatly. That coloring can probably sense my fear if I say something else, whether trapped in an eight-year-old or a forty-eight-year-old.

“She’s down the hall.”

The whole foyer is dark, but there is an office door slightly-ajar at the end of the corridor, with the glow of a table lamp exiting it. I walk, making sure to stamp my heels firmly on the ground, in case Eileen hasn’t noticed me yet.



When I set my rear down in the plush seat in front of her desk, I’m greeted by her legs and the dusty bottoms of her pumps. I have a feeling that Eileen can’t sit in the normal way.



“Look, Ms. Stone, I’m not a police officer,” I say.

“Yeah, but Arthur says that you’re into the ladies,” she says, “No, you described yourself more pretentiously. You’re a sapphist! You transcend the normal adjectives and propel yourself straight into a whole new tank of pompousness. But you like women, and I thought that I’d play along and provide a nice view, and maybe get another 10 added to my check.”

“You have nice legs, but I don't need the bribery.”

“Good. I’m not one of your kind, in that sense. I see that we can pierce the necks of our enemies with one swift bite, though.” She grins cheekily, bearing those sharp canines.

“How unusual,” I mutter, “Anyways, I have the check.”

“Ah, lovely, and I’m expecting a lot more business from you, Waverly.”

“What, you think that I can’t learn your weird laws?”



“No, you’re an unusual case, Jo,” she says, “I might have been able to save your butt the last time, but I have one man with his finger on the pulse of all of Simnation, and he found a few things about your family.”



Okay, stay calm, Jo. You’re clean. You’ve been clean since your odd mid-life crisis graffiti phase. It’s just your dad that might be toast, and that’s just fine with you, Jo.

“I’m, I’m quite baffled,” I stutter, “I’m clean as they come!”

“Yes you are! But you’re an odd woman, Waverly. That surname packs a lot of punch in these parts, but I looked through all of your connections, and you’re not the kind of Waverly I’m familiar with. Not that some of your kin haven’t been wrongdoers. It’s in the arrest records.”

She pushes the papers across the desk. Police reports. Court orders.

Philip Athol Waverly.
14/9/59
Conspiracy to sell weapons.
90 days jail + one year probation.


Philip Athol Waverly
1/2/60
Breaking Probation Rules (removal of ankle tracker)
1,000 Simoleon fine


Franco Revere Waverly
25/3/61
Larceny
Charges dropped


“Know them?” Eileen asks.



“I…I have no obligation to answer you.” I divert my eyes away from her and clench my mouth shut, pursing my lips together lest they let out that dreaded one syllable word: yes.

“You don’t, but I’m not the police either. I’m sworn to confidentiality, and I’m far less immoral than you think. If that eases your nerves, open up.”

“Sure,” I say, defeated. “They’re both close relatives of mine. I mean, I don’t share the best relationship with them, but they’re my kin.”

“And that’s fine. I have family that does awful things too, and I’m not going to ask questions or try to get cuffs around their wrists. But if you’re lugging that reputation around on your shoulders, be careful. Someone’s gonna use it against you, and my protection is pretty limited.”

“So what good are you?” I ask, almost sarcastically.

“I’m good in the court, but if some thug tries to beat you up because your dear Philip wronged them, I’m useless. That’s not to say that I know a guy or two.” She slides a business card across the table. Magpie Security. Call 555-555-1420. No office!.

“Are you trying to sell me something?” I ask.

“In a way. I mean, Magpie is run by someone close to me, but you’d probably need them even if they were my worst enemy. Someone’s out there for you, and you seem on your toes all the time, but you’re a defenseless insect in the grand scheme of things.”

“I’ll have nightmares about it tonight.” I almost say good night to her, until I blurt out a bigger question. “So…Stoneham?”

“It’s my last name. ‘Better Phone Stoneham’ doesn’t roll off the tongue, now does it? Chop off the last syllable, and I have a winning slogan,” she says.

“I know. I watched Breaking Bad too.”

“Well, you’re one of the few in the city who gets the joke. Is that all?”



“It’s just kind of odd,” I say, but I lean forward. I can get a clue from her if I’m lucky. “I just happened to know a Stoneham back in my day.”

“It’s a town up north,” Eileen said, “It was my dad’s last name too.”

“Well, it was my grandmother’s middle name. I always thought it was a strange choice. Tegan Stoneham Waverly.”

“Um, what?” Eileen asks, abruptly, “Are you trying to fool with me?”

“What, you knew a Tegan?”

“Tegan Stoneham. My mum,” she said, shaking, “How do you know this?”

“I didn’t name her.”

“You’re a strange woman, Waverly.”



“You know, I am,” I say, gesturing, “I’m from a different time altogether. And my grandmother was Tegan Stoneham Waverly.”



Her face goes cold. “Get out,” she says, whispering, “Get out of my office.”

“Eileen-” I say.

“Look, the more I learn about you, the less I want to learn. I don’t know why you’re here, and I don’t know what this strange thing that connects us is, but I know that I can’t talk with you on these terms.”

“Okay,” I say, “Okay.” I slowly step out of the office and into the dark hallway.

“Still confidential?” I ask from across the hall.

“Sworn to it. Also, this is an extra hundred. Mail that check, will ya?”

And so I’m flung into the darkness again, but on the hunt for a Tegan Stoneham. And whatever thick tie binds me to that lawyer, from her teeth to those fabulous legs.



It explains little Bridge just a little bit better.



Word Count for this chapter: 1,980
Word Count so far: 99,567

"The Magpie" was named long before you commented on the thread, Magpie2012. Sorry. :P

Offline Shewolf13

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 61, 6/29)
« Reply #281 on: June 29, 2014, 10:54:21 PM »
My sincere condolences for you and your family Trip.  You guys are in my thoughts.

The plot thickens!  Very nice!  I'm really anxious to see how this plays out!




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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 61, 6/29)
« Reply #282 on: June 29, 2014, 11:23:27 PM »
Hugs to you and your family, Trip. That's seriously rough stuff. :(

That was an interesting plot twist. There is more to this backstory than meets the eye!

Offline Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 62, 7/1)
« Reply #283 on: July 01, 2014, 07:41:46 PM »
In general: thanks for the condolences about the death. We're learning to accept it. :)

My sincere condolences for you and your family Trip.  You guys are in my thoughts.

The plot thickens!  Very nice!  I'm really anxious to see how this plays out!



The plans for the plot love to change, but I have a feeling of how the end product will be and I can't wait to reveal things either!

Hugs to you and your family, Trip. That's seriously rough stuff. :(

That was an interesting plot twist. There is more to this backstory than meets the eye!

The backstory has had a lot of time to marinate, so things get complicated. Just the way I love it. ;)

Such an intriguing update, I can never guess where this story is going and that's one of the most enjoyable parts about it.

P.S. Condolences to your mom and her cousin's loved ones.  :(

Thank you! I love a good twist.



Chapter 62: You’re Old



Lily woke up at seven in the morning one autumn day, while Bronson was across town and deep into his workflow. However, the sheets to her right, where Bronson usually slept, felt warm instead. She bumped into another body as she rolled over.

Annette relaxed on the side of the bed, dressed in her short nightshirt. She didn’t flinch when Lily rolled into her, nor when she recoiled back in disgust at the thought of her grandmother in bed with her.

“Gram, can we save this for breakfast?” Lily asked, rubbing one eye.

“I thought that I’d let you wake up to something nice,” she said, handing Lily a card that she kept down the front of her shirt, “It comes from the heart. Happy birthday, flower.”

Once Annette exited the room and the smell of maple bacon sizzling reached the second floor, Lily opened her card. The message of “You’re Old!” and a handful of silver glitter fell out, with the latter sticking to the bedsheets. Wonderful, a reminder that Lily would finally be able to compare wrinkles with Bronson. Even being an elder would be better; the birthdays and aging stopped then.

She crept downstairs to Franco obsessively cooing over Tegan, giving baby talk to her and getting gurgles and giggles in return. Once Lily got to the counter and got her plate of bacon, she asked Annette, “Who died this time?”

“Your uncle Mark. I mean, I was never close with him, but Franco was bawling his eyes out at two in the morning when he got the call.”

“Oh god, that’s rough,” Lily said, facing her breakfast, “We’ll leave him alone until tonight.”

The newspaper reported a string of deaths leading up to that. The two Parkers in town died on the same night, so Franco cried and then forced Lily and Bronson out the door for a movie and dinner date on him, while he spent hours leaned over the crib reading to Tegan. Ben Kindle, his annoying brother-in-law, bit the dust, and he still didn’t let Lily feed Tegan one morning, defensively holding the nooboo up against his chest. Emerald passed away just a week before, and Franco took Tegan in his arms to the art museum, because he claimed that he needed the company and no women in town were biting.

“You know, it’s her birthday tomorrow,” Lily said, “I hope that toddlers will still keep him happy. I don’t like him moping around.”

“I mean, you can back out of this dynasty,” Annette said, “I don’t think you’ll change that about him.”

“True,” Lily said, dragging out her vowels, “I don’t think he sees the end result of this dynasty. I’m sticking with it for the end.”

“It will be euphoric,” Annette said, “Euphoric. Of course I’d like to see Bill again. But first, you gotta get old, girl! I have the cake ready. You’ll still be able to rock skimpy things if you believe in yourself anyways.”



Lily would enjoy her bikini for her last moments of young adulthood anyways, that night. The sitter seemed halfway-reputable, and the entire family minus Bronson was there, but on the ground level in the hot tub. Work called for Bronson again. Lily blew out her candles with only the mixologist watching her from behind, and the Jones-Brown brothers ascending the stairs.

“Good, someone’s here,” she muttered, before remembering that Annette baked her German chocolate cake underneath the frosting. She had to cheer for that.



“What’s under there?” Loki asked as he finally got close enough to celebrate. He pointed at the cake.

“German chocolate! Ain’t that great?!” Lily cheered, “Come on, cheer with me!”

“Ha! You think that poor excuse for chocolate cake is worth eating,” Loki said, laughing.



“Oh my god, Loki,” Tristan said, “You can’t just laugh at her cake!” After giving his older brother the side-eye, Tris then got out a noisemaker for one last horn-blow before every sparkle fell and Lily’s skin sagged and aged into full adulthood.



As it turned out, getting old was a big overstatement and little changed. Lily changed her look, sure, but every single strand her hair retained its ink-black color, and the new bangs hid her forehead wrinkles. As for the clothes, perhaps she had to admit that she was a mature, confident mother who covered her legs with slim-fitted jeans.

She still walked down to the ground floor in the same bikini, though, and climbed into the empty seat in the hot tub next to Julian, the only non-family member soaking up the chlorine.

“You know, a pool party in autumn was a pretty stupid idea,” Annette said, as she lowered her shoulders into a jet stream of hot water, “Can we have Tegan and Heph’s party at the house, or better yet, at the bar?”

“Both of those are tomorrow, and I’m partied out,” Lily said, “Heck, we could get some cakes out of the freezer when we get home. It’s pretty close to midnight right now. Sounds good, Heph?” He nodded.



And so the plan was made.



As Lily lowered Tegan towards her birthday cake, Bronson walked in the door, prompting his wife to smile. “Nice that you could make it,” she said.

But he instead burst into laughter after Lily put Tegan on the floor.



“Oh man, I think we’re matched!” he said, “With those wrinkles and stuff.”

“Remind me to kill you later,” she muttered, in the haze of a slight mid-life crisis.



She forgot about that comment quickly. They replaced the candles on Tegan’s cake with enough for the new, grown-up Hephestus and cheered for him as if Bronson actually had an appropriate response in him.



Which, for Hephaestus, he still didn’t.



“Wait, that squirmer?” he asked, his face half-frozen in birthday magic, “Is that Tegan? She’s adorable!”



After grandpa Franco did his job and picked out a multitude of blue and white rompers for his little grandnooboo, Tegan was indeed adorable, with wispy black hair and precious brown eyes like her mother, a big mouth and a snub-nose like her father, and skin the color of split-pea soup from the genetic slurry she sprung from.

“You got a well-behaved peapod there,” Franco told Lily, “I can always take her off your hands.”

“Did Robert Castor just die?” Lily asked.

“Got the call as soon as we got home. It’s a darn shame—Heph, I think it’s time for a change.” The blond young man stood at the entrance of the walk-in closet downstairs, with his hair still past his shoulder blades, a full beard thanks to birthday magic and hormones, and his kutte vest and t-shirt far too short for his lanky, six-foot frame.

“Change what?” he asked, “I don’t have that pathetic little moustache, and I can still get some wear out of this kilt. I’m free and fine.”

“Just get a haircut,” Franco said, pleading.

“Stop cutting yours and we might see eye-to-eye! They’re like whiskers on a cat when they get long enough, except ghosts like tugging at them.”

“That little peapod tugs at my hair enough when it’s short, thank you,” Franco said, “Let’s just get a new vest, okay? Kutte-style?”

“I think I’ve outgrown it. I’m not metalhead material, now that I think of it.”

“So we can cut the hair?”

“Nope.”



While every inch of straight blond hair still grew from Hephaestus’ head, and his kilt was still made a size too big and tied to his waist by a belt, Hephaestus and Franco quickly agreed on a new vest, with dyed hemp necklaces, fingerless gloves, and enough studs to make every metal detector in Twinbrook go frantic.



All the while, Tegan adjusted to her free legs and the feeling of clothing within ten minutes, and stood up wobbling while building small towers with blocks. She opened her mouth in a big smile, revealing a set of sharp canines to rival her grandma Bunny’s. As Hephaestus approached her block table, her smile turned into laughter. Tegan cooperated with the tall man, letting him scoop her up without a fuss. She didn’t even pull at the hair falling down his shoulders.

“Hey there, snugglebug. Peapod. Tegan,” he said, unsure, “How about that thing in the corner, huh?” He pointed towards an empty spot in the living room. “Someone wants Bronson to turn that Demilich-noise off. I like it, but, but, but it’s bothering someone out there and they won’t leave me alone over it.”

She looked up at him with her big, chocolate brown eyes.

“Oh, we’ll have to teach you how to talk, I guess. How about a tickle instead?”



Hephaestus put up his hand, fingers arched for a tickle, while little Tegan giggled in his arms.



She leaned back with hard laughter after Hephaestus tickled her tummy.

“You’re a darling little thing,” he said.



Tegan had a very long career of being everyone’s darling, from her pleasant clothes the color of cobalt dye and unglazed porcelain and spring-green skin, to her big smile and frequent donations to charity (well, later in life for that one). She kept her heart and morals through the worst.



She had a lot of practice with that, for sure.



Word Count for this chapter: 1,534
Word Count so far: 101,101

Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 62, 7/1)
« Reply #284 on: July 01, 2014, 07:58:10 PM »
Ack, no! Bronson! <whimper> No...Tegan can't lose her daddy that early! That's just not right. :(

Ahem...regaining composure...

Normally I'm not a fan of full beards, but Heph seems to make it work. I love that line about the metal detectors going haywire. :P And Tegan is a doll! I love how the porcelain color pattern of her clothing works with her skin.

Offline Lisa46

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 62, 7/1)
« Reply #285 on: July 01, 2014, 08:06:55 PM »
Oh no! Not Bronson!

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 62, 7/1)
« Reply #286 on: July 01, 2014, 10:33:39 PM »
Wait, no!  It CAN'T be!  Please tell me he has the unlucky trait... please?  Don't make me beg...

Offline ombradellarosa

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 62, 7/1)
« Reply #287 on: July 04, 2014, 11:01:58 AM »
Are you joking? He can't die already! He's much too young! We're meant to have him for many years yet! Why? I know this one's not your fault or anything, but Bronson has been my favourite spouse yet and he and Lily were so happy, and he's so young. It's not right   :'(
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By intl_incident                                                      By samoht04


Offline Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #289 on: July 05, 2014, 03:12:05 PM »
No responses today.

Sometimes, authors do evil things. This is my token evil thing: I’m leaving you hanging on Bronson’s fate for a bit. I’ll respond to your comments when I get to that chapter.

Heh.



Chapter 63: Bugged



The phone rings, and I remember my place in Eight Ways to answer it.

“Just a reminder that the rent is due next week.” It’s the landlord.



“Didn’t forget.” And I almost hang up the phone with a second thought, until a small, pitch-black patch peers out near the mouth piece.

Am I delusional? Regardless, I smash the phone against the wall. I smash it until the casing cracks and I can pry it open with my just-clipped fingernails. I claw it off and let the plastic dig up and pinch. I don’t care, because something has to be under there. I don’t see things. I’m neurotic, not insane.

Finally, I pry the bottom part of the phone off, and a small rectangular bar sits near the mouthpiece, entwined in the wires and with one blue, static LED light. I tear that out, wires and all, just when Agnes comes downstairs after hearing me violently take apart our phone.

“You’re gonna sit me down for a talk?” I ask.

“Precisely.”



We sit down on the couch, her a little taller than my by sitting on the armrest, me sitting on the cushion with my knees up and my head hanging in shame.

“I found something in the phone, okay?” I say, rubbing the back of my neck and looking towards the floor, “And it was actually there. A bug. We’ve been tracked.”

“That’s an odd thing to smash out phone over,” Agnes grumbled, “God, we have to replace that thing and spend all that money on rewiring it.”

“It’s my family. I mean, it probably is,” I say, “I…I ruffled their feathers quite a bit. It’s extreme, and it has me in shambles. I don’t know what to do with myself.” I sniffle for effect.

“Crying for pity?” she asks.

“Exactly. Mostly. Kind of.”

“It is pretty odd for a dynasty family to act like that. The worst I could call my family is kind of sour, and apparently I’ve married into a lot of nice families in different timelines.”

“Consider this the universe’s way of making your life hell.” She can back out. I don’t need to drag Agnes through this quagmire. She’s better off without me trying to be a partner yet staring down every female bosom I come across here in Roaring Heights. She’s better off without me leaving her behind to research whatever it is I’m trying to find.

“Your dad explained it to me when I met him,” she says, “You’re here on research, and I’m glad to be here for you. You’re making my life a heck of a lot less gloomy, for one.”



She takes me by the shoulders, begging. “Just don’t leave me, okay? I haven’t felt happy in a while, and without you, it’s still kind of glum. After losing him.”

It’s the risk she’s willing to take. And I do enjoy her arms around me while I sleep.



“Deal.”

As long as she doesn’t find Eight Ways and read the parts with my husband and I plus a mistress or two for me, I’m golden.

“So about that Jamie guy who tracked me down…” I continue.

“He’s up in the hills, in some old barn with one red light outside. Is it for the bug?”

“Exactly. I gotta be sure about these things and where they come from.”



As she said, his place is marked with one single red light, the only artificial light that sticks out after a kilometer on the dirt road. One single red light brings out a few details of the worn wooden siding and the well-trodden path to his door. The cherry trees lay barren, and not a single chicken sticks its head out from the old coop.

The door is unlocked. His sign says Jamie Butler: Data Open Upon Request, and a little bell rings when I push the door open. An air conditioner hums in the corner, and the whole floor is strewn with books and papers.



Jamie himself sits at his desk, facing the door and myself, with his hat at an angle and his eyes following me. His dark grey skin is almost invisible in the poorly-lit old barn, and if it wasn’t for the bright gold jacket, I would think that he was gone and that he left his door unlocked after going home for the night.



I plop down on the couch, with a slightly-collapsed cushion sinking heavily beneath me.

“I’ve heard about you,” he says, “One of Ei’s oddest clients yet. She had a lot to say about that nose of yours.”

“Everyone does,” I sigh. Stupid nose. “But this is unrelated to anything I’ve told her. I found a bug on my phone. Are you good with them?”

“As long as it has a serial, I’ll have something to say about it.”

I hand him the little black bug, a rectangular bar with a magnetic backing, and a nearly-illegible number engraved on the side. He puts it under his magnifying glass, with an extra light focused on its side, and it takes a whole minute to get a number out of him.



NOM2062629HS#361. I couldn’t tell you what NOM is even if you waved your whole paycheck in my face, but the rest is pretty self-explanatory. Made in 2062, shipped June 29th from Hidden Springs, number 361 of its model. Have some enemies up in the mountains?”

“You better believe it,” I say, “My...let’s just say some relative moved up there and she’s probably out for my blood. I’m used to it by now. She has a few projects under the NOM name, so I’m not surprised. How does she know I’m here?”

“Does she have someone to track you down with?” he asks.

“Yup.” My daughter holds that job, as far as I know she still does. She spent her trust fund early too, on a new server and a GPS system to take apart and analyze. She spent it on privileges to track every train and plane in Simnation and an office chair with good lower-back support to operate it all from. “It just saddens me to think that I have to live like that.”

“I will check the train records if you give me names.”

“I guess I’m not here for emotional support, am I?” I ask.



“That’s not my job,” he says sternly, “In fact I’m pretty apathetic to your worries…Jo, right?”



I instead bury my face into my palms. “It’s awful, Jamie. I’m here to just find out a little more about my family and it’s all in ruins if they, they are on my tail!.”

“Have any leads?” he asks.

“On the family?”

“Sure.”

“Just something about a Tegan Stoneham.”



He turns around, deep in thought, organizing his thoughts by wagging his finger in the air. “I knew her pretty well,” he says, “She was a lovely person. You know that she’s Ei’s mum, right?”

“She’s the one who told me. And she kicked me out of the office for it.”

“I mean, she passed away a long time ago. I don’t see why Eileen would get herself in a tizzy over mentioning Tegan.”

“It might be because I knew a Tegan. Stoneham was her middle name, and once the connection came around, I was suddenly some weird monster pulling her leg.”

“That’s downright bizarre,” he says, “You do look a bit like the other half of the twins. You don’t look a thing like Eileen, but you’re almost superficially Moira. Her twin. It’s just the skin, really.”

“Eileen is a rainbow kid?” It was a dominant trait in my family.

“Half and half. Think of it this way, she’s a copy of our Tegan, except for the tan skin. Now her twin, Moira, is the opposite. She has everything from her dad, except that’s she’s as blue and blueberry pancakes. Actually, now that Moira has come up, I think I can sell you on a service.”

“Is that all you guys do? Eileen wanted to sell me on this security option.”

“Exactly. And that security is run by Moira, just so you know. I think of Moira like a little sister, and if you have a bug on you, then those planting it can’t be far behind.”

“Fine,” I mutter. He keeps talking.



“Just remember, neutrality goes both ways.” I look to my left, through the arch and curtains and to the stone statue beyond them, with a crown of stone flowers and a veiled face. I step away from Jamie.

“I’m not on your side, I’m not on your family’s side, but I’ll eagerly serve anyone who pays.”



I instead approach the shrine, biting my nails. A little piece inscribed on the bottom gives context: Máire, give peace for the dysfunctional and warring and exiled.

“Oh, that?” Jamie says from the other room, “It’s an old-country thing. I kept it here for those who want it. Jo? Are you listening?”



I kneel down in half-adoration, half-despair.

“I will as easily share information with your enemies as I will with you. I’m not on your side. I won’t protect you. And it’s $50 for the train information. I'll get that to you soon.”

As the next morning dawns, I get wind of a party happening that night. It’s big and lavish and everything I thought I should avoid but shouldn’t. The juice runs free and the views of the hills from the host’s mansion are apparently the best in town, as they stretch for miles into the surrounding countryside.

There is still a cavity in the wall at home where the phone once was, and I need to call someone to fix it. Moira’s business card is tucked into the band of my bra, and there’s a payphone somewhere around here. There are quarters in my suitcase and jacket pockets once I dig for them. There’s a bodyguard out there for me, at whatever cost is worth keeping me safe and sane.

One quarter slips in. A 555 number for Moira. An instant response on the other end, sounding like the same little Bridge that answered Eileen’s phone.

“Mommy is busy at the moment,” she says.

“Is she?” I ask.

“That’s enough Bridge, you silly goose. Sorry ‘bout that. Magpie Security.”

“I think I need you,” I say, “24 Riverside Terrace, tonight. It’s a party.”

“Lucky for you, I had plans to go there anyways. So it’s free tonight,” Moira says, “I’ll see you by the bar. Any hints as to what you look like?”

“I wear a lot of red, have my hair in a messy bob, I’m kind of odd-colored.”

“Good. White shirt and blue skin for me too. I probably stick out like a sore thumb.”



So when Agnes and I walk up the steps, I’m slightly petrified, as opposed to non-functionally petrified.



I first check the bar, and Moira is late. The only person seated is a man with pink or peach skin, and the bartender fits the description only in that he does have a white shirt underneath his vest. I consider a drink until the piano starts. A white piano is situated on the deck, in a corner near the railing. At that point, Agnes has caught up to me. I told her about Moira, she has no directions. No Moira in sight yet.

“Keep your guard up,” she whispers, “I saw that Garcia officer in the foyer. I guess he has his guilty pleasures too.”

“Typical,” I sigh, “Feel like dancing?”



As long as the piano keeps going, she does.



For once, I danced with another person who I felt everything right towards, someone so feminine and gentle that my heart melts whenever I look into her eyes. Even as commitment looms over my head.



And the piano kept going for a good ten minutes, with the pianist concentrating. I doubt he saw me.



I grab a drink and head up the balcony for some coveted alone time. It’s fizzy and burning and everything I wanted in an illegal drink, though the cocktail menu is long and I need to try a little more. I almost turn around, drink in hand, until heavy, commanding footsteps resonate through the floor louder and louder.

I face the pianist.



His arms are crossed. “I know who you are,” he snarls, while I’m mid-sip, “And if you dig up anything more, I will snap you in half.”

“I don’t know who you are,” I say.

“Tank Engel.” He doesn’t uncross his arms for a handshake, “I work for the McGrails. They’re as against you as the police are, and you’re walking right into their net.”

I think I need another drink to process that. I’ve forgotten about Moira at this point.



However, she is at the bar. White shirt, blue skin, as she said. Brown pants, dark hair, big ears, hooked nose, as she omitted.

But as I get closer, the details come together.



Am I seeing things? Annette surely would have slain that doppelganger and salted the earth from which she could grow, or someone would have for her. But as I get closer, each little detail comes together. Moira is something more than my bodyguard. And my mouth is frozen out of fear of blurting out “Annette, I left you for a reason, get out!”



I take my seat at the bar like a normal patron.

“You called?” she asked. I don’t answer.

“You fit the description. The name’s Moira. I’d like yours now.” She turns towards the bartender. “I could use some more drinks. The night’s just started.”

Yep. That’s Annette and one thing never changed.



Word Count for this chapter: 2,272
Word Count so far: 103,373

Offline Lisa46

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #290 on: July 05, 2014, 03:42:03 PM »
That was really nicely written, Trip! I love the backstory of your characters.

Offline Shewolf13

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #291 on: July 05, 2014, 06:48:50 PM »
Oh my!  Cruel, Trip, so cruel!  But this was certainly an intriguing chapter!   Looking forward to more!

Offline Trident

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #292 on: July 06, 2014, 08:08:26 AM »
Oh Annette, you recognizable drunk person, you.

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #293 on: July 06, 2014, 01:04:18 PM »
Wow, this story just goes from one cliffhanger to another! That's one of the things I love about it. Now there are so many more things I can't wait to find out.


Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #295 on: July 06, 2014, 04:59:10 PM »
The backstory adds an all new dimension to it. It's almost like we're getting two stories in one, and that in itself is pure awesomeness. :)

That being said...darn you on the cliffhanger. :P

Offline ombradellarosa

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #296 on: July 06, 2014, 08:09:02 PM »
Torn. On the one hand, getting more information on the family, especially THIS information, is golden. On the other hand--Bronson!
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By intl_incident                                                      By samoht04

Offline Malley

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #297 on: July 06, 2014, 08:21:05 PM »
I just got caught up, Trip, and this is such a great story!  The backstory was great, but that cliffhanger...my goodness.  We all are waiting with bated breath  ;)

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 63, 7/5)
« Reply #298 on: July 07, 2014, 03:40:29 PM »
Ack! Bronson no! Trip you can't leave me like this! This cliffhanger is... one of the best cliffhangers! I can't wait to hear more!  ;D
People assume that time is a strict progression from cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.

-The Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who

Offline Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 64, 7/7)
« Reply #299 on: July 07, 2014, 11:31:05 PM »
So many replies! I better do these cliffhangers more often, actually. Evil pays. ;D

That was really nicely written, Trip! I love the backstory of your characters.

Thank you!

Oh my!  Cruel, Trip, so cruel!  But this was certainly an intriguing chapter!   Looking forward to more!

My cruelty fuels some pretty great things.

Oh Annette, you recognizable drunk person, you.

I couldn't change her much, could I? She's the type of character who actually works pretty well in a vintage world. Beautiful, timeless looks, but with a party-hard attitude that no era can wipe away. ;)

Wow, this story just goes from one cliffhanger to another! That's one of the things I love about it. Now there are so many more things I can't wait to find out.

Cliffhangers are some of my favorite things to write. Thanks!

Ooh, you token evil thing, you! :D

I'll keep at it! ;D

The backstory adds an all new dimension to it. It's almost like we're getting two stories in one, and that in itself is pure awesomeness. :)

That being said...darn you on the cliffhanger. :P

I wanted to frame the dynasty by having a character look back on it in retrospect, but I'm quite liking how my vision spiraled out of control. Thanks!

Torn. On the one hand, getting more information on the family, especially THIS information, is golden. On the other hand--Bronson!

Bronson's in limbo and only the continued comments of my readers (plus me using my time correctly for writing) can save him now. ;)

I just got caught up, Trip, and this is such a great story!  The backstory was great, but that cliffhanger...my goodness.  We all are waiting with bated breath  ;)

Thank you! Hopefully you have enough breath to last a few more chapters.

Ack! Bronson no! Trip you can't leave me like this! This cliffhanger is... one of the best cliffhangers! I can't wait to hear more!  ;D

I do wonder if I can make a greater one. This cliffhanger certainly attracted some attention!



Chapter 64: Pastille





Just take it easy on the drinks, Olive, while you’re young.



Moira gets her drink, mixed with carbonated water and one sugar pastille dissolved in, nothing too fancy. I still haven’t given my name, but to Moira, her juice is all that matters.

“Fine, be that way,” she grumbles after downing the whole drink in one gulp, like a shot, “It’s not like you should be scared by my type, should you? Now who do I have to look out for?”

I head towards the pool, down the stairs from the tall deck and at the back of the property. Agnes beat me there ten minutes ago. She left her dress in the bathroom, whichever one of the many here, decided that underwear enough for swimming, and found a pair of round sunglasses on an end table.

“Come on, you can’t just bail on me,” Moira says, her voice trailing off as I walk further and further away, “You should be lucky that I’m here! You try partying with a kid to tuck in each night!”

Yes, I know what that’s like, Moira.

“Ah, to hell with it. I’m not juiced enough yet.”



I will say, the view is far better by the pool, between the dim garden lights, the shrubbery, and Agnes. The lights of the pool are enough to bring out the details of her, such as her slender body in a matching bra-and-panties set, and every strand of her creamy blond hair tightly tied back, even after ten minutes of treading water.

“Find your guard yet?” she asks.

“Yes, but it’s a little more complicated than that.”

“Family?”

“I don’t know why I didn’t guess that sooner.”

“How about you get it? Mr. Dandy keeps the pool water heated, and, goodness, I do like seeing you in your undies.”

“Sounds good,” I say, winking. After a minute of wrangling with and nearly freaking out over a stuck zipper, I throw my dress into the bushes, and kick off the five-inch heels in the same general direction.



The water touches my toes, but without the burn of chlorine. Mr. Dandy keeps a saline-cleaned pool, that’s my best guess, and on a cool summer night, the gentle heat helps me ease into the water much better.

I tread water too, near a jet stream that blasts more warm water onto my flank. Moira is probably getting buzzed, and considering that one or two men are swimming laps around the pool in high-waisted speedos, I could use whatever she’s having. But then again, I lasted for a lifetime and then some going to the pool with my elderly father and his regular speedo. Am I supposed to complain now?

Moira comes down the stairs, two drinks in, or more. I know Annette could go through a tray of cocktails in fifteen minutes, so Moira might have more juice than plasma in her veins by now. Her footsteps are very quiet, as if she forgot her shoes. Oh, she is barefoot. She walks in a straight line, defying the juice’s powers, and doesn’t miss a step on the staircase.

“Look, if you don’t need me, just tell me,” she says, “You listening, blondie?”

I am.

Moira then crouches down by the pools edge, knees up and scowling almost as bad as Bill or Franco could. I get out to wipe the grimace off her face, or try to.



I might be soaked and in the wrong fabric to go swimming, but Moira deserves a job tonight, right?

“Okay, I’ll just need another drink.”



“Listen, you juicehead,” I barked, getting up my feet in an instant, “I might have gotten off on the wrong foot with you, but I’m not letting you near the bar again. You actually do have a job tonight.”

“I can’t do this sober either. It’s hard being sober. I have a flask under my belt anyways. You can’t stop me, Jo.” She puts her hand on her waist, on top of a rectangular bulge in her shirt. “A girl’s gotta do her job.”

”Well, it is my job,” Olive said, as she mixed a new recipe of fermented cranberry juice and cherry coke in her cocktail shaker, “And life sucks, doesn’t it?”

“Save it for widowhood, darling. All of us elders are addicts, and do I want you to go down that path? No, not while you’re young. I expect you to be hitting the bottle when you’re old and weary like me. But do you really want to wake up each morning, just to crack the locks to your place under the counter where you keep the strong stuff? Do you want to wake up in a bunch of cattails because, heck, that’s where you fell asleep after exhausting another bar? Do you want group therapy like your mum and grandpa Phil needed?”



“I mean, I get enough therapy,” Olive muttered, pouring liquid as maroon as her long hair into a glass. “Is there some turning point that makes juice okay?”


“You don’t have to do this,” I say, as if defending my great-great-great-grandmother, instead of a glorified thug I hired for the night, “Do you want to be an addict?”

“You’re five years too late, blondie. Now, who am I protecting you against?”

“Peter Garcia, the tan one. He and his cop buddy aren’t too happy with me.”

“I waved to him on the way out. He’s long gone. So much for a job tonight. I can still drink.”

“Why?” I ask her, “You’re probably not even 30 yet. And I met your daughter at Ei’s house, she’s lovely. Why would you want to drink?”

“Maybe!” Moira yelled, “Maybe life isn’t too peachy when you’re widowed and a single mum and hanging on to your family’s estate by a thread, and guess what? I’m not 30 yet and dealing with all of this crap. Forgive me for having a few drinks.”

”The turning point is widowhood. You’ll lose like the rest of us, and you can drink a whole tray of those in one sitting if you feel like it when that happens. Speaking of which, I’ll take half.” Annette walked away with a rounded glass in each hand, red liquid sloshing as she balanced her steps and each sip.

“I’m sorry,” I say in a hushed tone, “Drink up.”

She chugs from her flask, until it fails to make a swishing noise when she puts it back under her shirt. The tears flow from her eyes, and she turns towards me again.



“I’m sorry for all the anger,” she says, with a sniffle, “It’s been five years and recovery ain’t going well for me. I just want a new friend.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine. I need another rainbow chick, right?” Moira leans on my shoulder, her breath thick with fermented fruit and her tears likely pure juice too. “The name’s Jo, by the way.”

“There’s totally someone suspicious behind the columns by the way. I can do this job.”

“Can you?” I ask.

“Yeah, she really can,” one man says from the pool. I guess Moira gets better business than I thought.



As Moira runs towards the figure, with a slight stagger, I make out the figure too, with red hair and patches of ivory-esque skin sticking out of a mass of black clothes and shrubs, though what makes her suspicious is anyone’s guess. Maybe Moira is the reverse of the police here. Or the juice really doesn’t help her job.



“Tricked ya! You’re one those Alto mooks, aren’t you?”

“Aw crap,” is the only other thing I hear.



“Don’t worry guys, I got this!” Moira proclaims to the whole backyard, “There’s a nice bedroom upstairs to take care of this lovely. Follow me, Jo. I think you’ll like this.”

Okay then.



“Well, well, well,” Moira says, after the suspect is seated on the bed, “Thought that my family is worth fighting?”

“Shut up, blueface,” she says.

“Ooh, we hit the jackpot tonight, Jojo. This redhead didn’t even think that a McGrail would see her.”

“Can I ask some questions?” I ask, “You’re probably a little, shall we say, buzzed.”

“Shut up, blondie. Now, gingerbread, I don’t care about your name right now. Would you rather face our authorities or your own?”



“I don’t even care at this point,” she says, “Can’t you just call me by my real name? It’s Candy.”

“Yeah, I do need that for…whoever. Getting all of gingerbread’s info?”

“Sure, sure.” Candy is a pretty distinctive name, after all.

“Oh fine, the police back in Sunset Valley are pretty used to me by now. Candy Ashleydale, and you know what? I’d rather be in a cell with my prisoner buds than around some buzzed banshee.”



“Sweet, that’s a new one,” Moira says, “Oh, and one more thing.” She takes Candy’s arms and lifts her off the bed, then hurling the woman towards the carpet. Her foot keeps Candy restrained down, as she dials the authorities’ numbers. “Oh, Officer Nest, you’re on right now? It’s your absolute favorite devil girl, darling. I have an Alto mook over here. I’ll drive her over. No, I didn’t have a drop! You know me by now. Alright. Buh-bye. Be kind to us rainbow folk, why doncha?” It’s loud enough to hear “yeah, that’s enough, Moira” multiple times on the other end.

“Should I drive?” I ask, “I don’t know if you can.”

“Nah, I’ll live,” Moira says, holding Candy’s wrists together, “I’ll clear up. I always do.”

In the meantime, I find Agnes and explain the story to her. At the first mention of “Altos,” we both nod, if in confusion as to why they’re here. I mean, I lived in Sunset Valley for five years, and my seafoam-colored skin didn’t tip them off in that time, did it? And dad, well, I’ll trust him on the “laying low” promise he gave. I left hampers full of dirty laundry to drive him crazy and keep him occupied.

“I think we’re safe,” I say, panting, “That is a pretty scary surname to work for. Maybe the McGrails are scarier, but I dunno, they could be charity workers for all I care.”



As the sun’s first rays greet the beautiful Roaring Heights, Moira, in her juiced glory, screeches up to the curb in a black convertible. Maybe she sobered up, but when she nearly drives into the bridge after Agnes and I pile into the car, it’s clear that she still has a way to go.



By the time we get to the café, Moira orders a cup of water and a paper packet of salt, dissolving the crystals in the water and finally ready to face the morning light with a forlorn, weak frown.



It’s just coffee for Agnes and I, though. By the time the sky is as hazy blue as, well, Moira, she’s gone, but someone is on the ground level. I investigate while Agnes bugs the barista for coupons.



“You okay?” I ask Moira, “I know I sound like a worrywart, but it’s because I am.”



“Fine, fine,” she says, exasperated, “Okay, Jo, I think I’m mostly sober now.”

“That’s nice.” She walks up me, reeking of old banana peels. “Sorry, it’s a habit. I love repurposing trash, and other things left out. It, um, brushes me up for my other job. Security is a euphemism for most of us here.”

“Lemme guess, thievery?”

“You’re a smart cookie, aren’t you?”

“I am still very sorry about being a jerk about your drinking,” I say, “It sounds rough.”



“Eh, I’m alive, so sometimes that helps. And you’re right about my little Bridget. She’s an angel. It keeps me going, but I wish I had more in life, you know?”

“Sure.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this, it’s that arranged marriages suck. I’d never force that on anyone. Kill me if I do.” And that’s when I freeze.

“So, maybe lunch sometime?” she asks, “Bridget has swim lessons every Thursday.”

No response.

“We’ll keep in touch,” she says, walking across the street to where she parked.

“Yeah, you hate arranged marriages, and I’m secretly a Vanderburg. Sure,” I say under my breath. Agnes walks around to where I am, near the full parking garage under the café, looking like she saw an eldritch god or a bad ex stroll by.



“You’re not gonna like this,” she says, nauseated, “Look behind you.” The tap of flat boots grows closer. I turn my neck, and my brows form five new wrinkles just by furrowing so much.



“Ladies,” he says, with a curious smirk.



Word Count for this chapter: 2,099
Word Count so far: 105,472

The little cut-scenes with Olive (one of my later immortals) were something I quickly whipped up after getting the idea during my lunch break today.