“Who are you?” Will asked. “Glad you asked.” He smiled and clasped his hands together. “My name is Pius Piper, and I am the Law of Winterfell.”
Sansa laughed. “He thinks he’s so important now, with his fancy Etle and his crisp suits. I could almost believe it myself. But everything he does, I’ve whispered in his ear. He does everything I tell him to do. The only thing I want is the heirship. Turn it back to me, and your children can be whatever Law they want.” She scanned the family, and her eyes landed on Will. “Well? It’s on you. What do you say?”
“That’s it? We’re just going to wait?” Sabriel asked, standing up. “We’re going to watch and learn,” Chris said. “Rushing into things made things worse. What’s done is done, Will,” she said, turning to her oldest son. “But when it’s Eme to ﬁght again, we have to be ready for it so that we’ll win. And that includes going back to school and working toward your liNs. So please promise me not to do anything stupid, Sabriel.”
Before long, though, Jan had delivered the older twin and handed her to Will. “She’s beauEful,” Arthur said, leaning in to look at the baby. “What are you going to name her?” “Depends on whether she’s about to get a brother or a sister,” Will said. “Gemma if her twin’s a girl, and Hester if her twin’s a boy.”
Jan gave birth to the younger twin a few minutes later, another girl. She named the new baby Meg.
“S‐Sansa.” Jocelyn shuddered. “If she’s watching, she’ll kill me. I know it.” “How?” “She k‐killed my wife.”
“She has to die,” Julian said. “No!” “It’s the only way. Sansa’s dangerous. If she’s willing to kill for what she wants, then Will’s life is in danger. So is yours. I can’t let that happen.” “But she’s your grandmother—“ “My grandmother’s dead,” Julian said. “I’ll be dead, too. Even if Piper catches up with me before my Eme, it won’t maVer. But if he catches up with any of you…”
He didn’t need to say it. “I understand,” Arthur said. Julian tried to smile. “Just don’t tell Sabriel. She’ll want to do it herself.”
“This part is [over].” Julian pocketed the gun. He also didn’t speak for a long Eme. When he ﬁnally did, he said, “I should go.” “I…I guess you should.” “I’ll try to come back.” Julian turned away, then looked over his shoulder. “Will—be careful.”
“Do we have a newspaper?” The ques8on startled Natalie. They had been working in silence for hours. Sansa Stark had failed to show up for her nine o’clock appointment. Two people had turned up looking for an appointment, but Piper had told her to send them away. The only sounds for hours had been those of their ﬁngers on their keyboards and of Piper’s feet on the ﬂoorboards when he had started pacing for a brief interval a few hours before. Natalie appreciated the break, but she knew something was wrong.
“Do we have a newspaper?” Piper repeated, the tone of his voice unchanged. “Technically, yes,” she answered, “but it’s not a very good one.”
“You can change that,” he said. The phone started to ring. “You don’t need to answer that. I just want you to do this.” “Me?”
“Yes, you. Look at me.” Natalie turned to look at Piper. “I can’t do everything on my own. I have to trust a few people, and you have been a very helpful assistant.” Natalie felt herself smile. “I think you’ll be good at this—if you want to do it, that is.” “Yes. I do want to.” How could she say no?
“Good. Also, we should have a radio sta8on so that we can get our message out to people that way, too. I keep forgeQng about the radio, but everyone has one of those liRle stereos. This should take priority over all your other projects, Natalie.” “Of course.”
“Everything’s going to start geQng beRer,” Will told Gemma, holding her out so that he could look her in the eye and then toss her in the air when he was done talking. “You’ll see. Things are looking up.”
Gemma didn’t care that much about what her daddy was saying. She just wanted to be tossed in the air.
“So why isn’t anyone telling me anything about the whole Sansa problem?” Sabriel asked Arthur, cornering him aVer their return to the house. “You and Will seem to think ‘it’s solved,’ but how?”
In this case, Arthur thought, knowledge wasn’t a good thing. “I feel like I already know too much.” “And I feel like I know too liVle. Can it really be that bad?” “Well…it was kind of illegal.”
“Well, why should I care about that? If it was kind of illegal, then it was probably for the beRer. I don’t care if you’re being nicey‐nice. I just care about whether you’re telling me what’s going on.” “It’s for your own good,” Arthur began to say. “I’ll decide what’s for my own good.” Sabriel shook her head.
Sabriel would have con8nued trying to get informa8on out of Arthur, but their nieces had started crying again, and they s8ll hoped to solve the Law problem before the children had to know anything about it.
Meg s8ll wasn’t a happy child, though. She cried long aVer Sabriel took her out of the crib, but she s8ll had no words to communicate her fears.
For my own good, Sabriel con8nued to stew as she took Meg to the liRle toddler toilet. What’s wrong with him? I can make my own decisions about what’s good for me.
“Any luck ﬁnding a job?” she asked Arthur when they went downstairs for breakfast.
“Looks like it,” Arthur said. “First job is an opening for a Commercial Actor. I’m taking it.”
Sabriel wasn’t as lucky. One of the remaining jobs was useless, and she didn’t have the right degree for the other one. Today, it looked like her duty would be helping Jan with the kids.
They didn’t ﬁlm un8l tomorrow, but Arthur went upstairs to prac8ce the script in the mirror anyway and ﬁnish geQng one last charisma point.
Meanwhile, Will and Jan decided it was 8me to try for more children.
Arthur and Sabriel spent their free 8me con8nuing to take care of the kids that Will and Jan already had.
Gemma was on her feet in no 8me, enthusias8cally making her way around the nursery area.
As for Meg, a liRle 8me with her uncle convinced her that talking wasn’t such a bad thing.
Uncle Arthur was the ﬁrst rela8ve she iden8ﬁed.
There weren’t very many people at the press conference, but Natalie had expected that. She had arranged for it to take place in the courtroom and invited what few journalists worked for Winterfell’s struggling newspaper. There wasn’t a news radio sta8on yet, but maybe she could get one started.
Piper stepped up to the podium. “Good aVernoon. For those of you I am unfamiliar with, I am the Law of Winterfell. “During the coming weeks and months, I hope to get to know many of you and hear your ideas for improving life here. The Starks have done many important things, but if we all band together, we can create a beRer world for everyone in just a few short years.
“We s8ll have a long way to go. One of my dearest friends and someone who this en8re region holds in the highest esteem was murdered yesterday. I am speaking, of course, about Sansa Stark. It is thanks to her that things grow here and that the ground is no longer toxic. She had returned and hoped to con8nue serving the people of Winterfell by introducing new inven8ons, but before she could con8nue on her mission, she was killed.
“Her killers will be found. I will personally bring them to jus8ce. And, with your help, there will be a new rule of law in Winterfell. “Does anyone have any ques8ons?”
Ursula Fitzhugh rose. “How do you decide whom to ‘personally bring to jus8ce’?” “Excuse me?” “What about the burglar who’s been breaking into homes in Winterfell and Oldtown? What about Aliena Merana’s murder? Oh, I forgot—the saintly Sansa Stark murdered Mrs. Merana. Why does Sansa get your version of jus8ce, but not her vic8ms?”
Natalie rose. “All right, everyone. Thank you all for—“ “You can’t ask for ques8ons and then framming refuse to answer them,” Ursula con8nued. “You haven’t even started answering for yourself, Piper. You might not give me an honest answer, but jus8ce will catch up to you—“
The press conference might have been more eﬀec8ve if the Starks had owned a television or knew that they should turn on their radio. Since they did neither, they spent the aVernoon going about their usual ac8vi8es un8l someone rang the doorbell.
Sabriel didn’t know the two people standing in front of her. “Good aVernoon.” She closed the door of the house behind her. “Good aVernoon. I’m Ellen Bolton, and this is my brother Kevin.” “We need to search these premises for evidence.”
Kevin tried to get around Sabriel, but she shoved him away. “Oh, hell no. You are not searching my house.” “We don’t need your permission,” Ellen started to say.
“Over my dead body, you don’t need my permission. Come on,” she said, ac8ng on an ins8nct she had tried to suppress for the last year and a half. “What are you wai8ng for? Get oﬀ the doorstep.” “Where are you going?”
“The three of us are going to talk to your boss.”
The two goons who had tried to search the house trailed behind Sabriel. “You can’t go in there,” Ellen tried to say. “What do you mean? It’s my oﬃce. I can go in my oﬃce whenever the hell I want.”
Sabriel threw open the door to ﬁnd Piper talking to Lucia on the couches and Natalie typing away on her computer. “Searching our house for evidence?” she demanded. “Evidence of what?” “What are you talking about?” Piper asked.
“You know damn well what I’m talking about.” Sabriel walked over to Piper’s desk and sat down at his chair. “Why are you sending these two to search my house?” “Would you come back in a hour? I’m in the middle of a meeEng.” “What, for how to rig more trials?” Sabriel took a breath. “I’m not leaving. This is my oﬃce. Keep going with your mee8ng. I’ll wait un8l you’re willing to talk to me.”
Sabriel turned to Piper’s computer and clicked the mouse to dispel the screen saver. Unfortunately, he had password‐protected the computer. “Natalie,” she stage‐whispered. “What’s the password?” “I—I don’t know.”
“Oh, come on. You’ve already changed sides once. What’s wrong with changing them again?” Sabriel stared at the screen again. It did not yield, so she tried to open the drawers. They were also locked. She started looking for the key.
“Miss Stark, my oﬃce has already been ransacked once.” She turned to ﬁnd Piper standing over her right shoulder. “You won’t be able to get at my ﬁles. Now, I do need you to leave.” “It’s my oﬃce.” Sabriel sat her ground. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Lucia, we’ll have to meet another 8me,” Piper said. “Ellen, Kevin, you can go. You too, Natalie.” “Are you—“ Natalie began. “Yes, I’m sure. Leave us.”
The rest of them exited the room, leaving Sabriel unexpectedly uncertain. She had thought about this moment ever since the trial. She had prac8ced throwing darts into Piper’s eyes and making him beg for mercy. Somehow, 8me and anger had obscured the fact that Piper was signiﬁcantly taller and heavier than her, so it would be harder than she had imagined to bring him down. What if she did? Would it do any good?
“You wanted to know why I sent Ellen and Kevin to search your house,” Piper said, looking down at her. “I did it because I believe a crime was commiRed there.” No, it would be beRer to keep siQng in Piper’s chair. That was annoying him enough. “A crime? Is ha8ng your guts a crime now?”
“No, but murder is. The last 8me that I heard from Sansa, she was going to your house, Miss Stark. But she failed to show up for her appointment this morning, and I haven’t been able to reach her.” Was this what Arthur meant when he said that they had “taken care of” Sansa? “Maybe she just leV town,” Sabriel suggested, hoping that nothing resembling recogni8on was showing up on her face.
“I doubt it. Sansa is—was a remarkably tenacious woman. I doubt that anything short of death would have stopped her. Since your brother Will is s8ll siQng preRy in that house, something must have stopped her, and she must be dead.” “Wait. Are you saying that Will killed Sansa? That’s not‐‐”
“I’m not saying anything at this point. I’m asking for your help with the inves8ga8on.” “I’m not saying a word to you. You tell me to stand, and I’ll sit. Tell me to sit, and I’ll—“ “I understand your point, Miss Stark. I hoped that you might cooperate. You must know something.” “If I did—and I don’t—do you really think I’d tell you?”
“No, but someEmes people do have the capacity to surprise us. Let’s face, it, though, you do have a regreVable propensity toward violence.” “What does that even mean?” “You know what it means, Miss Stark.” “No, I don’t. That wasn’t a ques8on.”
“I think you’ll agree that this is a ques8on: Did you do it?” “Do what?” “Did you kill Sansa?”
“No. I don’t know anything—“ Sabriel stopped. What had happened to “I’m not saying a word to you”? “I’m done here.”
“I’m not done here.” Piper crossed his arms. “You said you didn’t know anything. Then you stopped. What do you know? Who are you protec8ng?” “Nobody. I don’t have a clue. Am I under arrest? You don’t have anything near probable cause. And if you decide to stop me from making my contribu8on to Winterfell, rest assured: You are going to hear about it from Will.”
“I think you overes8mate your brother’s capabili8es.” Piper looked into the distance. “It’s a pity. I almost wish you’d been your father’s heir.” Did he really think that was going to work, when she actually had an enemy to focus on? “Well, I’m not. Will is, and he’s a more than capable heir.” Sabriel stood up. “Am I free to leave?”
“You are.” Piper took his chair back. “Send in Natalie and Lucia on your way out for me.” “You can do that yourself.”
“I’ve no8ced that I’m not wearing a shirt in any of these scenes,” Arthur said.
“If you’d rather wear one, we can work that out,” Teagan Fitzhugh responded. “The movie will sell beRer if you’re not wearing a shirt, though.” “It’ll sell beRer, or it’ll provide more eye candy?” “The two aren’t unrelated,” Teagan quipped.
Sabriel opened the door and changed into her everyday clothes. “Arthur!” “Crap.” She might be smiling, but he knew that tone of voice.
“Should I go?” Jocelyn asked. “Probably. This isn’t going to be good.”
“When you said that Sansa wasn’t a problem anymore—“ Sabriel stopped when she got to the table. “Well, this is quite the non‐Tuesday get‐together. Has Will ﬁxed the phones already?” “No. Teagan’s wri8ng a screenplay, and Jocelyn and Kay are taking me up on my oﬀer—“ “That’s great. I didn’t actually want to know the answer to that ques8on. Arthur, we should go upstairs.”
They passed the nursery, where they could see Will and Gemma playing with the toy bunny, and made their way up to the third ﬂoor.
“Did you kill Sansa?” Sabriel whispered to Arthur. “No.” “But she’s dead, isn’t she?”
“She—I think so. Uncle Julian said he was going to do it. How did you ﬁnd out?” “Did you really think I wasn’t going to ﬁnd out?” Sabriel pushed her voice down aVer realizing she had been shou8ng. “It was when I went to yell at Piper just now.”
“Did you say anything to him?” “I said that maybe Sansa had just leV town. Then he asked me if I did it, and I said no, and that I wasn’t talking—you can’t talk to him, Arthur. I must have told Piper that I wasn’t going to say anything to him a dozen 8mes. But every 8me but one, I kept on talking.”
“So Piper doesn’t know?” Arthur wanted to be hopeful. “He—I don’t know what he knows and what he doesn’t. I forgot what a creepy bastard he is.” She looked into the distance. “Is there anything else you haven’t told me?”
“Uncle Julian wanted to protect us,” Arthur said. “It was his idea aVer I told him that Sansa had already killed someone who tried to stand in her way—Jocelyn’s wife. He didn’t want us to be involved.” “Well, we are.” Sabriel didn’t look at Arthur. “I don’t know what Piper’s going to do next. Maybe he’ll try to talk to you or Will, but you can’t say anything to him. I assume Will knew, too?” “He was the only one in the house old enough to know what was going on,” Arthur said. “He knew what happened.”
“So I was the only one who didn’t know? Great.” “We—“ “Sure, you had a reason, but I don’t want to hear it. I’m going to check in on our nieces,” Sabriel said. “AVer Piper, it’ll be refreshing to be around toddlers who are too young to use words eﬀec8vely. Go play with your friends.”
“Is everything okay?” Teagan asked when Arthur came back downstairs. “I—“ Did Teagan already know the answer to his own ques8on? “Sansa’s dead.”
No one spoke for a while. “I’m almost glad,” Jocelyn said, breaking the silence. “She killed…”
The reason why Jocelyn had not managed to say who Sansa had killed was because on some days, Jocelyn didn’t always remember that Ali died. Maybe she could have tried harder to remember, but she didn’t want to.
While Kay was at school, Jocelyn narrated her ac8ons as she went about her day, pretending that Ali hovered over her shoulder and listened to every word.
But was it really pretending, when she saw ﬂashes of black hair and a black dress around the corner everywhere she looked? Surely, her wife was about to come up the stairs and greet her.
But the ﬂashes always disappeared, and the knowledge that her wife wasn’t coming back returned. Jocelyn sat back to try to summon Ali from out of her imagina8on, not wan8ng to be alone any more. The cold con8nued to creep into her heart.
To a certain extent, Kay could keep her anchored in reality. When Jocelyn danced with him and talked about what he was doing in school, she felt connected to the world again.
But deep down, Jocelyn knew that she asked more than her son could possibly give.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to throw the ball so hard.”
“That hurt, Kay,” Jocelyn said. Her voice sounded more biRer than she had planned. “Be more gentle next 8me, all right?”
“I’ll try.” He drew back his arm and waited, trying to ﬁgure out how hard to throw.
Jocelyn ran away from the house, chasing the woman in the black dress. “Ali!” she called, louder than she thought she could ever be. “Stop! It’s me! Come back!”
This 8me, the woman turned around. Jocelyn stared. She deﬁnitely looked like Ali. She had the same features. But she had frozen, and her eyes looked so cold.
“It’s not you,” Jocelyn whispered. “You know who I am,” Ali said. It didn’t sound like her voice, either. Even her voice felt cold, if that was possible. No. She was dead. Jocelyn shivered. “I have to go.”
But even when Jocelyn went back to the house, she couldn’t forget what she had seen. Was her wife alive? If she was, what had happened to her? It wasn’t fair.
“Sweet dreams, Kay.” Dream that everything’s magically going to be okay again, Jocelyn thought.
Arthur hoped to get a good night’s sleep before he had to go to work. Unfortunately, though, he was in for a long night.
Addison scared him in the bathroom, unfortunately preven8ng Arthur from using the bathroom in the manner he had intended.
He tried to get some sleep downstairs with the toddlers, which may have been a bad idea in and of itself, but Mal woke Arthur up to scare him again. Did the Stark ancestors not want their descendants to have good hair and clothing?
Arthur had even less luck trying to get a good night’s sleep in one of the third ﬂoor beds. He started to seriously wonder if he would survive that night.
Luckily, Mal eventually turned to more produc8ve eﬀorts, like cleaning the stove.
When the sun came out, all the members of the Stark family who should have been alive were s8ll alive. “Hello, Amy Jones! Any good jobs in the paper today?” “How should I know?” Amy muRered.
“Maybe there’ll be something good today—” Sabriel stared, not bothering to ﬁnish her sentence.
“Don’t men8on it.” It was just as well that Arthur didn’t have enough peripheral vision while in costume to see Sabriel laughing. “Plumbbob willing, I never have to wear this again.”
Will brieﬂy wondered if he had meditated himself into hallucina8ons in his aRempt to put himself in a good mood, but he brushed it oﬀ.
Sabriel didn’t ﬁnd her ideal job in Business, but she did ﬁnd her second‐best choice: a posi8on as a rookie on a local sports team. The carpool was arriving within minutes, so she changed into her uniform and leV the house right aVer puQng the paper down. She would read the editorial about Piper’s press conference later.
“Why Mommy sick?” Meg asked from next to her miniature poRy. “Because you’re going to have two younger brothers or sisters,” Jan mumbled. She could already tell that it wouldn’t be necessary to eat cheesecake for this pregnancy.
“Sister,” Meg repeated. “Gem.” “Maybe—” Jan couldn’t say anything else.
AVer helping Meg get poRy trained, Jan went to check on Gemma, who was enthralled by her pink bunny toy, and talked to her while she played. “There are six aspira8ons,” Jan said, lis8ng each one. “Well, at my work we’re talking about how there might be a seventh, but no one’s proved that. Daddy and I are Romance.”
“No,” Gemma said. Jan paused. “Well, you’re s8ll young. You don’t choose un8l you’re a teen—” “No.”
All in all, with four adults in the house to take care of the twins, they didn’t spend very much of their 8me alone. Someone always came when one of them started crying, and someone was usually there to oﬀer anything from a boRle to a 8ckle to some help learning how to walk or talk. They didn’t understand yet that, one day, they would con8nue to improve life in Winterfell like all their ancestors had done.
Sabriel had come to Piper’s oﬃce from a posi8on of power, but Arthur approached with a threat hanging over his head. The producer of the commercial he had audi8oned for had heavily implied that if Arthur did not cooperate with Piper’s inves8ga8on, he would lose the job. Something about how Mr. Grey needed “honest” people working for him. Arthur knew what that meant. His career in show business would be over, just like his grandmother’s career in educa8on had ended. There might have been other things he could do for Winterfell, like fulﬁlling his life8me want of becoming a party guest, but Arthur had set himself upon this course ever since he became a teen. He didn’t want it to end like this.
The problem was that he did know something about how Sansa had died. Sabriel had come to the oﬃce knowing nothing.
He knocked on Brandon’s—Piper’s door. Natalie answered. “Arthur. Good to see you,” she said. Natalie turned around. “He’s here.” “Good. Tell him to come in,” Arthur heard Piper say. “You can go.”
When Arthur entered the room and Natalie exited, he saw Piper siQng on the sofa in the corner of the room. “Hello, Arthur,” Piper said. “Why don’t you have a seat here?”
“All right.” Arthur walked over to the couch opposite Piper and sat down. “Why do you want to talk to me?” “Simply put, we have reason to believe you know something about the murder of Sansa Stark.”
Arthur tried to keep a straight face. “What reason?” “I’m the one asking the quesEons, Mr. Stark. Now, I understand that you’re employed as a commercial actor, correct?” “Yes.”
“And that this is part of your plan to improve life in Winterfell?” “Yes. It’s been my plan since I was a teenager.” Why were they talking about Arthur’s work? To put him at ease? For what?
“Where were you the night before last?” “On my way back to Winterfell from Oldtown.”
“And where was your brother Will?” “He works unEl someEme in the evening—about eight, I think. ANer that, he would have been home with the toddlers.”
“Do you know what 8me Sansa was going to come to your house?” “No. I wasn’t there. How—“ “But when you did come home, was Sansa there?” “No.” “And did she come to the house aVer you returned?” “No. She must have already come and gone.”
“Come and gone, with your brother sEll the heir.” Piper paused. Arthur no8ced his own hands beginning to shake. He wondered if he should say anything to clear things up, but it probably wouldn’t be a good idea. “And where was your sister during all of this?” “With me.” “Are you sure about that?” “We went back from Oldtown in the same car. We arrived at the house together.”
“But were you with each other aVer you got home?” “I’m confused.” “You were with Sabriel when you got to the house. Did you go your separate ways once you returned?” “I don’t remember. We looked for work. We took care of the toddlers. But—“
“Let’s go back to the last 8me that you saw Sansa,” Piper interrupted. “When was that?” “AVer the trial. She—you already know this.” “Know what?” “That she came to our house with an oﬀer.” “Really? Tell me.”
Were they really going to play this game? “Apparently she was going to make you step down if she could be the head of the family again,” Arthur said. “And what happened aVer that?” “She leV and said she’d be back in three days. That’s what we’ve been talking about.”
“But did you talk about it at all?” “What?” “You must have come up with some kind of plan,” Piper said. “You don’t just walk away aVer someone tells you that you can only have one of the two things that you desperately want.”
“We did come up with a plan.” “What plan?” Piper leaned forward. “To talk about it later,” Arthur repeated.
“Are you sure?” “Yes. That’s the plan that we came up with.”
“I ask because I understand that your employer places a high value on honesty. I’m as invested in Winterfell’s success as you are, and I would hate to end your chosen career.” “So—“ Arthur started to say. “And I ﬁnd it very hard to believe that your family didn’t have some kind of plan. So I’m giving you another chance to be honest, Arthur. What was the plan?”
“I—“ Arthur tried to think of something else to say, but he could only hear his uncle’s voice saying, You need to survive this. No one wanted Arthur to sacriﬁce his career for this. That was why his uncle had decided to take the fall. “It was Uncle Julian.”
“What was Uncle Julian?” Did he have to make this as bad as possible? Of course he did. “He thought that we wouldn’t be safe unless Sansa was dead. So…he killed her.”
”And when did he decide to do this?” Piper kept staring at Arthur. “I don’t know,” Arthur said by reﬂex. “You must know. You knew why he did it.” “We were on the phone talking about something else when he told me what he was going to do,” Arthur revealed. “Going to do? So he hadn’t done it yet?” “Yes. I mean, he hadn’t done it yet.”
“See, the thing is, Arthur, it doesn’t maRer who pulled the trigger,” Piper said. “It maRers who planned the crime.” “No, it doesn’t—“ “The law of conspiracy has changed,” Piper con8nued. “Any member of a conspiracy to commit a crime is guilty of the en8re crime. And this looks like a classic conspiracy to me.”
Arthur froze. “Do you have anything to say to that?” Piper asked. “I didn’t want him to do it,” Arthur said. “I told him not to do it.”
“I see,” Piper said. “But someone must have let him into the house.” “I wasn’t there. I can’t tell you who let him into the house.”
Piper nodded. “Well, I think this has served its purpose. You can go, Arthur.” “Really?” He wanted to ask whether he could s8ll have his job, but he knew he wouldn’t get any kind of answer. “Yes. You can go. Give my regards to your brother and sister.”
Arthur had no plans to do that. He made his exit.
“You’re going to grow up today, Valen8ne,” BriRany told her daughter. “You’ll be a big girl.” “Big! Like you?” she asked.
“Not as big. But someday, maybe you will be.” “Good.” Valen8ne smiled.
“Are you sure she has to grow up already?” Julian asked. “Just think about all the trouble she’s going to get into.” “I keep telling you that if you’re going to be bored, we could have another one,” BriRany suggested. “You mean, you could have another one. I’m too old.”
“That’s all the more reason why I could have another one. I think it would be nice to have another kid, and I don’t want the father to be anyone else.” “Well, we could try,” Julian said. “If it works out, it works out; if it doesn’t, we’ve got Valen8ne. Are you sure you’re not a Family Sim?” “No, not really.”
“AVer work, though. I s8ll have to be Educa8on Minister,” Julian said. “I don’t want to think about who else could have that posi8on right now.”
When Valen8ne grew up, she immediately started making friends with Teagan, who had walked by the house that day. “So, you write movies? That’s cool. I’ve never seen a movie, but my mom and dad tell me that my cousin’s in movies. Do you know him?” “Yeah. He’s a great guy.”
“That’s cool. It’s a liRle weird that he’s your age, but he’s s8ll my cousin. I thought cousins were supposed to be the same age as each other.” “They don’t have to be,” Teagan said. “There are lots of diﬀerent families. You should see what my family looks like.” He paused. “Maybe when you’re older.” “Huh.” Valen8ne paused. “Want to play chess?” “Sure.” “Okay. I have to shower ﬁrst.”
Surprisingly, Valen8ne spent the game being cheated instead of partaking in any chea8ng of her own.
AVer Valen8ne went to bed, though, the Amanas had an unwelcome visitor.
Jessica Ebadi made oﬀ with three chairs: both of the chairs for the chess table and one of the studying chairs.
It could have been worse. At least Julian and BriRany had the money to replace the chairs, and the sight of a chair‐less chess table amused them at ﬁrst.
But the break‐in itself was worse than the robbery. Julian had thought he was safer than that.
Valen8ne didn’t seem to mind, though. The new chair was more comfortable than the old one, aVer all. So she just sat down and started to study for her body points.
That evening, Will made an unexpected visit to the house. “It’s great to see you, BriRany.” They shook hands. “Should I be calling you Aunt BriRany?” “You can if you want to. It doesn’t maRer to me. What brings you here?”
“I wanted to check and see how you and Uncle Julian are doing.” Make sure he hasn’t been arrested. “And Valen8ne. It’s a liRle odd not having Uncle Julian around, and I know he’s not geQng any younger.” “We’re all right,” BriRany told him. “Except from the burglary last night—” “Burglary? I’m so sorry.” So he hadn’t been arrested. Thank goodness. “There just isn’t a lot of drama out here. Julian is s8ll working as Educa8on Minister, and I have a job as a desk sergeant. Valen8ne would have started school today, but there was a snow day.”
“But there is more good news: I’m pregnant again.”
“Wait. You’re having another baby?” “Yeah,” BriRany said. “Do you have a problem with that?”
“No. It’s just—what if—” “I’m trying not to think about that, Will. Both the kids are going to know their dad. They will.”
Julian deﬁnitely wasn’t in police custody. He greeted Will with a pillow to the face. “I’ve missed you!” Will said once he managed to stop laughing. “Good thing you s8ll like pillow ﬁgh8ng!”
“Of course I do. I might have changed my last name, but I’m s8ll a Stark.” Julian brought back his pillow. “You going to ﬁght back or not?”
“I really am glad you thought to come by, even though it’s not Tuesday.” Julian hugged Will. “I have missed everyone, even though I’d rather be here.” “I’ve missed you, too,” Will said again. “How are you feeling?” “I’ve been beRer,” Julian admiRed. “It’s a good thing that life isn’t as fast‐paced out here. I’m not sure if I could keep up.” “Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.”
Julian changed the subject: “How are the twins?” “Cute, but demanding. Seems like Meg’s wan8ng aRen8on as soon as we ﬁnally put Gemma to sleep, and the other way around. But they’re great girls.” Will smiled. “Jan’s expec8ng twins again.”
“Congratula8ons!” “Well, not that you probably wanted to know that.” “I’m happy that I’ll have new nieces. Or nephews. But probably nieces.” Julian smiled anyway.
Will fell silent. He wasn’t going to talk to his uncle about Jan, and he didn’t want to men8on the recent troubles. “But Piper’s sEll a problem?” Julian prompted him. “Yeah.”
“He’s been inves8ga8ng us,” Will explained. “He sent two people to search our house for evidence yesterday, and he ques8oned Arthur today. I wasn’t sure if you’d s8ll be here when I came over tonight. I don’t know what to do.”
“Did you tell him that I did it?” Julian asked. “That’s why I did it. You weren’t supposed to be taking the heat.” “Arthur did tell him. It doesn’t sound like he cares.” “No, it doesn’t,” Julian said.
“If I was Sabriel, I’d run right into the oﬃce and demand that he stop inves8ga8ng my family. But I’m not.” Will looked down at the board and picked up a pawn. “I think it’d be more trouble than it’s worth to do that, anyway.” “Again, you’re probably right,” Julian said. “I don’t think you want to walk into that oﬃce.” “But I need to do something.” Will moved the piece. “Are you going to stop being annoyingly cryp8c, or are you going to actually give me advice?”
“I’m not actually trying to be cryp8c,” Julian said. “But you are going to have to develop a sense of these things for yourself, Will.” “But that’s the problem. I thought I’d always know what to do, like Dad.” “He didn’t always know what to do,” Julian said. “He made mistakes. But in the end, your dad told himself that he was going to do his best, and that would be enough. Maybe you just need to do the same thing and trust in yourself.”
“But my best isn’t enough if that means we lose this ﬁght.” Will looked down. The idea of losing the ﬁght seemed more real than ever. “I know how to ﬁx the phones. I might know how to be a father. But I don’t know how to deal with Piper. “I have to do something.”
Will didn’t get the chance to do anything. When he got back home, Ellen and Kevin were wai8ng for him, accompanied by Sabriel. “Will!” Sabriel shouted, walking towards him. “You need to—“ She sounded like she’d been arguing for a long 8me.
“Be quiet. We have work to do,” Kevin told her. “No. If you’re not going to go away, you’re going to give me some 8me with him.”
Sabriel took Will and led him away from the house. “They’re going to arrest you,” she explained. “What?” “Don’t worry. We’re going to get you out of there. Un8l you hear from us, don’t say a word. You understand?”
“No! Why are they arres8ng me?” “They think you killed Sansa.” “But I didn’t!”
“That’s enough. Break it up.” Kevin stepped between Sabriel and Will. “Will Stark, you’re under arrest for the murder of Sansa Stark. You need to come with us now.” “I didn’t—“ “Now.”
Next 8me on An Apocalypse of Ice: + How is Will going to get out of this? + Imports being awesome. + BABIES! TODDLERS! + No, really, how is Will going to get out of this?
Guest starring: + Teagan Fitzhugh (The Morgan Legacy) + Ursula Fitzhugh (A Villainous Apocalypse) Cameo: Wally Doran (The Bass‐ackwards Apocalypse). Thanks to De, Marina, and Lark for leQng me have their sims, and thanks to De and Pen for serving as my conﬁdantes for this chapter!
Seriously, Valen8ne grew up in this dress. Beware the cute. Happy Simming!