Previously in The Absolutely Crazy Matriarchy:
…“Faceless pretender dims a light
Legacy continues bright
Prophecy that no-one hears
Event that every family fears
The empty heart, the dying day
One who bleeds shall fade away.”…
…Parker was indeed running up behind them.
“Get the hell away from my girlfriend, you creep! I don’t care if you’re delusional or
not, she’s not yours any more, so get the hell out before I throw you out. A window.
THAT IS CLOSED.”…
…Lindsay was thrown back by the impact of the bullet into her abdomen. She
crumpled to the ground next to Zack…
…Maia began to howl…
And now we return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.
Ten minutes later…
Slow down, Suze. One word at a time. What’s happened?
The war room was fairly empty, as it usually was when there were no meetings.
Simselves were dotted variously around the building, most researching or trying to
track down a certain errant criminal. Lark and Cee, who were in the war room,
listened intently as a panicked voice filtered through Fire’s cell phone speaker.
Okay. Okay. Suze, I’m on my way. Try not to touch anything, okay? We’ll be there
soon. Fire hit the disconnect button and shoved her phone in her pocket with shaking
Cee leaped out of her chair and crossed the room. “What was all that about?”
Code black. Fucking code black. Cee froze.
“What?” she whispered.
At this, Lark also jumped off her seat. “Who’s dead this time, Fire? What’s
I need you and the others at the main house as soon as possible. I want you there
five minutes ago.
“That didn’t answer my qu-” Lark’s next statement was cut off as Fire mumbled
something under her breath. When she next spoke, her voice echoed through the
whole house, making Lark and Cee yelp.
Code black, everyone. Drop everything. Get to 50 Pearl Road as soon
as humanly possible.
When she’d finished speaking, Fire began to dematerialize.
“Fire. Who. Is. Dead?” snapped Lark.
Lindsay. And Zack. And maybe Rissa. Damn it. She vanished entirely.
The others were out the door and running before the sparkles faded away.
Five minutes later…
Fire crouched down next to Lindsay’s still form. If it weren’t for the gaping bullet
wound, she might have been sleeping. How could she look so peaceful?
She shook herself and examined her crime scene more objectively. Lindsay had a
single bullet wound to the abdomen. Zack’s wasn’t visible but it was probably
somewhere similar. The gun was probably small-calibre since Zack had no noticeable
exit wound, which matched Fury’s MO from Justin’s death. Zack also had small scorch
marks on his clothes, but Lindsay’s did not.
I could have stopped this.
“If you’re beating yourself up, stop it,” Gaara said as he came downstairs to stand
next to Fire. “You could have done something, sure, but you can’t any more. You
need to focus on the living, not the dead.”
Fire sighed and stood up.
You can’t expect me not to blame myself. I should have done something to protect
these people when Justin died. I don’t know why I didn’t.
“You were distracted.”
That’s no excuse.
“It isn’t, but it’s understandable. You’ve got an insanely scary evil twin out there
who’s deliberately targeting the people you love. Your brain just clicked into ‘must
find and stop evil twin’ mode instead of ‘must protect other loved ones’ mode.”
Fire sighed. I guess that’s what I do now. Lock the barn after the horse is gone.
Gaara shook his head. “We’re just working with a different heir now. She needs
protection now that she’s the last one left.”
You know what flips me? Why didn’t Fury kill Rissa? It’s not like her to skip over
someone because they’re young.
“I don’t know. Maybe she didn’t know about Rissa. Maybe she assumed Rissa was with
Suze. Either way, she’s made a mistake.”
And if Fury can make mistakes, she’s beatable, mused Fire.
Okay. I think we’re done with the scene. Grab Spike and get him to help you move
the bodies. The city police are outside – we’re working with them this time, even
though supernatural crimes are outside their jurisdiction. They’ll take Zack and
Lindsay to the morgue. When you’re done, maybe start working on fortifications.
Get a builder in – I want walls around this place, and robots, and anything else you
can think of.
Gaara nodded. “Should I tell the others to pack up?”
No, I’ll do it. I need to check in with them, but I want to see Suze first.
Gaara’s face softened. “How’s she holding up?”
She was pretty incoherent when I arrived. Cee’s been taking care of her, and
Remus was watching Rissa.
“I can’t imagine what she must be going through. First her brother, now her
All the more reason for us to find Fury and kick her skanky, lopsided ass.
“You’ve been spending too much time around your husband,” said Gaara drily as he
Fire headed upstairs to the nursery. Cee was in there, her arms around Suze.
How’s she doing? Fire asked Cee quietly.
“As well as can be expected,” said Cee, patting Suze on the shoulder as she cried. “I
don’t think she’s going to be coherent for a while.”
Not really surprising. Look, I’m going to stay here for the night once… we’ve got
things downstairs sorted. Could you stay as well?
“Yeah. I think a few of us are, actually. I mean, I don’t think we’re gonna be able to
pull Rissa away from her new friend.” Cee gestured over to the corner of the nursery
as Suze continued to cry into her shoulder.
Remus was playing with Rissa, who seemed completely unfazed by the deluge of
“We think she was asleep the whole time. Probably a good thing. If she’d heard, or
made a noise, she’d be traumatized or dead. Poor kid.”
Yeah. She’ll have a lot to deal with when she gets older.
Fire pulled Suze into a hug. We’re not going to stop until we make Fury pay for
this, okay, Suze?
Suze sniffled into Fire’s leather jacket. “She killed Lindsay.”
I know. And it’s my fault. I’m so sorry.
“Not your fault.” said Suze shakily. “Her fault.”
Fire sighed. Thanks, Suze. I have to go downstairs for a bit. I’ll leave you with Cee.
Downstairs, the lounge had been turned into an impromptu incident room. The couch
had been shoved aside and Simselves were scattered variously around working on
“Hey, Fire. What’s the situation?” asked Lucy, looking up from the lab report she’d
We’re about done. You guys can pack up shop if you like. That from the Andrews
case? asked Fire.
“Yup. Got a lot of similarities to this one.”
I’m not surprised.
“Come look at this,” said Lark. Fire obediently sat on the floor next to where Lark
was sprawled with her laptop.
What can you tell me?
“I sent some hair samples to Tempe about five minutes ago. She works really fast –
she’s just said that not all the blonde hair was Zack’s. Some was dyed, blonde over
brown. She’s running a DNA analysis, but I’m willing to bet it’ll be a match to yours.”
Well, that tells us she’s a blonde… Oh. Hang on. Lightbulb moment.
“Hmm?” asked Lark, but Fire was distracted by a sad whuffing noise from behind her.
Hey, dog. Fire looked over her shoulder into the liquid eyes of the wolf. Yeah, I know
you did your best. There’s only so much you can do while you’re looking like that.
“Uh. Fire? You do know that’s a dog you’re talking to? And what was it you were going
But Fire was standing up and looking out the window as though someone had called
her. What? Oh, I’ll tell you later. There’s someone I need to speak to first.
“She’s mad,” Lark sighed to the dog as she snapped her laptop shut. The dog yipped
in what sounded like agreement.
Fire walked out to the front of the house, where Death was standing (floating?)
patiently, waiting for her.
You’re late. Usually you’re all over a scene like this.
HUMANS. ALWAYS ASSUMING THAT THEY ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ENTITIES IN THE
MULTIVERSE. I HAVE A VERY BUSY SCHEDULE, AND IT WILL NOT BE SLOWING DOWN ANY
Is that a hint? Am I supposed to expect more people dying?
AS ALWAYS, MY ANSWER IS THAT I CANNOT ANSWER. NO MORTAL IS MEANT TO KNOW THE
INTRICACIES OF LIFE AND DEATH.
I’m not a mortal.
BUT YOU ARE NOT A GOD YET, EITHER, Death said cryptically.
Talking in riddles isn’t going to make me any less pissed off. In any case, you are
late. My colleagues are in the process of moving the bodies already.
GOODNESS, I AM BEHIND SCHEDULE. I DID HAVE A RATHER STICKY SITUATION TO DEAL
WITH IN VIPER CANYON. CALLS AT ALL TIMES OF THE NIGHT.
I’d heard. I don’t care. I want answers here and now. Why can’t I find her?
BECAUSE SHE HAS PART OF YOU.
That’s helpful, said Fire, voice dripping sarcasm.
THAT IS THE BEST THAT I CAN GIVE YOU.
AND NOW THAT WE HAVE SPOKEN, I HAVE A JOB TO DO. YOU DO, ALSO. A scythe
appeared in Death’s bony hand as he continued on towards the house.
Yeah. I do. No thanks to you, said Fire bitterly. Death did not reply.
Two days later…
Adam was back home at last. The bachelorette challenge had been fun, but Adam
just hadn’t been attracted to the girl in question. He did like her as a friend, though,
and hoped he’d be able to keep in contact with her.
He’d sent a text to his mother telling her that he was back, but she hadn’t replied.
He figured she was probably at work and was wandering around downtown waiting for
He was completely lost in thought while he wandered. He missed Anne and the others
he’d met during the challenge, and wondered who would win. He’d left early, so the
challenge was probably still taking place.
He was so totally oblivious to his surroundings that it wasn’t a surprise that he walked
straight into the blonde woman in front of him.
“OHMYGOD I am SO sorry,” said Adam in a panicked voice. “Are you okay? Did I hurt
The blonde giggled. “Oh no, I’m fine. I don’t object to cute guys running into me.”
She blinked, then blushed scarlet. “Sorry, that wasn’t meant to go outside my own
“Uh, it’s okay,” said Adam, blushing a little himself. “I’m not going to object to being
called, ah, cute.”
She grinned. “Hang on, haven’t I seen you before? You look familiar.”
“I have one of those faces, I guess…”
“Oh, waitwaitwait! I know! You’re the guy behind the counter at the art gallery!
Wow! Where’ve you been? I’ve been hoping to catch you at the gallery again but it’s
always been a woman with brown hair behind the counter, not you.”
“You’ve been trying to find me?” asked Adam, slightly embarrassed.
“Oh. Oops. Another thing meant to stay inside my head. I always babble when I’m
nervous!” said the blonde.
“Don’t worry, it’s sweet,” said Adam. “I’m Adam Chandler, by the way.”
The girl nodded. “I’m Naomi. Naomi Carter.”
“Pretty name,” said Adam, trying to think of something intelligent to say.
“Not for a baker. Bakers need interesting names for their bakeries, and Carter’s
Bakery sounds kinda… eesh. Being a carter used to be a profession all on its own.”
“Wow, you’re a baker? I love baking! Pies are the only way I could get my sister and
her boyfriend to eat fruit and vegetables in college. I swear those two survive on
linseed oil and paint fumes.”
“Oh, it’s so great to meet someone who loves baking too. I’ve got a little shop a few
streets over, maybe you could come and check it out? I’ve been told I make really
good cheesecake, but I can’t get the base quite right.”
“Well, have you tried…” Adam was interrupted by his cell phone ringing.
He pulled it out and checked the caller ID. “I’m so sorry, Naomi, it’s my mother. I
really should take this.”
“Hey, that’s fine,” said Naomi cheerfully.
“Oh. Fire? What are you doing at my house?”
Three days later…
Fire let herself into HQ. As loath as she was to leave the main house for long, she
couldn’t simply stop working. Her plan was to get in, grab a few files, tell everyone
when the funeral would be, then get back to the main house before Suze got home
Fire was stopped midsentence when she nearly tripped headlong over a pile of
suitcases and boxes in the doorway.
Someone planning a trip? she muttered, rubbing her shin.
Lucy popped out of the war room. “Hey, Fire! We weren’t expecting you to be back.”
So you planned to head off on vacation? asked Fire, arching an eyebrow.
Elaborate, please, Lucy. The suspense is killing me.
“See, Remus and I just got some rather bad news from home. One of my Sims has
gotten himself into an apocalypse, and we’re sort of needed.”
“We were planning on telling you, but travel to apocalypse universes gets cut off
pretty quickly, and the last flight out’s leaving in about three hours.”
Fire nodded. I understand, Lucy.
“It’s actually more like two and a half hours now, Luce,” said Remus, appearing from
I’m glad I caught you in time to say goodbye, then.
“You’re not angry?”
I can’t say I’m glad you’re leaving, but I wouldn’t hold you back if I could.
“I know it’s the worst possible time…”
Stop feeling guilty about things beyond your control. That’s my job, remember?
Fire smiled. Have a safe trip, you two.
“Thanks for everything, Fire.” Remus pulled Fire into an impulsive hug.
No, thank you. I know you didn’t get what you bargained for here.
“Doesn’t matter. We were glad to help out.”
Fire and the others watched the Obsessions leave, then Fire glanced at her watch.
Oh, crud. Guys, war room, now. Super quick meeting.
Right. First of all, Suze has organised Lindsay’s funeral to be in two days. I want as
many of us as possible to be there, but I also want a double guard on the main
house since Rissa will be there with just a nanny.
“Me and Gaara can be the guard dogs,” said Spike.
“And I’ll hold down the fort here,” offered Jeremy. “So you and the girls can go to
Great. Solved. So we just have one more thing to tackle. Lucy and Remus leaving
us is understandable, but leaves us without numbers, and that’s something we
“If you like, I can send out the word that we need reinforcements,” said Lark. “There
are a few nearby apocalypse ‘verses which are close enough to completion to be able
to spare a Simself or two.”
And apocalypses tend to make for fairly hardy Simselves. Great.
Lark got up. “I’ll do that now. No point wasting time, since we don’t have a lot of
that to spare.”
All right, I think that’s it. I’m still staying with Suze indefinitely – I just meant to
swing by and pick up a few things and then visit Tempe. Guess things didn’t work
out that way. Keep things ticking over, guys.
Over at the computer, Lark pouted. “Can’t I go visit Tempe?”
Last time you did, she wouldn’t come out of the tower for days. You know you
scare her. And threatening her with cookie cutter sharks does not help matters.
“That’s the fun part.”
As Fire headed out the door, Spike stopped her in the hall.
“Hey, wait up a second, Fire.”
‘Fire’? Not ‘pet’, or ‘love’?
Spike touched Fire’s cheek. “I haven’t forgotten that you do have a name, love.
Come home soon, will you? We need you here.”
Aw, that’s such a sweet way of avoiding saying you miss me.
“You caught me,” he said.
I’ll be back as soon as I can. I miss you, too.
Spike watched her go, a bitter, sarcastic smile on his face. “Always got to be the
hero, don’t you?”
She didn’t hear.
Ten minutes later…
Hmm. Tempe’s done a fair bit of remodeling, Fire muttered to herself as she
knocked on the new front door of Tempe’s home.
Tempe’s robotic companion, Fr4nk opened the door.
“Welcome, Ms. Eternal. Miss Chandler is expecting you.”
Thank you, Fr4nk. Where is Tempe, by the way?
“Miss Chandler is in the laboratory. Please follow me, I will direct
you to its location.”
Tempe’s lab turned out to be on the roof of her house, overlooking the greenhouse
tacked onto the side for her cowplant, Agnes.
“Please excuse me, Ms. Eternal. I have duties I must perform now.”
It’s okay, Fr4nk. I’m capable of opening a door on my own.
Once Fr4nk had left, Fire allowed herself a quiet chuckle. Tempe’s programming
genius evidently hadn’t extended to sarcasm recognition.
I like what you’ve done with the place, said Fire once inside the lab.
The room was tiled in perfect white, with various complicated apparatus scattered
around. Tempe herself was seated at a computer desk, examining a string of letters
on the screen.
“Ah, Fire. Your timing is excellent. The DNA results from your hair sample are
finished.” She gestured at the screen.
Since I’m not fluent in gibberish, I’ll assume it’s a match to mine?
“They’re base pairs, not gibberish. And yes. It’s a match. 99.99%, with a 0.01% error
She shut down the program and stood. “This indicates a substantially altered modus
operandi for the second murder, assuming Fury was also the perpetrator of the first
‘Assuming’? And I don’t see a substantial difference. Same gun, same accuracy,
“There was no physical evidence as to the perpetrator for Justin’s murder. No hair,
skin cells, nothing. Fury is becoming sloppy.”
So she’s making more mistakes than we thought. This is interesting.
Tempe leaned in a little, and said excitedly, “I actually have a theory about this.
Being a Simself of a kind, Fury is bound to have access to supernatural abilities, akin
to your own. She appears to have the ability to avoid leaving physical traces, but she
may only have partial control over this phenomenon.”
Fire raised an eyebrow. This was the only time she’d ever seen Tempe this animated.
Tempe reddened slightly. “I do apologize. Your visit was not for the sole purpose of
hearing me babble. What can I help you with today?”
The main house needs sentries, and you’re the best in the robotics business. I’d
like to order two of the best you can make, as soon as possible.
“Certainly, I can make some souped-up robots for you. What sort of system
specifications are you after?”
Something big and zappy will suffice.
Tempe gave a long-suffering sigh. “I’ll improvise. I can add facial recognition and
more powerful stunners to a standard sentry.”
Facial recognition? Doesn’t that mean I’ll be recognized as a hostile?
“You will not.” Tempe indicated Fire’s cheek. “Your adversary did you a favour of
sorts by giving you a distinguishing mark.”
That’s one way of looking at it.
“I can have them to you by tomorrow. Is there anything else?”
Ah, Lindsay’s funeral is in two days. I know you don’t usually like family events,
“I will be there. My niece will need my support.”
Fire smiled slightly. Fr4nk’s having quite the effect on you. I remember when you
refused to leave the house unless there was an apocalypse.
Tempe coloured a bit. “You, ah, noticed. He’s been making me wear my hair long,
and spend time outside the laboratory. It’s a little uncomfortable.”
I think I like your robot, said Fire with a slight smile.
Fire turned to leave. I have to get going. Suze will be home soon, and she panics if
she gets home without anyone else there.
“One moment, Fire?” asked Tempe.
“Watch your back. If my psychological profile on Fury is correct, than members of my
family will not be the only ones she will target.”
I’ll keep that in mind.
Two days later…
On the day of the funeral, it rained. Nevertheless, a small cluster of people stood
within Veronaville’s one and only cemetery, farewelling the young couple who had
died too young.
The decades disappear like sinking ships
But we persevere, God gives us hope
But we still fear what we don’t know
Castles in the sky sit stranded, vandalized
With drawbridges closing
Saw Cinderella in a party dress
But she was looking for a nightgown
I saw the ending when I turned the page
I threw my money and I ran away
Straight to the valley of the great divide
Out where the dreams all hide
Out where the wind don’t blow
Out here, the good girls die
And the sky won’t snow
Out here, the bird don’t sing
Out here, the field don’t grow
Out here, the bell don’t ring
Out here, the bell don’t ring
Out here, the good girls die
Now Cinderella, don’t you go to sleep
It’s such a bitter form of refuge
Why don’t you know, the kingdom’s under siege
And everybody needs you
Lyrics adapted from A Dustland Fairytale by The Killers.
After the service, the attendees milled around the cemetery, talking quietly to one
another. Suze and Parker stayed a little back, and surveyed the gravesites.
“It was a good service,” said Suze finally. “Sad, but nice.”
“It was. Do you want to go over and visit your brother’s grave now? You mentioned
something about it earlier.”
“Yeah, it’s been a while since I… hold that thought.” Suze’s gaze was caught by a
man standing by Lindsay’s grave.
“Oh no. You are not going over there,” said Parker firmly.
“Parker, it’s okay. I just want to talk to him. If I start screaming at him, you can
Parker frowned, but eventually acquiesced. “Go on, then. If he makes so much as a
“I get it, Parker.”
Alejandro turned as Suze approached.
“I’m surprised you had the nerve to show your face today, after the little incident
“I may not have been the perfect father, but,” Alejandro said coolly, “Lindsay was
still my daughter. I do wish I’d had the time to get to know her.”
“You had all the time in the world. You just didn’t take the chance because you were
too busy trying to manipulate me.”
“I know.” Alejandro sighed. Suze was slightly surprised to see that he looked…
defeated. “I’ve made mistakes. Many of them. The way I treated you was probably
the largest, and I am paying for that now.” He looked away from Suze. “I do not
stand any kind of chance with you now, do I?”
“No. You don’t.”
“I was foolish to believe I ever could. I guess I just… wanted back what I’d lost.”
“Yeah, well… how does that song go? You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone. What
we had was good, but now it’s broken. And there isn’t anything strong enough to put
it back together like it used to be.”
“I know that now. Don’t worry. I’ll be keeping my distance from now on… unless
Adam decides to invite me to his wedding. He seemed awfully close to that pretty girl
he brought today.”
Suze glanced over at her son and his girlfriend. “I wouldn’t count on it. You never
won any Father of the Year awards.”
“Painfully succinct, as always.” Alejandro raised his hand as if to touch her, but
thought better of it. “I believe this is goodbye, then?”
“Pretty much. Goodbye, Alejandro.”
Suze turned as if to leave, then changed her mind. “Alejandro… why do you always
call me ‘Susannah’?”
Alejandro looked mildly confused. “Isn’t that your name?”
“Most everyone calls me Suze. Even my mother. So why not you?”
“I never felt the need to. It’s a beautiful name, like the woman who wears it. It
never needed to be anything other than Susannah.” With that, he quietly turned and
Parker joined Suze as Alejandro left. “You okay, Suze?”
“Yeah.” Suze turned to Parker, and kissed him.
As they approached the cemetery gate, Suze paused.
“Wait a second. I need to speak to Fire before you take me home.”
“Oh, right. She’s living with you now, isn’t she?”
“That’s what I need to speak with her about.” Suze left Parker at the gate and
walked over to where Fire was standing.
Hey, Suze. Ready to head back, I guess? I won’t be a minute.
“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that.” Suze smiled wanly. “You’ve been
living with me ever since Lindsay was killed. It really isn’t practical.”
I’m not sure what you mean.
“You’ve got a husband, and a life that doesn’t revolve around me. I know time works
differently for you than it does for me, but it’s still been an awfully long time for you
to spend away from all that.”
Fire nodded. So, you’re proposing…?
“I want your permission to break a rule, and let Parker move in with me.”
Fire considered this. That’s a good idea, actually.
I don’t want you living on your own, and it is a little impractical for me to be away
from HQ right now. Though, if you wanted me to, I’d still stay.
“Breaking a rule doesn’t bother you? Would RealFire mind?”
To be honest, I don’t care what she’d think. She’s not calling the shots around
here any more. If she can’t handle living with Parker, too bad.
“You mean, if she can’t handle me living with Parker?” asked Suze.
Yeah. Sorry. My tongue and my brain don’t communicate as often as they should.
Ask Parker to move in. You’ll have help with Rissa, and you won’t have to live on
your own. We’ll keep up the patrols, which will be easier once our reinforcements
arrive. The robots Tempe made will help, and once the wall’s finished you’ll be
“I’m planning on warding the house, too. The local coven’s been giving me a hand
since I’m not a particularly powerful witch.”
Good idea. In light of this, I think it’s safe to say that you guys can’t have too
“Yeah. She’s… she’s gotten in once, and I don’t want her waltzing in like that again.”
She can’t, because we’ll be there. I know it’s hard, but we have to learn from
this. Lindsay’s death was awful, but it’s helping us to protect her sister.
“I think she’d be happy with that.”
I know she would. She loved you guys too much to let you get hurt. Now go ask
Parker to move in. He’ll be thrilled.
Fire watched Suze hurry over to Parker, then embrace him. Things weren’t okay, and
they wouldn’t ever be okay while Lindsay stayed in the ground before her time. But
they could pick up all the fragments and glue them back together as best they could.
There would be cracks, but they were reminders of lessons learnt.
Lark and Cee had also been watching Suze and Parker’s little exchange.
“Coming back to HQ with us, then?” asked Lark.
Yeah. I have some decisions to make, and it’s about time they started being good
“I think you just made a good decision,” said Cee.
You know, I think I did.
Four hours later…
Having Parker in the house didn’t make Suze feel any less alone.
Three days later…
“You sure this is the right place?” Marina asked Rose as they stood on the pavement
outside Simself HQ.
“The address is right. Why would you think it isn’t the right place?”
Rose is the simself of RoseFyre, author of A Buffyverse Apocalypse
Marina is the simself of smoothiequeen87, author of A Villanous Apocalypse
If you haven’t read their stories, you really, really should.
“Well, Lark never said the place had a tower.”
“Meh, let’s just go in anyway. Can’t hurt to knock on the door.”
They didn’t make it to the door, however, before Fire opened it and wandered out to
greet her friends.
Hi, guys. Glad you could make it here. How was the trip?
“Same old, same old. Interdimensional travel never gets much more exciting.”
“Speak for yourself. I had to pry Rhys away from the taxi. He’s always too eager to
find dimensions with women in he hasn’t slept with.”
Heh. I’m glad you did. I have enough Sims running around unchecked as is.
Rose dragged Fire into a hug. “It’s so good to see you again! Even if your voice is
weird and there’s a crazy woman on the loose.”
“Uh-oh. You’ve been caught by the Hug Monster, Fire. You’re doomed now.”
“Is it a crime to like hugs? No.”
Fire laughed. Come on, you two. Do you want the grand tour, or not?
Fire led Marina and Rose into the house. I’ll take you upstairs first, since that’s the
floor with the bedrooms.
“It’s kinda… huge,” commented Marina.
We do have an unlimited budget, Fire said with a slight smile.
“I’ll bet,” said Rose.
So, we have two vacant bedrooms. One’s in the corner there, and is part of the
tower. The other one…
“I call tower!” said Rose immediately.
“Hey hey hey, that’s not fair!”
“Are you trying to subvert the power of the dibs?”
“Yes… no… uh… grr.” Marina glared at Rose.
Fire sighed and watched the two of them bicker. If they’re meant to be our
reinforcements, we’re in deep trouble.
Shortly afterwards, the Simselves all congregated in the war room for Marina and
Rose’s first briefing.
Now, I know you guys mostly know what the deal is in this ‘verse thanks to Lark,
but do you have any questions? It’s a lot to take in at once.
“No, I’m pretty good. Your evil twin is out and killing people. Pretty open-and-shut.”
“IS she an evil twin? She seems to be a bit more than that.”
We don’t understand exactly how she came to be. It’s got something to do with a
glitch in the multiverse. Tempe’s studying it as we speak – hopefully, she’ll find
out something useful before Fury does her thing again.
“So we don’t know exactly what we’re up against.”
In a nutshell.
“I have a question,” said Lark. “When we were at the main house on the day Lindsay
and Zack were killed, you had some kind of epiphany, but you ran off before you told
any of us what was going on in your head. Care to explain?”
Oh! That. Well, I guess this is a good time to bring this up.
Fire stood up. We’ve been more or less in the dark for a while since Fury’s
probably in disguise and could look like anyone. But at the crime scene, we found
a few dyed blonde hairs which matched mine genetically.
“So, Fury’s a blonde?” asked Gaara.
You betcha. Which reminded me of something.
Fire flipped on one of the wall TVs. This is a detail from one of the paintings we
recovered from Lindsay’s gallery. She’s been known to paint odd things before,
including a painting of her dead uncle.
“That was unusual,” commented Gaara. “Lindsay was only ever known to see the
I’ll get to that. I believe that this is what Fury looks like now.
“Lindsay saw this coming?”
In a manner of speaking. Fire sat down again.
My suspicion is that she painted this while in a trance. Trances had the downside
of not being stored in Lindsay’s memory – that is, she never remembered what she
saw after the trance was over.
“So she did see her death, but forgot it.”
Precisely. This gives us a basic physical appearance of our perpetrator.
“She has stupid hair,” remarked Rose.
Marina craned her head around to see the screen. “Is that a tattoo on her shoulder?”
I think so. It gives us something to identify her with, which is another mistake on
her part. Once we clean up the image, that is.
“Awesome. So we round up the whole ‘hood and tell them to take off their shirts.”
That’s probably not going to work, Fire said through the peals of laughter from the
“And the painting of Justin?” asked Jeremy, once the chuckling had died down.
Well, we know that time is kind of complicated. Sometimes, the past can get
muddled up with the future. When Lindsay saw into the future, she saw the past
of someone with the same fate as her. Basically a big misinterpretation for those
of us who don’t see into the future.
“So it showed her future, not his past,” summarised Cee.
That’s the theory. Fire smiled slightly. It’s the best Tempe can give us.
Okay, guys. We have a new lead. You know what that means?
“More work,” groaned Cee.
Aw, come on. We’re a step closer to beating the bad guy!
“A step which requires wading through papers,” pointed out Spike.
If all you’re going to do is complain, then I think this meeting is done.
“Thank god for that,” muttered Spike.
I heard that.
Three years later…
Patrolling sure doesn’t get any more fun, thought Rose as she made her third sweep
past the main house. Always the same – no Fury, no killer robots… not even a dog
knocking over the trash can.
“Are you a Simself?”
Rose yelped when the small voice interrupted her train of thought, and looked around
suspiciously for its source.
There was a scruffy young girl sitting on top of the wall. She had a long blonde plait
with twigs poking out of it, and grubby blue overalls. Her feet were bare.
“And what exactly are you doing up there?” asked Rose, more calmly than she felt.
“Climbin’,” said the girl casually, swinging her feet.
“I can see that. What happens if you fall from all the way up there?”
“Not gonna fall,” said the girl. “I’m good at climbin’. The hedge makes it real easy to
get up and down, and I can just do this anyways.” As if to prove it, she pushed off the
wall and landed lightly in front of Rose.
“Well, now, it’s obvious how good you are at climbing,” said Rose, wryly.
“I’m Rissa. What’s your name? And are you a Simself? Mom says there are always
Simselves patrollin’ behind the wall. What’s a Simself?”
Rose sighed inwardly. This was going to be fun.
“I’m Rose. Yes, I am a Simself. And you really should be back on the other side of the
wall. It’s there for a reason.”
“Inside is boor-ing. There’s nobody to play with. Will you play with me?”
“I’m not sure I should…”
“Pleeeeeeease?” Rissa gave Rose a pleading look. Rose melted.
“Okay, I’ll make you a deal. We can play until the end of my shift, as long as we stay
inside the wall. At least if we’re on the inside I can still do my job.”
“Yay!” Rissa clapped her hands eagerly. “We can play swings, and play on the slide,
and on the monkey bars? Can you do flips? I can’t yet. Can you show me how?”
“Uh…” Rose was lost for words as Rissa pelted her with questions.
Then, before she could blink, Rissa was scrambling back over the wall.
“Come on, Rose!” Rissa called as she landed on the other side with a thump and the
sound of breaking twigs.
“I did think we’d use the gate,” muttered Rose.
Two years later…
“Why do I have to wear a dress? Dresses are icky. ‘Specially when they’re lacy and
itchy and pink.”
Suze sighed. “You have to wear a dress because we are going to your older brother’s
wedding, and for weddings you have to look nice.”
“Aaaw, Adam wouldn’t care if I showed up in a dress or in my overalls. If I did, he’d
just muss my hair and call me a little terror.”
“He wouldn’t be wrong,” muttered Suze.
“Parker, are you ready yet?” she called.
There was a muffled curse from the bedroom. “Not quite. Why are bow ties so damn
“I did offer to help…” Suze started, but was cut off by another string of curses.
“I never heard some of those words before,” Rissa said mildly. “They sound like fun.”
“If I ever catch you repeating any of those, Clarissa, I will make you wear pink lacy
dresses for the rest of your life,” said Suze, equally mild.
Rissa huffed out a sigh and sat down on the couch. “This is gonna be boor-ing.
Everyone’ll be older than me.”
“Your cousin Eva’s only a little older than you,” Suze pointed out.
“All Eva ever talks about is makeup and boys.” Rissa perked up a little as she thought
of something. “Will Rose and M’ina and Cee and Lark and Fire be there?”
“And how do you know the Simselves?” asked Suze suspiciously.
“They’re all real nice to me,” said Rissa happily. “They play with me when they’re
patrollin’ the house. Rose says it’s to keep me from climbin’ the wall. I dunno why,
acos climbin’s fun. But they push me on the swing, and tell me stories.”
Suze rolled her eyes. “I ought to bake them a cake, or something. Goodness knows
how hard it is to keep you out of trouble.”
With that, Parker emerged from the bedroom, tie lopsided but definitely bow-
shaped. “Right. We ready to head off?”
“Can we go on your broomstick, Mom? Can we can we can we?”
Suze shuddered. “I can’t think of anything more dangerous than you on a flying
broomstick. No, Fire and her husband are picking us up.”
Rissa pouted. “This already sucks.”
Two hours later…
Forever can never be long enough for me
To feel like I've had long enough with you
Forget the world now we won't let them see
But there's one thing left to do
Now that the weight has lifted
Love has surely shifted my way
Today and every day
Together can never be close enough for me
Feel like I am close enough to you
You wear white and I'll wear out the words “I love you”
And “you're beautiful”
Now that the wait is over
And love and has finally shown her my way
Today and every day
You'll always be
Happy by my side
I promise to
Sing to you
When all the music dies
And marry me
Today and every day
Say you will
Lyrics adapted from Marry Me by Train.
Once Adam and Naomi had finished saying their vows, all the guests stood up and
cheered. Adam blushed a little at finding himself the centre of attention.
“Uh, thanks everyone. The reception’s in the house, so if you want to stick around,
we’ll feed you.”
Family and friends chattered earnestly as lunch was consumed and congratulations
were issued to the happy couple.
But there was someone missing.
“Where did Rissa go?” asked Adam. “I saw her during the ceremony, but not since.”
“Isn’t she over at the smaller table with Marina and Cee?” said Suze, not particularly
“No, I can see the table from here and she’s not at it.”
“Oh goodness, she hasn’t run off, has she?”
“Probably,” sighed Adam as he stood up. “I’ll be back in a moment, dearest,” he said
to Naomi. “I need to help hunt down my baby sister.”
Suze rolled her eyes. “Literally, hunt. With a tranquilizer gun. She never slows down,
“Must be from your side of the family,” muttered Parker. Suze somehow managed to
accidentally jab him with her elbow as she pushed her chair in.
“CLARISSA? Where could she be hiding?”
“Anywhere. It’s a big house, Mum. Look, we should probably split up – it’ll make
Adam didn’t have to look long before he spotted a pair of mud-splattered pink shoes
dangling from one of the trees in the garden.
“Aren’t you meant to be inside?” he said casually to the muddy little girl in the tree.
“Are you kidding me, big brother? It’s so fun out here! You got a pond! There’s
tadpoles, and fishes, and lily pads, and…”
“Mud?” asked Adam, eyeing the now-ruined pink dress.
“That’s the bestest bit,” said Rissa happily. “It squishes.”
“You’re a little terror,” said Adam fondly. “Mum, I’ve found her,” he called.
“Clarissa Hadley Chandler, you are a mess,” said Suze as she came over to the tree
and saw the state of Rissa’s clothes.
“Well, uh, kinda? I only got a little muddy,” said Rissa, flicking a bit of grit off the
Suze cracked a smile. “What am I going to do with you, Riss? Come on, hop down.
There’ll be cake in a few minutes.”
“Yay!” Rissa hopped out of the tree eagerly. “What kind?”
“Chocolate,” said Adam with a grin.
“Oh, excellent. More opportunity for her to get her dress dirty,” sighed Suze.
“Relax, Mum. She only gets to be a kid once, y’know? Let her get covered in mud and
climb trees. She’s only got so long to be a kid before she has to be a grown-up.”
The trio headed back inside, Rissa scuffing absently at her shoes in a futile attempt
to scrape off the mud.
Five years later…
“Suze, come to bed. It’s nearly midnight, and Rissa’s party is tomorrow,” said Parker
with a yawn.
“Just a minute. I think if I tweak this spell, I can make the wards on the house even
“Don’t you think what you’ve done with the coven’s enough?”
“Rissa can’t ever be too safe,” said Suze, flipping the page. “Hm. I could substitute
some ground nutmeg here for the lizard’s tongue, that’d probably work…”
“Are you making a spell, or a lasagna? Suze, let it rest.”
“Just another minute, Parker.”
Parker sighed. Suze had really delved into her magical nature since Lindsay had died.
He worried, sometimes, that he was going to lose her to the magic, or that she would
go so overboard with the protection spells that Rissa would be essentially wrapped in
Whenever he tried talking about it with Suze, she just shut him out.
Twelve hours later…
“Hey, big sister. I’m gettin’ big today.” Rissa gazed up at the pictures of Lindsay
hanging in the hall next to her college diploma. “Jus’ thought you’d like to know,
acos you’re not gonna be there.”
All her life, Rissa had been told all about how wonderful Lindsay had been, how she’d
called her Rissy Bear, how she’d been a talented artist and a generally great person.
But that was all she had of Lindsay – what she’d been told by her mother. She
couldn’t remember Lindsay at all, and that made her sad.
Sometimes, too, she resented Lindsay for still holding such a large part of her
mother’s heart. But she always felt kind of bad afterwards.
As had become all too common in recent years, the Chandler family and friends found
themselves jammed together for a special event – this time, Rissa’s birthday. There
weren’t quite so many people here as had been at the wedding – Tempe had declined
the invitation but the Simselves all came.
The little kitchen was still pretty packed when it came time to blow out the candles.
“You all paying attention to me, yet?” asked Rissa. The chatter from the guests died
down and everyone clustered around the cake.
Thought of a wish yet, Rissa? asked Fire.
“Yuh huh.” Rissa bent down and blew out the candles. “But I can’t tell ya, acos then
it won’t happen.”
Everyone backed up as Rissa hopped down triumphantly. “Hey, this means I don’t
need to climb the fence any more! I’ll be big enough to reach the lock on the gate!”
Over in the corner, Suze shivered.
One sparkly twirl later, and a teenaged Rissa was examining her transition clothes
with mild amusement.
“Pink? Yep, that’s gotta go, real fast. And I think the hair needs a little something-
“But, elsewise?” Rissa grinned, a gesture on her which never failed to look
mischievous. “I think I’m pretty dang sexy. ‘Scuse me, people. I need to go slip into
something a little less girly.”
For a good two hours, the guests mingled with one another, while Rissa upheld her
habit of going missing at family gatherings.
“…still haven’t had any luck, but we’re trying…”
“…really still convinced that I’m evil?”
“…don’t know where she’s gotten to. What could she be doing…”
…and she’s just sitting there, perfectly calm, on top of the wall…
Finally, the door opened and Rissa appeared in the kitchen.
There was a brief silence, then everyone started chattering even more loudly than
before. Rissa grinned, and waited patiently for her mother to turn around and see her
new look. This was going to be even better than being found splattered in pond muck
at a wedding.
Suze turned, saw her daughter, and froze. Everyone else started subtly migrating to
other parts of the house.
“Clarissa Hadley Chandler, what on EARTH have you done to your hair?” demanded
“Cut it. Dyed it. Duh. Pair of scissors and the leftover bottle of dye in the bathroom
cupboard and this chick is ready to roll.”
Suze glared at her daughter. “Thanks ever so, Mother,” she muttered. “Rissa, you
can’t honestly think I’ll let you leave the house looking like that?”
“Jeez, Mom, lighten up. It’s a little hair dye. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not
like I got my nose pierced, or a tattoo, or something. Though a tattoo wouldn’t be a
“Over my cold, dead body.”
“Aw, fer… Mom, it was a joke. Come on. Life doesn’t have to be boring. Live a little.”
“Tomorrow, when all our guests are back home,” hissed Suze, “you are dyeing your
hair blonde again.”
“Way to overreact, Mom!”
“And, unless I’m really, really wrong here, we’re discussing my hair here. Not yours.
So I think I can do whatever I damn well please with it.”
“Fine.” Suze turned and stalked towards the door. “Do whatever you like. I don’t
“Reverse psychology ain’t gonna work on me, Mom!” yelled Rissa, scowling after her
mother. “I don’t do guilt trips!”
Two years later…
The phone rang in the early afternoon. Parker was at work, and Rissa was at school,
so Suze answered.
“Ms. Chandler? This is Brianna Macklin, administrator at Clarissa’s school.”
“Oh, yes. What can I do for you?”
“I’m afraid you’ll need to come in and speak with the principal, Ms. Chandler.”
“What on earth for?”
“Clarissa has been involved in several incidents at the school recently, and we
believe that the disciplinary notes we’ve been sending home with her have not been
Fifteen minutes later…
“I want a lawyer,” said Rissa stubbornly, glaring at her principal.
“Rissa, I’m the closest you’re getting to a lawyer,” said Suze tiredly. She smiled
apologetically at the principal. “I’m sorry, Mr. Harrison. Please go on.”
Mr. Harrison, an elderly, balding man only three years from retiring, nodded. “Thank
you, Ms. Chandler. Clarissa has been behind several recent disturbances at the
school, and we’d like to discuss them with you, and her, and decide upon appropriate
“Y’know, it’s not really discussing them with me if you act like I’m not here,”
muttered Rissa rebelliously.
“Rissa, for once in your life, close your mouth.”
Mr. Harrison coughed, then began. “The first incident was comparatively mild. The
senior homeroom was covered in yellow sticky notes.”
“At least you can’t say I have no attention span,” Rissa grumbled, slouching in her
“Then,” Mr. Harrison continued, as if Rissa hadn’t spoken, “Clarissa liberated a
number of costumes from the school production and staged an, ahem, zombie
invasion in the school cafeteria. This mostly consisted of a lot of thrown spaghetti
“I was advertising! Aren’t we doing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies this year?”
“It’s Emma, but that’s beside the point.” Mr. Harrison sighed, and continued. “The
coffee in the teachers’ lounge was spiked with Jell-o.”
“I’m trying to cure their caffeine addiction,” Rissa countered.
“The slide show during the senior valediction was sabotaged and a popular song was
played instead of the national anthem.”
“I maintain that Rickrolling will not go out of style. And how was that malicious? All
the seniors got up and started dancing!”
“Clarissa, will you shut up?” Suze snapped.
“She created an oversized smoke bomb in her chemistry class which forced the
evacuation of the entire science block.”
“That was an accident. Mostly. It was meant to be bigger.”
Suze rolled her eyes.
“A dairy cow was let loose in the quadrangle.”
“That was my science project! She kind of, um, escaped.”
“All of the frogs in the biology lab were released into the school.”
“Well, how was I supposed to know they’d head for the boy’s locker room? Though, I
have to admit, hearing all the jocks scream was hilarious.”
“And finally,” said Mr. Harrison, “an entire locker bank was filled with chocolate
He and Suze looked expectantly at Rissa, waiting for her rebuttal.
Rissa just giggled. “Yeah, that one was fun.”
“The thing is, Ms. Chandler, Clarissa has excellent academic records. Her grades are
perfect, and she’s an excellent candidate for valedictorian. But, I feel that
schoolwork is too easy for her, and isn’t keeping her entertained.”
“Got that right,” said Rissa. Suze glared at her.
“What I’m proposing is that we put Clarissa in an accelerated program. She’s
currently a sophomore, yes? She could graduate in two academic years, rather than
“You’re putting me in with the juniors?”
“Essentially, yes. But this is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. You’ll be expected to
make amends for the damage you’ve caused. And Coach Ditka is pushing for you to
receive several weeks’ worth of detentions.”
“Not my fault his players are a bunch of sissy ranidaphobes.”
Suze nodded. “I’m inclined to agree with your suggestions, Mr. Harrison. If it keeps
Clarissa from being destructive…”
Rissa rolled her eyes. “Pfft. I’ve been doing senior level maths homework since I was
a freshman. This won’t keep me occupied for long.” Neither her mother nor her
principal heard her.
“Precisely, Ms. Chandler. Thank you for coming in today. You can take Rissa home
“Thank you, Mr. Harrison. We’ll have a lot to discuss when we get home. Especially
when her father gets back from work.” She rose from her chair. “Come on, Rissa.”
Rissa smirked as she followed suit. She knew very well that her father would be a lot
easier to handle than her mother had been.
Two years later…
“For god’s sake, Mom, it’s just one date!”
“Absolutely not,” said Suze, resolute. “I don’t want you out unsupervised at night!”
“If this is because you think you can’t trust me after the detention thing…”
“It’s not. But don’t think I haven’t heard about your latest escapade. Making a
catapult in wood shop and instigating a food fight with it is not the best way you
could have celebrated your early graduation. I don’t blame Mr. Harrison for banning
you from the actual ceremony one bit.”
Clarissa rolled her eyes. “It was a trebuchet, mother. There is a difference.”
“Don’t be cute, Clarissa Hadley Chandler. Disciplinary issues aside, this is because
you just aren’t safe out there on your own.”
“So have one of the Simselves chaperone or something! Jeez!”
“No. You are not going out at night with someone I don’t know.”
“Damn it, Mom. You can’t keep me under your thumb for the whole of my life. You
have to let go eventually,” said Clarissa, frustration evident in her voice.
“I don’t want you getting killed like your sister!”
“You’re being neurotic! Going out to the movies for a couple hours with a guy I like
from school isn’t gonna end with me getting a bullet in my chest! You flip out over
the littlest things!”
“Your safety is not something little, Clarissa!”
“So send me with a frickin’ bodyguard. It’s not rocket surgery, Mom. I need to get
out and experience stuff, not spend my life under… under fucking house arrest.”
“Language, Clarissa Hadley.”
“Oh, don’t Firstname Middlename me, Mom. You know I can’t stand that shit. Stop
changing the subject. We’re not sweeping this under the damn rug like we always do.
I feel smothered. I’ve been living behind a freaking wall ever since I can remember,
and it’s killing me.”
“It’s for your protection. The Simselves…”
“The Simselves have a notion of what is reasonable and what is not, Mom! A wall is
reasonable. A bodyguard is reasonable. Not letting me out of the house for anything
besides school is punishment.”
“Which you have more than earned in recent…”
“Right, and what about before I earned it? I’ve only ever been here, and to school,
and to Adam’s house for my entire life. I want to be normal, Mom. I want to be able
to go to birthday parties and ice skating and everything Lindsay got to do when she
was a kid. I want a damn childhood.”
“Everything is secondary to your safety, Clarissa! I do not want to bury another one of
“Okay, so everything’s secondary to my safety, is it? Falling in love, going shopping,
leaving this house? So how does my leaving for college fit into grand game of Let’s
Control Every Aspect of Clarissa’s Life?”
Suze was silent.
Rissa stared at her mother. “You didn’t even think of it, did you? You just assumed
you’d be able to keep me locked in here like frickin’ Rapunzel for the rest of my life
and that I’d never want to do anything for myself.”
“No, Rissa, of course that’s not…”
“Keep lying to me like that, Mom. It’s worked for the last seventeen years, so why
Rissa shoved past her mother and stomped upstairs to her room, slamming the door
behind her. Suze stayed exactly where she was for a long time, her heart aching.
Rissa slouched in her desk chair for the best part of two hours, sulking.
It’s not fair. It just isn’t. Lindsay got to go off to college, so why can’t I?
Then, a thought struck her. Why couldn’t she go to college? She’d graduated, hadn’t
she? Not officially, of course, but who needed a piece of paper these days?
Suddenly, she knew what she had to do. If Suze wouldn’t take her to college, she’d
just damn well take herself.
She opened her bedroom door, very quietly, and slipped out into the darkened
Getting down the stone steps was a challenge, since her stompy boots threatened to
make plenty of noise whenever she was the slightest bit careless. But the light in
Suze’s room never switched on, and Parker wasn’t due home for another three hours,
when his night shift ended.
Halfway down the hallway, Rissa paused and looked at the small shrine to her older
sister that Suze had created so many years ago.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she whispered to the painting on the wall. “If you
hadn’t have gone and died like that, I wouldn’t be in this mess right here.”
Shaking her head at her own foolishness, Rissa continued to sneak down the hallway
and out of the front door.
Just like when she was small, Rissa scrabbled around on the hedge for the few sturdy
branches she knew were there, and hoisted herself up on top of the wall.
She allowed herself a brief moment of triumph – I’ve still got it – before dropping
nearly soundlessly to the pavement below.
Of course, nearly soundlessly isn’t quite soundlessly enough to escape the notice of
an alert Simself.
“Rissa. What are you doing outside at this hour?” Marina strode over from somewhere
near the gate where she’d been standing before she’d heard the click of boots on
“Oh, you know,” said Rissa nonchalantly. “Out for a walk.”
“At midnight? I’m finding this story a little tricky to swallow, Rissa.”
Rissa rolled her eyes. “Okay, okay. I’m sorta kinda maybe running away.”
“Come on, M’ina. I’m a freaking prisoner in there. I want out. ‘Specially since Mom as
good as told me she never wants me to go to college ever.”
“So you want to run away to college.”
“Well, yeah. I’ve been accepted already, I just haven’t had to stand in front of my
high school class in a hideous graduation robe. I wasn’t going to be allowed to,
Marina sighed. “I can see where you’re coming from. But you can’t go to college
Rissa pouted. “But M’inaaaaaa…” she started, a petulant whine creeping into her
Marina cracked a grin. “Only because it’s midnight. You think any college admission
offices are going to be open at midnight?”
Rissa grinned sheepishly. “Never thought of it.”
Marina nodded. “Didn’t think so. Okay then. I’ll get someone to send over a taxi, and
you can hang out at HQ for the night. Someone can take you to college in the
morning.” She paused. “Is all this because you had another fight with Suze?”
Rissa nodded, a little sadly. “A big one. I think we need to spend some time apart.
Maybe a couple years. And Dad… well, he’s not back from work yet. But he’ll
“Well, if it’s what you want, I won’t hold you back. I’m sure Fire will know how to
handle your mother once she finds out and hits the roof.”
Rissa chuckled. “Yeah. Big bonus of running away is that you don’t have to deal with
the fallout until you feel like it.”
Marina pulled a tiny cell phone out of her pocket. “Hey, Cee. Could you send a taxi or
something over to the main house? We’ve got a guest for the night.”
The taxi was there five minutes later. Rissa turned back and smiled hugely at Marina
as she clambered into the back seat.
“Thanks for this, M’ina. Really. I’m not gonna forget this.”
“Make sure I don’t regret it,” said Marina fondly.
As the taxi pulled away, Marina smiled to herself. She’d seen Rissa grow up – it was
nice to be able to help her start making her own decisions about her life.