Finding Consort Ch 12


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New love and old grudges just don’t mix.

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Finding Consort Ch 12

  1. 1. Chapter Twelve New love and old grudges just don’t mix.
  2. 2. Welcome to the penultimate chapter of Finding Consort, Chapter 12—originally Chapter 14. I like that word, penultimate. It lets me know my years of Latin didn’t completely go to waste. Anywho, no recaps or preamble—here it is and enjoy. Happy reading! Kelyns Ch 12: One Step Closer
  3. 3. Veronica stood in her living room, grinning from ear to ear. Ravi had that effect on her. “Oh, crap – I gotta go, Ravi – I lost track of time again.” Ever since their engagement a few days ago, Veronica had made it a point to talk to Ravi every morning. Of course, this usually made her late. It was almost eight, but here she was, still in her pajamas.
  4. 4. “Still in your pjs?” Ravi teased knowingly. “Um…” “Alright, I’ll let you go. Meet you for lunch?” “Duh. One o’clock. See you later.” And so, after V rushed to get dressed, she left to check up on her salon.
  5. 5. The morning was a whirlwind of schmoozing with customers. Things had finally slowed down when Marylena cornered her. V had been in a good mood today and it didn’t go unnoticed. “Ok, V, what’s up?” “Huh,” Veronica looked up. “What are you talking about?”
  6. 6. “You’ve been smiling all morning—” “Um, is that a crime?” “No. But you aren’t usually so perky. Your good mood is like a beacon. A big, not so subtle beacon blasting rays of light that say ‘I’m happy! I’m happy!’ and—” “Okay, okay, I get it,” Veronica smiled. “I have been in a good mood lately; I can’t help it.”
  7. 7. “So, what?” Marylena cocked her head. “You going to spill or make me beg for info?” “I’ll spill,” V smiled again. “You see, it’s… Well I… I actually got engaged a few days ago. To Ravi!” Veronica confessed.
  8. 8. “Finally!” Marylena exclaimed. “Yeah an—wait. What do you mean finally?” She had been sure Marylena would be surprised. Heck, her engagement still surprised her sometimes. “Come on, V, it was kind of obvious you two were seeing each other.” “But we weren’t rea—”
  9. 9. “Please,” Marylena interrupted. “I mean, first there were those secret lunches—” “Those were business lunches—” “And then there’s the fact that you two are inseparable. You guys do practically everything together—” “He’s my assistant—”
  10. 10. “Uh, huh. That sure explains the secret looks of longing you two—” “What?! There were no—” “And I don’t know how many times I’ve seen you two whispering in some corner—” “I was not!” “Or flirting when you were supposed to be working—”
  11. 11. “Wha? No! We never—” “And let’s not forget making out in the break room when you thought everyone went home,” Marylena finished, raising an appraising brow. “Uh,” Veronica suddenly looked sheepish. “Okay. I might have done that one,” she admitted. “Uh, huh. Just remember that I called it. Like eight chapters ago.”
  12. 12. “Hmm, I guess you did… You know, it’s still a little weird, though. I never really—” “Oh, no,” Marylena cut V off. “I’m not going to let you get all worried and mopey. You have every right to be happy.” She paused. “You know I’m happy for you, right? Congratulations, V.” “Thanks,” Veronica smiled. “That means a lot.”
  13. 13. Marylena nodded. “Now go get outta here.” Veronica just raised her eyebrows, a silent question. “Duh, it’s time for your secret lunch date!” Veronica laughed and rolled her eyes. But a look at the clock showed that it was indeed time to go. Leaving the store in Marylena’s hands, Veronica practically skipped to Londoste’s, her mood soaring even higher.
  14. 14. A half hour later, Veronica’s mood was tanking. She had shown up a bit early, so she had decided to grab her usual table and browse the menu while she waited. But there wasn’t any sign of Ravi and her phone had no messages. She frowned; she was starting to get annoyed.
  15. 15. A few minutes later, a waitress came over to see if she was ready to order yet. Veronica explained she was still waiting, but received an annoyed look in response. Veronica frowned for what seemed like the fiftieth time that day as she took a sip of water. She didn’t care if she was hogging a table – she was started to get worried.
  16. 16. It’s not like Ravi to be late, she mused. It’s also not like him to ignore her calls. She’d called him several times now, but there was no answer. V sighed. She tried to reason with herself. Maybe he got stuck in traffic, she thought. Right. Those loading screens could be such hassles. She rolled her eyes. Okay, he probably got held up at the business. Yes, that’s it. …But that wouldn’t explain why he didn’t call. Or answer her calls. V frowned and sighed again. Just what the hell had happened to him? *******
  17. 17. Earlier that morning… Ravi had decided to take a little detour before meeting Veronica for lunch. Carla could handle the fitness store for an extra hour and besides, he wanted to get something for Veronica. A gift. But what, he asked himself.
  18. 18. As he walked by the small strip of stores, a sign caught his eye. A flower shop… Hmm. Yeah, that’s it! Flowers will be perfect, Ravi grinned to himself as he stepped inside the store.
  19. 19. The place was small, and there only seemed to be one person around. “Welcome. Feel free to take a look around,” the cashier said over the soft salsa music coming from the stereo. “Thanks,” Ravi nodded, then turned to look at the wall of flowers nearest to him.
  20. 20. I wonder what kind of flowers V would like, Ravi asked himself. Pretty soon, he became engrossed with examining the merchandise. No, no –V wouldn’t like that one. And this one’s a bit too big. I wonder if there’s—Ravi was so wrapped up in his thoughts, he didn’t notice someone else had walked into the store.
  21. 21. This customer was dressed in all black and a matching mask. Thus, no one could see the smirk on her face. I love it when my victims make things easy for me, the woman thought to herself. An empty store in a scarcely populated area – this should be a snap. The woman narrowed her eyes, focusing on her mark, who happened to be ignoring her.
  22. 22. The cashier, though she saw the woman, barely batted an eye; she saw all types in her career. The woman wasn’t even the most eccentric sim she’d seen. Slumping, she went back to her daydream.
  23. 23. The woman, meanwhile, had walked up to Ravi. He didn’t notice her at first, but it soon became hard to ignore the strange sim hovering next to him.
  24. 24. “Uh… Do I know you?” Ravi asked hesitantly. He didn’t think he knew anyone with a love of black and a habit of wearing masks. He narrowed his eyes, but the only part of her he could see were blonde arched eyebrows above deep blue eyes highlighted by black eyeliner and purple eye shadow. The woman laughed at Ravi’s inquiry and that’s when Ravi froze. That laughter… It was kind of familiar. But it’s been four years, Ravi thought frantically. And she—well, died.
  25. 25. “You should,” the woman taunted, jolting Ravi out of his reverie. “That voice,” he blurted. There was no doubt about it, now. “No—No way. Dag—” “Bingo!” Dagmar interrupted before he could finish. “You do remember me! Well, you guessed right. Wanna know your prize?”
  26. 26. Ravi gulped. He wasn’t sure if what he was seeing was true. But if it was… Then the how didn’t matter so much right now. Dagmar was crazy. Just look at her outfit. No, there was no time for questions - he had to stop her from doing… well, whatever it was she hell bent on doing. “Dagmar,” Ravi began. “I don’t know what you’re planning, but—” “Oh, don’t bother,” Dagmar cut him off again.
  27. 27. “The only reason you can see me right now is because I want you to. I want you to know. I want you to suffer. I want you to die in complete and utter agony and I want you to know who did it.” Suddenly, Ravi thought, everything makes sense. I can’t believe it. This is still about Veronica.
  28. 28. “So, basically, you’re just jealous?” Ravi smirked and raised a brow. “Enough!” “Really, Dagmar, all these years and you’re still nutty. Or should I say cheesy? Just how many brain cells did you lose as a grilled cheese sim?” “QUIET!”
  29. 29. In flash, Dagmar whipped out her wand. Sparks of light radiated off the small instrument and soon Ravi was frozen in place unable to do anything but watch the witch complete her spell.
  30. 30. Backing up a step, Dagmar began her incantation, careful to perform the complex wand movements flawlessly. At her last word, a burst of green light erupted from the wand, hurling itself forward.
  31. 31. Finally able to move again, Ravi threw his hands up in a futile attempt at protecting himself. But it was too late and the magic was too strong. The light nearly blinded all in the room as it engulfed Ravi’s body and knocked him backwards.
  32. 32. But he didn’t fall. Instead, Ravi began to feel strangely light. Still surrounded by magic, Ravi realized he was fading. He reached frantically for the shelves next to him, desperate to find something to ground him, though his efforts were in vain. He was dissolving and the store was losing focus. The scent of pollen, Dagmar’s laughter, the wood floor beneath him all faded as his senses shut down.
  33. 33. Soon there was nothing but air…
  34. 34. And a bolt of light where Ravi should have been.
  35. 35. Cackling to herself as evil witches are wont to do, Dagmar turned around. The cashier had had trouble keeping quiet during the ordeal. A problem Dagmar planned to rectify immediately.
  36. 36. The seasoned cashier was in shock, a frozen look of horror on her face that she unsuccessfully tried to mask when she realized Dagmar was looking at her. “P-P-lease,” she began shakily, simultaneously taking a step back. It was all she managed to get out. “I don’t think so,” was Dagmar’s snarky reply. She couldn’t afford to leave any witnesses.
  37. 37. Once again, she pulled out her wand and began a spell, barely containing her glee. Once again, her victim was frozen in place, unable to stop her assault.
  38. 38. Then the cashier gave a blood-curling scream as her body was suddenly encompassed in a yellow-orange fire. *****
  39. 39. Meanwhile, another employee had been in the backroom… “Oh, my Plumbbob…” she whispered. The girl had been minding her own business, dutifully arranging flowers in the backroom—the most boring job on the planet if you asked her, but it paid well and kept her out of sight – a crucial detail. Previously it had meant relatively little harassment from legacy heirs who just seemed to go bonkers over her recessive blonde hair. But now it meant she was safe from all the commotion in the front room. She had turned around to place a bouquet on a work table when she spotted a funnily dressed witch in the middle of the store, reciting a spell.
  40. 40. And now she could only watch in horror as her boss was hexed, too, seemingly engulfed in flames. Oh crap, Oh crap, Oh crap! She could barely think straight, but she knew she needed to remain quiet. She didn’t want to make the mistake of her boss. Quietly, she backed away from the archway…
  41. 41. Before ducking down behind the worktable. She couldn’t see anything from this part of the room, but then, she was pretty sure the witch couldn’t see her either. And every fiber of her being told her she needed to stay out of sight. *****
  42. 42. As it turned out, Dagmar had no plans to kill the cashier. Erasing her memory was a quicker, and much less messy, way to eliminate the witness to Ravi’s abduction. Though it would have been fun to have a new test subject for her spells, Dagmar knew she had to stick to the plan if she wanted things to run smoothly.
  43. 43. Still, she couldn’t help but chuckle as she watched the woman collapse to the floor. “Sleep well,” Dagmar couldn’t resist taunting. “You’re going to have a wicked headache in the morning…”
  44. 44. Dagmar let out another evil crackle. “Geez,” she shook her head. “I gotta stop doing that. Stupid evil witch coding.”
  45. 45. “And no more talking to myself, either. People are going to think I’m crazy.”
  46. 46. Wrapped in her own thoughts, Dagmar left in a rush with nary a thought to the store and whomever else might be around. *****
  47. 47. Back to Veronica… Veronica stormed out of Londoste. “I can’t believe this,” she muttered. She had been waiting almost two hours now, and Ravi was still a no show. Finally taking a hint from the waiter, she had decided to leave.
  48. 48. Sighing, Veronica took out her cell phone and tried to call Ravi one more time. But her call went straight voicemail, same as before. Groaning in frustration, Veronica pounded a different number on her phone.
  49. 49. “KB, something’s wrong,” Veronica blurted as soon as she heard her old friend pick up the phone. “Ravi was supposed to meet me hours ago, but he never showed! He won’t even answer when I call and now… Look, I know I’m probably overreacting, but I just can’t help feeling worried. This isn’t like him.” “No, that doesn’t sound like Ravi,” KB agreed.
  50. 50. Veronica breathed a sigh of relief. “So you think something’s up, too.” “Possibly.” Veronica could just picture KB shrugging. “Possibly. My fiancé's missing and all you can say is possibly.”
  51. 51. “Well, what do you want me to say, V?” “I–I don’t know. It’s just… Well, I’m still having this nightmare and… Look, something’s just wrong, okay? I just feel it. Things aren’t right.” “I believe you.” “I knew you would.” Veronica let out another sigh.
  52. 52. She knew KB would understand; she’d set everything to rights, come up with a plan. KB always knew what was going on and what to do about it. So V waited patiently for KB to spell out her plan of action. But after a minute or two, it became clear KB wasn’t going to talk. “Um, KB? Are you going to say something?” “Like what?”
  53. 53. “Uh, well, you know.” “No, I don’t know. Enlighten me.” “Um… Aren’t you going to do something about this? Tell me what should be doing and, well, come up with a plan?” “Oh. …No.”
  54. 54. “No?” “No.” “No?!” “That’s what I said, V.” “But what do you mean ‘no’? You can’t say no! You have to come up with a plan – it’s what you do!”
  55. 55. “V, I thought you wanted to run your own life.” “Yeah, but… But, come on, KB, you always have a plan!” “Not this time.” “But why?” “You don’t need me to come up with a plan.”
  56. 56. “Yes, I do! I do need you – it’s why I called you!” “Veronica, for the past few years, you’ve had control over your own life. You’ve learned to take care of yourself. You don’t need me as much as you think.” “But—”
  57. 57. “Listen, V. I’m here for you. I am your friend. But I’m not telling you what to do. This is your life, your story. I’ll do whatever I can to help; if there’s something you need me for, I’m there—” “I need you to plan!” “I can’t, V. I’m not in charge anymore. You are. Don’t worry; you’ll figure things out. Trust yourself.”
  58. 58. And after a quick goodbye, a bewildered Veronica was left standing on the street staring at her cell phone. “Right. So, I’m in charge…” she muttered. “Only one problem: I haven’t the faintest clue what to do!” In a daze, Veronica started walking back to her office. “Please, call me, Ravi, please,” she whispered to herself. *****
  59. 59. Meanwhile, in a dank dark dungeon in the middle of nowhere…
  60. 60. Ravi didn’t want to wake up. He ached all over and didn’t really want to move, but something was poking him in his back, making it very uncomfortable to sleep. He tried to sigh, but was surprised when it came out more like a groan. It seemed he was more hurt than he thought. Slowly, he tried to open his eyes and get up. His movements were slow as darkness gave way to blurry focus, his confusion mounting as things became recognizable. “Why I am sleeping on straw?” he questioned himself, surprised to hear his voice sound weak. “And why the hell is there a bone sticking out of – Holy Crap!”
  61. 61. Suddenly awake, Ravi scooted off the make shift bed to reveal a skeleton. Now I know what was poking me, he thought wryly. He doubted it was real, but then he noticed the stains on the floor next to him. “What the hell?” Ravi closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. After a deep breath, he opened his eyes, expecting the scenery to have changed. But it did not. “Where, in the name of Plumbbob,” he muttered, “am I?”
  62. 62. Sitting back, he took in the room. He appeared to be in a cell – black bars separated him from the rest of the room, but there was no door. There were a few other things in the cell besides the weird cot he had been laying on. Across the room, another skeleton hung from the ceiling next to some type of torture contraption. Stains surrounded these items, too, and the blade on the contraption looked sharp.
  63. 63. Next to him, outside the bars, lay more instruments. Ravi didn’t even want to think about their possible uses, but he knew only an extremely cocky person would put potential weapons right outside the bars, within a prisoner’s reach.
  64. 64. Turning his head, he eyed the rest of the room and was surprised. It looked like a study. A dreary study, but a study nonetheless. A side table was littered with old, fragile-looking books, while another held various vials and jars. Finally, in the center of the room stood a black cauldron emitting a noxious aura. A cauldron? Memories suddenly slammed back into Ravi’s head – Dagmar. She was alive. She had cornered him in that flower shop and done something to him. Spelled him.
  65. 65. Ravi stood up, stretching. He had to figure out a way out of here, before Dagmar came back. But looking around, he didn’t see any exits. His cell had no door, the stone walls were bare, save for a few candle holders, and even the ceiling was spotless, containing no indents whatsoever. Either there was a really well-hidden trap door somewhere… Or there isn’t one at all. Suddenly, Ravi groaned. Of course –she’s a witch. She doesn’t need doors.
  66. 66. Dejected, Ravi heaved a great sigh just before something flashed in the corner of his eye. It was Dagmar; she was materializing. “You!” He blurted before she could say anything. “What did you do to me? Where am I?”
  67. 67. “A place where no one will ever find you,” Dagmar smiled sinisterly. “But to be more specific, my workroom. Like it? I decorated it just for you. Notice the lack of doors and windows. Oh, and I do hope you like your cell. Got enough company in there?” she teased. Ravi chose to ignore her comments. “Look, just tell me what you want, Dagmar.” He straightened, looking her directly in the eye.
  68. 68. “Ah, now that is the question, isn’t it?” she smiled again. “And I believe that for the first time in a very, very long time, I’m going to get exactly what I want,” she smirked. “You’re not going to get away with this!” Ravi blurted out, frustrated. But Dagmar only giggled. “Oh, Ravi, please. Let’s try to avoid clichés, now, shall we?”
  69. 69. “And,” she continued, “You’d do well to remember that I have the upper hand here. I’ve spent months – no, years – making sure that I will indeed get away with all this.” She was close now, right up against the bars. He stared at the woman he once considered a friend. “What do you want with me?” he said evenly. She laughed in his face. “And yet another cliché! But, since the question is fitting, I suppose I shall tell you.”
  70. 70. She looked at him, her blue eyes meeting his grey ones. “I want you to die,” she said simply. “I spent years planning my reunion with Veronica, and things would have went off without a hitch, too – if you hadn’t thwarted me. Again. I couldn’t believe it,” she continued, beginning to pace. “The timing was perfect. She was miserable and alone and then all of a sudden you swoop in out of nowhere to be her knight in shining armor. She fell in love with you instead of me.” Dagmar shook her head in disbelief. “I won’t let you ruin my plans. I won’t let anyone ruin my plans. Veronica will be mine.”
  71. 71. Ravi listened to Dagmar’s little rant. He was a bit confused; she seemed to have a different version of things. But he knew one thing: he needed to stall. The longer Dagmar talked to him, the more likely she’d let something slip. Maybe he could find a way out of here. Heck, maybe he could reason with her. “Dagmar, come on. I know you, remember? I know what you’re really like – that there’s good inside you. Just let me go. Why capture me? What did I ever do to you?”
  72. 72. “Why capture you?” “Yeah.” “You mean besides the fact that you stand in my way to get Veronica? That you plan on marrying her?” “Uh, yeah…”
  73. 73. “How about the fact that you betrayed me, you moron! Did you really think I’d forget that it was you who lured me over to that hellhole so I could get eaten by a cowplant and turned into a grilled cheese sim? Do you know how humiliating it is to suffer a loss in intelligence due to an irrational want of cheese? Well, I swore I’d get you back, didn’t I? Now I have. You’ll die and suffer, too.”
  74. 74. Crap. Why did I bring that up? Okay, gotta change the subject and fast. “Y-You’re forgetting one thing, Dagmar.” “Oh?” She cocked a brow. “Yes. You’re forgetting that I know you. And your past.” Dagmar looked surprised. “You and I, Dagmar, are a lot alike.” “Oh, really?” Dagmar raised both brows this time.
  75. 75. “Yes,” Ravi swallowed. Maybe, just maybe he could talk his way out of this. “Think about it. You and I both want the same things. To start a family, to be loved. And we’ve both been victims of unrequited love. Heck – we’ve both spent years yearning for the same woman!” Dagmar jerked her head up to look at him instead of her nails.
  76. 76. “We’ve both known heartache,” he continued. “But where we differ – what makes the two of us different is that I never tried to force V to be someone she’s not, to feel something she doesn’t feel. By just being a kind, patient, and supportive friend, she came to love me on her own. But you, Dagmar…” Here he had to tread carefully. “You’ve pushed too much, tried to force her to love you – but what has this accomplished? Not only does Veronica despise you now, but look at you – you’re turning yourself into a monster!”
  77. 77. “You’ve become revengeful and vindictive. A murderer,” he said softly. “But this isn’t you, Dagmar! I know the real you. I remember what you were like before – before all the pain and heartache, before you met Veronica, before Nikki-”
  78. 78. “Is there a point to all this,” Dagmar interrupted. Ravi knew he touched a nerve, but he had to keep pressing. “My point,” he continued, “Is that this isn’t really about Veronica.” “Okay, genius. Tell me what it’s about then,” Dagmar threw up her arms.
  79. 79. “Dagmar, you don’t really love Veronica. You can’t possibly want someone that doesn’t want you. You don’t want her, not really, you just like the idea of her, what she represents. You never really took the time to figure out who she was; you keep trying to fit her into your idea of who she should be. You don’t know her and you don’t want her. So this is about something else. Something bigger. This is about fear.”
  80. 80. “Fear?” Dagmar questioned in disbelief. “Fear,” Ravi repeated. “You were hurt before and you’re afraid that you’ll never achieve that dream, that happy ending you always wanted. With the family and the puppies and the white fence or whatever it is that you dreamed about. You’re afraid to let V go because you think she might be your last chance, your only hope. But don’t you see? She’s not! You can and will find someone else. You have to let go of that old dream. It’s never going to be the way you planned – Veronica can’t replace-”
  81. 81. “You, college boy, think too much.” Dagmar cut him off again. “And you don’t know the first thing about me. In fact, your stupid theory is so far fetched, it’s laughable! And while your ramblings are amusing, I have better things to do than stand here and listen to them. …But you are right about one thing,” Dagmar straightened. “This isn’t just about Veronica. This is about revenge. About proving myself right and getting payback for all those months of hurt and humiliation she caused me. And what better way to get revenge than to make her my love slave for all eternity?” Dagmar laughed.
  82. 82. “You’re twisted,” Ravi blurted, a look of disgust on his face. “And don’t you forget it,” was Dagmar’s response. Ravi swallowed. Dagmar’s obsession with Veronica was just unnatural. He couldn’t believe the lengths she was willing to go to just to fulfill some stupid fantasy of hers. Couldn’t she see that she was only fooling herself? That her efforts would never work? That instead, she was turning herself into a deranged monster? “Don’t do this, Dagmar,” he pleaded. You’re better than this. You don’t have to—”
  83. 83. “Oh, but I do,” Dagmar interjected. “I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I’d never let anyone screw me over. No one crosses me and gets away with it. I never forget a slight, Ravi. Ever. Consider this payback for betraying me.” The witch’s eyes hardened as Ravi’s grew wide. “The ultimate payback for you and Veronica.” “What are you going to do to her? Don’t you dare hurt her or—” “Tsk, tsk – yet another cliché, Ravi!”
  84. 84. “I mean, please. You can’t honestly expect someone with my genius would simply start monologuing! …Oh, you did,” Dagmar exclaimed, seeing the look on Ravi’s face. She burst out laughing. “Oh, no. No, no, no. I’m going to keep my plans secret, thank you very much. You’ll just have to die completely in the dark, knowing Veronica’s with me and that there’s nothing you can do about it.”
  85. 85. “Yeah, how?” Ravi taunted. “You’re out there and I’m in here. Eventually I’ll break free and stop you. You’ll never—”
  86. 86. “I don’t think so. Hello, all powerful sim here. Not to mention that this place is virtually impossible to escape. Look around, Ravi,” Dagmar waved her arms for emphasis. “In case you forgot, you’re in a windowless basement. Even if you somehow managed to break free of those bars – which are steel, I might add – there’s no phone, doors, or stairs. No one can get in and you can’t get out. The only way in here is with magic – and what are the chances of another witch just sauntering up to this place and freeing you?”
  87. 87. “Slim to none!” “I’ll find a way,” Ravi persisted. “I’ll never let you harm V—” “Save it. You’re a dead man, Ravi. And I’m going to make sure of it.”
  88. 88. Suddenly, Dagmar began to change and Ravi was dumbstruck as light enveloped his foe. It wasn’t long before he realized that Dagmar’s body was morphing in the strange light. Transforming.
  89. 89. Ravi backed up, but of course, he soon hit a wall. Taxing his brain, he tried to think of a means of escape or plan of attack, but came up blank. There was nothing that could stop Dagmar. She was powerful, fast, and supernatural – a werewolf.
  90. 90. Done transforming, she fixed her glowing eyes on Ravi. “Do you get it now?” she growled. “I am all-powerful! Unstoppable! Every ability known to simkind is at my disposal. There’s no hope for you, Ravi, not anymore. You’ll die here – whether from your injuries or from starvation, I don’t care. Just as long as it’s slow and painful.”
  91. 91. “Injuries?” Ravi questioned. “What injuries? I haven’t got any –” “A fact I soon mean to rectify.” Dagmar informed him before she dematerialized. “Holy. Crap.” Ravi gulped.
  92. 92. Dagmar was now on the other side of the bars, a mere few feet away. There was no telling what those sharp claws of hers could do. And she has magic, Ravi reminded himself. Defending himself seemed like a lost cause.
  93. 93. Quick, Ravi urged his brain. Think of something. I can’t go down without a fight. I need – His eyes glanced around frantically, until his gaze fell on the table next to his cell. A table filled with sharp, heavy instruments. Ravi lunged. Dagmar assessed her prey, and followed Ravi’s gaze to the table. “Oh, no you don’t,” she growled. Leaping forward, she pounced on her prey.
  94. 94. Cornered, Ravi soon fell victim to Dagmar’s clutches. She attacked relentlessly, mauling Ravi until his bones ached and his limbs went weak. He could already feel several bruises forming. Deciding she’d had enough fun, Dagmar tossed Ravi’s now limp body to the floor.
  95. 95. ‘I’ll still stop you,’ Ravi tried to say. But what actually came out was a high-pitched moan. Dagmar gave a deep laugh that turned into a bone-chilling howl. “Oh, how I’d love to watch you croak. But, unfortunately, I have other places to be,” she sighed.
  96. 96. “I do have a wife to acquire, after all,” she grinned. “Nighty-night,” Dagmar taunted in a singsong voice. “And sleep tight. Forever.” And with that, the witch disappeared, her laughter echoing in the room for quite some time.
  97. 97. Ravi, meanwhile, stared hopelessly at the increasingly blurry ceiling. Things were getting dark and fuzzy, almost too hard concentrate. He closed his eyes and furrowed his brows. He could see Veronica’s face. He had to warn her. Opening his eyes, he tried to move, willing his limbs to budge. Instead they slumped. The room was spinning now; everything was out of focus. He closed his eyes again. Seconds ticked by. Thoughts became less and less frequent. Then darkness came. But through it all, Ravi swore he could still hear laughter ringing in his ears. *******
  98. 98. “Argh, fine! I’ll be there.” V wanted to slam down her phone, but instead she had to settle for pushing the off button angrily. With Ravi missing, she had completely forgot about the investor’s meeting this afternoon. Unable to wheedle her way out of it, it looked like she’d have to spend the afternoon schmoozing instead of looking for her fiancé. She still hadn’t heard a word from him and she wasn’t sure what to do about it. Sighing, she went inside the store.
  99. 99. “Hey,” Marylena called out as soon as she spied Veronica. How was your secret – whoa!” She stopped abruptly when she saw V’s face. “What happened, V? What’s wrong?” Veronica, who had been struggling to keep it together ever since she left the restaurant, took a breath before she replied. “I-I don’t know. But something’s up, Marylena. Something’s… wrong.”
  100. 100. Veronica hadn’t felt such a strong urge to cry in years; she was glad to have a friend nearby. “I think Ravi’s missing. Something’s happened to him. I think he’s hurt.” “V, are you sure you aren’t overreacting? What happened? There has to be some explanation.” “But that’s just it. There isn’t one. He didn’t meet me for lunch. He—”
  101. 101. “Is that what this is about?” Marylena exclaimed. “V, there could be a thousand reasons. A sudden lunch rush at the fitness store, he could have stopped somewhere—” “Believe me, Marylena, I thought of all that and more. But none of that explains why he couldn’t call or answer his phone when I called.” “Maybe—”
  102. 102. “No. Listen, Marylena, I know something’s wrong. I feel it in my gut.” Veronica sighed and closed her eyes. She knew she might seem a bit paranoid right now, but she didn’t get to be in charge of a million dollar business empire without trusting her instincts. And right now, all her instincts screamed danger. She opened her eyes. “Please, Marylena. I know it sounds like I’m overreacting, but… after everything before… I just what to make sure that everything’s—” “Oh, of course,” Marylena smacked her palm against her forehead.
  103. 103. “How could I forget about C—uh, all that stuff before? Of course, you’d be concerned. Look, don’t worry, V. I’ll help you out; whatever you need.” Veronica gave a big sigh of relief. Great. Thank you, so much. It’s just—Could you check Ravi’s apartment? Maybe he was sick or something?” “Sure, I’m on it.” Marylena nodded.
  104. 104. “Okay. Alright, then I’ll ask Carla to check all the businesses to see if he’s at one and got held up or something.” “Couldn’t you—” Veronica shook her head. “No,” she interrupted. “I have a board meeting thingy; I couldn’t get out of it and it’ll look really bad if I don’t go. I’m already late; I was suppose to go home and change over an hour ago.”
  105. 105. “Okay, so do you want me to call you when I get there?” “Hmm,” V cocked her head. “Nah. Only if you find Ravi. Just meet me at my house later. Let’s say 7:00, 7:30ish? I should be done by then. And if Ravi’s really okay, I should hear from him by then, too.” “Alright, see you then. I’ll lock up here early.” And with a quick hug, both women were off. ******
  106. 106. V sighed for the millionth time that day as she stepped out of her elevator. She was all dolled up for the meeting, but she couldn’t help feeling that she ought to be out looking for herself. Stop it, she told herself. Marylena and Carla are on it. They’re perfectly capable of handling things for a few hours. Besides, you’re probably overreacting. Ravi will call any second now.
  107. 107. Veronica snuck a peek at her phone. Zero messages. “What if,” she whispered to herself. “No,” she shook her head. “Stop it, V,” she scolded. “You know he’s okay – she’s gone and she can’t hurt you now…” Veronica trailed off, thinking she heard a noise from the rec room, but didn’t see anything after a glance in the doorway. The room was quiet with the pristine pool reflecting the afternoon sun shining through the windows.
  108. 108. V sighed. “Get a grip, girl,” she scolded herself. “Just because your fiancé's missing doesn’t mean you have to lose it.” Taking a deep breath, she turned around to head for the door. *****
  109. 109. Dagmar smirked to herself as she stood in Veronica’s rec room. The house was nice – bigger and better – but that was all that had changed. Veronica was still the same naïve woman she’d always been. Oh, sweetie, you are cute, but not very bright, Dagmar thought to herself. The witch could barely contain her excitement as she waited for Veronica to step out the elevator. Finally, her patience would be rewarded. Everything was falling into place.
  110. 110. Taking out her wand, Dagmar began her spell: “In order to do my bidding for me, I need her now to fall asleep.” As soon as she spoke her last word, Dagmar heard a soft thump.
  111. 111. Veronica never made it to the front door.
  112. 112. Quickly, Dagmar rattled off a number of spells. She wanted Veronica to remember nothing about her former life, only what she told her. By the time she was done, Dagmar vowed, Veronica’s memory would be fried and she’d be hopelessly in love with the first person she saw. Magic is fun, if you know the right spells, Dagmar mused, smirking to herself. “You’re all mine now, love,” she whispered as she walked over to Veronica.
  113. 113. In the morning she’d email Veronica’s managers, telling them of Veronica’s and Ravi’s break up and how V would be taking an extended vacation. Then in a few months, she’d sell the businesses, cutting off all Veronica’s ties to the outside world. Then, when they were free and clear, they’d move. Dagmar smiled to herself as she knelt next to Veronica – she did love a good plan. And the best part was that everything was totally believable; Veronica had done the exact same things before after Consort died. All Dagmar needed now was a little more patience.
  114. 114. But Dagmar was used to being patient, and proved it as she sat silently beside her love, waiting until V woke up. Fifteen minutes later, her heart beat picked up as Veronica started to stir. It was finally happening. The last part of her plan was falling into place.
  115. 115. Veronica’s eyelids fluttered slowly before she stared up at Dagmar with a blank look on her face. “Hello,” Veronica said, rising slowly. “Hi.” They stared at each other in silence for a few seconds before Veronica erupted with questions.
  116. 116. “Who are you? Who am I for that matter? Why can’t I remember anything? Why am I on the floor? It’s really cold, did you know? I guess because it’s marble – who’s idea was it to put marble here anyway? And where are we, by the way? Did something hap—” “Whoa, whoa, slow down,” Dagmar laughed. Looks like the spells worked, she thought, mentally giving herself a pat on the back. “Veronica – that’s your name, by the way. Veronica Norwood. And—”
  117. 117. “Veronica? Hmm, I don’t know if I like Veronica,” V mused. Dagmar just shook her head and laughed. “Well, I assure you that’s your name. You slipped coming out the elevator and hit your head. It was a nasty fall. That’s probably why you can’t remember anything. It doesn’t look too serious, though; you should be fine with some rest.” “Are you a doctor?”
  118. 118. “No—” “Then what are you doing here? And how do you know if I’ll be fine?” Geez, this girl asks way too many questions. Dagmar didn’t remember Veronica being quite so talkative before. “Well, I’m not a doctor, but I do have some medical experience. And I’m Dagmar Philippine. Your fiancé.”
  119. 119. “My fiancé?!” Veronica said this last bit with such shock that for a second Dagmar thought her spells weren’t working like they were supposed to. Just remain calm, Dagmar reassured herself. The spells will work. Stick to the plan. “Yes. I’m your fiancé. We live together. That’s why I’m here. We were just heading out when you slipped.”
  120. 120. Veronica looked at Dagmar’s face and regarded her quietly. Dagmar held her breath and tried to ignore the swell of nerves rising in her stomach. “If we were going out,” V began slowly. “How come I’m all dressed up and you’re not. And what’s with the hat?” “You just came back from a big business lunch,” Dagmar improvised. “And I like to dress comfortably. As for the hat… Well, I’m a witch. It’s kind of my thing.”
  121. 121. Veronica’s eyebrows flew to her forehead. “You’re a witch?” “Yup. It’s where I got my medical experience from. How’s your head, by the way?” V frowned. “Fuzzy.” She narrowed her eyes. “How’d we meet?”
  122. 122. Dagmar nearly rolled her eyes. Damn this girl and her questions. But at least she didn’t have to make up this answer. It would be better to stick to the truth as much as possible; that way, her lies would seem like memories to Veronica. “I just happened to be the one to give you your welcome to the neighborhood phone call,” she told Veronica, shrugging. “A stroke of fate, really.” “I remember that!” Veronica piped up suddenly. “I threw some of my dessert at you –”
  123. 123. “Yup, it was a nice date. Love at first bite.” “I don’t remember it being a date,” Veronica mumbled, looking confused. “Well, it wasn’t at first. It was supposed to be an outing with a few other townies, but everyone else had went home.” She leaned in closely. “Bladder issues,” she whispered knowingly. “Oh. Oh yeah,” V said slowly. “You’re really my fiancé?”
  124. 124. Dagmar gave an inward sigh. Gilbert hadn’t been so hard to brainwash. “Yes,” she said seriously. “We were even going to elope tonight.” “Elope?” Dagmar put on her best worried face. “Yes. There are some people who’d rather we didn’t get married. In fact…” she trailed off. “Maybe I shouldn’t tell you. You did just hit your head and—”
  125. 125. “No, no – Tell me,” Veronica pleaded. “What happened?” “Well, there’s this guy, Ravi… Oh, but I don’t want to worry you…” “I’m fine; tell me,” Veronica insisted. “Okay, okay. Well, how can I put this? Frankly, the guy’s a delusional stalker.” “No way.”
  126. 126. “Way! He used to be our friend. Good friend, actually. But he had – has – feelings for you. He says he’s in love with you. Problem is, he’s too pushy and obsessive. And jealous – very, very jealous. He found out that we were together and just lost it. He knows that we’re in love, that we’re in engaged, but he just won’t give up. First he tried to control you, limit who your friends are, who you met and stuff – then he tried to kiss you.” Here she stopped.
  127. 127. “And then?” Veronica asked impatiently. She was hanging on every word. “Let’s just say he didn’t take rejection well. That’s when he started stalking you. At first we thought it was just the usual newspaper stealing and trash can kicking, you know?” Veronica nodded eagerly. “But then one night he broke in and tried to kidnap you—” “No!”
  128. 128. “Yes.” Dagmar shook her head sadly and looked down, as if trying to recall a painful memory. “We were having a party. He – He even killed some people to get to you.” Veronica gasped as Dagmar nodded solemnly. “We finally thought we were rid of him that night, but he’s come back. That’s why were eloping. You didn’t want to, of course.” “I didn’t?” “Nope. You wanted to stay and fight him face to face.”
  129. 129. “That sounds like me.” Dagmar nodded. “But I—I’m just tired, you know? Fighting’s not really my thing. And besides what if something happened to you? Then I’d never forgive myself. I had finally convinced you to elope. We were going to move away after the wedding. Some place he’d never find us,” Dagmar trailed off. “Does any of this sound remotely familiar?” She held her breath, waiting for Veronica’s answer.
  130. 130. “Yes.” Veronica nodded enthusiastically. “It’s all coming back to me now.” Dagmar smiled. Worked like a charm, then. “That’s a good sign.” She put on her worried face. “But the thing is, V, we were eloping tonight. We planned on getting married in this really cool, totally secluded castle! We had all these plans, but now you’re hurt… Perhaps we should wait. You know, until you feel better.”
  131. 131. “No!” Veronica surprised Dagmar with the force of her words. “We can’t wait! We can’t let him win! Let’s get married right now.” “I don’t know, V,” Dagmar said looking skeptical. “Are you sure you’re up to it?” “Of course!” “But your memory—”
  132. 132. Veronica waved her hand dismissively. “It was only temporary; I remember everything perfectly now. I’m fine!” “Really?” Dagmar tried her best not to look amused. “Well… If you say so, love.” “I say so. We love each other. We shouldn’t let anything – or anyone – stand in the way of our happiness, be it a psycho townie stalker or a little bump to the head.”
  133. 133. “Well, then, with an argument like that, how can I say no?” Dagmar asked, pulling V into her arms. “You can’t.” “I can’t,” Dagmar agreed. “We’ll marry tonight, then.” *****
  134. 134. And that’s the end! Finally. Sorry this took so long to come out; I’ve been really, really lazy. Hopefully the last chapter will be up soon. I’m excited about it; I’ve never finished a sim story before, not completely. Even Marylena’s excited, though it might be cuz she’s got a bigger part in the next chapter. But that’s all I’ll say about that. Oh, and if the dungeon scene didn’t make sense, sorry. I was trying to put in a teaser for the next story I’m planning. And that’s all I’ll say about that. Later simmers, and happy reading!