Welcome back to another chapter of Random Branches! In the last chapter, several members of the Rand family had a birthday. Bailey learned about Darius and what career Sinbad is in. This shook her trust in Atton hard and the two have been fighting for months over it. This has put a strain on the family as a whole and has pushed both to drinking. Atton being more responsible about his drinking. At the very end, Bailey was getting drunk with her new found friend Hugh and he had just asked her to stay for one more drink. And now on with the story.
Ian Destansi smiled. Luck was on his side tonight. He had located Darius’s spy in Moonlight Falls. He was at the bar talking with an older lady. Not quite elderly, but by the looks of her, she wasn’t too far from being elderly. After noting the conversation wasn’t related to Darius he didn’t focus in on every word said. But he did hear that she had a couple of birthdays to attend and couldn’t stay long.
He heard her phone go off and watched as she talked for maybe thirty seconds, sounding a little drunk but not wasted yet. She bid good evening to the spy but the spy convinced her to stay for one more drink. Ian sighed. The girl was obviously his next meal target and he was trying to get her too drunk to remember her priorities. But it was the lady’s problem if she got that drunk.
“Why don’t you come spend the night at my house. You don’t want to go home as drunk as you are. What will your husband think?” the spy said.
“Sounds great,” the lady said.
Warning bells went off inside of Ian’s head. Ian gave a quizzical look at the bartender who was just a normal Sim. The bartender pointed at the pair and Ian nodded. The bartender nodded. Ian figured the bartender didn’t want to end up dead trying to stop a vampire.
“Leave her alone,” Ian said, approaching the spy, hoping the spy didn’t recognize him or take a picture.
“And why should I? I found her first.”
“You don’t feed on mundanes without their permission and she’s too drugged to give it,” Ian said.
“And what are you going to do about it? Stand to the side, Bailey, I don’t want you to get hurt.”
At least the guy had sense enough to let the lady stay out of the way of the fight. It didn’t take long for Ian to beat the spy.
Ian then turned to Bailey and said, “Bailey, are you ok?”
“Why did you hurt Hugh? He wasn’t hurting me,” Bailey said.
Ian took a deep breath and said, “He was going to. I stopped him. Where do you live?”
“He wasn’t. He’s too nice. With my husband.”
Ian sighed. Hopefully she said a last name so he could find him in a phone book to take her home. “Who is your husband?”
“Yea. Lousy liar.”
Ian blinked. He hadn’t pegged Atton Rand as a liar. But at least he knew where the Rands lived. Though, maybe Bailey wasn’t just a meal for the spy.
“You did call her right, Sion?” Atton said, worried.
“Yes, Atton. I called her,” Sion said.
“Does Mom not love me anymore?” Obi asked.
Mira bent down in front of Obi and said, “Your mother loves you very much. She’s just having a rough time right now.” Mira then heard a knock on the door and wondered who it could be. Considering the fighting between Atton and Bailey, they had opted to not have any guests over. “Can you get that, Sinbad?”
“Yea.” Sinbad got up and went to the door and opened it. He froze when he saw Ian Destansi helping a very out of it looking Bailey. “Sion! How drunk did she sound when you called her?”
“Not that bad. She could have fooled Obi until you yelled it!”
“She’s not drunk, Sinbad,” Ian said, “She’s been drugged. Can I come in?”
“Of course,” Sinbad said, stepping aside to let him and Bailey in. He wondered just who would drug Bailey. And what was Ian Destansi doing in Moonlight Falls.
Ian helped Bailey in and asked where her bedroom was. Sinbad pointed to her room and Ian took Bailey there and managed to convince Bailey to go to bed.
“What’s wrong with Mom?” Obi asked when Ian came back out of the bedroom, “She’s never come home that bad before.”
Ian bent down and said, “Little guy, someone gave your mother something that made her like that.”
“I think that’s a question for when you’re older,” Ian said, before turning to Sinbad, “Is there somewhere us adults can talk privately?”
“The study,” Sinbad said, “Just me and Atton. Everyone else, give Dominique and Obi your full attention. As it’s their birthday.”
Sinbad, Ian, and Atton stepped into the study. “Alright, what’s got you spooked, Ian?”
“Darius has a spy here in Moonlight Falls. And he had befriended Bailey. Looks like an opening presented itself to the spy to further Darius’s plot to get rid of you, Sinbad.”
“If only I had told her sooner,” Atton said.
Ian raised his eyebrow.
“Somehow despite us not really trying too hard, she never picked up on who Darius was and she missed Alistair’s memo that I’m a criminal way back when we first got here to Moonlight Falls,” Sinbad explained, “She found out a few months ago and it’s been hell ever since between the two. Lie of omission.”
Ian nodded. “That’s unfortunate. My main goal is to find and track the spy. I’ll have a harder time now tracking the spy, but at the time I didn’t know she was a Rand so I thought she was a meal for the spy. I couldn’t let the spy feed on her knowing he drugged her. My main purpose was to spy on him to figure out what his purpose was. I think I found it. To find some way to get one of you Rands alone in order to use them against you, Sinbad.”
“Shit.” Sinbad said, worry creaping onto his face.
“You look worried. More worried than I thought you would be, at least,” Ian said.
“My daughter has decided to not live in Moonlight Falls. She swears up and down that she’s got a job at a reputable business in town that’s local to Storybook County.”
“Do you believe her?”
Sinbad glared at Ian and said, “I have to. Anything else I just can’t accept.”
“Storybook County you say?” Ian said and when Sinbad nodded he added, “I’ll send some permanent spies there for you. Less obvious should the spies become known to Kreia some how.”
“Thank you,” Sinbad said, relaxing some, “Question for you, Ian. Why are you, the head of the Lucky Palms mafia, chasing after a spy here in Moonlight Falls? Isn’t that a job for an underling?”
Ian nodded, “Normally. But things aren’t normal when it comes to Darius. You’ve got him spooked. Granted he probably saw the Moonlight Falls mafia and the Lucky Palms mafia uniting after what happened the last time we met. My spies are telling me you’ve most likely got Sunset Valley. You’ve gotten Monte Vista. I was thinking you weren’t going to be able to get that one. Darius for the most part just lets them exist. Aurora Skies isn’t willing to hop on board at this time. They’ve been hit too many times when they’ve tried to take down Darius so they do not dare try it again. And Darius knows it’s someone in Moonlight Falls getting everyone to organize to take him down. He wants to quash it before a leader comes up. So he’s really really pushing for a way to get at you. I have tried putting some permanent ones here. But they can’t make it back to Lucky Palms without getting captured. So that’s why I’m here. To ensure that Darius can’t get any wind of what any Rands are doing.”
The three talked for a while before Ian asked, “Mind if I stay here for the night? I wouldn’t mind a place to stay that wouldn’t mean a psuedonym or calling unwanted attention to myself.”
“You can stay,” Atton said immediately and Sinbad nodded.
Outside of the room, Dominique and Obi had their birthdays. Obi, having met his first real occult that actually had his powers that night, decided he liked occults. Dominique seemed to have cracked a bit under the stress and pressure and become a bit neurotic.
It didn’t take Dominique long to decide to move out. The fights between Atton and Bailey were just too much for him. “Liliana, do you want to come with me?” he asked.
“No, I think I’ll stay here. Help with the kids. Sis is too uninterested in being here. Atton tries but they remind him of Bailey so he only does the minimum. Grandma and Grandpa are old. They don’t need to shoulder the burden all on their own. Sion and Canderous are about to go off to college. Wolfgang’s got school. And well, Obi just became a teenager and he’s having to deal with the issues his parents have given him and are giving to the twins.”
“So you’re upset that I’m leaving?” Dominique asked.
“No, you’ve got your own life and I think for you, getting away is best. I can see the chaos of the house is driving you literally crazy. Go be free. Open that salon you talk everyone’s ear off about.” And a few days later, Dominique had moved out.
Bailey having heard the whole story of how she was supposedly drugged and a friend of Sinbad’s rescued her seemed to her to be just a story. Something to get her to believe just how scary Darius was and that she was wrong to be so angry and distrusting of Atton.
Atton’s heart broke that Bailey didn’t believe that she had been drugged and that it was just a ploy that he and his father had concocted. If he was honest with himself, he was depressed. It was all he could do to keep a smile up around the twins who were still too young to really get what was wrong between Mom and Dad.
But the twins knew something was up. Leia as usual just holed herself up in her bedroom with a book and used her phone to play music to drown out any sounds coming from outside of the bedroom. Mission continued to just avoid being home at all costs. She’d explore around Moonlight Falls. She’d text with her brothers to see if their parents were still fighting and if it was a bad night for them.
One evening it was a particularly bad fight. Obi had said it was so bad that Sion had taken Leia out for dinner and to get the book she had been dying to get. Mission decided then to just explore around town. She had money on her so she decided that if she got hungry, she’d go to the diner down the street and eat dinner there. The owner of the diner was sympathetic to Mission’s predicament and the staff was under orders to serve her as long as she had money and looked healthy.
She was exploring a part of town she had never been in when she saw a mailbox sign that said Rand. It confused her a bit until she remembered that Uncle Carth lived in town. But he was usually too busy to come visit. So she decided to pay him a visit.
Carth wondered who could be at the door. He wasn’t expecting any visitors today. When he opened the door he saw a kid. “Whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying.”
“Uncle Carth, I’m not selling anything.” the girl said.
This must be Mission, Carth thought and said, “You must be my niece Mission. My brother has mentioned how fond of exploring you are. However, it’s near dinner time, shouldn’t you be headed towards home?” Carth could tell something was up at his brother’s house from when he talked with Atton, but Atton never brought it up and Carth had no real way of prying discretely.
“I am. I would but Mom and Dad fight a lot and tonight’s a pretty bad one. Sion even took Leia out to dinner to get her out of the house and she usually just drowns it out with music. Can I have dinner here?”
Carth smiled at Mission and said, “I suppose I can whip up some mac and cheese for us. And if you are as observant as I was as a kid, you probably have an inclination of what your parents are fighting about. They aren’t getting physical are they?” He then went into the kitchen to get started making dinner.
Mission followed and said, “Thanks, Uncle Carth. I don’t know exactly what they’re arguing about. I try to stay out of the house. But I’ve heard the name Darius thrown around and Mom’s always saying that Dad should have told her about him sooner. And I don’t think they’re getting physical, I don’t think Grandpa or Grandma would let that happen. Is my dad bi and he cheated on Mom with Darius for a bit and just now told Mom? I don’t understand, Uncle Carth.”
Carth frowned. “Your dad didn’t cheat on your mom with Darius. Give me one second to make a phone call. Yell at me if the pot is looking like it might boil over.”
Carth stepped into the family room and dialed his father. “Hey, Dad. It’s Carth.”
“Why the sudden phone call, Carth?” Sinbad said.
“Mission’s over. She’s aware that her parents are fighting over the fact that Bailey just learned about Darius. She’s getting curious and it’s obvious she hasn’t had the talk about Darius. Do you want me to tell her or what?”
“Shit,” Sinbad said, “She’s old enough. Tell her.”
“Alright. That’s all for now. Bye.”
Carth finished cooking the mac and cheese in quiet, trying to figure out how to explain Darius to Mission.
“So, what did Grandpa say?” Mission asked.
“He said I could explain it,” Carth said, “Darius is a evil criminal. He wants Grandpa’s family dead. And he’s tried in the past and it almost cost your father his life before you or any of your siblings were born. Your father chose not to tell your mother apparently and now she’s angry with your father for it.” Carth watched as Mission ate the rest of her mac and cheese in silence. As he cleaned up the meal he saw her send a text off and receive one. He assumed it wast a friend from school and didn’t think much of it.
“Uncle Carth, I just texted Obi and he says my parents are still going at it pretty bad. I’m tired of trying to sleep while Mom and Dad argue. Would it be alright if I slept here for the night? Please, Uncle Carth.”
It broke Carth’s heart to hear how sad Mission was and said, “Of course. Just let me give your family a call to let them know where you are. Your father doesn’t need the stress and he nearly had a heart attack when Canderous disappeared on them.”
The two stayed up for an hour or so before Carth said it was Mission’s bedtime. She asked for a bedtime story and Carth obliged. As they entered the bedroom Mission would be sleeping in Mission said, “This room looks lived in Uncle Carth, you don’t strike me as the pink kind of guy.”
Carth smiled and said, “I had a relationship with a woman and we had a child together before we broke up. Since she was older, she asked me to raise her. Her name’s Terri. She’s over at a friend’s house sleeping over tonight. Now do you want my life story or a bedtime story?”
Mission laughed and chose a bedtime story. It didn’t take long for Mission to fall asleep. Carth pulled the covers up over his niece better and gave her a kiss on the head. “Sleep well, Mission.”
Morning came and Carth made breakfast for the two. They talked some more and eventually Carth said it was time for Mission to head home. Mission frowned and said, “But I like it here. Can’t I just stay here?”
“Mission, your father needs you at home. The last time a child of his didn’t live with him while they grew up your father grew really depressed. Knowing your father he’s already on the verge of being depressed.”
“Alright,” Mission said and gave her uncle a hug before leaving. Carth just hoped things improved at home.
That evening Sion and Canderous decided it was time to tell their parents where they were going to college. They had gotten accepted to the University of Bridgeport and had both accepted. They called a family meeting.
“Alright. Canderous and I have applied and been accepted to our first choice in Universities. Like most things, our first choice was the same,” Sion said.
“So which college do we get to root for?” Mira said, smiling.
“University of Bridgeport,” Canderous said, “Yes, we’re aware of the risks. No, you can’t stop us nor change our minds. Like, Kreia, we’re 18.”
“We’re paying so we can stop you,” Sinbad said, “So no, you are not going to University of Bridgeport!”
“Look, Dad,” Sion said, just as angrily, “Canderous and I spent ages discussing this. We’ve talked it over with Nicholai. We’re all in agreement that we can’t not live our lives because of our fear of Darius. Anything outside of Moonlight Falls would be dangerous. But the University here does not have the kind of focus that Canderous and I want. If it did, yea, we’d have considered it. But it doesn’t. If we have to work our butts off to afford going to University of Bridgeport because you won’t pay for it, we’ll do that. We’ve discussed it.”
“And you think adding to the stress this family is in is best?” Bailey asked, actually being home in the evening for once.
“You have no room to talk, Bailey,” Sion stood up and angrily said, “Going to bars every damn night is not in this family’s best interests. If you haven’t noticed Atton truly regrets not telling you sooner but it’s not like he can go back in time and fix it! Yet you rub it in his face every time you see him. You’ve missed out on parent teacher conferences with Mission’s teachers due to her grades. I can’t count the number of times it’s me and Liliana trying to calm the twins down at night after they’ve had yet another nightmare about their parents divorcing or getting into a physical fight. Mission avoids being home. Leia’s being hard on her eardrums by blaring music so she doesn’t hear any fighting. On Obi’s teen birthday we had to assure him that you still loved him! So don’t give me a it’s not in the family’s best interest argument. At least Atton tries to stay involved in his kids’ lives. You go to bars and get drunk. None of us know if you’re wanting to work things through with Atton and are just having a hard time forgiving him or if you’re just trying to build up the courage to ask him for a divorce! Pick one!”
Sion took a deep breath and said, “Anyway, Canderous and I are going to the University of Bridgeport. You can choose to finance us or not.” He then stepped outside to calm down.
And a few days later Sion and Canderous were off to the University of Bridgeport, with the financial support of their respective parents.
And that’s where this chapter ends! What will Bailey decide? Will the kids cope well to their situation or will they cope badly? Find out in chapters to come!
Progress towards Atton’s goals:
- Master an instrument – Achieved Chapter 2.10 behind the scenes
- Get married – Achieved Chapter 2.6 when Atton married Bailey
- Join Music Career – Achieved Chapter 1.8 when Alistair got Atton a job
- Learn all songs – He knows all his skill level gives him
- Become Hit Movie Composer – He’s level 9 – Conductor
- Know all co-workers – Achieved Chapter 1.8 when Alistair got Atton a job (a mod from Twallan)
- Befriend 1 co-worker – Achieved Chapter 2.0. Pip Goodfellow and Atton are already Best Friends
- Level 5 Logic – Achieved in the background of Chapter 2.11.
Progress toward’s Mira’s goals:
- Grow a garden with every plant from the store – She’s gotten everything from the store except what requires 7 or higher gardening skill, it’s winter so progress is slow. It’s still winter. My seasons are 7 days.
- Master gardening skill – She mastered gardening behind the scenes of Chapter 2.8
- Get married – Accomplished Chapter 1.0 when Mira married Sinbad
- No woohoo until married – Accomplished Chapter 1.0 as Mira never woohooed before marrying Sinbad
- Have a boy and a girl – Accomplished Chapter 1.1 as they have 2 boys and 1 girl as of that chapter
Progress toward’s LTW’s
- Mira – Illustrious Author: Level 4 Painting, Level 8 Writing
- Sinbad – Master Thief: Master Thief – Level 10 – MET Chapter 2.7
- Atton – Hit Movie Composer: Composer – Level 9
- Bailey – Alchemy Artisan – 2 potions thrown, Level 8 Alchemy