Yep, looks like a textbook case of revenge before reason (Warning: TV Tropes). Calling it here, Angela's going to ruin her life, and she'll have no one to blame but herself (not that she won't try to blame others....).
WARNING: Professional Lurker Alert!
DM's Boyfriend: "Do we need to talk about your relationship with plants?"
DM: "I mean, I don't like gardening."
DM's Boyfriend: "That's not what I meant and you know it."
A Pleasant Story - Chapter Twenty Six - Haste to the Wedding
A Pleasant Story
Haste to the Wedding
Once again, Dina was running down the street in a panic after hanging up the phone. Dustin was missing! She couldn't stand it and ran to Mortimer's house and banged on the door.
Mortimer was just relaxing on his bed while he thought about his lost wife Bella and his beautiful wife-to-be, Dina. He heard the banging on the door and went downstairs to answer.
Dina rushed in and began talking quickly without pausing, telling Mortimer all she knew about Dustin. Then she said, "Mortimer, I know we were planning a big wedding, but I don't want to wait. Can we just get married right now? I don't want to be apart from you anymore!"
Mortimer grabbed her and pulled her close.
Then he released her and took her hands in his. "Darling," he said, "I'll marry you right this second. But how about we wait just a tiny bit, when Alexander gets home from school? And I know you'd want your sister to be here. Just give me a few hours and I will set up a nice little wedding in the backyard, and you can wear your dress."
Dina nodded. "That's sounds good. And tell Cassandra she can invite someone if she wants."
"Be back here at sunset," Mortimer told her, "And you'll be the most beautiful bride in the world."
Mortimer told his butler to set up the wedding chairs and arch while he went up to finish his painting of Dina. He was almost done and it only took a few hours. He put the portrait of Dina over the bed and carefully put the painting of Bella into his attic studio. He blew a kiss to Bella and said, "I'll never forget you."
He put on his tuxedo and admired his beautiful fiancé.
When Dina and Nina arrived back at the appointed time, the butler let them in the house and told them the guests and Mortimer were awaiting them outside. Nina told her sister, “I’ll go join the guests and then you come out in a few minutes. You’re the most beautiful bride ever!”
Dina exited the house and found Mortimer handsome in his tuxedo and a small group of guests assembled in the backyard. She looked out at them happily.
She walked over and joined Mortimer under the wedding arch. She noticed that Cassandra had invited Mary-Sue.
"One thing I didn't ask you, dear," Mortimer asked, "Did you want me to take your name and be Mortimer Caliente? Or would you like to be Dina Goth?"
"Dina Goth, definitely," she said. "I like how it sounds. Plus, 'Mortimer Caliente' is a bit much to handle!"
Dina had never looked lovelier as they said their vows to one another and promised their love and fidelity.
The guests stood up and applauded as they completed their vows, though some seemed confused about what direction to stand.
Dina noticed a man sitting next to Alexander and whispered to Mortimer, "Who is that man?"
"That's Aaron Das, my butler. He set everything up, so I invited him to attend. He just wanted to watch the ceremony," Mortimer explained. "Is that okay?" he asked her.
"Of course!" She exclaimed, "I don't mind."
As they kissed to celebrate their union, Mortimer was so happy to be married and Dina was so happy to be married--and to a rich sim. She smiled at herself and thought, "Well I can't help it. Simoleons are nice, and he is rich." She looked Mortimer in the eyes.
"I'd marry you if you were the poorest Sim in Pleasantview," she said to him.
Mortimer smiled at her and said, "I know. But I'm glad I'm not!" ‘
They went to cut the cake and Dina opened her mouth wide to take a bite. Mortimer didn’t think he had been this happy since Bella had disappeared.
As the guests sat to enjoy the cake, Mary-Sue asked Cassandra if she was planning to move out now that her Dad and Dina were married.
"Maybe someday," she told him with a smile. "If I have a nice place to go. But there's plenty of room here and I don't think I want to move until Alexander goes to college.
Mortimer and Dina were having no trouble downing their cake. Nina smiled at them. It was nice to see her sister so happy.
Then Mortimer stood to propose a toast to his bride and the rest of the guests joined in.
They all tapped their glasses and Dina and Mortimer cooperated with a kiss.
Nina and Mary-Sue offered their congratulations and then departed.
Cassandra and Alexander welcomed Dina to the family and hugged them goodnight.
Mortimer took Dina in his arms and said, "I promise to spend the rest of my life trying to make you happy."
Dina kissed him and said, "You better! Now come upstairs with me, sexy husband!"
The happy couple snuggled on the bed and Dina thanked Mortimer for the beautiful painting, and the beautiful wedding.
"Anything for you, dear," Mortimer said. "But is there anything else you'd like? You didn't bring much with you from home."
Dina grinned and said, "Well, a sports car would be nice, but right now I just want YOU!"
The next day, Dina returned from a visit across the street to Carla and Kaylie's to check on the boys and find out if there was any news about Dustin. They hadn't heard anything.
As she approached the house, she stopped in surprise. There was a red sports car in the driveway. A driveway that hadn't been there yesterday.
"Mortimer!" she yelled at the house, and he came out and joined her. "What is this?"
Mortimer gestured at the car and said, "You said you wanted a sports car, so I had a driveway installed and bought it. Do you like the color?"
"Well yes, of course," Dina said. "But I was kidding! I didn't really want a sports car!"
"Oh, okay," he said. "If you don't like it I can sell it."
“Don’t you dare!” she laughed, as she jumped in his arms to thank him.
Dina laughed and jumped in to take it for a spin.
While Dina went driving, Mortimer walked into the cemetery at the back and looked at the graves.
"I'm sorry there's not one here for Bella," he said.
Suddenly, he had a strange feeling, and looked around nervously, across the large, empty expanse.
It felt like . . . someone was watching him.
Mortimer ran to the Shifting Paradymes house at La Fiesta Tech and confronted the young alien woman who'd been peering at him through a telescope.
"What do you think you are doing, young lady!" He shouted at her. "We don't spy on people here!"
The young woman bent forward and said, "Abject ministrations of regret to you, Indignant Humanoid with Ruby Sweater. Decrees of decorum are numerous and arbitrary."
She continued, "Usual targets of glimpsing are shrubberies of green. Unexpected human person vision led to misadventure."
Mortimer was still a bit irritated, but she seemed sincerely apologetic.
"Well okay then," he said. "I forgive you. Just don't go spying on people anymore, okay?"
"Comprehension has processed," she said. "Glimpsing of shrubbery is permissible. Consequential viewpoint of humans is not."
She continued, "My designation is Stella Terrano. How are you monogrammed?"
Mortimer smiled; her manner of speaking was cute! "I am Mortimer Goth, and I live in Pleasantview."
"I'm going to go home now, Stella. It was nice to meet you," he said, as he began to walk back home.
He paused at the corner as he realized Stella was following him.
"Yes?" he said, "Did you need something?"
"Consumption of biodegradable provisions is affable occupation for congregation of beings. Will you enter the dwelling?"
Mortimer figured out that she was asking him in for dinner.
"I have to go now," he said, "But maybe some other time. In fact, would you like to come to my house tomorrow for dinner? You can meet my wife and my family."
He thought to himself that Alexander would sure get a kick out of meeting her!
"Most diplomatic extension of hospitality is accepted," Stella said. "At what hour shall sojourner alight at your dwelling?"
Mortimer told her that 6:30 would be good, then said, "See you tomorrow!"
At the family dinner that evening, Mortimer told everyone about his new friend and that she'd be coming for dinner the next day. Everyone seemed intrigued, although it occurred to Alexander that it might be a little odd to have an alien to dinner after Bella had been abducted by them. Mortimer didn't seem concerned though.
Cassandra spoke nicely about the wedding, and Dina was exquisitely happy that her new family was accepting and kind to her, but she didn't eat much dinner as she was feeling a bit nauseated. She didn't want to say anything to Mortimer until she was sure, but she was hoping her ill feeling might mean she was expecting.
That evening, Dina was tired and went to bed early while Mortimer read the paper downstairs. But she was restless and got up soon after lying down.
She wandered up to the attic studio and began to paint.
The painting failed to interest her and she got bored and put the paints away. Then she remembered that there was a telescope on the roof, and thought she'd do a little stargazing. The night was clear and cloudless; a perfect night for it! She headed up the stairs to the roof and looked through the lens.
"So cool!" she said. "I can see galaxies!"
Suddenly she felt a blast of heat on her shoulders.
And then a blinding light in her eyes.
As she tried to see what was causing the light, she felt her body being pulled upwards. She tried to hang on to the telescope, but the pull was too strong.
"HELP!" She yelled. "OW! MORTIMER! HELP!" She lost her grip on the telescope and was pulled upwards into the sky.
The ghosts who’d been haunting the yard floated up to the roof to observe the strange phenomenon.
Mortimer heard her cries and came rushing up to the roof just in time to see Dina's legs disappearing into a glowing spacecraft, and then it was gone.
"NO!" He cried, and put his eye to the telescope. All he could see were stars.
Mortimer turned from the telescope and shook his head. "Not again. Not again. Oh Dina!"
He grabbed at a sudden pain in his chest and fell to the ground.
Cassandra was awakened by her father's cries, then heard a loud "thud." She went running up the stairs crying out, "Dad? Are you okay?"
When he didn't answer her, Cassandra ran closer and stopped in shock at the sight of her father's still form.
"Dad!" she cried out, "Are you okay? Please answer me!"
Mortimer groaned and began to stir, and Cassandra helped him to his feet. "Are you okay?" she asked, "What happened?"
"Dina," Mortimer croaked, through a lump in his throat. "She was taken."
"Taken? What do you mean Dina was taken?"
"The aliens got her," Mortimer said. "Just like your mother."
Mortimer is certainly a star crossed lover, isn’t he?!
Find all of my Challenges in MTS Sims 2 Challenges "Ye Olde" Section:
Vllygrl's By George! Regency Play Style/Challenge; Regency/Victorian ROS;
The Medieval Charter Challenge & ROS for MCC;
The Crown of Laurels Challenge; & Besieged! New Medieval Challenge & Medieval ROS.
Oh, she'll come back. But maybe they know about abduction "causing" pregnancy..and she wasn't SURE if she was already pregnant..will their be a flap about who the father is? Mortimer won't care (he's such a lovely man). But he IS old; does he think he can father children
Mortimer is secretly an alien undercover agent. He may have amnesia, he can't remember who he is but his function to put a tracker on potentially good experimental subjects are still functioning! Everyone he touches intimately receives a tracker you see. The Alien colony is trying to improve their genes by researching on "beautiful" sims.
A Pleasant Story - Chapter Twenty Seven - Island Ventures
A Pleasant Story
As the submarine moved off into the ocean, Dustin was able to survive the same way Kentucky Smith did in the movie, "Pilferers of the Misplaced Coffer." He watched carefully as the sub came to a stop on the shore of a tropical island. On the beach were piles of treasures ready to be loaded into the submarine.
"So this is where the loot came from," he said to himself. "They must pick it up here and then transport it to Pleasantview."
The divers emerged from the hatch of the submarine and gathered on the beach. Dustin cautiously slipped off the sub into the water and worked his way up the beach to hide behind a large statue.
He very quietly pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed home. He wanted to call and let Carla and Kaylie and his brothers know that he was okay. Carla answered and the connection was terrible, but at least he was able to get through and tell her he was okay. He was going to tell her more details but his phone battery died.
The divers gathered on the beach near the loot, and then began carrying it from the shore into the hold of the submarine.
As the loot began to disappear into the sub, Dustin realized that they’d eventually get to where he was hiding.
He ducked down—he had to find a place to hide! Right in front of him were some small tiki idols. He grabbed one and put it in his inventory so he’d have some proof of what he had seen.
He looked around in panic and spotted a small hut away from the beach, with some ruins and heavy foliage surrounding it.
He checked to see that the divers were busy with the treasures, then sprinted toward the hut. He ducked behind a stone pillar and peeked out to keep an eye on them.
When all the loot was stored on the sub, the group walked together away from the beach, right toward the hut! Dustin froze and watched them as they went inside.
All was silent for a few minutes, then the group emerged, now dressed in island clothing.
Dustin waited for them all to exit, then followed them quietly
He caught up to them as they entered a large boardwalk area on a beach a few miles from the shore where they'd landed. Dustin stayed far enough behind that he didn't think they'd notice him. They were mingling with tourists, but he kept focused on the tall red-headed man, who was thinking about his school days.
He followed them down to the lower level of the boardwalk, where they all gathered near what seemed to be a changing room.
Dustin ducked behind the stairs to hide himself, and when he looked again, only one of the divers was still there! Where had they gone?
As he watched, she turned and he got enough of a look at her face to realize it was the same woman he'd given his delivery package to behind the mall!
She seemed to be waiting for the tourists to clear the area, then she entered the changing room.
Dustin waited, but she did not reappear, nor did any of the others. He cautiously approached the changing room and looked in. It was empty. He hadn't taken his eyes off it since the woman went in--where had she gone? Dustin began feeling around the edges of the small room and found that the floor seemed a bit crooked. Could it be an elevator of some kind? Dustin looked for some way to control it, but gave up. The room was featureless.
Dustin watched the changing room for a long time, but the divers never reappeared. "Maybe they have some kind of underground tunnels?" he thought.
He finally gave up his vigil and went to explore his surroundings to find out where he was. He spotted an electrical outlet in the men's room, and plugged his cell phone in to recharge. He then went to look around the boardwalk.
At a souvenir display, he found little palm trees and treasure chests labeled "Twikkii Island," so now he knew where he was. It was a beautiful place and the weather was wonderful; he wished he could simply enjoy his surroundings, but his eagerness to find out what had happened to his mother filled his thoughts.
He observed the other people wandering the boardwalk and noticed that most were either wearing native islander clothing, like the divers, or else very touristy clothing. He decided to buy an outfit that might help him fit in better.
Newly garbed in his tropical clothing he wondered, "Okay, what to do now?" Now that he fit in perfectly with the others on Twikkii Island, he began to walk, a bit aimlessly, just trying to get an idea.
Then he noticed a tour guide.
"Maybe I could take a tour to give me an idea of what the island looks like," he thought, and asked the guide about the possibilities.
The guide told him about a helicopter tour of the island, and Dustin booked it to get a sense of the island's geography.
The helicopter arrived and Dustin boarded, then buckled his seatbelt quickly as the whirlybird lifted into the sky.
On the ground, someone was watching him fly away.
Dustin paid close attention to the roads and buildings of Twikkii Island as the helicopter soared over the landscape. He didn't really get any good ideas about what to investigate next, though.
When the helicopter landed, he swatted at his head. A swarm of bees had followed him!
He ran shrieking around the area near the boardwalk until finally the helicopter sailed away and the bees stopped bothering him.
As the sun set, he spotted a jewelry kiosk and went to check it out. Maybe he could find the necklace his Mom had been wearing!
No such luck. The necklace he'd given her wasn't among the choices offered. But he did find some things he thought he'd buy for his family. They'd probably like a souvenir from the island. It didn't occur to Dustin that he'd just thought of Kaylie and Carla as "family."
Dustin finished his purchases and then wandered around aimlessly, wondering what he should do next. He didn't know where to go to continue tracking the divers, and he wasn't sure where he should sleep. He collected his cell phone and then stared off down the road.
He was startled by a lovely voice from behind him saying "Hello."
Dustin stopped in his tracks and tried to catch his breath as he beheld a beautiful and exotic-looking girl.
"Uh, hi," he stuttered.
"I'm Lainey," she said, in a voice that made him think of honey flowing over water-smoothed rocks. "Welcome to Twikkii Island. It is a welcome, right? You looked like you weren't sure where to go."
Dustin nodded. "Yeah, I just got here this morning. My name's . . . " Dustin hesitated. Should he tell her his name? He didn't want anyone to know he was here. He decided quickly to give her a fake name, but halfway between "Justin" and "Dusty" he got stuck and said, "I'm Justy."
"Justy," she repeated, as though savoring the syllables. "That's nice. A little unusual. I like it, though."
Dustin fidgeted uncomfortably. Justy? Brilliant.
Lainey continued, "Are you here on your own? Maybe I could show you around."
Dustin didn't relish the idea of hunting for the divers in the dark, so he agreed.
"Great!" she said, "First I'll show you the Majestic Ruins of Jumbok IV! You didn't bring soap with you, did you?
When they arrived at the ruins, Lainey told him that they were the site of worship for an ancient civilization who had lived on the islands for millennia.
She led him to a great waterfall emerging from the mouth of a stone ruin and explained, "Here, if you have a deep wish," she told him, "you can make an offering to the ancient gods to grant your wish."
"What should I offer?" Dustin asked her.
"Any coin is acceptable," she told him. "The gods are not greedy."
Dustin fished a coin from his pocket and looked up at the fierce monument.
To himself he said, "Please help me find out what happened to my Mom," and threw the coin into the pool.
Lainey said, "I'm sorry, Justy. Sometimes the gods do not answer. Probably because they are not real." Then she laughed.
Dustin looked at her in confusion.
"It's really just a way to collect money from the tourists. But we do use the money for upkeep to keep the monuments well-tended." She reached her hand out and touched his arm at his look of disappointment.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize you had a real wish. I didn't mean to tease you."
Her face brightened and she asked, "How about we go somewhere really fun?"
Dustin would have followed Lainey anywhere; he never got tired of listening to her voice and looking at her face. But he was pleasantly surprised when she led him to a hot spring on the other side of the ruin.
"Oh, this looks cool," he said. "Can we soak in them?"
"Sure!" she said. "Did you bring a swimsuit, Justy? Follow me!"
Dustin climbed carefully into the hot springs after Lainey and tried not to stare at her beautiful bikini-clad body too obviously.
Lainey was saying, "I really love climate science. I want to go to college and then become something so I can send up weather satellites and stuff. What are you interested in?"
Dustin told her that he was currently working in the oceanography career, but that he liked all kinds of nature, including bugs, and she seemed delighted.
"That's so cool!" she exclaimed. "I almost feel like I've been studying that my whole life since I spend so much time in the water here. Living on an island brings me close to nature."
Dustin gazed at her happily. It was so fun to talk to someone his own age who just seemed to appreciate him and not judge his choices.
“Are you hungry?” she asked. “There’s a very good stand here where you can get some island foods.”
Dustin agreed and followed her to the kiosk, where they continued their conversation.
"Where do you want to go to college?" He asked her.
"I'm not sure yet. Anywhere off the island. I've been here my whole life and never got a chance to travel. What about you?"
"I don't need to go to college to work in oceanography, but maybe it would be fun," he told her. "Somewhere I can study biology. Academie Le Tour has a really good program, but they are hard to get into."
She looked at him shyly and smiled. "Maybe I could go there, too. Do they have a good math program? I’ll need that for my field. "
“Oh yeah,” he said, “I think all their programs are really good. They are considered the top school for academics! They don’t even have fraternities!”
When they finished their food, Dustin felt much better. All his bee-sting discomfort had been washed away by the hot springs, and now his hunger was sated.
"Thanks for bringing me here," he told Lainey. "It was really fun."
Lainey moved close to him and asked shyly, "Would you like to go somewhere private now?"
Dustin swallowed and gulped. "Oh, sure," he choked out.
Lainey showed him to an almost-deserted place called Seawater Beach Paradise and led him down to the water's edge.
“This is one of my favorite places,” she told him. “It is very peaceful. At least, most of the time!”
Dustin stopped laughing and asked her if she wanted to sit on the sand and talk.
Lainey lowered herself gracefully and asked, "So what was your wish at the ruins? It seemed to make you really sad."
Dustin hadn't decided to tell her about his Mom; he just knew he was going to. He started with the necklace and then told her all he knew and had discovered about the divers, Lainey was quiet, just listening intently.
She sat up straight and looked him in the eyes and said, "Justy, I am so sorry about your Mom, but this all seems very dangerous." He waited for her to tell him not to do it, as Angela surely would have. But she continued, "I hope you are being very careful. These people sound ruthless. I don't want you to get hurt."
"I'm trying," he replied. "They haven't spotted me yet."
“I’m a little cold,” Dustin said. “Let’s make a campfire.”
Lainey smiled and said, “Or I could keep you warm.”
As they looked at the stars, Lainey snuggled up to him and said, “I will keep my ears open," she told him, "But maybe I know something already. There is a very wealthy woman who has a house here on the island and she had a bunch of sculptures stolen not long ago. Maybe these people have stolen from her."
"Can you show me her house?" Dustin asked.
"Yes of course," Lainey replied, "but it is late now and I must go home. How about tomorrow? You can call me."
Dustin said that would be great and thanked her for her help. Then he took a chance and moved closer to her. Lainey immediately put her arms around him and he held her close, then very gently kissed her.
They stepped apart and Lainey waved at him. "Goodnight, Justy," she said.
"Oh, wait," he said, "My name is actually Dustin. I was really nervous when we met and told you the wrong name."
Lainey laughed. "Well that explains it. I thought 'Justy' was a bit odd. Goodnight."
Dustin watched her walk away. He was a bit stunned. He'd come here to investigate his Mom's murder, and had met the most wonderful girl in the world.
He decided to go back to the beach where the submarine had landed and curl up in the ruins to get some sleep. He regretted not asking Lainey if she knew a cheap place he could stay, but it was way too late now and he didn't want to wake her up with a call.
As he approached the shack, he saw a crumpled figure on the ground in the distance.
whoa, Lainey has more game than Don Lothario and my Friend who seduced 3 guys in 1 day, combined.
Made me lol! I honestly didn't plan that--but in my actual game she introduced herself to Dustin and they really got along well, so I decided to incorporate their romance into the story. We'll see what happens with them :-)
Originally Posted by enebya
Well, I just remember Asmodeus getting an order to let him disappear, but I never saw a body :D
I think in Abbadon world, "disappear" is equivalent to "sleeps with the fishes." lol
I have no clue who else it could be, the divers are faceless to me, I doubt it's the evil woman and I don't know who else came to the island. Maybe Carl because he was acting weird? Don because he hurt the doggies? Did they find Daniel? What about the Dreamers? Or could they have killed Dustins girlfriend because she was curious?
I'm looking forward to finding out, you're writing a great story!
A Pleasant Story - Chapter Twenty Eight - The Body
A Pleasant Story
Dustin approached cautiously, making sure no one was watching him. As he got closer, he saw it was a man, and he noticed the costume was like those of the other divers. Was it actually one of them, or a real native of the island?
Dustin suddenly stopped in shock. From where he stood he could see that the man’s neck had been slashed, and his chest did not move. Dustin didn't recognize the man, but he was horrified just the same.
Dustin backed up quickly, almost stumbling. Every plan he'd had to investigate flew out of his head and turned and ran.
He stopped and fumbled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed Carla's number.
When she answered, he started in immediately, "Carla, I'm so sorry . . . dead, he's dead, I just found him, I need you, please help me. I just found a body, he's dead, he's dead."
Carla's voice was very calm and soothing. "Dustin, take a breath. Tell me where you are."
He heard her call out to Kaylie and say "Hotels on Twikkii Island--book one for Dustin."
Then she spoke to him again. "Listen to me carefully. Has anyone seen you?"
"No," he said, "I'm alone."
"I want you to walk away. Right now, go toward somewhere safe. Kaylie is booking a hotel room for you and I am going to be on the next flight out. I will have her text you the address where to go. I will meet you there as soon as possible.
"Dustin? Is that clear?"
Dustin nodded, though she couldn't see him, repeated, "Start walking, someplace safe, go to hotel. You'll be here soon."
"Good," Carla said, still speaking calmly. "Dustin, I can't promise you that everything will be fine, but I do promise you that I will do everything I can. Okay?"
"Yes," he said. "Okay."
"I'm going to hang up now because I need to get on a plane. Kaylie will text you soon. And I will see you soon."
They each hung up. Dustin was amazed that Carla could stay so calm. He guessed it was because she was a cop. He couldn't see that Carla's entire body was shaking while she kept her voice steady. She had told him to walk, but he couldn’t help it and ran as fast as he could.
As Dustin ran, his phone vibrated and he stopped to check it. "Blossom Wood Hotel," Kaylie had sent. "Be careful." Thanks to his helicopter ride, he thought he knew how to find the address Kaylie sent, and ran in that direction.
The sun was rising as he checked in to the hotel, and he was given the key to a sparse but clean little room.
He'd been up for over a day, but couldn't sleep. He laid on the bed as his mind went over and over all the things he'd learned.
Finally his tired mind relaxed and let him get a few hours of sleep, and he woke around noon feeling very hungry. He ordered room service and sat and ate while he waited for Carla to arrive.
"Lainey!" he thought suddenly, and dialed her number. He got a recording, and left a message telling her where he was.
He was restless in the small room and went into the lobby to wait for Carla, but first he disguised his looks so no one would know who he was.
He jumped every time the door to the hotel opened, and finally, there she was.
Dustin felt all his emotions, his anger and helplessness, and relief at seeing her, boil up at the sight of her and he jumped up and grabbed her.
"I'm so glad you're . . . you're here," he sniffed through his tears.
Carla squeezed him tightly and said, "I will hold off on telling you how much trouble you're in." She patted his back and held him until his sobs subsided.
"So now tell me everything," she said.
Dustin started from trying to deliver the package at the spooky house in Pleasantview and told her everything that he'd done and seen up to finding the body. Well, almost everything. He left out the part about meeting Lainey.
Carla stiffened as he described finding the body but didn't react other than that. She simply nodded and encouraged Dustin to include any details he might have left out.
Dustin was about to show her the tiki idol from his inventory when he noticed Lainey walking up to the hotel from outside.
"Oh!" he exclaimed to Carla. "Hang on! I'll be right back!"
Dustin ran outside to Lainey and she smiled brightly.
"I got your message so I just decided to come over. It's so good to see you!" She leaned in to give him a hug, but Dustin stepped back nervously and looked toward the hotel where Carla was in the lobby.
"My Mo . . . I mean my guardi . . . I mean my . . . my Carla is here," he finished lamely.
“What’s up with this new look?” Lainey asked.
“Um, well, I didn’t want anyone to recognize me so I . . .” Dustin trailed off weakly.
Lainey looked him up and down and said, “But you left your clothes the same?”
He didn't have a chance to explain any more to Lainey as Carla exited the hotel and walked right up to them, offering her hand.
"I'm Carla Spitzig," she said. "I take it you're a friend of Dustin's?"
"Lainey Barthelet," she replied. "It's nice to meet you."
Dustin shifted his feet nervously and said, "Um, Lainey's been showing me around the island. Like the ruins and the hot springs. Um, she's, um . . . " his voice trailed off.
"It's okay Dustin," Carla said, chuckling to herself. She remembered her own awkward teenage romances.
"But Lainey, I'm sorry, Dustin and I need to go do a few things. Can he call you later?"
Lainey nodded pleasantly and told Carla that would be fine, while Dustin tried to sink into the sidewalk and disappear.
Lainey tried to reach out and give Dustin a hug goodbye, but he awkwardly brushed her hand away as he stuttered, “Um, I’ll call you later!”
Lainey chuckled. “Okay,” she said, “And maybe we can get some time alone.”
Carla considered teasing Dustin about his girlfriend, then thought of the body and sobered.
"She seems really nice, Dustin," was all she said.
She continued, "What I think we should do first is for you to show me where you found the body."
Dustin nodded and began to lead her toward the beach, but Carla called him back. “On second thought, I suggest you ditch ‘the disguise’ first.”
When they arrived at the beach, there was no body.
"Are you sure this is the spot, Dustin?" Carla asked him.
"I guess somebody moved him, then," she said. "Describe him to me while I examine the area."
Dustin closed his eyes and tried to remember what the man had looked like. "His eyes were dark, almost black, and sort of almond-shaped. His skin was light brown, and his hair was really short."
Carla asked, "Was he fat? Thin? Did he look in shape? And how old do you think?"
"Yeah," Dustin said. "He was muscular. And maybe 30 or 40. Maybe 50. I couldn't tell."
As Carla examined the grass, she found a patch of dried blood and took a small sample to examine later at the police lab.
"Let's investigate the shed," she suggested. After checking carefully around the perimeter and looking in the windows to make sure it was deserted, Carla jimmied the lock and she and Dustin entered.
Carla whistled. "Wow. This is a pretty strange place for a sculpture museum."
Carla took out her camera and photographed the items. "Maybe we can figure out where this stuff came from. I can try to match these up with reports of stolen goods."
"What about reporting it to the police here on the island?" Dustin asked her.
Carla nodded. "I plan to do that. But local police tend to be very possessive about investigations in their jurisdiction. I want to nose around a little before I report to them, so I have more information. I'll go there tomorrow. For now, could you show me all the places you've been? I want to get a feel for the island."
The rest of the day they spent going to the ruins and the hot springs and Seawater Beach, and then Dustin showed her the magic changing room on the boardwalk.
Carla was as baffled as he was.
"I've got a lot of good stuff to bring to the police," Carla said, "But right now let's get something to eat."
As they ate, Dustin asked her, "How do you stay so calm? I would think you'd be more upset about a dead body."
"I'm very upset, Dustin, "Carla said softly. "But as a cop you learn to keep your emotions down at times when you need to. It won't help me solve the case if I'm all jumpy and excitable. But when I have time, then I'll have a good cry and let it all out. It's part of the . . . "
Carla stopped suddenly as Dustin whispered, "Pssst!"
She looked at him and he pointed toward the nearby clothing shop.
"That woman over there is the one I gave the package to. The one who disappeared into the changing room. The one with black hair in the hula skirt."
Carla signaled to Dustin to stay put and walked casually around in a semi-circle to move near the cashier as though she were just browsing. She wanted to get a good look at the woman so she could remember her face.
Then she returned to where Dustin was waiting.
"Let's go," she whispered to him, and they left to return to the hotel.
When they got back to the room, Carla told Dustin that she'd booked their return flight for the next day, and that she'd go to the local police station before they left.
Dustin asked, "Could I call Lainey and meet her to say goodbye?"
Carla was going to say no, but changed her mind when she saw the hopeful look on Dustin's face.
"I guess that would be okay, but I want to go with you. Just in case."
Dustin started to object, and Carla continued, "I'll stay out of the way; I just want to make sure that woman doesn't follow you."
Dustin met Lainey on the shore at Seawater Beach while Carla stayed at the picnic area.
They talked about their dreams for their lives and their plans for college, and Dustin said hopefully, "Maybe you could come visit me in Pleasantview sometime?"
Lainey said she'd ask her parents, but if they said no she would definitely see him at college.
"And I'll text you all the time," she told him.
As Dustin kissed her goodbye, he felt something he'd never felt before. The peaceful love that came from being with someone who accepted him for who he was.
He watched her walk away and felt a wave of sadness, but mixed with hope for the future.
The next morning, Carla located the Twikkii Island police station. It had an island feel to it, but she noticed the policewoman was dressed pretty much like the cops from Pleasantview.
"Hello," Carla began, "I'd like to report . . . "
Carla stopped in shock. As the woman stood and turned toward her, she realized that not only did she recognize the woman, but she also saw a cow behind her.
"Yes?" the woman said. "You wanted to report something?"
Carla thought quickly. "Oh, yeah, I just wanted to report that a streetlight was out at the boardwalk. I noticed it last night."
"Thank you very much," Yukionna Abbadon said. "I'll send a crew to fix it."
"Okay then," Carla said and turned to leave. "Thank you! Bye!"
She ran back to the hotel as fast as she could. Dustin was fine, waiting for her in the lobby.
"What's wrong?" he asked as she burst breathless through the door.
"Later," she told him. "Let's get to the airport. "
They gathered their things to go and Dustin called Lainey one last time to say goodbye, then boarded the shuttle.
When they were settled on the plane, Carla quietly told Dustin about seeing the woman at the police station. "What I don't know," she said, "is whether she is actually a cop here, or if she was just impersonating one. I didn't have time to investigate. As soon as I recognized her I wanted to get out of there. I'll need to contact someone else to investigate. Maybe the SCIA."
"SCIA?" Dustin queried.
"Yeah. They're elite investigators. I have a friend in Desiderata Valley who has contacts there. I’ll ask him if he thinks they might help.” Carla told him.
When they were in the air and the flight attendant took their orders, Carla said, "Could I have a big glass of tequila, please?"
When they arrived home, Kaylie came running out of the house, with the rest of the family following.
She grabbed Dustin in a big hug. "I'm so glad you’re safe, you big idiot," she said to him.
As Kaylie released him, Dustin noticed a little boy looking up at him. "Who is this . . . TOM!" he cried out.
"Yup," Kaylie said. "You missed his birthday."
Dustin grabbed his little brother and said, "I'm sorry I missed it! But I brought you a present from the island. I brought presents for everyone!"
“Even for me?” Anthony asked.
“Yup!” Dustin said.
Dustin gave Beau a hug, then turned to Tom, who was tugging on his arm.
Tom said. "Now that I'm big you can swing me around. Now!"
Dustin laughed at his little brother's impatient rudeness and grabbed him up.
Dustin thought he was really lucky, mostly. It was nice to have a . . . family.
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