Chapter 2.22 – To The Bone

Note: It’s pretty evident to most readers by now, but Lilith has a drink problem.


Fiddlesticks.

On his way to work at the observatory, Chuck had managed to reach the winding, dark country lanes of Windenburg before the car ground to a shuddering halt.

This probably had something to do with the gravy boat light what had been illuminated on his dashboard for a day and the, likely related, grinding and whining noises that had started coming from his engine. He had hoped he’d be able to make it to work before it conked out completely, but luck really wasn’t favouring him lately.

He knew nothing about cars, so it seemed pointless to lift up the front flap thingy and have a look at the bits and bobs inside. Chuck patted his pocket, looking for his phone but coming up empty. He crawled inside the car, checking every cubbyhole, cup holder and crevice; finding a handful of loose change and half a chocolate bar that was probably as old as Melinda, but he didn’t find his phone.

Blast.

As he stood in the open air, thinking, a car sped past. He waved to alert the driver to his predicament, but the driver merely waved back and sped on.

Chuck looked along the pitch dark, silent road. He drove this route most nights so he knew that there was a pub a little further along. They would have a phone. And at least it wasn’t raining; a small mercy—

Oh. Never mind.

Chuck approached the pub, soaked through from the spring showers that had suddenly cascaded from the sky. He’d stopped here a few times when he’d been suddenly struck down by the effects of his wife’s culinary efforts, sneaking into the building so that he wasn’t made to buy a drink in order to use the facilities.

He’d never even been in the bar area. He wondered if they had a dartboard or other activity he could occupy himself with while he waited for the rescue truck to arrive.

There was no dartboard. No pool table. Not even a television.

Just a familiar face that he owed a drink to.



When Caleb had said that the basement was small, he really wasn’t kidding.

Melinda stood in the close, damp space, biting her tongue, clawing at her gut and listening as Faith and April discussed holding innocent people captive down here and feeding off their life source, like it was all just some big game.

“There’s only one bed.” April pointed out the obvious. “So we can only keep two people down here. Do you think two people will be enough? Should we bring down the other beds from upstairs? We don’t really have use for them now we don’t sleep, do we?”

“I’m sure Fringey will want to show you the many alternative uses for his bed,” Faith snorted. “I’m still amazed that Fringey was allowed to have a bed. I was half expecting his bedroom here to contain nothing but a cold shower and a mural of Lilith in dark form.”

“That’s funny because he always takes such long showers, right?” April laughed. “I get it.”

Faith walked around the space, tapping her chin, before returning to her friends.

“I reckon that we can get twenty of ’em in here,” she said confidently.

“Twenty?!” Melinda said, aghast. “How? Where will they sleep?”

Faith smirked. “On the floor and hey, fighting over who gets the bed will give them something to do.”

“We can’t leave them down here with nothing to do!” Melinda protested. “They’ll go crazy!”

“What does it really matter?” Faith shrugged. “They’ll all be spending their lives in a post-drained daze anyway, probably won’t even notice that they’re face down on flagstone.”

Melinda physically recoiled at Faith’s comment; even April raised an eyebrow and she was hard-wired to agree with everything.

“That’s super mean, Faith,” April whispered. “We need to look after them properly; they will be feeding us after all and one should not bite the hand that feeds.”

“I think you’re forgetting which of us has the power here, Blondie.”

Melinda cleared her throat and Faith rounded on her. “Something to say, Mellybean?”

Melinda had noticed that Faith seemed off today. She put it down to what had happened with Seth. Faith was very good at hiding how she really felt, living behind her mask, and Melinda had seen some pretty dramatic highs and desperate lows from her fiery friend over the years. She was well used to Faith’s quick quips, harsh words and her defensive abrasion.

But this was cold, even for her.

Melinda was sure that this was just some sort of weird knee-jerk reaction to Seth leaving, that Faith would calm down and warm up when the hurt had lessened. When she’d had time to lick her wounds and realise that she was far better off without that rotting potato in her life, Faith would be back to normal.

Speaking of rotting potatoes, Caleb had arrived at the foot of the basement stairs, carrying an unconscious man across his shoulders. He hauled him over to the bed, the only furniture in the dank space, and placed him down upon it, releasing a huge cloud of dust.

Faith and April immediately rushed over to inspect their new quarry, Faith clicking her tongue approvingly.

“Very nice,” she purred. “Young, fit and a strong heartbeat. What do you think, Mel?”

Melinda thought she was going to be sick. “I don’t want him,” she said, stubbornly facing the wall and willing herself to stay put, despite the overwhelming urge to run to the bed, fangs bared.

“Mel! Now you’re being mean?” April called across the basement. “Caleb has very kindly been out and brought you a yummy dinner. You could at least say ‘thank you’.”

It’s all his darn fault that we’re in this mess, Melinda thought. But when April put it like that, Melinda did feel rather rude.

“Thank y—” Melinda started, turning around, her words cut off by the lump in her throat as she was greeted by one of her least favourite sights.

“It’s fine. But have him soon, he’s only knocked out,” Caleb said dismissively. “As for you,” he purred, leaning over April like some sort of lecherous tree. “You and I are going for a walk along the river. We’ll get a bite to eat, too.”

April nodded her agreement and he kissed her knuckles. “Did you have chance to check out my room yet? Our room,” he corrected throwing a quick sideways glance at Melinda.

Melinda rolled her eyes. She knew what he was doing. She wouldn’t be surprised if he lifted his leg and marked April with his scent. He might as well write ‘I belong to Caleb’ on her forehead.

Melinda wanted to scream that all this possessiveness was utterly pointless. Couldn’t he tell that April had no interest in her? She could see it in the dazed way April looked at him.

He’d won.

All those kisses, the sweet words, the soft sighs in the summer sun and the gentle touches. They hadn’t meant anything. Not to April anyway. Faith was right; Melinda had never had a chance.

Why would you want to keep someone who didn’t even like you that much?

Why indeed. Desperation? Hope? For faith’s sake.

“We only had a little peek,” April admitted. Did Melinda imagine it or did April tense in his embrace? “It’s not as boring as your room at the other house, but it’s still quite boring. The smallest bedroom is cute though, the one with the craft supplies. Melinda knows how to crochet, she’s going to teach me, aren’t you, Mel?”

Caleb tugged April’s hand, bringing her attention back to him. “Some other time. She needs to feed and there’s something up there I want to show you. Privately.”

“Fucking hell, Fringey. Hunting really gets you in the mood, huh? You keep talking like that and I’ll come check out your room,” Faith joked, but even April realised that it didn’t really sound like a joke. She glared at Faith, allowing Caleb to lead her upstairs by the hand.

As the couple closed the heavy basement door, the space fell silent, amplifying the sounds of the captive man’s breath and heartbeat that Melinda had been trying so desperately not to notice.

Ba-bum, ba-bum. Sounds healthy, doesn’t he?” Faith said. “Let me know when you’re done; I want a little nibble on him.”

“You’re leaving me, too? Alone? But I don’t know what I’m doing!”

“You find a vein and stick your fangs in.”

“But what do I do afterwards?” Melinda asked, panicking. “What if he won’t stop bleeding? Or he wakes up? Or what if I’m… I’m,” Melinda covered her face, ashamed to even utter the next words. “What if I’m like Caleb and I can’t stop?”

“Eh, then I guess I’ll have to go find another one. My way,” Faith growled, clawing at the air in a way that made Melinda feel oddly violated. “Relax. You’ll be fine. And if you’re not well, whatever, he’ll be none the wiser…”



Everything about Charles Bucket was just lovely.

Even his boss was lovely. Charles had called up work, most apologetic for his lateness and promising to be along shortly in a taxi as it materialised that roadside assistance would be at least three hours away. His boss had told him not to worry and to take the night off – paid!

If Penelope had tried that, Lilith would have reprimanded her harshly, certainly wouldn’t have paid her and might have put her to work scrubbing the surgery floor with a toothbrush, just to really drill the message home.

But then again, Penelope stole from her, disrespected her and was constantly trying to undo her good work with Caleb. She couldn’t imagine Charles doing any of those things.

It had been a long time since Lilith had had a drinking companion that wasn’t Joe or Fred, and even longer since she’d had one she’d enjoyed the company of. She and Charles – no! Chuck, Lilith reminded herself, he prefers Chuck – had seated themselves on a plush sofa in the corner of the bar, right next to the jukebox so they could choose exactly what songs they wanted without getting up.

Chuck was pacing himself; he had only just finished his first drink and had tentatively started the second. Lilith however was almost inhaling her drinks, despite Chuck’s kind suggestions to slow down; she’d lost count of how many cosmopolitans she’d had. She was even almost enjoying them; she could smell the alcohol and identify every ingredient in the cocktail by its individual scent that emanated from the glass as she brought it to her lips.

So what if she couldn’t taste them, she could sure feel the effects of them, further numbing the tinges of emotion and turning her into someone she sort of liked. As Chuck finished his little story about how he’d met his wife at the space museum – bumping into Babs in three different exhibits before charming her with his cute pun about orbiting moons – something warm bubbled up inside Lilith. She clamped her hand to her mouth but it was no good. Out it came like a proclamation of her intoxication.

Lilith Vatore, the ‘frosty stuck-up bitch’ herself, was giggling.

Chuck, seemingly pleased with himself for making her splurge this most girlish noise, took another small sip from his glass.

“Do you have someone special in your life, Lilith?”

And… the giggle was gone. Lilith brushed her fringe from her eyes. Chuck picked up on her shift in mood immediately; he was trying to think of a change of subject.

Lilith always tried to avoid talking about her love life, about all of her life, really; not least because if anyone paid attention they’d figure out that she was much older than thirty-seven. But Chuck wasn’t asking this question for the reasons people usually did; ulterior motives or a way to steer the conversation to brag or lament about their own love life.

He genuinely wanted to learn about her. His curiosity was tinged with worry as he eyed her empty glasses.

That could be dangerous. “No. I’m cursed when it comes to love.”

“I’m sure you’re not,” he said kindly, with a small laugh. “What happened to make you think that?”

Just a hunch. “I seem to have a knack for picking men who die, run off screaming or, in the case of my most recent relationship, leave me with nothing but memories of how they were a massive twat.”

Lilith bit her lip. She hadn’t intended to swear, but it was hard not to when she thought of Seth’s face. Fortunately, Chuck did not seem offended. He did know Faith, she supposed. Probably used to it.

A massive twat,” he repeated softly. “It sounds like he robbed you of a lot more than just your time together.”

Her words sounded so ill-fitting and ridiculous coming out of Chuck’s soft face, that Lilith would have laughed if she didn’t suddenly feel like she’d been stripped to the bone.

She could hear his thoughts again, thinking of another subject to talk about. This time she let him.

“So, any family?” he broached, carefully.

“My parents are long dead, but I have a younger brother,” she said, staring at the pink liquid in her glass, not sure if this topic would really help to put the flesh back on her exposed skeleton. “Caleb.”

“What’s Caleb like? Tell me about him.”

“He’s… um…” like realising, too late, that you’re in the path of another tornado and praying that this one would kick up a bit of dust rather than tear down the house and fling you into the abyss. “He’s always been a handful.”

Chuck laughed. “He sounds fun. I bet you have loads of stories about him,” he prompted.

“Stories?”

She could hear Chuck wondering if this was also a no-go topic, but this time, before he could change the subject, Lilith responded, a grin spreading wide across her face.

“Do I ever! Where the hell do I start? Oh! There was one time, I was invited to a wedding…”

16 thoughts on “Chapter 2.22 – To The Bone

  1. Chuck’s car breaks down in the middle of dubious forests, in the middle of dubious nowhere. Argh, Chuck, you really do have a talent. Oh, it’s ok, it’s near the bar where cosmo girl is drowning her sorrows, phew. Believe it or not, that’s much more positive than what I was anticipating, haha.

    Now bring on the train wreck…

    “I was half expecting his bedroom here to contain nothing but a cold shower and a mural of Lilith in dark form.” OK, that was hilarious, I must admit. As was April’s response, bless.

    So Faith is now comfortable with having 20 prisoners in a permanent state of haze. I mean, she’s not wrong, the 4 of them can’t be sustained by 2 people like April is suggesting, but damn. I’m so curious about what Seth managed to do with her to switch her into this gear. It really does seem like he flicked a switch. But is it really that simple? Was it even Seth? Maybe it was the cat. In any case, I do wonder how much of the original Faith is left there, and where she is.

    I’m also intrigued by April and Melinda’s past, I do wonder what it actually meant to April, beyond what we have heard before about “shutting Mel up” combined with April being desperate not to lose her friends. Or maybe that really is it. We might never know now, Melinda doesn’t even know how right she is about the “property of Caleb thing.” Queue the obligatory uncomfortableness of the April and Caleb dynamic, now enhanced by a creepy basement.

    Ok, back to Lilith and Chuck, where he valtzes around a bunch of hot potatoes, but of course, how could he know. I did enjoy the flashbacks of Lilith’s dating history. Will we be seeing more of guy number two?

    “in the case of my most recent relationship, leave me with nothing but memories of how they were a massive twat.” Interesting choice of words. Does that mean Seth actually removed any of the positive memories of their relationship?

    Oh boy, now let’s see how drunk Lilith actually is, will she tell Chuck the real story of the wedding?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Were you anticipating another run-in with Seth? Or that Caleb would knock him out and add him to the basement? Ravine? Wolves? Starvation? That the car would blow up, and Chuck would run from it in slow motion, action movie style before being blasted into the pub?

      Faith. Is anything really that simple? If you wanted simple, you’d probably be reading something else. (That’s my excuse, I’m sticking to it) It’s not that complicated, I’m just with-holding a teeny piece of the puzzle (or rather, not overtly displaying it). You’ll get it, soon and be like “oh, that’s boring”. 😄

      You will know eventually! Yes, I had to shoehorn in some AC discomfort, just to round out what was a lovely scene in a lovely setting. 🥰

      Guy number two… sort of? He’s sort of mentioned next chapter, and he appears in a flashback at some point. I’m glad that Lilith’s love woe is so amusing to you. And yes, it was an interesting choice of words. But why ever would Seth want to do want that?

      The wedding story might not be the only one she tells…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a cliffhanger! 🥴
    Here I am standing on the platform looking for the train passing by. Hey! Stop!
    I should have been on that train, but I assume I’ll have to wait for the next one 😧

    There are several loose ends here …
    I really want to hear about that wedding!
    Chuck is so lovable empathetic and it does not look like Lilith has met many with those qualities in her life so far. Her parades disappear, well aided by several glasses of cosmopolitans. Watch out here Lilith! 🤨
    NB: I still think Chuck and Lilith are so sweet together.

    Poor Melinda. Empathy is definitely not a useful trait in her current stage. Another loose end … to see her standing and staring at the man on the bed. She looks so lost 😧

    So April’s superficial kisses and seductive words are the reason Melinda let herself be transformed?
    I think it’s so funny to watch Caleb’s jealousy. Does he really feel threatened here? Hello Caleb, you literally own April! She follows your slightest hint even if she does not want to 🙄

    Faith has become even more harsh and cynical. 20 people in a dark basement room! 👀
    I wonder if Melinda interprets her behavior correctly or has Seth planted a dark unscrupulous trait in her brain?

    So many loose ends …. I’m ready on the platform to hop on the next train. I look forward to the trip ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good afternoon Ma’am. This is the AE Trainline service operator speaking. I am very sorry to hear that you recently missed the train and I am delighted to inform you that the next service will be along 25.01.21 at approximately 05:00 GMT and will be stopping at Did Melinda Drink Town, Wedding Story Village and making a bonus stop in Seth City and, just for you, the journey will be free of charge.

      We apologise again for any inconvenience caused and thank you for using the AE Trainline. Have a pleasant day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The fates have spoken. Lilith and Chuck are destinied to become fast friends and drink buddies and I am a little worried if Lilith is a talkative drunk, violent drunk, or a flirty drunk and the associations of it 😅 but nothing wrong w two of my favorite people exchanging stories over a couple of drinks… 😬

    I feel like Faith has gone and taken the big sister role. Being the breadwinner of her family and take charge of everyone’s survival like how she used to. And if that means hardening herself up and being the mean person then so shall it be. Her change is too abrupt and i dont think seth has that much control over a person. He rather they succumb to it than he forcibly direct it anyway.

    Ok so it was jealousy, possessiveness, and my as well throw in competitiveness while we’re at it. (Last bit there is just me being extra)

    I think i have expressed worry some time ago of Caleb’s possessiveness and how it’ll translate in the bedroom and especially now when he can order April around. Oh well. I dont see how Mel can win.

    The captive. Is he someone i know? Im looking at the hair! 😮

    Lilith giggling is cute 🥰 sorry need to gush. Even if she wants to numb herself. And the last time she had someone (seth) was wayyy back few centuries ago?? Wut.

    When its mentioned Lilith let Chuck change the subject, its figurative right? Cuz she lost that power.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were destined to be together from the start and when better to find a friend than when she has no one. We continue this scene next chapter so you’ll see. Hint: I had to make lots of poses for it.

      Interesting perspective. She certainly knows how to survive. Everything you say here is valid.

      Competitiveness likely plays a part as we’ve seen Caleb want to beat Melinda previously, at running etc.

      The captive is Mr. Random Ugly, one of my extras. He was last seen being drained and having the shit kicked out of him behind a dumpster by Faith. This is his fourth role. I take him into CAS and roll random on a few things so I can recycle him. I’m very eco-friendly, I don’t like wasting sims. 🤣

      Lilith is super cute when she’s giggly. Lilith and Seth were together for a long time, but they have been broken up a long time too. Lilith has been single for a while. Yes, figurative. She lost the power to influence minds, but she can still hear thoughts so knows when Chuck is thinking about changing subjects.

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  4. Oh, Melinda. Worrying if she’s like Caleb and unable to stop and not wanting to hurt the guy despite being parched and overwhelmed with urges. It’s all such a mess.

    Faith’s complete lack of concern for the people they’re trapping down there is chilling. The only thing she seems to care about it what she can get from them, in all meanings of the word. Hm. If the person that Caleb dragged in wouldn’t have been a stranger but someone they knew, maybe even a friend, I wonder how they all would have responded. Her face in one of the pictures with April staring at her reminds me so much of Seth’s expressions that it’s disturbing.
    …I wonder if someone did to Seth what Seth did to Faith?

    I already gushed about this to you in private but I can’t help myself. I’m so glad Chillith is back ❤ Chuck and Lilith are lovely together – Chuck is such a sweet, kind man, and for an “ice queen”, Lilith is pretty expressive, haha. Granted most of her facial expressions happened when she was either surprised, very angry or drunk, but still. It was such a heartwarming scene. Despite the weight of the topic discussed, and the unspoken things behind it. I wonder if Lilith is going to end up telling Chuck about what really happened at that wedding in her drunken state.

    Aw man, there’s going to be a moment where they either find Melinda and Chuck realizes that Lilith knew, or he finds out that she knew some other way. I’m already dreading that moment. 😰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, poor Melinda, so conflicted.

      Ooh interesting. You don’t think Seth was born his heartless self then? Yes, I imagine if, say, Broof had been dragged in, the result would be different, but you’ll soon find out exactly how much Faith still cares.

      Yay Chillith! I love shooting Lilith scenes, I think it’s the dimensions of her face, all the expressions look extra goofy on her. Lilith could certainly use someone like Chuck in her unlife but you’re right, Melinda hangs over them both and that guillotine will have to drop at some point.

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  5. Good evening to Chuck and Chuck only. Now, my love for Seth is strong but DAMN IT, IF CHUCK IS NOT COMING FOR MY HEART. He’s such a cinnamon roll. Honestly, eff Melinda’s mom. I’m with Yimiki: LILITH AND CHUCK FOREVER.

    I really loved that line about Lilith feeling stripped to the bone. It’s a testament to how real her character has become for me that I felt stripped to the bone too. Each time Chuck asked her a question, I was internally cringing.

    I think he might be the first person in Lilith’s life who does not make everything all about him. And he would have a good reason! His teenage daughter is missing/caught up in some shit. Lilith is amazing, but she is suspicious as hell. And yet, when she recoils at all the relationship stuff, he backs off. He asks questions about her family, but the whole time he is fully prepared to move on to another topic if that one was too much.

    I just, Chillith forever, man. I stan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, so I’m assuming by ‘eff Melinda’s mom’ you’re actually shipping Chuck and Lilith are you? Interesting. They have a lot working against them.

      Aw. Hearing that you were cringing makes me so happy. ❤ (Why do I enjoy my readers being so uncomfortable? I dunno. Let’s not analyse that.)

      “I think he might be the first person in Lilith’s life who does not make everything all about him” hold on to this one.

      CHILLITH FOREVER! Well, not forever because one of them is a human teetering on becoming an elder.

      Like

  6. Aww, Chuck. That part about him not having a clue about cars was so cute for some reason. XD …yeah, if your car starts making weird noises, you probably aren´t gonna get very far. :´(

    Dang, Faith is really super cold. And, even just from the practical side of things, while two people will definitely not be enough it probably would be better not to catch too many too fast or… attention. Also, it´d pay to make sure they´re able to feed everyone and feed them well, or else the keeping prisoners thing looses the whole advantage of being able to drink from them repeatedly. On that note, do we have anyone who can cook? (Besides Caleb´s baking, I guess.)

    Well… we know that April never was serious about Mel, but I´m not so sure Caleb does. And while technically yes, he´s very much in charge of that bond, he still cares about April´s opinion. And of course he feels threatened – after his monumental messup of a… “wedding night” it would be a wonder if he didn´t.

    *snicker* translation from Faithish “April, sis. Don´t play hard to get, because if you´re not interested…” 😉 ((I´d almost go so far as to suggest it was a “hey, you gonna eat that?” sort of jab. ;DD))
    That advice to Mel was really not comforting, though. XD

    “Everything about Charles Bucket was just lovely.”
    Really, now? I guess Caleb did say Lilith is a complete fool for guys like Chuck… but this still reminds me a little of Caleb´s opinion of April, anyway. Lil does have a point about his boss, though. They certainly have good reasons to be nice to Chuck, since Chuck is super nice to everyone.

    So… are the guy memories we see here her only tries or just the highlights, so to speak? Anyway. Since I agree Lil did word that one thing in a very interesting way, let me see if I can take a good guess again. I can actually see two possible reasons why Seth would bury some of Lilith´s memories of himself. Either he´s been manipulative as all heck and doesn´t want her to remember all of his methods or he actually cared a lot and doesn´t want her to remember all of /that/ because its embarrassing and showing a weakness. Or some twisted mix of the two reasons… I guess they /could/ coexist somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s that fine line between practical and evil that Faith so likes to dance along. Can anyone cook? I guess we’ll find out soon.

      Caleb’s definitely picking up some negative vibes from his reluctant wife, but all this relationship stuff is new to them both so neither really understand how they feel just yet.

      Faithish. 😂 Yep, that translation is spot on, especially the second one. She’s definitely gonna get herself in trouble one of these days. No, that advice was rubbish. Poor Mel, she didn’t need to feel any worse.

      Compared to Caleb and Seth, most men are probably ‘lovely’ 😆

      Those memories are pretty much it. After Nathaniel died, she tried, but then she met Seth and it was pretty much game over. Oooh, fun guesses. Neither. Sort of the second? But not really. I swear, this’ll all make sense eventually.

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      1. *smirk* If we take the definition of “evil” from the game itself, and if it was true what Seth said that she already feeds on fear… then I´d say Faith´s definitely on the evil side already. Technically. Nothing against that, mind. 😉

        …fair. Plus, all this mishmash the bond is causing isn´t likely to help make anything any clearer, either.

        Hmmm… it´s very likely, yes. I wonder what would April do if given a real reason to be jealous. And if even Faith would get… overwhelmed and power Caleb down like she did Lilith. Ha. XD

        Very fair indeed. Both of those could be described many different ways but lovely sure isn´t on the list for either. XDD

        Very understandable. She´d been busy and a breakup that bad… just does that, yeah.
        Tee-hee, okay! No need for the assurances, though. I do love me a guessing game. >:D

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hehe, we’ll see . Maybe Melinda is right and this is just a knee-jerk reaction to Seth leaving; ‘I never cared, anyway’.

          Faith powering Caleb down? Now… that would be quite something.

          Like

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