We stared each other down for a bit.
"What brings you to my doorstep, mate?" Wilder asked, bewildered. "Brindleton Bay is such a long way from San Myshuno. And you didn't even call to let me prepare for your visit."
I stepped toward him and said, "Working on the Fortner murders. Seems there's a break in the case. May I come in? I have a few questions for you."
"I-I've told the police everything I know about Nick Fortner. What more could they want with me? He wasn't in my employ and was not an associate."
I wasn't going to do this dance here on the doorstep. It was time to get serious. "We have information that's led us to you. I have a warrant if you need it. And I can get someone else to talk to you, but I thought you'd feel more comfortable with me." I stopped for a second then said, "Wilder, I'm still your friend." I actually didn't have a warrant nor did we have much evidence. I was just going on a hunch, but he didn't have to know that.
"Of course you are, mate. Why are you standing in my doorway still? Please, come inside."
He turned and entered his hallway as I followed. He didn't know who he was dealing with. My training wouldn't allow me to drink from a known suspect. Did he think I was born yesterday? But I'd indulge him if he wanted to go through the motions.
"If I remember you like apple jack, ay mate?" He poured the green liquid in a glass.
"Nice place you have here, Wilder," I said, looking around. Sheets of water showered down a clear glass panel, giving off a tranquil feel.
"Thank you. Just moved in a few months ago."
"With your girlfriend? Kristina Bambino?" I asked, not taking the drink he'd just made for me.
"I wonder how you know about that. Oh yes, you are a nosy copper after all." He tapped out a text to someone.
This chess game we were playing was about over. And I was going to check mate. When Briar told me the murderer had eyes all over town, my thoughts went instantly to the Fortners. They were the ones with the eyes. The influence. But they're dead. The next person I thought of was Ethan, but he was sitting in a jail cell not able to kill anyone. And then I remembered how petrified Ethan was when I talked about Amber. This was not a man who was scared we might arrest her. This was a man who was scared for his childrens' lives. Now who had the clout to make threats like that, I wondered?
Next, my thoughts ran toward Daniel and how scared he was for his life when I was beating the shit out of him. He begged that he was going to repay the money to some boss man.
And who had a huge amount of money of his own in Brindleton Bay?
Who also happened to be dating the Bambino brothers' sister.
The mob influence reeked like shit in the middle of summer. I knew he was the man who gripped Brindleton Bay in a stranglehold, and he was moving upward in money and clout provided by the Bambino's power. With the FBI heat on him, though, and Ethan taking the fall, Wilder tried to cover his tracks by killing Nick Fortner so he couldn't talk.
But all that did was shine a spotlight on him. The man was so used to his own influence after all these years, he got careless.
I surmised the motive was just that--power. Daniel was getting too big for his britches in Brindleton Bay back then. There must have been a hierarchy squabble, and Daniel crossed the line. Wilder framed me by taking the butcher's knife from my home at my 18th birthday party so no one would look his way. Everyone knew my hatred for Daniel. Wilder then lured Daniel to Beau's apartment, probably inciting him to kill Beau.
Why would he do that? Frame me? It was a way to kill off his rival and take me out in one deed. I was getting too nosy about both Daniel's power as well as probing into the woman's murder at the circus. I believed that murder was a threat directed at Daniel. A warning of what could happen to Briar. The woman was a true doppelganger to her. And she didn't have family or ties to people who would have cared about her death.
But Wilder didn't kill Briar. Instead, he'd helped hide her from Daniel (and me). I had no doubt he wanted her eventual testimony of friendship and trust, if it came to that. When he found out Beau was alive, he sent them both messages so they couldn't connect dots.
His biggest mistake was letting me live. But I guessed the heat was turned up too much surrounding me once I went into custody for Daniel's murder. He just had to hope his plan to frame me would work, and I wouldn't be acquitted. The best thing I ever did was leave the country. I knew that kept me safe. And then Wilder got comfortable. Daniel's murder case grew cold, and over the years, Wilder expanded out of Brindleton Bay into my territory of San Myshuno.
Throwing down the gauntlet, I said, "We have evidence that you killed Nick Fortner as well as Daniel. I also believe you killed the woman at the circus. Now tell the truth, Wilder. I can help you with a plea if you come with me peacefully."
He smirked. "Now why would I want to do that, mate? Especially if I supposedly killed all those people. I mean...why would I let you off so easily?"
I heard footsteps march up behind me.
Smiling slyly, he said, "Now hands on your head. We wouldn't want you to get filled with bullets. Wouldn't be very sociable."
I heard guns cock behind me as I put my hands up.
Shit. My intel said he was home alone. I should have known he'd have his thugs lurking around. What a huge mistake. I had to keep him talking, hoping to distract him somehow.
"Here's the deal, mate. We let you run along with your life, and you lead your FBI minions on another trail or your little Briar and your bastard daughter will be drowned like they should have been eight years ago. Is that clear?"
Pulse quickening, I mentally tried to calm down but it wasn't working. I feigned confidence. "You're making a grave mistake, Wilder. Give yourself up or shit is going down. I'm warning you."
He arched an eyebrow. "Oh, you are in no position to warn anyone."
Instantly, I jumped to my hands, shooting Wilder as shots rang out behind me, zinging past my legs.
Quickly, I fired on both men before they could get a good lock on me.
Then I pounced on one of the goons and said, "Don't move or you're dead."
I could hear both Wilder and the other man groan in pain as I waited for my partner and the others to flood inside.
As the police cuffed the men, taking them out, I heard Ronan yell, "August, look out!"
Heart pounding hard in my chest, I wrenched Wilder's knife hand away as he nearly plunged it into my back.
He'd been wounded from my earlier shot, so he wasn't hard to bring down.
I shook my head as the police cuffed him, amazed at what a shame it was. The man had everything in the world--money, love of his friends and family, a charming personality. But it wasn't enough.
Power truly was a source of great evil.
Turned out, Ethan was forced by Wilder to take the blame for the money laundering when he'd never touched that side of the books. His innocence was corroborated by other employees as well as Amber who knew of the threat made to them and their children if he didn't comply.
He was soon exonerated and let out of prison. I was happy that my old friend was exactly who he'd seemed to be in high school.
And a loving and caring father.
Amber and Ethan worked things out after they'd discovered she was pregnant in high school. I was right. She had told him about the pregnancy after he'd broken up with her once he'd found out they were half siblings. But they didn't tell that to their children, of course. That was a secret both Beau and I would keep to our graves. It wasn't anyone's fault what had happened.
To the children, Amber and Ethan were separated but they both had equal custody of the kids. And they'd remained great friends.
Ethan came up to me and said, "I owe you my life, bro."
"No problem. Just glad I found out the truth." I patted his back. "But you could have won an Simsy award for your performance. You were a very convincing thug."
"Sorry about that. I was scared out of my mind, dude. Not everyone is as fast with the moves as you are or I'd have blasted Wilder when he'd threatened me."
"No worries, brother. You just have to promise to visit me and Beau when you can."
"For sure. I've missed you both."
When I picked up Briar and Lexie from the airport, I was so stoked to see their reunion.
Briar took off running in those danged heels of hers, jumping into Beau's arms.
Of course tears streamed down Beau's cheeks. I always teased him that he was nothing but a huge waterworks when it came to emotional things. He didn't disagree.
"My big sister is back. I can't believe it," he cried.
"But God, you look like a pumpkin with that long orange hair. We are going to have to do something about that and fast."
Briar giggled, hitting Beau on the shoulder. "Shut up, brat. I like my hair."
A tiny mew peeped from a box in the corner of the kitchen. I'd almost forgotten what I'd found earlier that day as a gift for Lexie. Scooping up the kitten, I said, "Hey, Lexie, I got this little guy at the animal shelter today and thought you'd like him since I kind of messed up you picking one out the other day."
She clapped her hands and beamed. "You did? Oh...he's so cute!"
"You like him?" I asked, loving the excited look on her face.
She brought him close to her cheek and snuggled. "He's adorable!" Then she squeezed a bit too hard and the kitten meowed painfully.
"Be gentle with him. He's still really tiny."
She nodded and put him down, petting him for a bit, then she said, "Thanks, Daddy."
Daddy. That word squeezed my heart. Briar had told Lexie all her life about me. That I was some super detective and that bad people had taken me away. Briar told her that one day she'd hoped I'd come back. And when I did, Lexie acted as if that's what she knew was going to happen all along and accepted me as her father right away.
Suddenly, she ran over to me and jumped into my arms, surprising me.
"You're the best Daddy in the whole world."
I fell in love with her right there. I'd always thought I'd hate kids, but I was wrong. She was the best thing that'd ever happened to me. I was looking forward to making up for lost Daddy time.
As Briar unpacked Lexie's things and had her take a bath, I grabbed Beau's hand and brought him out to the veranda. We often loved to go out there and watch the sun set. It was so beautiful in the city this time of the evening.
"Baby, I wanted to ask you something," Beau started to say. He was shaking like he was really nervous to talk to me. I decided to tease him.
Gripping his arms, I said, "It'd better not be about moving to Brindleton Bay..."
He darted his eyes around. "W-Well...I...er...h-how did you know I was going to ask that?"
"You expect me to leave my job? My career? I just got a promotion and an award for bravery."
"I know...but...I really miss my sister and...um...don't you want to be closer to your daughter? But it would only be for a little while. Maybe a couple of years. Couldn't you take a leave of absense or something?"
I narrowed my eyes at him. "The FBI doesn't work like that. Once I leave the force it'll be hard for me to go back to it."
"Yeah..." he muttered, dejected. "I figured you'd say no."
Sighing loudly and shutting my eyes, I said, "Okay...we'll move."
He blinked rapidly. "What?"
Cradling him, I said in a soft voice, "I said we can move, baby. I'd follow you to Lunar Lakes if it meant you'd be happy."
"Oh, God, August...I love you so much, you don't even know."
"I love you, too...my Beau."
I want to thank everyone who participated in my casting call for this generation. Your sims made it such a memorable one. And special thanks to Jojo who gave me Wilder Roberts. He was a very special sim. I like to think in an AU, he was a well adjusted, chivalrous man just like his father (who loved the ladies! ;-) ) But he suited my needs in this as a hidden mobster.
Thank you to my readers who kept me wanting to create this a fun mystery. You made it exciting to write!
I'll be taking off at least a week before Gen 5 starts. If I have to take longer, I'll post it here and on the forum.
Next chapter Wednesday, April 25th
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