Caliente (Dina) – 7.3: A motive and a suspect

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(Previous post: Murder in Sunset Valley)

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A dead body is found on the street in Sunset Valley and Sara and her team are called in to investigate his murder.

“I am sorry to do this to you Jerod but I just don’t think I’ll make it home in time for dinner.” It was already afternoon and Sara knew this day is going to run long so she called first her mother and now her fiancee as well. “Will you be okay with mum and Justine?”

“Well as much as I love them I think I am not ready to be there without you yet… I guess I will just hang out at the station, maybe finish a book…”

Screenshot_9.jpgSara laughed at the thought. She just couldn’t picture Jerod with a book, in all the years she knew him she couldn’t remember ever seeing him with one, even back in school he managed to somehow swing by on his overwhelming intelligence and disarming charm alone. They ended the call saying their “I love you’s” to each other and Sara went back to work. There will be no more laughs for her she thought miserably as she looked at all the open browser tabs on her computer, each one a piece of Clyde Belgen’s life.

She wished she could tell Jerod what kept her away from home but she couldn’t. Not yet. She knew he would understand, work was work… Still She longed to share this terrible burden she felt ever since this morning with someone, anyone… Yet she couldn’t, she was the boss now, she had to face the hardships alone.

She sighed turning to her screen to continue reading of the scandalous relationship of Clyde Belgen and the music talent scout Phaena Santoro that happened while she was still a baby but made all the headlines at the time.

An hour passed, maybe more and Sara found herself absently drawing a doodle on an empty sheet of paper when a sharp knock broke her away from her troubled thoughts.

“Come in.” She yelled looking at the paper in front of her. The drawing showed a dead man laying on the ground. She crumpled it up and threw it away in the bin before the door opened and Mika’il Kerry walked in.

“I’ve got nothing boss.” The young police officer said closing the doors behind him. “That part of the street is not covered by cameras and nobody saw a thing. I can’t believe it. There was a murder and we have nothing.”

“Maybe Vanessa will find something. Junior Hoves is back in the lab. If anyone can dig up something it is the old man…” The young officer didn’t seem to like the idea that he, or his findings wouldn’t solve this case or so his pained expression suggested but he kept it to himself, only nodding respectfully.

“You said to come here straight away and not to share the ID on the dead man with anyone. What’s the deal with that, you know him?” He blurted out and Sara sighed softly.

“I do. I did. His daughter went to school with me.” She thought back to the ungainly girl with unkempt bushy hair and dark beady eyes and how she used to follow them around constantly because she was in love with Rosie, Sara’s cousin and best friend. They were so mean to her back then, poor little Penelope Belgen, not as mean as Dougie Hoves perhaps, but Rosie just stringed her along all the time and Sara had not said a word…

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And then all those years later that same face looked at her again, from above her hospital bed. The same woman she tormented in high school saved her life when a bullet hit her leg and now she would have to go to her and tell her that her father is dead. Murdered.

Miha’il nodded. “We will have to notify the next of kin.” He said. “They must be worried sick by now… Was he married?”

“No.” Sara said. “He lived alone with his daughter, Dr. Penelope Belgen.”

“She was his only kid then?” Mikha’il asked.

“He had a son as well but they were estranged.” Mikha’il wrote it all down in his notebook and she saw him looking at her expectantly. “Luther Prentiss. I want to go with you when you go tell Penelope, Luther too. ” Mikha’il nodded and she knew he would be more than glad to have her with them. This wasn’t easy, for anyone. There was a slight pause and finally Sara got the courage to speak what she wanted to say.

“I will tell you all I know about Clyde Belgen and his life but there is another reason I wanted to speak with you in private.” She gave the closed door another look before starting her story.

“About a month ago Clyde Belgen came to me personally. His daughter, she saved my life when I was shot and we knew each other since we were kids so I guess he figured he could trust me…” She stopped there feeling the burden of her guilt press heavily on her but it wasn’t the time to feel sorry, she had to get it out. “He told me his daughter, Penelope had been kidnapped on her way from work one day. The assailant took her to an undisclosed location and asked her to perform surgery on him. He had a bullet lodged inside him and probably wanted to avoid questioning from the police. Penelope did as she was told and she was released, unharmed.”

“She didn’t go to the police herself?” The young officer asked.

“No. She confided in her father, he insisted she report this but she didn’t want to, she said the man had threatened her family if word ever got out.” A meaningful silence descended between them and then Mika’il broke it.

“Her father however came to you.” Sara nodded. Mika’il looked away, pensive. “That is huge. What did you do?”

“What could I do?” Sara asked. “I couldn’t do a thing without proof, and Penelope’s testimony. When I confronted her however she denied the whole story, told me her father must be going senile. She refused to come to the station and urged me to bury the whole thing.”

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“You feel guilty you listened to her?” The other man asked bluntly and Sara just gave him a stern look to let him now there were lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

“I am sorry a man is dead. But we have a possible motive and I am not going to overlook this again.” the young officer just nodded and Sara noticed an absent look in his eyes, as if the wheels behind them had already started turning.

“Is there a date for this kidnapping?” He asked all the sudden and Sara had to pull out her own notes to check. When she gave him the date she noticed him go absent again, then he opened his notebook and started going through it with furious conviction. Sara just looked at him puzzled about the whole ordeal. He checked and double checked something before lifting his head and looking at her anxiously. “You are not going to like this. You are not going to like this one bit but I think I know who the kidnapper is.” He paused and Sara’s mind was numb. There was not a single thought in her head in the space before his last word and the next one. “I think it was Bradley Frail.”

/* Some of you might remember Penelope’s kidnapping from Wounds and if you don’t it is not integral to know all the details to follow the rest of the story. I hope you liked this update! */

Caliente(Dina) – 7.1: Scars

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Sara Caliente was recently promoted to lieutenant of the SVPD. She had just come in to work after months of extensive physical therapy after suffering a near fatal leg wound. Her mentor and partner officer Jesse Hoves was shot dead the same day. The perpetrator’s were never caught. Sara lives with her mother and her mother’s second wife. Recently her own fiancee moved in with them.

Sara loved watching Jerod sleep. There was something so peaceful in his face, the way his hair fell over it and the way the weak morning light made it shine. She still hand’t quite gotten used to sharing the big bed in her mother’s attic with her fiancee and waking up to him each morning so whenever she got the chance she marveled at the little things that made up her day.

It didn’t take long for the spell to break. The alarm rang and Jerod stirred before opening his eyes.

“Morning beautiful.” He murmured in his sleepy voice. Sara smiled.

“Morning to you too handsome.” She replied playfully. “A grand day for staying in bed.” Jerod smiled, his eyes still half closed.

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“I wish.” He replied sadly. “Work awaits, saving lives and all that… One of my guys left and now we all have to share the load…” He sighed. “I hope your mother made something nice for breakfast, and coffee… I really hope for coffee…” He added stretching before getting out of bed.

He always slept without a shirt on, even now, so when he pulled back the covers Sara got a full view of his bare back and all the scars stretched over it. They were mostly healed by now but still it wasn’t easy to look at that constant reminder of what the man she loved went trough. She ached to touch him, to caress the wounded tissue, to make it heal, to make him heal but it didn’t work like that. Sara knew it all to well.

After all she had her own scars too, the one in her leg where she got shot being the most recent one, but she knew it often weren’t the visible scars that cause the biggest pain, but the ones hidden beneath. For her it hurt more to remember how her partner and mentor had been killed, the memory of the slow pool of blood spreading from his body as her own leg burned from the pain she could not recall anymore.

She knew it was the same for Jerod. It surely hurt more that he didn’t get to his mother in time than the memory of that flaming beam hitting his back. She tried to get him to talk about it, she knew he had mandatory counselling back when he he had just gotten back to work, when he lived at the fire station, but around most people he pretended as if he hadn’t lost his mother, an aunt and a cousin, and even his mother’s little dog that day. Not to mention landing himself in a hospital for months running into the flaming house the meteor had struck.

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It worked one night, right after he had moved in. They were lying here, in this very bed the lights were off and they talked in whispers.

He told her then, in a thin and soft voice of that day, the day that would probably hunt him until the end of his life.

“When I think of it I don’t think about mum, I guess because I never got to her then… What haunts me the most is what I saw when I first got there… The house was on fire, the home I grew up in… There was a huge rock, a monstrous meteor, the scariest damn thing one could ever see, I swear it Sara, right next to it and smaller pieces all around and I was lost, completely lost you know… I never saw anything like that and as I tried to compose myself, get into full firefighter mode I saw her and it didn’t break me then but it breaks a piece of me every time I think of it now…”

He took a deep painful breath and even though she couldn’t see him in the dark Sara knew he was crying, and in all their years together she had never seen him cry, it hurt to hear it but she knew she had to let him be. “She must have fallen out of the window on impact because she was just lying there on the street all covered in cuts and shards of broken glass. She was dead or close to it I could see it from where I was standing and there was nothing I could do anyway… The paramedics were behind me and that was their job and I still had mine… But I can’t get her out of my head… She had been so young the sweet girl. She used to come to the station often, to watch me work and just talk silly things. I knew her and her friends found me attractive, they were teenage girls after all but I didn’t mind it, they were so young and silly, so full of life… And now that life is over and I can’t… I can’t get it out of my head…”

The sobs took him over and Sara didn’t know what to do, she was crying herself. She took one of his hands in hers and kissed it softly as she listened to him weep.

He never spoke of it again although sometimes she tried to ask. But it haunted her now as well. The face of the young girl that had lost her life that day and the painful scar it left on her boyfriend’s heart. She wished she could just take it all back, move time backwards to when their biggest problem was planning their wedding, when none of them had really been hurt by life. A simple time.

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If only they could just go back….

/* Yet another post featuring the meteor tragedy, hope it doesn’t bore you guys too much, I thought it was necessary to touch on what happened to Jerod and how he and Sara ended up living together. The girl who died, mentioned here, is Lena Prentiss. In the very next post we dive into the actual story! */

Caliente – 7.4: The other

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(Previous post: Late might meetings)

Nina stays late in the school working on a musical with Krystal Hoves. Afterwards she meets one of her lovers Aegon.

Nina’s morning started in a very unexpected way. She woke alone in an empty bed. Aegon seemed to have left before she woke up. Too bad. She thought as she stretched. They could have had more fun when her son Bran went to school. Last night was already a pleasant memory in her head. But then again she didn’t expect anything less from Aegon.

She picked up some of her discarded clothes and put them on before heading downstairs. It surprised her to hear voices coming from the floor bellow. The deeper one most definitely belonged to Aegon. Curious she hurried downstairs to spot him seated at her dinning table with her son. It was strange to see them together especially since Bran had been avoiding Aegon because of that incident that happened between him and Aegon’s son.

As soon as she landed downstairs Aegon’s gaze turned to her. It was the effect she always had on men. It made her smile to thing this one was most certainly not an exception.

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While those blue eyes followed her as she came closer Bran didn’t turn. He seemed pretty occupied with his contents of his coffee mug. She placed one hand on each of their shoulders.

“Morning boys.” She said in her sweetest voice.

“Oh morning mum.” Bran replied turning around flustered. “Here, take a seat.” He added jumping out of his chair.

“Don’t be silly Bran, there is enough empty chairs.” She said still smiling.

“I have to go to school anyway.” He said picking up his schoolbag and slinging it over one of his shoulders.

“The bus is not here yet.” Nina added.

“It is okay mum, I’ll walk.” He replied and rushed to the door.”Goodbye Mr. Targeryen.”

“Goodbye Branden. Have a nice day in school.” Aegon called after him. Nina sighed.

“I really have no idea what had gotten into him… ” She said still looking at the door while her teenage son left without even turning back. Then she turned to Aegon. “I thought we could have continued on last night’s fun but you are already dressed and all…” She stroked his leather jacket remembering it wasn’t what he was wearing last night when she undressed him going up the stairs.

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“Did you bring a change of clothes?” She asked.

“I had one in my car. I did have to get it wearing only my underwear. I hope your neighbors didn’t see me like that.” Nina smiled.

“My first door neighbor had had his share of tragedies recently. He deserved the nice view, or a good laugh.” Aegon didn’t smile but she caught a twinkle of amusement in his eyes.

“I should go too.” He said abruptly.

“Are you sure?” Nina asked in a soft and seductive voice. “You could very easily undress again…”

“I am.” He looked at his watch. “Urte is finishing with her shift soon, I promised I will pick her up.”

“Oh.” Nina said stepping away. “I won’t keep you from your fiancee.” Aegon just nodded before getting up to kiss her goodbye.

The rest of Nina’s schedule wasn’t exactly full. She soaked in her hot tub for a while until she got bored, then she came inside and picked up a book. Soon she got bored of it too.

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She then got to her computer and scrolled through her social networks when she got an email. She didn’t mean to look at it. It was a newsletter from the neighborhood chess tournament her sister got her to enter a while back. Yet she looked and as she scrolled through the names of the new participants one stood out. Dr. Urte Vivi.

It wasn’t like Nina was jealous or possessive, it wasn’t as if Aegon was the only man she was seeing, she had another ongoing relationship with the young man who used to clean her house until she finally got him to do more than that. He even claimed to love her. It was something she could easily believe even though she didn’t reciprocate.

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Yet there was something intriguing about this other woman, the one Aegon wanted to marry, the one he had apparently loved. Without sparing a moment Nina logged on her account on the tournament page and challenged Urte to a match. She smiled at the screen. Let’s see what you are made of… She thought happily.

It took Urte a few days to even respond to her challenge but they scheduled a match for Saturday evening. It was a perfect time for Nina since her son would surely be out of the house and she didn’t want him to see her snooping out what people might call competition but Nina knew she had no competition.

It was a little after nine, the scheduled time for their meeting that Urte showed up. Nina seized her up immediately through her glass doors. She was an inch taller than Nina was. Her hair was dark red, almost black in the nighttime, most of her face was hidden behind big, expensive glasses that told Nina she had a good and notably expensive taste. She expected her clothes to reflect this but she came in dark blue hospital scrubs with her white doctor’s coat over them.

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They greeted formally, shaking hands and Nina gladly motioned her inside knowing she would soak up all the expensive furniture and decorations inside as she led her up the stairs to the roof where their match would take place.

The first thing Nina noticed was the absence of a ring on the woman’s hand. It didn’t have to mean anything of course, she was a doctor after all, a ring could just be a nuisance and yet she was not at work now…

“Would you like anything to drink?” Nina asked her.

“I am fine. Thank you.” Urte replied politely. Nina caught her scanning her rooftop with something that could have been envy. It made her smile slightly. “I would like us to begin with the game.”

“Of course.” Nina replied showing her to the chess table. “Black or white?” Urte chose black without sparing it a single thought and they proceeded to take their places at the table.

“If I can say I am very surprised to see your challenge Mrs. Caliente.”

“Nina please. Mrs. Caliente makes me sound very old. And why is that?”

“I don’t know. I guess I didn’t expect you to be into this.” The other woman replied without lifting her eyes of the board.

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“It was mostly my sisters pastime to be honest.” Nina said. “She needed someone to play with it and that was me.”

“Oh. That I can see.”

“Truly?” Nina asked taking her hands of the figures. “You never met me yet you make assumptions about me like that?” Urte finally looked up and said.

“You are a public person after all Nina. And it is not like we didn’t run into each other before. Our children went to school together I believe.” It was true but Nina couldn’t remember this woman at all. It didn’t surprise her she knew her though.

“Well who I am in public isn’t who I am in private.”

“I disagree. We all show more than we want.” The woman replied with a malicious smile going back to the board. “Get back to the game Nina. Your bishop is in danger.”

Nina did so. And she won. And she liked it more then she thought she would.

Rosie’s Emails – 10

Hi mum,

Have I got a surprise for you… I am writing to you from… Shang Simla, Egypt! I know I should have told you earlier but it really was short notice, Lola had a concert there and she was ready to go so she called, asked if I would join and what could I say really? I just got that award and what better way to to treat myself?

Well anyway the concert is in a few hours, just wanted to check in and let you know I am fine. A more detailed report is coming tomorrow, for now here is a picture of me in front of the hotel.

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Looking at it now I am sure it would be by new SimBook profile picture! Send my love to Tricia and Bran!

Love you all,

Rosie


 

Hi mum,

There are downsides to Egypt I might confess. But first the good things, Lola concert was really good, I wouldn’t bore you with pictures, check my SimBook, as usual I went overboard…. I woke up early in the morning with a blasting hangover so I decided to go for a run, clear my head a bit… Yes, yes I know what you would say, running in such a hot place is not good for anyone, let alone someone with my condition, but it was just so early, the sun wasn’t up high yet and I brought along a book so once it got to hot I could take it out to read in the shade.

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I ran all the way to the market, it is in the center of the town. I felt so energized, I look around a bit, wondered if I should by a snake charming basket (I didn’t). And then I ran further, I ran up a hill where a graveyard was. I stood there a bit and looked in the distance, it was so beautiful, I could see the Sphinx from there. Immediately I made a mental note to visit it as soon as I get the time. And by then it was really hot already so I hurried to go back to the hotel and I ran and ran and there was no shade, just the dessert, it was scary, I was so thirsty, I was dying for a plasma juice. Of course I didn’t bring any and so I ran through the dessert with my throat parched and then I fainted.

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I don’t know how long I was lying there but some explorers found me and brought me to their small camp which was close by. There was plasma packs in their camps so I got energized quickly, and if that wasn’t enough they let me use the shower in the camp as well. The water was so cold and I am freezing right now, I am not kidding, it was the coldest water I ever showered with! 

And that is the story of my day… I will stay the night in this camp and go back to the hotel in the morning. I will sleep in a tent here, I hope I will have it all by myself till the morning, there are so many people here… That is it, talk to you tomorrow!

Love Rosie

Caliente – 7.3: Late might meetings

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(Previous post: Mother and son)

Nina decides to stay in and spend some time with her son. They have dinner and she even agrees to discuss her daughter’s impending wedding, one she is not so happy about…

It was already nighttime when Nina finished her conversation with Krystal Hoves. She could see the sky was dark outside the classroom window.

“I just can’t thank you enough, for all you did Mrs. Caliente….” The teacher started before Nina interrupted.

“Please, if you insist to be so formal than it is Miss Caliente. And as I said you are welcome… I had been excited for this project as well. And I have enjoyed working with you. I hope work with the kids would be as fulfilling.” She smiled in hopes to make the other woman relax. It seemed to work because she had responded with a smile of her own. Nina spoke the truth, she had been having fun working with the Similish teacher on this musical adoption of an old classic. The teacher was young but professional even though she had been a bit starstruck at first, but Nina had been used to it. She wrote all the music for the musical and the plan was to work with the high-school kids who would be performing the said music. But that was still ways down the road… Right now Nina’s thoughts strayed to the meeting she was having right after this. She checked the clock on the wall. She still had some time left.

Krystal was collecting her things scattered all around her desk, books and folders of notes from their meetings. Nina decided to give her a hand.

“Oh really, Miss you don’t have to bother…” She said flustered picking up the entire stack of books.

“Nonsense, I still have a bit of time…” Nina went on still attempting to help. A flyer fell off from between the books the young teacher held. Nina bent down and picked it up from the floor. The picture showed a young girl with a slightly familiar face.

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LAQUITA HOVES FOR MAYOR was printed on the top of the flyer. “Elections are still a way off.” Nina said handing the flyer over to the flustered teacher. “Your sister?” She asked looking at the name again. The woman nodded.

“Yes. She wanted me to look at a few samples…” Nina smiled.

“I remembered when my sister ran for mayor. It seems like a lifetime ago…” She said still looking the flyer over.

“Lucky looks up to your sister a lot…” Krystal said taking the flyer from her hand.

“Really? That is so interesting. I would surely mention her to Dina next time I see her.”

“Oh please no, you don’t have to bother… You have already done enough…” The teacher went on. It was at that moment that Nina’s phone rang.

“It is my date.” She told her companion. “I usually like to make my men wait a bit but this one really hates waiting.” She sighed. “I should get going. The two women said goodbye and Nina left the classroom making sure to stop by the bathroom to put on some perfume. For this next meeting she needed to smell just dazzling.

The neon lights in the hallways were dimmed and there was no sound but the clicking of her heels as she closed the distance to the school’s front door. Someone else might be scared but not Nina. She walked the school’s halls as if she owned them.

She saw him the moment she exited the door opened to her by the nigh guard, even more starstruck than the teacher had been. His back were turned to her and he was looking into the distance, to the park that was empty at this late hour, not a soul in sight.

“Odd choice for a meeting stop.” He spoke without turning. He must have smelled her coming. She smiled without a word. He had a sleeveless shirt on exposing his muscled arms. It was there that Nina’s gaze went. Of all the men she had dated none had a body like that. She was so entranced she didn’t even notice when he turned around to face her. “Did our sons get into a fight again?” He asked and Nina laughed.

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“Nothing like that this time. I had some business to attend.”

“At the school?”

“Yes, believe it or not. It is a secret.” She added with a wink. He almost smiled. Almost. That was the thing with Aegon. He always had that strict, serious face and those dark blue eyes that always seemed cold, almost dangerous. None of it diminished his attractiveness, quite the opposite Nina felt as she looked him over once more.

They had started seeing each other last summer, they actually met at the school, when their teenage sons had really gotten into a fight during the summer dance. It wasn’t like Bran to cause such problems so Nina had been deeply shocked when it happened. Aegon managed to calm her down. They had coffee and talked and as the saying goes, one thing lead to another…

He had been married once but was now divorced and yet still living with his ex in some bizarre agreement. His current fiancee was a doctor, another redhead, she worked long hours and was almost always busy which lead to the wedding being indefinitely postponed. None of it meant nothing to Nina. She didn’t want a husband, she just wanted those strong arms to hold her. She wanted it that first day they met and she wanted it now.

She stepped closer to him smiling all the way. He stepped closer as well. He placed those big hands on her hips and pulled her forward to him. She let him. His touch radiated warmth all through her body. She closed her eyes feeling his lips touch her own.

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His kisses always melted her fast. They barely made it to her car parked just a few feet away. It was always the greatest challenge when they had been together, keeping their hands away from each other long enough to get into a private place. Their kisses were even more passionate when they got inside her house. They kissed passionately, undressing each other as they climbed the stairs that lead to the second floor and her bedroom.

In the back of her mind she had an information that Bran was out this evening, with his girlfriend, or some of his friends, she couldn’t remember. She could only hope he wasn’t home yet…

Rosie’s Emails – 9

Dear brother,

Our mother tells me a lot about you, she brags about your promotions and your success at school, she is very proud and so am I!! Why didn’t you tell me any of it yourself?? I must admit I am a little mad at you right now 😛 I didn’t even know you have a girlfriend! I bet you told Tricia that but not me, so unfair! And there I am living in the big city, one long ride away… You can always come and visit bring Nan over if you want. It is going to be an adventure, I promise! There are clubs here, and bars, and partying… the big city is buzzing with life, perfect for young couples such as you two…

As for me… I have big news as well, ones I am going to share with you first! Like the sound of that? I was at home the other night, just minding my own business when out of the blue I get a call!

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And what do you know, I got some reward from the city of Bridgeport. It is called an “Investigator’s Trophy of Honor”. There would be a short ceremony at City Hall where they would put some pin on me or something like that. It isn’t as big of a deal as it seems otherwise I would have flown you all over but hey it is still something and you my dear Bran are the first to know! Now it is your turn, share something with your oldest sister!

Lots of love,

Rosie


 

Hi Bran,

So you are learning to cook? That is not exciting news I was hoping for. As someone who digs up dirt for a living I think I am qualified to determine what is juicy and what is not and that my friend is not… So try harder next time! Impress me 😛

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As for me I did pick up that reward, like I said it was nothing special, a day time ceremony in the public offices downtown. I dressed super private investigator like, in a my beige trench coat, with a hat and stylish sunglasses to top it. The mayor gave me the award, we chatted a bit and that is it. The city needs me, they urge me to continue the good work. I feel like a super hero already!

Rosie Caliente, Superhero

Caliente – 7.2: Mother and son

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(Previous post: Lunch with Dina)

Nina has lunch with her sister where they talk about love, their lives and trade in rumor and gossip. Nina is unhappy because of her daughter’s engagement. Dina offers to help when she hears rumors her sister might be without money.

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Nina Caliente rode everywhere in her recognizable pink limo. People would follow it and once she got out take out their phones or cameras and snap pictures, Nina pretended she didn’t see it, or didn’t care. Truth was she was enjoying her fame, every bit of it, she did so ever since her first single came out and topped the charts and she assumed she would continue to do so up until the day she died. She regretted only that she wouldn’t be present to see her own funeral, all those people she knew and didn’t know celebrating her life, shedding tears for the world’s great loss…

Yet Nina didn’t waste too much time thinking about death. Life was short but that made it only more valuable. That is why Nina was rarely still, there were always interesting projects to be realized, interesting people to be met, good songs to dance too, new cocktails to try out, good-looking men with lips to be kissed…

But then again there were nights when even Nina stopped and took a break. Tonight was such a night. She had gotten back from a meeting at a local school were she was helping a young teacher with a musical, changed into her sweatpants and was in her kitchen making dinner.

Not many people knew Nina Caliente was an excellent cook and how she loved cooking shows and making meals for her family. Everyone knew she loved expensive food, and good dining in famous restaurants all over the world but they figured she was a busy woman with no time to spend in the kitchen. In that they were all wrong.

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Tonight she had decided to make it simple with some spaghetti and vegetarian sauce to go with them. She had been experimenting with no-meat cooking lately. Nina’s life philosophy was give everything a try at least once so why not try being a vegetarian…

She had put on the sauce on the stove and was gently mixing it looking out to see where her son was. She knew he had gotten outside to telephone which might ring alarm bells to most mothers whose imagination could probably go much wilder than their teenage boys ever could but Nina didn’t worry. She knew what phone call would lure her Bran outside, the one to his sister.

Bran and Latrica had always been inseparable. Nina and her own sister were close growing up  but even they would fight, she couldn’t remember her two children ever getting in a fight. She thought their relationship might strain and probably change as they grew, Bran entered the awkward teenage years and Latricia moved out going first to college and then into a home of her own but seemingly nothing changed. They talked over the phone every day and they remained as close if not closer.

As to why Bran didn’t want her to hear the conversation it must have meant they are talking about the wedding. Nina really wanted to be the kind of mother that helps her daughter plan the big day, picks out the dress and all that bullshit but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Nina never believed in marriage and she especially didn’t approve of her daughter marrying, so young and naive and inexperienced with life…. It made her so angry but she knew there was nothing she could to, even though she tried….

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Bran came inside just in  time to set the table. Nina opened a bottle of wine and offered a glass to her son but he refused instead eating quietly, his mind elsewhere.

“How is Tricia doing?” She asked breaking the silence.

“Fine.” He wanted to say something more than stopped himself and just took another bite. Nina sighed.

“You guys can talk to me about it you know… About the wedding.” Bran just looked at her.

“Latricia says you keep urging her to postpone it as much as possible.”

“Well if she won’t cancel it….” Noticing Bran’s expression Nina stopped. “You know I want what is best for both you and your sisters. I just think this wedding is not the best idea in the world….”

“They really love each other…”

“That is exactly what I am saying! You both are so young, still believing in fairy-tales…” Nina was about to launch in a rant when she saw her son’s tired face and realized this was the hundredth time they were having this conversation. “I am sorry Branden, we don’t have to talk about this, again. How are you? You look tired.”

“I am fine.” Bran replied. “School is good, work too.” Nina knew that it was more than that. Bran got on a honor roll in the winter semester, he got as far as he possibly could at his job at the supermarket. Those weren’t things she would mention to her sister at one of their weekly lunches because there were no words to express how proud she was of her youngest son, of all her children who were growing in such good people. And imagine I did it all alone, without ever getting married…. She thought with a smirk.

“You have been working extra hard Bran, what do you say we go relax a bit after dinner, out in the tub. I didn’t see any paparazzi tonight.”

“I am too tired mum, I’ll load up the dishwasher and head straight to bed.” Nina sighed.

“Oh come on Bran. Please. I promise I will even wear a swimsuit.” This got a little smile from her son and he finally agreed to her proposal.


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She did as she promised and wore a one-piece striped bathing suit when she came outside and seated herself in the warm water of the hot tub. As she noted earlier there were no paparazzi outside tonight. She debated playing some music but she decided to wait for Bran and let him pick something. When he came out he was wearing long shorts and a dark blue T-shirt.

“Why didn’t you take the shirt off?” She asked him when he submerged himself in the water only his head sticking out of the bubbles.

“I forgot!” He replied looking down at himself miserably. “It is wet now…”

“It doesn’t matter.” Nina said. She was used to her son forgetting things. He was like that ever since he was small. “Maybe you can play us some music? And we can talk, about you. Tell me all about school, and your friends!” Bran took a deep breath and then started talking.

“Well Kerry and Persephone are officially dating now. I already suspected something was going on back when we were on that camping trip last summer… When I told Tricia she laughed she said if even I noticed it than it must really be something there. And now Waylon is seeing Nan’s sister Maja so she is now in our gang. She is cool, she plays the guitar too. I hope we will be good friends, I like her a lot. Nan is freaking out about it, she always speaks ill of her sisters you know and know she is about to get another one, her father’s new girlfriend is carrying a girl apparently…” Bran talked and Nina listened thinking once again how happy she was she had her children. Turns out there were things more important than fame.