Chapter 7.3 – Pawn

Most sims tend to see the park as a place to come and relax, play, and get away from things.
 
Amber sees it as a learning opportunity. In very much the same way a gardener harvests her crop, Amber enjoys picking details and information from those around her. She has learned how to get rid of the weeds, and keep only stuff that bears fruit. She still has not learned how to plant seeds or how to fertilize. But that is very likely to change in the matter of only a short time.
 
Mr. Dworkin has been at the park a lot lately. She waves at him every day, and he waves back with weak but genuine smile. He was a really good teacher, she thinks to herself. She has been driven to find out the truth about the cheating scandal that cost him his teaching job. She has a gut-feeling that Billy Jones and his family somehow have something to do with it. She has been hoping to find something that will pin responsibility on them. Normally, Amber is not quite so vengeful. But Billy is a special kind of jerk.
 
An unusual looking gentleman, quite a bit younger than her former teacher, has been meeting Mr. Dworkin at the park at the same time every day. He is very well dressed with what she can only assume is very expensive clothing. Their conversations are always tense, but forcibly masked with fake smiles and false pleasantries. They are trying to figure out who blew the whistle on Billy’s cheating scheme.
 
Mr. Dworkin is visibly weary and appears to be slightly afraid of this other man; as though he holds some kind of authority over him. After three or four days of this, Amber has seen enough to know that her poor teacher is nothing more than a pawn in this chess match. But how does she prove it?
 
Amber returns home where she is greeted with squeals of happiness from her little brother, Paul. It will be just the four of them together in the house for the next couple of weeks, while her grandparents take Tina and Tanya to China for their birthdays. Amber feels a much closer bond with her mother than with her father. He always seems sort of distant. Maybe it’s his superstar status, or maybe something else altogether. Regardless, Amber and Ben are able to spend more time with each other than they ever had in the past.
 
One particular evening, while he helps her to finish a difficult homework assignment, Amber asks him if he had ever known about things that nobody else had ever noticed. Ben just stares at her for an uncomfortably long time. At first she worries that she has somehow offended him, but then she realizes that he is staring right through her, and is lost in his own thoughts.
 
She quietly apologizes, but Ben turns it around and apologizes to his daughter for “checking out”. He sighs a heavy sigh, then begins to tell her about his own childhood and the disturbing things he had known, and that nobody else believed. She listens in awe, knowing there are details that he is withholding due to her age. Nevertheless, she is still captivated by the amazing account. She wonders if her own acute perception is somehow linked to what he experienced.
 
After a short pause, Ben asks her why she brought up the subject. She feels much more comfortable revealing the things she can do, knowing about his own unusual experience as a child. She watches his face react with the same kind of awe she was likely displaying when he spoke about his own childhood. She explains how she is able to quickly master new things just by watching. She doesn’t know how, but even the tiniest details just seem to scream out, as though telling her that something is out of place.
 
Thoughtful and perhaps a bit disturbed, Ben tells his daughter that the family has been blessed throughout its history, and that she should always remember give thanks for what she has been given. He also gently warns her to not get herself involved with either the Jones family or Mr. Dworkin; but especially the Jones family. Amber nods and thanks her father, but purposefully avoids giving her word.
 
Early that next morning, a Saturday, Amber rides to the park alone on her bike despite her father’s warning. Mr. Dworkin is there again. She waves to him, as usual, but this time she walks up and speaks with him. She can see he is immediately uncomfortable, and he looks around nervously, presumably for the well dressed gentleman. Amber eases his mind with small talk about her family, then engages him with a question about pre-algebra.
 
After talking about math, he seems to be a lot more relaxed. So Amber begins to gently probe her former teacher for information. She does so in a way that seems childlike and innocent, as if she were asking why the sky was blue. It is the first use of a skill she will one day come to master. She absorbs every word, facial expression, and body movement. And then, just as she is about to get to the juicy stuff, the well dressed man arrives in his limousine.
 
He approaches and smiles charmingly at Amber, then asks Mr. Dworkin to introduce his pretty, little friend. Amber senses that he already knows the answer, but finds Mr. Dworkin’s nervous reaction to the inquiry somewhat amusing. Amber steps in with equal charm, and politely introduces herself as Amber Barimen. The man’s smile is decidedly sinister. Or perhaps, evil. He reaches out his hand and smiles his creepy smile, introducing himself as Brandon Logrus. Or, as he prefers, just simply Brand. It is not what he says afterwards, but how he says it, that sends shivers down her spine.
 
I’ve heard SO much about you.
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