Chapter 7.10 – Masterpiece

Amber has discussed the family’s growing legal and financial problems many times with her mother, but she had no idea things were this serious.
 
Moving boxes and furniture litter the foryer as movers load valuable family herilooms carefully into waiting cargo vans. Grandma Faith, the woman who raised her; and for the first few years of her life seemed more like a mother than grandmother, is moving away. She and Grandpa Jimmy make a special effort to talk to her alone about the move.
 
Amber is suprised by the sadness that overwhelms her when they break the news. Jimmy calms his granddaughter and explains that the family has been forced to liquidate most of their assets. They will proceed to re-invest out of harm’s way. But he and Faith must move out of the estate in order to protect what they can. If they don’t, then they risk the chance of losing everything. The mansion, much of the real estate, and even the rights to Ben and Lisa’s music are still threatened and could very well be lost.
 
The news is sobering. Jimmy explains that the property itself is untouchable. After much research, he and Faith have discovered a protected military trust, set up by the homesteaders who first settled Sunset Valley. It is forever bound to the family. And according to the rules of the trust, the land now belongs to Amber.
 
Faith hands Amber an old box and tells her granddaughter to handle its contents with care. Generations worth of family history have been preserved inside. Some of it goes back to the earliest sims to live on the property. Faith winks and says she just might find inspiration for a good book from it.
 
Still numb, Amber asks who would do such a thing. And more importantly, why? Jimmy shakes his head. If they knew, they would stop it. There is no legal way for them to prevent sims from filing lawsuits. The mountain of litigation against them has been mostly unsubstantiated, even bordering on bizarre. But without proper representation, any one of these lawsuits could blow up in their face. The family must still pay for defense, and the cost has been astronomical. One thing is clear. Somebody has been working hard to erase the Barimen fortune.
 
The estate is a big, empty, and lonely place for Amber without her lifelong companions, Tina and Tanya.
 
With her brother, Paul, recently becoming a teen, she at least has some company. But Paul has become quite popular on his own, and is usually out gallivanting with friends. She has taken to studying the box filled with family historical artifacts. Among them are old photos, letters, newspaper clippings, and even an old diary from a teenaged girl who lived her hundreds of years ago.
 
But one item in particular has captured her attention. She stares at an old newspaper clipping and finds herself reeling from its contents. So much has happened over the past few days, that she finds herself having difficulty making sense of it all. Between Billy being shot at the warehouse, Mr. Dworkin’s weird warning, and the family financial crisis. She finds herself with too much to process. Now she has one more thing to add to the pile.
 
BREAKING NEWS!! Authorities have solved a mysterious string of high profile robberies overseas. Julian Barimen, of Sunset Valley, was apprehended in the act while attempting to steal the wolds largest diamond at a museum near Paris. Information taken from the computer in his rented flat show transactions that implicate him in the theft of dozens of priceless artworks and artifacts. These transactions have lead authorities to what they believe is the source of these robberies; none other than the influential Corwin Barimen of CB Imports in Sim City. The Valley Post has obtained an exclusive, inside report that Julian Barimen has been offered clemency in exchange for testimony about the alleged criminal operation behind CB Imports…
 
Julian Barimen, her grandfather six generations removed, was a criminal. The portrait hanging in the warehouse, the same one now sitting on her desk, is a portrait of Julian. The unnamed masterpiece had been stolen from the Sunset Valley museum many, many years ago. It was painted by Bebe Hart, the woman who would eventually go on to marry Julian and become one of Sunset Valley’s most renowned painters. Although it is small, it was one of Bebe’s first paintings. And it is worth a fortune.
 
Mr. Dworkin knew, somehow, that the man in the portrait was Julian. But how did he know? Did he also know how valuable the painting was? He had told her last week that he would no longer be so honest with her. But even just a few scraps of details he might offer would help. She needs answers, and he is the only source of information she has.
 
Arriving for her weekly visit, Amber is intercepted by one of the nurses on staff at the retirement community. She recognises Amber as one of the only sims who had visited Mr. Dworkin during his stay. Confused at first, the nurse realizes that Amber has not yet heard the news, and is here for her weekly visit.
 
Her voice is sweet and sympathetic, as she gently informs Amber that Mr. Dworkin had fallen down the stairs in the dark after she left last week. His injuries were grave, and he fought hard to come back. Unfortunately, he suffered a setback late yesterday.
 
He died early this morning at the hospital.
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