“Who catches your eye, Jules?”
Saturday night, 19 March 2016, PM
Support: The Cat’s Meow. World famous, if you believe the sign on the door. Jade hasn’t been around the world (though she’s done some traveling) so she can’t say for sure whether or not it’s actually world famous, but she supposes, so far as domains go, that maybe it’s a good thing. The Quarter already sees its share of interlopers and poachers during Mardi Gras—she doesn’t need them eyeing her club in particular.
Tonight it’s crowded. More than crowded, really. Saturday evening is prime party time, and this evening is no exception. Even the multiple bars that line the walls are no match for the press of bodies streaming in off the streets, and people wait three or four deep for their 32oz Hurricanes in plastic cups or Jello tooter shots (which Jade thinks are inherently messy considering the small opening and long body, and she’s seen plenty of drunk people attempt to stick their tongues into the little plastic tubes to get at the jello still clinging to the bottom—why don’t they just do normal shots?), while music blares from the speakers near the stage. The two drink minimum means there’s plenty of unaware vessels that don’t notice the predator in their midst.
Short. Young. Comely. No, perhaps not comely. Perhaps comely is too ordinary or too soft a word to describe the predator that stalks the night. Striking, maybe. Luscious. Bewitching. Desirable.
Desirable. That’s the one. Every inch of her is painted, sculpted perfection, from the shade of her shadow to the wing of her liner to the fresh coat of polish on her nails. Her dark hair is loosely curled and pulled back from her face, highlighting the dark lashes that frame her large eyes, the delicate hollow of neck and collarbone, the high cheekbones and sharp chin. Her tan skin is offset by the scarlet dress—if the strips of fabric that cling to her hips and bust but bare her sides with open cutouts could be called a dress—and a pair of nude stilettos add another few inches to her height.
Standing room only by now. Or it would be for a mortal, but a dip of her head and a promise in her smile means that the boys who had occupied the table she’d wanted, the one upstairs that overlooks the stage, had freely offered it to her and gone off to find another place to enjoy their evening.
Two drink minimum, but there’s six in front of the predator now, and the empty plastic cups on the table are nearest the girl. A large black man with a smattering of tattoos peeking out from beneath a tight black tee occupies a seat at the table, and the other is taken by another black man. Not quite as muscular as the first, with a little more facial hair and padding around the middle. Not fat. But large. Probably more of a football player than a baseball player, that kind of look. His attention alternates between the two at the table, though the girl—the pretty one, remember?—has her eyes on the stage where a gaggle of women in sky-high heels and cat ears, one of whom wears a white tank top with the saying “Buy me a shot I’m tying the knot”, butcher that popular Journey song about a small town girl and a city boy.
Jade doesn’t mask her presence this evening. Her contact will no doubt be able to sniff her out as soon as he steps inside. A glance at her phone’s clock tells her that they have a solid three-quarters of an hour before Savoy’s court starts. Long enough for this little meeting if they don’t dawdle.
Julius: And her guest doesn’t dawdle. After all, the jazz musician knows how to stay on tempo.
Jules wades into the Cat’s Meow, an odd old whale amongst young, sleek sardines. Tonight, the knock-off king is dressed in what appears to be a a dark magenta velour tracksuit made by Gucci, a pre-release pair of Yeezy 700 V3 Dark Glow sneakers, Dior black-mask sunglasses, a Versace Palazzo empire bracelet watch, and a David Yurman dog-tag necklace with Pavé black diamonds, cognac diamonds, and color-change garnets.
Beyond such accoutrements, the Caitiff is unaccompanied, as he has left Tyzee and Dashonte to wait outside, idling in the latter’s supped-up T-bird.
Approaching the table, the undead jazzman considers that call doubly wise as he notes not only his host seated at the front-stage table, but that all three of that table’s seats are occupied. The black Caitiff, however, is used to metaphorically carving out his own seat at table of the All-Night Society. And tonight, he does so quite literally, as he makes his way to Jade’s table, only pausing long enough to snatch his own chair from a nearby table. That said chair was occupied doesn’t seem to bother Julius in the least bit, as if the chair and its former occupant weighed no more than a red solo cup. Moreover, when the seat’s prior occupant, a bridesmaids-hunting frat boy, spills onto the floor alongside his shattering Hurricane, Julius cuts off his flustered shout of shock and anger with a smooth dip of his sunglasses, flash of a hard smile, and his bullfrog-bass voice:
“You wuz jus’ ‘bout to offer me yo chair, bid deese dawls uh gud nite, an git yoself home now, ain’t dat rite?”
Julius doesn’t wait for the young man’s reply to his question. After all, it wasn’t really a question. Just like it’s no question whether the kine can resist his supernatural command. So undisturbed, the vampire finishes sauntering towards Jade’s table, plopping down his chair and himself to join his hostess, if not her hospitality.
“Lookin gud as always, Ms. Kalani. Scarlet suits you’s like uh pearl in uh ersta.”
Support: Julius is a hard sight to miss in a club like this. Particularly with that… getup. Her eyes follow him once she notices his appearance in the door, tracking him up the stairs to the second floor where her table juts up against the railing. Room enough for three, but leave it to Julius to bring his own chair over, even timing it perfectly while the singers belt out the chorus—joined by everyone watching who knows the lyrics—so that not a single stray glance cuts his way.
“Evenin’, Papa Juj.” L…“oo” sound in the center there, like jew, then a soft J at the end. A nickname on top of a nickname. And why not? The lick has enough of them, what’s another. She flashes a smile his way at the compliment, then moves her seat to the side to give him room at the table. It’s crowded with the four of them. The poor boys across from them look positively cramped.
“Mm. I was going to offer you mine and find another place to perch.” On a lap, perhaps. She’s seen on them often enough. Court starts soon. She’d missed it last week and doesn’t intend to repeat the behavior this week; she cuts to the heart of things.
“I’ve been thinking about your offer, Jules.”
Julius: ‘Papa Juj’ smiles at the nickname, as if hearing a hot, innovative trumpet note. Her mention of his offer sustains that smile like a piano’s foot pedal.
Notwithstanding, he lets the silence linger till she fills it.
Support: There’s nothing obvious in the way she does what she does. No snapping fingers. No flashing eyes. Not even a head tilt and smile. But as soon as Jade rises, moving her chair aside to free up some of that cramped space for the boys, and settles on Julius’ lap both black boys that accompanied her turn their eyes toward the stage, as if they can’t quite get enough of the bride-to-be and her entourage. The stools nearby hold plenty of bodies, but they, too, seem fixated on the music rather than the cute girl on the old man’s lap.
Even when the performers change, swapping to a young couple singing about summer love from that late 70’s musical, their attention stays on the stage. They ignore whatever it is that goes on between the two licks.
“I’d like to know who’s going to be coming and going from my space. So I don’t pick them up as a trespasser, you understand.” She flashes a casual smile over her shoulder at him.
Julius: Julius bristles at the unexpected contact. Not like a frat pledge having his first lap dance, but more like a tiger suddenly put in a tight cage with another. For all the Camarilla’s social pretenses, the Beast is ultimately a solitary predator. But as the Sindaco of Slidell might suggest, that predator is also cannibalistic.
Up close, Julius cannot help but smell the Toreador’s vitae as it courses through her arteries, veins, and sanguine-plump organs. Those are the ‘curves’ that sing to him, that arouse his lust—or more precisely bloodlust—and make it hard to concentrate. Which is probably why the social-savvy vampiress is saddling him. Unlike the full table, it’s a power move that catches him off-guard. It also impresses the hell out of him. None of which makes the subsequent negotiations any easier—for the Caitiff.
“Yeah, you… rite,” the clanless vampire lamely responds as he tries to force his thoughts away from how delicious the tantalizingly wrapped blood bag atop his lap would taste.
“Cain’t fault you’s fo’ axin.”
It takes some effort to keep his hands from squeezing her like a cherry snow cone, to crush her so he could suck out every. Last. Drop.
There’s some small measure of self-pride that he doesn’t next cough to clear an unbreathing throat.
“If you dink da trade is gud, I’ll introduce y’all rite an propuh as podnas. Tonite if we git da time, or after us skeetas are done makin dodo. F’sure ya gotta be knowin whoose a’comin into an outta yo part of da Quartuh. Dey’ll jus’ be wantin you’s to udderwise keep it mums. I dink I said ‘fo dat dis cat is uh public fren of Lawd Savoy, but der blood-daddy is uh tad… controllin. Tight lease an all dat jass. Cain’t fault a cap fo’ wantin der own stoop an zink to wrench off der hands widdout daddy-dearest watchin yo every step.”
Support: She’s a pretty enough package on his lap. Warm, too, with a heart that beats regularly and continues to pump that deliciously scented vitae through every inch of her body. Tiny. No doubt his hands would go right around her waist or neck or wherever it is he wants to squeeze.
“The yacht, the paperwork, the membership… I’ll send my boy here to check it out when we’re done, but I’m interested. I’ll meet your friend and play mum.”
“And how,” she asks idly, “did you come across his boat?”
Julius: It takes Julius half-a-heartbeat (though clearly not his own) to process the lapcat’s words. Looking away from Jade to ‘her boy’ reminds Julius of being a little boy trying to swim against the Tchefuncte’s current. He’s not entirely sure he looked at the right ‘boy’ before her riptide voice pulls him back to her.
Another half-heartbeat passes before Julius replies. Not with words, not at first, but rather with a hand shuffling into his pants. Perhaps the undead nymphomaniac is disappointed when Julius’ jostling only produces a business card.
The card is jet-black with equally dark but glossy lettering. To a kine, those letters would be nigh-impossible to read in the dim-lit Cat’s Meow, but Julius holds the card for Jade to clearly see an embossed image of stylized smoke in the shape of a serpent, next to which letters read:
Black Vyper Vaping, LLC.
302 Decatur Street | Office 420B
“Git yo bra to ax fo’ De’Lanice Gaines. She’s uh lawyer of mine who can git yo cap all da deets.”
“As fo’ how I done come by dat boat, da shoit answer is dollahs. Uh lotta dollahs. But da long answer, dawl, wud cost ya somedin.”
He doesn’t lick his lips at that last statement, but his tone might as well have drooled.
Support: Not even an absent fondle. Veronica’s childe certainly seems suited to the bloodline when she all but huffs at the produced card.
“Reg,” she says to one of the boys, ending whatever charm she’d placed on them to turn their attention to the stage. She plucks the card from Julius’ hand to slide into the large black palm waiting for it. “De’Lanice. Take your friend. Find me after.”
He knows where.
The men leave without a word, and it’s just Jade and her new friend at the table without them. She makes no motion to remove herself from his lap.
“Something like a favor,” she purrs, “or can I offer you a drink while we’re here?”
Julius: Papa Juj’s reply is as swift as it’s greedy:
“Some wud say uh drink is uh favor—at least if it’s da gawddamn rite kinda drink, f’true?”
Support: “Then it’s settled.” She lifts her hand in a lazy wave to encompass the club. “Who catches your eye, Jules?”
Julius: It’s no question of who’s caught his eye. She’s been reeling him this entire time: hook, line, and sinker. And she’s done it so skillfully, he can’t even complain. Instead, the hoary jazzman laughs lecherously:
“As if dat contest wusn’t rigged from da git-go.”
Support: Her smile sharpens.
“Here and now, Papa Juj, or do you prefer the… anticipation?” She shifts to look at him, trailing her fingertips down the Gucci velour.
Julius: Those fingertips elicit another dark, husky laugh.
“As a dimeback in college,” he says, slipping a cement-thick hand beneath one of her dress straps, “I told ma bras dat you’s don’t git no mo’ points fo’ savin uh touchdown till da fourth quartuh.”
He tenses then as if about to violently rip off her dress. She can tell that it would be easy for him, too. Like pulling apart cobweb.
“But being uh musician has learned me a ding or two ‘bout tempo. Timin an tension. Da slow-berlin heat. Make ’em beg fo’ da climax, an it makes da cool-down all da sweeter, no?”
As if punctuating that point, his one hands stops, then retreats from beneath the scarlet thread, only to snatch her own wandering hand. Rising suddenly, he allows her voluptuous body to slide down his much larger, velour-clad frame. Maintaining his vice-like grip, he raises her capillary-rich fingers to his lips.
“But dat jus ma opinion,” he adds, his lips parting into a fanged smile, “an ma mawmaw done learned me to always ax uh dawl fo’ hers.”
Support: Her breath hitches in her throat as color stains her cheeks. Real? A game? Maybe Julius appreciates a show either way.
Wide eyes gaze up at him from beneath long lashes—a head taller than her, even in heels—and there’s an answering flash of fang behind her slightly parted lips.
“Your momma was right, Jules. I’d hate to make you rush through things so we aren’t late. Let’s call it a celebratory sip after our deal goes through.”
Julius: Julius nods, but doesn’t let go. Not before kissing the tip of Jade’s index finger, the digit with the greatest bloodflow, courtesy of the radialis indicis artery and its thick spiderweb of sensitive capillaries. Julius’ kiss upon that digit’s tip doesn’t last long, but it’s forceful: a hurricane-strong sucking motion that threatens—or perhaps teases—to burst the finger’s capillaries and drain its artery straight through her pores.
But he doesn’t. Not here. Not now. And not for a lack of want.
Making that ample desire perfectly clear, he slowly releases her hand.
“Cain’t say I won’t be countin da clock til den. But I guess dat’s da point.”
He then glances down at matte black steel and gold-accented Versace timepiece, “An speakin of clocks an not wantin to be late to da party, I got one last thing I binlookin to run by you, boo.”
His bloodlust is far from cooled, but it’s no longer threatening to boil over with the lapdance over (for now). As such, the mogul returns to his more typical businessman mien.
“Last sec scoop I done heard from a lil’ birdie bout da party. Wuz one of dose boys yo street-racin cap?”
Support: The mention of racing doesn’t make her do more than lift one expertly shaped brow at the Caitiff.
“D’you need a little racer boy for somethin’, Papi?”
Julius: “Something like dat, shug.” He pauses to scan the crowd as if checking for familiar faces or too-eager eavesdroppers. Spotting none—which doesn’t mean there aren’t any—he drapes a long arm over her in what might be a grandfatherly or conspiratorial gesture. The latter seems more likely when he begins to whisper:
“Don’t know if you’s evah dealt wid da Envoy Boggs. White as Uncle Rastus’ instant rice, but rich as da US Mint, dey say. He don’t always come to Lawd Savoy’s parties, but he’s comin to dis one. Wot’s mo’ portant is dat it’s bin 10 years past since he came an hosted uh game, giftin da winner wid uh vintage Maserati, uh ’60 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder clean as uh whistle an worth half uh mil, easy.”
“Ma inside scoop just learned me dat he’s gonna do it gain tonite. Not a Maserati, but a racing car from da 20s. Winna gits da antique car. Dat’s a lotta dolluhs, dawl. Catch is, you only win it if yo driver can beat Ms. Larieux in uh street race at tonite’s party. Dat’s uh tall order, especially as not many caps got skillz drivin a century-old racin relic.”
“I ain’t got one of dem on ma tab rite now, an e’en if I did, I wudn’t be wantin to win. Don’t look gud for uh clanless to beat da lawd’s herald, no?”
Support: “Instead you’re tippin’ off your new boo. Well ain’t that somethin’.”
For half a heartbeat her lips flatten into a thin line.
“I s’pose I’ll have to bring someone who’s been around long enough to know how to handle something that old. Appreciate the heads up, Jules.”
She smiles at him in a way that suggests she’ll show him just how much she appreciates him later.
Julius: Julius’ smile returns like a golden sunrise. “Awrite, you did strike me like an appreciative soul, dawlin. Also, I’d rather you’s git da car an’ da glory dan uh lotta udder so-called frenz of our lawd. Bettah fo’ it to be uh Bourbon is all I’m sayin.”
He checks his likely knockoff watch again before adding, “Da party’s gonna start soon, so you give ol’ Papa Juj uh call if you be needin anything bout dis. Dolluhs, car, parts, specs, brain-juju, wotevah you need.”
Support: Jade hesitates a moment, then reaches out to touch Julius’ sleeve before he can turn to go. Her eyes search his face and she lets her mask slip for just an instant, showing the portrait of a young domitor concerned for her charges.
“He didn’t come home last night. Thought he was off with his lady friend, but it ain’t like him, Papa Juj. You think ’lotta people knew prior?” Hers is the only one that could give Mel a run for her money and everyone knows it. Who else wastes their blood on a racer?
Julius: The jazzman frowns at that confession. In fact, if he had two mouths, he’d be frowning with both. He thought his inside edge was exclusive, but does he really know? How would he know? He doesn’t, and that doubt causes his thoughts to play like an out-of-tune piano.
“Lady fren? Gawddamn, Jade, wot’s he doin wid uh lady fren sides you’s?”
He shakes his head and clenches a sousaphone-heavy fist.
“An no, I didn’t think udders knew, but I don’t rite know, not no mo’.”
He releases his arm, scanning the crowd again. “But if I knew you’s had a racing cap, den udders wud’ve too. So who’s da biggest comp, you dink? I don’t figure nobody’d off ya blood-boo jus’ to make damn sure Mél smokes da race. Dat squeeze don’t seem worth da juice.”
He scratches his sugar-white beard. “But maybe it ain’t bout Mél winnin, as much as makin f’sure you’s don’t. Anybody might ring dat kind of bell fo’ ya?”
Support: “Coulda been…”
“The Axles, maybe?”
“The Baron’s girl, that witchy one.”
“One of the Quarter rats… oh! The rats. We had a run in, I thought they’d gotten over it.”
A longer pause. Then, grudgingly, as if she doesn’t think her “little sister” has the balls,
Julius: Julius nods. “Mmhmm, dat wud make mo’ sense den uh bucket o’ dollahs. Axles too. Da Anarchs got uh wonky ‘ship wid da Boggs. Yo sire an Mr. Boggs seem to git along fine, maybe gud. But Shep? Yo sis? Snaggin da car cud be dem givin da finger to dem. Or maybe da prince’s Anarchs or dat Baron mambo tryin’ to cause trouble tween Lawd Savoy’s allies, meanin’ turnin da Anarchs an da niggamancers.”
He scratches his jaw again, his eyes narrowing. “But you said a rat? Which rat?”
Support: “The one with the ape. Greasy.”
Julius: “Da nossie? He ain’t no rat him, no.”
Support: “Oh. That rat. The one with the kids.”
Julius: “Gerald an’ Geraldine,” Jules huffs, as if finding the names’ similarity an idle joke not worth telling. “But dat kid an’ her marrain, I jus’ don’t see it. Doubt dey got da stones.”
“But you said yo boy had a lady fren?”
But he waves away the question.
“Ain’t none of us got time fo’ 20 questions now. So whatcha gonna do?”
Support: “Find a replacement. Win. Then find my boy.”
Julius: Julius’ highbeam smile returns. “Dat’s da jass I like to lissen to. How can I help?”
Support: “I’ve got the car. I just need a body to put in it.” She spares a glance at his watch, though its face is upside down to her. “But you said you ain’t got a driver on speed dial, Jules.”
Finally, she smiles.
“Luckily, I know a guy. I’m gonna take off. I’ll let you know if I need somethin’, Papi.”
Jade rises to the very tips of her toes to plant a kiss on his cheek. She winks. Then she’s gone, slipping through the crowd with a swagger in her step that suggests she’s not worried about the race. Not at all.
Julius: Getting to watch the voluptuous morsel swagger away dims some of the sting of her leaving.
“Gawd,” Julius exclaims to nobody in particular,
“Uh cap could git mighty used to binlookin at dat one.”