“Easier for things to turn to shit than to turn around.”
Tuesday evening, 8 March 2016
GM: Jade wakes up. She’s in a comfortable silk-sheeted bed. Alana is curled up next to her, wearing nothing except for a leather harness and collar, the one from earlier. Its leash is wrapped in Jade’s hand.
“Good evening, mistress,” the ghoul purrs, planting a soft kiss on her lips.
Support: Randy’s there, too. He’s more fully clothed, but seems equally excited to see her. “Nice to see you, babe.”
Celia: Jade’s only response is to roll onto her side, her hands moving immediately to pin Alana’s wrists to the bed above her head. Her thighs part, knees on either side of the girl’s hips, and her lips press down against Alana’s.
There’s a pause when she hears Randy’s voice. She lifts her head to look at him. Her gaze is… intense.
“Both of my pets in one bed,” she muses. “What’s a mistress to do.”
There are pressing needs, she knows. Things she should be doing. Information she should be looking into.
But this is a wonderful way to wake.
Support: “Well, I could think of a few things,” Randy says. “Like, ah.” He fidgets on his one good asscheek.
GM: Alana moans wantfully and struggles a bit under Jade’s grasp, but not enough to break free. Helpless. The Toreador can already see how wet her underwear-less ghoul is.
Celia: Needy, needy, needy.
Jade’s mouth opens, fangs out. She sinks them into the girl beneath her, sucking and nipping at her while she draws the blood forth. Her hands travel down her body, squeezing, pinching, stroking. Her fingers slip inside of the girl, curling upward. When she draws them out they’re slick.
She doesn’t take much from Alana. Enough to do the work she needs to do with her. She licks the holes closed when she’s done. She ties the leash to the headboard, keeping Alana still, while she turns to face Randy.
“What happened after I fell asleep?”
Her fingers slide back inside Alana. She keeps her eyes on Randy, though. Makes him watch while she fingerfucks the prone girl.
GM: Alana makes happy noises as her cheeks flush. Loud and wantful. She squirms and tugs against the leash, smiling widely as the collar chokes her and its bell goes ding-a-ling-a-ling.
Her motions definitely seem more sluggish than normal, though, and her ‘happy noises’ have an almost slurred quality to them. Her mistress was very hungry.
Celia: Her attention drifts back to the girl after a moment. She focuses on what she’s doing, on bringing the girl the release she so desperately wants. She recognizes that sign: she took too much. The ghoul will be out of it for most of the night.
GM: Of course, she could always feed her toy again. Alana loves that probably just as much as the sex.
Celia: Why not both? She pierces her own tongue and presses her mouth once more against the girl.
GM: Alana meets Jade’s kiss hungrily, lapping up every last red drop. The rush of blood gives her all-too evident vigor as she throatily gasps and moans, straining against the leash so that her tongue may explore her domitor’s mouth.
Celia: Her world narrows to the girl beneath her. The sounds, the taste, the feel. She gives until Alana is flushed once more, until the color returns to her cheeks and the bell is not the only thing chiming. When she pulls her mouth away to nuzzle at the girl’s neck she settles heavily against her, rolling to the side to pull her into her arms. She pats the spot at her back, an invitation for Randy to join their pile.
“Tell me what happened yesterday,” she says again.
GM: Alana snuggles up at her mistress’ side, planting gentle nips along the Toreador’s neck while continuing to finger herself. Randy eagerly piles on, spooning against Jade with an all-too tactile bulge in his crotch as he delivers his report.
Savoy’s people showed up, Mélissaire among them. They’ve brought Jade back to the Evergreen.
They’ve brought the hunters’ bodies back with them, which are currently on ice. Alana asked that they be turned over to Jade, and the other ghouls were happy to outsource body disposal to someone else.
Celia: She asks if they were able to find anything useful in the house or the belongings after she’d passed out. She rises once the report has been given and scans the room with her eyes, looking for appropriate clothing. None of it will compare to the positively flouncy dress she’d prepared for her original meeting with Savoy—that’s the real tragedy of last night, she thinks—but there is bound to be something suitable. She glances down at the writhing ghoul.
“Did you secure a meeting for me with Lord Savoy for this evening?”
GM: The pair answer that they did find something. While the hunters seemed to go out of their way to avoid carrying around identifying items in their apparent safehouse, there was a giveaway in the sleeping bag. Bryan Clayton was written over the name in faded print. This doesn’t match the ID he had in his wallet, which was for a Jeremy Chapman. Randy thinks the name on the sleeping bag is the real one. It’s the sort of thing you might honestly forget about.
Jade also finds that Alana has primmed and pampered her as she lay sleeping. She smells like she’s been bathed and had Sycomore perfume applied. Her nails are painted a fresh red. When she looks into the mirror on her phone, she sees Alana has also done her hair and makeup: after all, the Kindred don’t move, perspire, or do anything besides go back to being dead when they’re asleep, so there’s no risk of any cosmetics getting smudged or any clothes rumpled. Jade has been dressed in a tight-fitting, mid-thigh black dress with a very suggestive horizontal cut across the chest, a gold pair of sandal stilettos, and matching jewelry.
“Yes… mistress…” Alana whimpers as she strokes her clit, still tugging against the leash. “It’s for… later tonight… full schedule… Warden Lebeaux is… seeing you first…”
“I hope you like… how I’ve done you up…”
There’s also something more modest set out by the bed. Alana explains through her ‘happy noises’ that it’s there if she wants to meet with the detective or do other “work instead of play things” in less suggestive attire.
If she wants to play, though, there’s always a party at the Evergreen. Clementine said Veronica might be stopping by.
Alana seems to grow less aroused, though, as she sniffs how Clementine mocked her for her missing ear. The older ghoul was very, very cruel.
She stole it, too. Dropped it down a public toilet. Forced Alana to madly scramble to pull it out, mid-flush, before it was sucked away.
Celia: Jade takes a moment to soak in her appearance in the phone’s camera. She presses her lips together and blows a kiss at her reflection, fluttering her lashes. There’s nothing subtle about the look that Alana painted on her. She is positively ravishing. She doesn’t seem to be paying attention to the girl’s words until she tuts at Alana for responding so poorly to the teasing.
“’Lana, Clementine has done nothing of note for her mistress. Her claim to fame is putting other people down to make herself superior because she has no other talents besides the tongue in her mouth. You stopped a hunter attack.”
“She’s jealous she’s not nearly as pretty as you are, pet.”
GM: Alana smiles past a few sniffles. “You’re right, mistress. Like always.”
“Could we reattach my ear, mistress? I want to look pretty for you. You could take me out like this, on the leash and all fours, to show everyone at the Evergreen how much you own me.”
“I wouldn’t say no to getting something else reattached, babe,” says Randy, massaging Jade’s shoulders. “God, you’re so hot.”
Celia: After last night, there’s nothing she would enjoy more than being able to stay in bed all evening with the pair of them. But there’s work to be done. So much work. Lebeaux, Savoy… others whose names she dare not even think here less someone be listening in.
Another night. Another night when she does not have pressing concerns, she will find a bed large enough for the three of them, bring a handful of toys, and bar clothing from the room.
Just not tonight.
Her hand slips over Randy’s and she gives a gentle tug to bring him around the front of her.
“Fetch the ear, pet,” she says to the girl. “I’ll need material for you, Randy. What do you think, the man who fucked me? I could take his cock off and smooth it over your rear. Then that part of you will have been inside me, at least.”
“I could always give it to the monkey,” she muses. She wonders if the Nos would see it as the joke she intends, a smoothing of hurt feelings, or if he’d find some way to take offense.
GM: “Babe, it was your family’s house… someone woulda noticed…” Randy protests. “That earns me a… muscle graft from the girl, doesn’t it?”
“Thank you, mistress,” Alana exclaims with relief. She quickly slides off the bed, only for the leash to yank taut. She makes a little choking sound as her back hits the bed frame, hands reflexively flying to her neck.
Randy looks like he finds it more than a little hot.
“You’ll need to let me off my lead, mistress,” the ghoul smiles sheepishly from the floor, batting her lashes up at Jade as she rubs the collar.
Celia: She hides her smirk behind a hand and reaches out to do just that, allowing the girl free. She waves a hand at her to get on with it, hands returning to Randy.
“I suppose you found the information,” she allows. Her fingers twine through his hair, pulling his neck to the side. Her lips brush across his skin. She bites, puncturing his neck with her fangs.
GM: “Oh… ohh, that’s… good…” Randy moans, his erect cock bulging through his jeans. His hands hungrily fondle Jade’s breasts, but the ecstasy of her kiss leaves him weak, like it leaves any of the kine weak.
“Vroom… fuckin’… vroom!”
Alana scampers off on all fours, the leash trailing after her. She returns shortly later, around when Jade has taken her fill, with an ice-filled plastic bag clamped between her teeth. She rises to her knees to proffer it like a dog with a fetched stick in its mouth.
Celia: One night, she thinks, he’ll get what he actually wants. One night, maybe when Alana messes up, she’ll let him actually have her and they’ll make the other girl watch. Jade doesn’t mind his hands on her. Not after almost losing him to illness, not after the panic she’d woken up in during the day, surrounded by enemies, wishing he was there to protect her. She even laughs around a mouthful of blood at his expected noises. Her tongue seals the wound when she’s done and she shifts him slightly, moving so that he is behind rather than in front of her. It’s an open invitation for his hands.
GM: Randy moans needfully as Jade’s fangs withdraw. The disappointment in his voice is all-too apparent. He rubs against her longingly as they spoon, his no longer limp hands hungrily squeezing and kneading her breasts as he plants kisses along her neck.
Celia: She reaches for the bag, taking a moment to pat Alana on the head and murmur that she’s such a good girl. Then she’s in work mode, pulling the ear out of the bag and off ice to search for any sign of decay that needs fixed before it’s reattached.
“How many people saw you without it?” she asks idly. “Any hearing impairment?”
GM: Alana glows at the praise, but sits still as Jade works. The timely ice seems to have preserved the ear fairly well, much like it did with her own mother’s toes.
But unlike that time, Alana doesn’t have to undergo surgery. Her domitor can do it all right here.
“Mélissaire and Savoy’s people did, mistress,” Alana answers as she kneels still. “And Clementine. Only other ghouls. I called in sick at Flawless: there just wasn’t any way to explain that. Piper and Landen were annoyed over how it took me until past noon to call, but they and the others showed up to work anyway, even when their boss no-showed. Paying and treating them like real employees really keeps them loyal.”
“I can still hear, mostly, but it’s harder to tell where sounds are coming from. I could hear the jazz downstairs, but I couldn’t tell you where the speakers were.”
Celia: “Whose ghouls?” Jade asks as she works. She’s glad for the fact that Emily is in med school; she’d borrowed a few books on anatomy as she was studying how best to use her ability to sculpt flesh, and it gives her the edge she needs now to make sure that everything is in order. Luckily for Alana it had only been an ear. The stirrup bone is internal, and aside from the muscle attachment to the temporal, there isn’t much the ear does besides literally serve as a dish to catch and direct sound. All of the rest happens inside. She’s pleased to see that even the canal itself didn’t sustain any damage.
GM: “Lord Savoy’s, mistress. Also Warden Lebeaux’s. Mélissaire showed up with backup, when it sounded to her like there’d been hunters.”
“It’s possible I could’ve regrown the ear on my own,” Alana adds assuringly. “We can do that. I tried to, I held the ear to my head and made the blood mend, but it just didn’t take.”
Celia: “I am simply making sure that you can accompany me to this party with your ear attached, and that no one who does not already know what gifts I possess will learn of them. You, my dear,” she kisses her nose, “did very well. Last night. Today. This evening.”
The last of the flesh is melded together. It’s seamless. Can’t even tell the ear was taken off. She checks to make sure that it is even with the other, that her ghoul is once more the flawless being that she created.
“It’s okay, pet. You did what you could. If you continue to have hearing problems, tell me immediately.”
GM: Alana’s eyes wetly shine as the ear comes back on. She climbs back atop the bed and nuzzles her face against Jade’s stomach, perhaps in substitute for the Toreador’s breasts with Randy’s hands still occupied there.
“Yes, mistress,” she whispers, rubbing her head back and forth. “Thank you. I love you so much. I’m so thankful you’re letting me stay your flawless, happy toy forever.”
Celia: Jade takes the moment she has to soak up the adoration of these two mortals. She doesn’t know how real it is, or if their minds are simply twisted by the perversion of her blood. Maybe she doesn’t want to know. Doesn’t care. It’s enough that they feel the pale echo of affection brought on by the addiction and the bond, isn’t it?
As always, she has more to do, and relaxing in a pile of hedonism with these two is not on that list. She tells the pair of them to sit tight, exchanges her dress for the more casual and conservative outfit, and leaves the room.
Warden Lebeaux is waiting.
GM: The outfit is a simple blouse and knee-length skirt. Alana and Randy both protest, though, that Lebeaux isn’t here right now. He’s an ‘early riser’ for one of the Damned and Jade has slept later than usual. He’s off doing his own things. They have to call him. Which they do.
But until then, the pile of hedonism calls too.
Tuesday evening, 8 March 2016
GM: Shortly later, Celia heads to one of the Evergreen’s upstairs rooms to see Pete. In contrast to the priceless decor, raucous crowds, and ever-playing jazz on the first story, the sitting room where the pair meet is quiet and intimate. It’s decorated with a few pictures and other amenities that call to mind the court of the Sun King, but for the most part, its sensibilities seem grounded in the present.
So does the Tremere. He looks like he’s aged since his first meeting with Celia. That’s also because of his continued meetings with Celia. He’s asked her to make him just a little bit older, every year. Some thinning and graying to his hair, some wrinkles to his face. His ‘annual touch-up.’ Better for the Masquerade. Will let him stay a police officer for longer.
He’d only given a flat look when she’d asked him, perhaps facetiously, whether that was so he could date her mom.
Tonight he’s dressed (like usual) in a gray trenchcoat, rumpled white shirt, and loose-hanging tie as he greets her with a simple, “Celia. Seems you had a busy day.”
Celia: In her defense, she’d also told him that if he wanted to date her mom she could take away the wrinkles and the graying hair so he had a shot at wooing the younger woman. Not in so many words, of course. She’d kept him as attractive as she could within the parameters he’d set for her.
Celia dips her head in deference to the detective as she enters the room, taking the offered chair across from him. She is glad for the toned down clothing; though it wouldn’t be unusual for one of the rose clan to show up to a meeting like this in a getup like that, there’s still some propriety to be observed with this particular Kindred. She tucks her feet beneath the chair and places her hands on her lap.
“Good evening, Warden Lebeaux. Indeed I did. It was most unfortunate; I shall have to apologize profusely to Lord Savoy for missing our meeting.”
GM: Lebeaux had also told her the approximate age he’d wanted to appear. By 2016, it’s early 40s. The same age group as her mom, in fact.
He’d also crushed the Toreador’s soul when he’d told her he hadn’t wanted to look especially attractive. “Attractive people stand out. Attractive cops all the more so. For the most part, we don’t age well. Bad diet. Bad work hours. Bad company. It’s a stressful job. Make it show on my face.”
So Celia did the best she could within the parameters he’d set.
Celia: He’s so difficult. She’d gotten her mom a cop calendar that year for her birthday instead. Emily had thought it was hilarious.
GM: Emily had had a good laugh over it. Diana had enjoyed the cop calendar, remarking playfully how much she “liked a man in uniform.” That led to Emily wondering if they should set her up with a police officer, military guy, or firefighter. “I mean, they tend to be old-fashioned, like her. More jerks to weed out, though.”
Celia: They’d decided on mailman, in the end. Handle with care and all that.
GM: She’d also demurred on the subject when asked about it. Teenagers in the house still. “Maybe later, when it’s just Lucy.” Always “maybe later.”
Celia: Logan is out of the house now. Maybe she’ll bring it up to Pete again.
GM: “You can still call me Pete,” the Kindred cop waves off. “I’m not that much older than you.”
“And Savoy’s still a reasonable lick, so far as apologizing. You didn’t choose to get jumped by hunters.”
Celia: Celia flashes a smile at him. She likes it when he gets riled up about the Warden thing. Maybe she should court him instead.
“Should I assume that’s why you asked to see me, Pete? So I can tell you what happened?”
GM: “Yep. I’ve interviewed your ghouls already, but they obviously weren’t there for it all.”
Celia: She gives him the rundown of the evening. Grabbed at the spa—how did they even get in?—and waking up tied to the bed. The questions. The misinformation she’d given them about how some of their abilities work, just in case she happened to die. The “others” they kept mentioning. She hadn’t been able to find out about the others, she tells him, but she repeats what they said about them. The identification they’d found, including the name inside the bag, plus the name “Brooke” that the male had shouted when the girl had died. The location of the house, too, in case that helps any.
“I kept the bodies. I know you have a… thing you can do sometimes.” She waves vaguely, indicating his magic at large.
“They were trying to get into my phone.” She doesn’t know if it’s relevant or not, but it reminds her that she has theirs. She tells him that, too.
GM: Pete patiently listens to Celia’s rundown of events, nodding every so often and interjecting with the occasional question of his own.
“There are things I can do with blood samples,” Pete says. “I’ve already taken two. Their phones though could potentially be more informative. They probably knew that about yours, too.”
Celia: “I’ll be sure to get them to you.” Celia is happy to pass the task off. For as much time as she spent with her former tutor, she still doesn’t think she’s as savvy as he is with the technology.
GM: “All they have to do is look at your call history to see who you’re calling, at what times, and for how long. Could tell them quite a lot.”
Celia: “I didn’t let them in. They didn’t get access.”
GM: “Good. Me getting access to theirs is exactly what they wouldn’t have wanted. Seems these people were being relatively careful to hide their identities while on the hunt.”
“Your ghouls also lied to me about not having the phones, though I’ve let them hold on to those until you and I could talk. I appreciate you being more forthcoming than they were.”
Celia: “That… seems like a ridiculous thing to lie about.” Celia can’t fathom why they would. To give her credit for cracking them, maybe? She doesn’t want anything to do with it. She’d prefer to stay as far away from future hunters as she can.
She pauses, hesitant. He has been something like a mentor to her these past few years, has shown her more kindness than almost any of the others. If anyone knows what to do about this situation and can guide her toward the best outcome, she reasons that it’s him.
“They saw my face. Celia’s face. Were inside my business.”
GM: “Well, ghouls aren’t always rational. Kindred either, for that matter.”
“And yes, they were. That’s what will be so informative about their phones. To see whether they told someone else, or whether that secret died with them.”
“But I’d cautiously say to be optimistic. From what you and Alana said, they avoided giving away directly identifying information over their phones.”
“The police are in Vidal’s pocket, after all. You’d be amazed how many ways even local departments have to listen in on your conversations. It isn’t just the NSA these days.”
Celia: “There’s a terrifying thought.”
“Perhaps I’ll have my girl make some calls during the day from my phone. Send her out in public with my face.” She doesn’t phrase it as a question, there’s no lilt at the end of the sentence, but she lifts her brows at him all the same.
GM: “It’s a terrifying reality,” Pete responds to her first statement. “Technologies like StingRay let us fool your phone into thinking we’re a cell phone tower. We can listen in to your conversations in real time. We can watch you type your text message. View your photos, calendars, notebooks. It’s all fair game. We don’t even need to get a warrant.”
Celia: She gives him a flat look.
“How do I prevent that?”
GM: “You can’t,” Pete answers. “If law enforcement really wants in to your phone, we have lots of ways we can get in.”
“But you’re on to something when you bring up prevention, because that’s always better than a cure.”
“The most obvious prevention is to never say or text anything that would break the Masquerade or personally screw you over. Communicate through euphemism. That’s the bare minimum any lick who still wants to use a phone should do.”
“There’s also simply not drawing scrutiny in the first place. Your idea to actually send someone out in the day with Celia’s face is a great idea.”
Celia: She’s glad he thinks so. She wasn’t sure if it would work, if they’d already shared her identity. She’s not ready to burn it just yet, but if she has to. Still, it’s something she should have been doing all along. She has a whole social media platform she can use to let the world know she’s still “alive.”
“Will you let me know what you find on the phones?”
GM: “I will. Until then, I recommend you avoid Celia Flores’ usual hangouts, just to be on the safe side. It shouldn’t be too long.”
Celia: “How long?” She has someone waiting for her there. She can’t just leave her.
GM: “It depends what I find on their phones. How much time it takes me to run the leads down.”
“I’ve been to Flawless already, though. So were my ghouls, during the day.”
Celia: “Find anything? To worry about?”
GM: “Besides your tied up and nine-tenths-dead sister,” Pete deadpans, “there were some informative clues as to the hunters’ MO.”
“She’s been moved to the Evergreen.”
Celia: For a moment she isn’t sure what to say. She sucks in air she doesn’t need, lets it out slowly. Presses her fingers to the bridge of her nose, as if to stave off a headache she doesn’t feel. All habits leftover from her time as a breather.
He speaks before she can ask.
“She’s okay, then.”
She sounds relieved.
GM: Pete gives her a look.
“Not by a long shot, from the state she was in.”
Celia: “I didn’t… that wasn’t me.”
“I was trying to fix her without her losing it on me.”
“This whole mess is because I was trying to find someone to bleed for her.”
GM: “The hunters notably didn’t take her. My guess would be she played dead.”
“We’re pretty good at that, without a pulse.”
“Is she… what happened to her here?”
GM: “Smart, or just desperate. A blue blood like her had to have been really hurting, hungry, or both, not to even try to mind control them.”
He frowns. “Don’t know if that fits her character, though. Could be the hunters just overlooked her and she never got the chance.”
“As far as what happened, I haven’t interviewed her yet.”
Celia: “But I mean, where is she? Is she… was she fixed? Is she up? Moving around?”
GM: Pete gives her a look.
Celia: She doesn’t know what that look is supposed to mean, but she isn’t sure she likes it.
GM: “She has 12-inch piece of wood buried in her chest. I should hope the reasons are apparent.”
Celia: She looks down at her hands. She should have known that. They wouldn’t take chances.
“Does everyone know she’s here?” Savoy. Preston.
GM: “There’s a war going on out there while you’re not on Instagram, Miss Kalani. A mostly cold war, but a war all the same. She doesn’t exactly play for the same team as we do.”
Celia: “I was trying to find out why she showed up at my door like that when they grabbed me.” The use of her name like that—formal, the sort of thing they never do with each other—almost makes her flinch. The room is suddenly colder than it was a moment ago.
GM: “I’ve informed Lord Savoy. I don’t know who else he may have chosen to inform.”
“I’m of several minds on your sister, personally. She may not play for the same side as we do, but that isn’t a crime that merits punishment, in and of itself. But until I was able to talk to either of you, it wasn’t apparent what she was doing in your spa and why she was in the state that she was.”
“If she was the one attack to you there, though, she has violated the Second Tradition.”
Celia: It’s an easy out. Say she was attacked. Let them deal with her. She had attacked. Came at her like she meant to rip Celia apart, hadn’t she?
Her lips press together. She shakes her head.
“She showed up in that condition. She was staked before she could cause a problem.”
GM: “Mm-hmm. Didn’t even try to feed on anyone, after risking that trip into the heart of Savoy’s territory?”
“It’s in your grandsire’s hands, in any case. I’m going to interview her, but he’ll decide what happens to her.”
Celia: “She’s my sister, Pete. Or… or she was, anyway, I don’t even know what we are now.”
GM: “I understand,” the detective replies. “But you should also understand that you two have done things which many siblings might reasonably never forgive each other for. All before the matter of your Embraces, or the fact you’ve chosen to cast in your lots on opposite sides of a conflict.”
“Much like with your mom, I might hope for the best but still prepare for the worst.”
Celia: She lifts her face from her hands at his words.
“D’you mean you’re finally taking her out?”
GM: “I don’t think your sister’s actions warrant being ‘taken out’, Celia, or that I should be the Kindred who does that. I’m a cop, not an executioner.”
Celia: They both know that isn’t what she meant. She gives him a look for a change.
GM: The Kindred cop heaves a deliberate sigh.
“It’s been close to seven years since you were turned.”
“You know what we are. All of what we are. Why in God’s name would you want one of us close to your mother and baby sister in that way?”
Celia: “You’re breaking my heart, Pete. You can make it up to me, though. Let me come with you when you talk to Roxanne.”
Celia doesn’t bother to point out that she sees her mom and sister all the time and there haven’t been any issues.
She’ll win him over eventually.
GM: “Okay. You can come along for that. But wake up,” Pete says gruffly. “Forget the fantasy. Your mom and I are a terrible idea.”
Celia: “Of course, warden.”
GM: “It’s been seven years. Don’t tell me she hasn’t found a real man by now.”
Celia: “She says she’s not interested.” Celia lifts one of her shoulders in a helpless sort of ‘what can you do’ shrug. “I think she’s lonely and afraid of being hurt.”
GM: “Well, that’s too bad for her. Because this is it. One life. All you get, unless someone turns you into a monster. It’s a waste to spend it alone.”
Celia: “Aren’t you spending it alone? Seems like a good solution for both of you.”
GM: “Longinus in fucking lingerie, kid,” Pete says with another deliberate sigh, then traces the sign of the lance at the minor blasphemy.
“Okay. I don’t know how well this is going to sink in with a Toreador, but I’ll try.”
“First, everything else aside, I’m nocturnal, just like you. I’m betting it’s already been a balancing act to explain why you’re never around during the day. As an adult child who doesn’t live with her mother or stay in contact as frequent as a significant other.”
“That’s damn hard to explain in any meaningful relationship why you’re not around, ever, during sunup.”
GM: “And when she tells that sad story to her girlfriends? There are so many licks who think they’re so clever with their ‘xeroderma pigmentosum’ explanation, except for how they’ve not been the only ones to come up with it. It’s bad for the Masquerade.”
Celia: Celia crosses her arms. She looks away from him.
“I know. I know, Pete. I’m not ignorant to the challenges we face. I know my time with her is limited, too, that soon I won’t be able to see either one of them again. It’s dangerous. Like you said. For them. For me. For the Masquerade.”
“She lost two kids to this. I just want to see her happy before Celia has to disappear.”
GM: “Yes. And introducing another vampire into her life? Danger doubles, at least.”
Pete’s voice softens. “I know you want her to be happy. I’m flattered you think I could make her happy. And if I wasn’t Kindred, it’s entirely possible I might take the two of you up on your offer. But I am Kindred. And there are men out there, good and decent men, who don’t pose anywhere nearly as much danger to your family’s lives as I do.”
Celia: “She thought Maxen was a good and decent man when she met him.”
GM: “Sometimes our judgment sucks like a crack whore.”
Celia: She tries to huff. It turns into a laugh instead.
GM: Pete allows himself a faint smile.
“But your dad was a while ago. I’m guessing your two’s judgment doesn’t suck nearly as hard, these days.”
Celia: “Maybe,” she allows. She’s done some questionable things lately. “I won’t bother you about it again.”
For a month.
Tuesday evening, 8 March 2016
GM: For all the Evergreen’s image of genteel hospitality, and for all the laughter and music that may waft up from the first floor, there is a room where the kid gloves come off. Every elder has a room like this one. It’s cell-like and utterly bare save for a variety of heavy steel restraints and related ‘tools.’ Roxanne is staked and bolted to a St. Andrew’s Cross that’s free-standing in the center of the room, the better to keep its occupant’s back exposed.
Pete waves off Jade’s offer to resculpt his face. Her sister is blindfolded.
He removes the stake. Roxanne’s fangs gnash as she screams and howls, futilely tugging against the steel restraints.
“Hello, Miss Gerlette,” he says. “You’ve been apprehended for intrusion within Lord Savoy’s parish. We have some questions. Answer them honestly, and things will go better for you.”
“Mr. Savoy,” Roxanne spits.
“Okay, he’s Mr. Savoy. Doesn’t matter to me what you call him.”
“You look like you could use a drink,” the Tremere continues. “Play ball and you’ll get some drinks. Sound like a fair deal?”
“I’m not telling you anything,” Roxanne hisses. “I’ll never betray the prince to a usurper.”
“My questions are about you, actually, not the prince. What were you doing at Flawless?”
“Sounds to me like that has nothing to do with Vidal, unless you were there on his orders.”
“No,” says Roxanne.
“Okay. So you showed up to your sister’s spa, starving and out your mind and three-quarters of the way to final death. What were you hoping to accomplish?”
He continues, “It’s pretty deep in Mr. Savoy’s territory. Either you went there with a specific purpose that was worth the risks, or you were already in the area and it was simply convenient.”
He pauses for a moment.
“Like, say, to feed on the sister who’s on not so good terms with the rest of your family.”
Roxanne is very still at the word ‘sister.’
“Yes, Miss Flores, we know who you are. Obviously you didn’t show up at Flawless completely by accident.”
“Though it also raises the question why you’d do this now,” Pete muses. “If you just wanted to feed on your sister, you could’ve done that anytime she left the Quarter. Bunch of possible ways to lure her out. So either something’s changed in your personal life, to send you after her now, or she was convenient because you were already in the Quarter on unrelated business.”
Roxanne remains silent.
“My bet would be #2,” says Pete. “Obviously you were in a pretty bad state. Going this deep into the Quarter is a risk. You showing up at Flawless feels spontaneous rather than premeditated. You were already in or near the Quarter and it was convenient.”
“You look thirsty. Obviously, you were in a fight with somebody. A personal fight, rather than one under Vidal’s orders. So while you’re hanging there, being thirsty, I’d ask yourself whether this fight is going to become a matter of public knowledge. Whether there was collateral damage, or other licks ashed, that’s going to result in it getting talked about at Elysium. And us knowing anyway, and you being thirsty for nothing.”
“Actually,” he muses, “less than nothing. If any other licks go suspiciously missing around now, you’re the prime suspect.”
Celia: “She’s been missing for a while now. Funny how no one has come looking.” Jade’s words, Jade’s voice.
It’s entirely too similar to her daytime ordeal with the hunters. She tries not to think about it.
“Family thinks she’s overseas. Lick thinks they finished the job.” Dark amusement drips from her tongue. The threat is there; wasn’t Isabel always the smart one? She can figure it out.
GM: “I didn’t ash any Kindred,” Roxanne growls.
“So the other side did, then,” says Pete. “That’d be consistent with how you seem to have lost the fight. If you won, you could’ve taken a drink from the loser, then ashed them.”
Celia: “Brings us back to why you came after your sister. Figured you’d poach in the Quarter, no one would know?”
GM: “Fuck you,” the Ventrue spits.
Celia: “Don’t tell me it was sisterly love that brought you there.”
GM: “Fights with Gangrel can be nasty affairs. So who did the other side ash, that you’re innocent of? Because it sounds to me like this is going to come out, and it’d benefit you if the truth did.”
Pete bites his wrist and holds the bleeding, coppery-smelling font close.
“In more ways than one.”
Roxanne howls and snaps at the offered wrist with distended canines, only for the Tremere to pull it away. She howls and roars and strains. Pete waits for the frenzy to subside, then holds the wrist close again.
“It… was Caitlin Meadows,” Roxanne relents. “She killed Wyatt Jenkins.”
Pete lets her drink.
She sucks vitae ravenously, but he doesn’t let her feed for long. The Ventrue’s despair is plain as the wrist withdraws.
Celia: As interesting as it is to learn of the death of another by the scourge, she doesn’t know Wyatt on a personal level. Just rumors that he has a penchant for making off with mortals and that he’s one of her sister’s krewe. She can imagine a number of reasons Meadows would have to murder him.
No, her curiosity is more intimate in nature. Why Roxanne was in the Quarter to begin with. What brought her to Flawless. Whether or not she knows that her sister is among the Damned, though she finds a clever way to word this to protect the secret if not. If she admits to being there for a nefarious purpose, she asks why: what did Jade do to her that makes her hatred this intense?
She supposes she’s curious about the coterie’s feud with Meadows as well, and she tacks that on, more to keep abreast of current and political situations than any personal investment.
GM: Roxanne says that Meadows killed her lover, Evan Bourelle. The Storyvilles wanted revenge on her.
Pete asks why they think Meadows is to blame. Roxanne answers that Caroline Malveaux-Devillers, another blue blood who “works for me,” dug up the information.
Pete asks why they were stupid enough to go after the scourge, and how they could have possibly expected to win.
Roxanne says nothing, then screams obscenities as she gnashes her fangs, madly trying to throw herself upon the Tremere detective.
Pete lets Jade take over the questioning.
Roxanne screams and raves what a “filthy whore” her sister is, and how she “deserves it, deserves every last bit of it! IT’S HER FAULT! IT’S ALL HER FAULT!”
“So you were going to kill her, is that it?”
“HA! Ha ha ha HA HAH HAAAA!” Roxanne shrieks.
“I was gonna TURN her! Yes! I’ll say it out loud! HA! Why! The! Fuck! NOT!?!”
“I WAS GONNA MAKE MY SISTER A VAMPIRE!”
She throws herself in the direction of Jade’s voice, laughing hysterically as the metal cuffs dig into her bruised flesh.
Celia: “Why?” The only question she can get out around the lump in her throat. The only thing she can think to ask.
GM: “’Cause she made ME one!” Roxanne spits. “She can see what it’s LIKE!”
“Ha ha hahaHAHAHAHAH!”
Celia: “Your sister had nothing to do with your Embrace.”
GM: “She’s sooooo stupid! She’s a dog walking on its hind legs! She’s a college dropout! She’s so fucking STUPID!”
Celia: “So you’d want to spend eternity with her?” The sneer is audible.
GM: Roxanne giggles.
Celia: “That means your death as well, you imbecile. Are you so eager to meet your lover again?”
GM: “She’s so fucking stupid! Dropout dropout dropout dropout!”
“She was a dance major too! Ha! How can you flunk a dance class?! Ha ahahaHAHAHAGH-!”
Celia: The stake slides neatly back into her body.
GM: She cuts off as the wood sinks into her heart. Her mouth is still silently laughing.
Celia: She should feel something. Disgust. Anger. Guilt, maybe, or pity for the girl who used to be her sister. She sinks into herself to find it. She reaches, but nothing’s there.
Her heart is empty.
Numb eyes turn to regard Pete. Her lips haven’t even flattened into the thin line of disappointment; there’s nothing on her face but a flat, blank affectation.
“She violated the Second Tradition. She would have violated the Third. She is a breach waiting to happen.”
GM: “Sure seems like it,” says Pete. “Evan and her friends must have meant a lot if they turned her this way.”
He heads outside the room with Celia and closes the door behind them.
“It’s soundproof. You know her better than I do.”
Celia: Celia’s laugh is as hollow as the rest of her.
“She was like this before she was turned,” she says to him once the door is shut.
GM: “Do you think they caused this, or…?” he starts, then trails off.
“Like this in what sense?”
GM: “Abuse can do that. You had your mom as an anchor. Doesn’t sound like she had much of anyone.”
Celia: “She had Daddy. That’s all she needed.”
GM: “What she thought she needed. The results rather speak for themselves.”
Celia: “There’s nothing to be done about that now. She’s a danger to our society.”
GM: “I’m curious if she could be rehabilitated and perhaps converted. Seems like she’s hit rock bottom. Fat lot that Vidal has done for her.”
Celia: “She is a ticking time bomb, Pete. You can’t rehabilitate that. The first chance she has to get out she will, and she’ll be coming after me.”
GM: “Might be you’re right. Always easier for things to turn to shit than to turn around.”
“I’m going to question her some more before Lord Savoy gets back. Have you had enough?”
Celia: “What’s left to find out?”
GM: “I haven’t heard her full version of events. You never know what little details of interest may come up. But I’m not sure you need to see any more of her in this state.”
Celia: “I will not let it be said that the thing in there chased me from the room.”
GM: “By my count driving a stake into someone’s chest is rather the opposite of being chased.”
Celia: “I’d love to know what other issues in her life she blames me for.”
GM: “Her blame isn’t completely without basis. That tape’s circulation destroyed her mortal life. She’d be fair to blame me for that too, though.”
Celia: “I know what I did to her.”
GM: “We all have a breaking point. Everyone can snap.”
“In any case. I’m going back to question her. If Lord Savoy decides she can’t be rehabilitated, I can ask him to give you two a last moment.”
Celia: “I have a question. Before you go. For you.”
GM: “What’s that?”
Celia: “I was looking into an addition at the spa.” The change in subject is clear: she has completely written off her sister. The deranged maniac in the next room is nothing to her. “One of the Nos mentioned something about a spell to keep out water for a room under sea level. Is that something you can do?”
GM: “It is,” says Pete. “Storage space?”
He doesn’t press the matter of her sister further.
Celia: “Yes.” Technically.
GM: “Okay. Tell me when it’s ready.”
Celia: Her face becomes no more animated as they talk about this than it had been in the room. Her tight jaw is the only indication that she is less than fine.
“I’m going to wait for Lord Savoy.” Her eyes flick toward the door, then back to him. Maybe he sees the way her lower lip trembles for a fraction of a second before she presses her tongue to the roof of her mouth to stop it. Maybe he dismisses it as a trick of the light.
Maybe he knows what’s going on inside her head.
She blinks at him. “I’ll be upstairs.”
GM: Pete just looks at her for a bit.
“Okay,” he repeats simply. “Two last things before you go.”
“Well, three. The roof isn’t accessible when he’s not here. Party’s on the first floor. Probably be a while before he’s back on the roof.”
Celia: Maybe she’d been hoping someone would steal her from the roof. Or shove her off it.
GM: “But there’s a guy I know, if you’re still looking to set someone up with your mom.”
GM: “He’s single. Retired cop. Current P.I. My former partner.”
“He’s… a lot of things. But he’s a decent guy. Doesn’t have any family or kids of his own.”
Celia: “He’s not like us?” She has to check.
GM: “He’s a renfield. Independent. No domitor. Stays out of politics.”
Celia: “You trust him?”
GM: “He keeps a lot of secrets. I never knew he was on the blood until after my Embrace.”
“I trust him where it counts. He was one of the guys I got to stand watch outside your mom’s hospital room, back when that went down.”
“You might not remember him. She probably doesn’t.”
Celia: It’s enough for her. She nods again. She might even smile, though it’s brief.
“I’ll see if I can talk her into a date. I could change your face, you know, if you wanted to come with me. Double up. Or observe from afar. Like a stakeout.”
Definitely smiling now.
GM: “I trust you can look after your mom. And I more than trust that a gorgeous Toreador can find a double date all on her own,” Pete says dryly.
“His office is 5666 Canal Street, if you want to meet him yourself.”
Celia: “Breaking my heart, Pete. Your friend got a name?”
GM: “Lou Fontaine.”
Celia: She nods and tucks that name away for future research. She’s never heard of him, but she hasn’t heard of a lot of ghouls, so that doesn’t surprise her. The Internet can tell her more.
“And the third thing?”
GM: “Watch your back.”
Celia: She waits. There has to be more than that.
GM: “There’s been a number of disappearances in recent months. Inside and outside the Quarter. Uptick in reported hunter encounters. For whatever reason, seems like they’ve been busier lately.”
“So watch your back. And watch what you say over phones.”
Celia: “Thanks, Pete.” She touches his arm. “I know you think…” She shakes her head. It doesn’t matter. “Thanks. I’ve always appreciated you.”
He’d called her gorgeous, so she knows he appreciates her too. She doesn’t tell him he slipped, though.
Tuesday evening, 8 March 2016
GM: Celia finds a text waiting on her phone from Emily as she returns to the accommodations with her ghouls.
Mom told me what’s up with Randy. Sorry what he’s putting you through.
Celia: Jade should calm down before she goes to the party. She should find a way to take the edge off. A bout with one of her ghouls, maybe, but they’re so fragile. She wants someone more sturdy to rake her claws down. Someone like Roderick, who she never minded putting her on her back.
But he won’t come here. Won’t respond to a text. They’d had no contact since that night in her haven. She knows it. Knows that asking is a waste of her time. That she shouldn’t even be thinking of him right now. He won’t come running because she had a bad day; their long ago promise to always be there for each other is nothing but an empty gesture that neither has broached since.
Maybe Gui is downstairs. She knows Veronica is. She could always see if she brought the thief around. Her two favorite Toreador, always good for a laugh. Or a fuck. Abellard’s words come back to her at the thought—spend as much time on your back as you do looking in a mirror—and then Pete’s snide comment about the Toreador, too. Her lip curls.
She scrolls to the text from Emily. Is nothing in this family secret?
Thanks, Em. We’re working on it. Mom gave me some good advice. Hey, speaking of, I might have a friend to set her up with. She includes the cat emoji with the star eyes.
GM: Oh awesome! Who’s the guy?
Celia: Former cop, ha!
GM: Well she said she liked a guy in uniform.
Or at least formerly in uniform lol
Celia: What kind of cute things you think they’re gonna do? Minigolf?
GM: Maybe dancing actually? Something inside Mom’s comfort zone that she knows she’s good at.
Celia: Oh yeah you’re right, that’s a good idea. Bet I can convince her to get a new dress, too.
This is gonna be fun.
GM: Yeah I bet you can she likes shopping.
She does. It’s her one ‘guilty pleasure’ besides the spa visits. After so long shopping at thrift stores following the divorce, she’s enjoyed being able to afford nice clothes.
I’ll try and see if I can watch Lucy that evening. Med school is just so brutal.
Celia: Almost over though.
GM: Residency pretty brutal too. But yeah. Finally get to introduce myself as doctor.
Celia: Dr. Em.
You gonna make Robby take your last name?
Mister and Doctor Rosure.
GM: Haha. Not thinking any further ahead than surviving med school right now. I knew it was intense but it’s just been beyond crazy this last year.
Celia: Anything I can help with?
GM: Eh it’s been a good crazy too. Think I’ve found a mentor with one of the doctors.
Celia: Nice! What do they have you doing?
Wait is this like a Grey’s Anatomy mentor??? ;)
He cute tho? Lolol
GM: Hahaha NO she’s a woman and has as many kids as Mom anyway
Ok that was kinda sexist of me having kids doesn’t mean you want sex less
Celia: You’ve got a terrible role model in that department.
I don’t think she appreciated those passion parties
GM: Ugh don’t we know it
I still can’t believe you gave her vibrators for Christmas
Celia: The woman needs an orgasm before she dies.
GM: Like I thought the lingerie was already risque
Yeah I’d bet real money she’s never had one
Celia: Soon she’ll be old and dried out.
Celia: And it’ll be bottles of lube.
GM: I don’t get how someone can have more kids than fingers on their right hand and never have an orgasm.
Celia: Religion: not even once.
GM: But yknow I kinda feel like virginity is a state of mind as much as it actually is whether you’ve had sex
Celia: That is the weirdest thing you’ve ever said to me.
I’ll let my dad know I’m still pure.
GM: I’m just saying it seems utterly bizarre someone can have as many kids as her and still never orgasm or barely even know what a vibrator is. It’s incongruent. It’s like she’s still a virgin mentally even if she isn’t one physically
I guess that’s religion and being a Republican tho
Celia: Did I ever tell you about that kid who told me he was still a virgin because he didn’t get off? Like he didn’t enjoy sex so he just didn’t count it.
GM: Yeah you did. Feel like your dad would still count any sex you had even if it was bad sex. Yay double standards
Celia: I spoke to Logan the other day. He said Dad is ‘proud of me.’
GM: Fuck him and fuck what he’s proud of
Celia: Pretty much.
GM: If Logan was even telling the truth
Your dad thinks I’m a ‘mongrel’ tho I know that’s true
Celia: Oh yeah he mentioned you two chatted. And that he hung up. :/
GM: Hitting your girlfriend is not okay. Not gonna tiptoe around it.
Celia: I told him the same. Can’t believe he did that.
GM: I used to think him and the others splitting time with Mom and Maxen was a good compromise. Except it’s like getting your bones broken, letting them heal, then breaking them again, ad infitum, and trusting the ER doctor to fix you up every time because they’re such a good doctor, then getting mad you’re always in pain
When the answer is to stop breaking your bones and not always needing a fucking doctor. Prevention always better than cure
Maxen is completely toxic. He’s breaking their bones as fast as Mom can fix them
And no matter how well she does it’s always gonna hurt and there’ll be cumulative long term damage
I don’t know what else we coulda realistically done at the time but letting him stay in their lives was horrible for them
Celia: Nothing we could have done. But they’re out now. They’re all at college. I’ll see if I can find David a job or different internship, I’m working with Logan, and Soph is… well, you know.
The less they see him the better now.
GM: I’m just so fucking thankful he never got his hands on Lucy. Genius idea what you did there.
I love that kid so much. She’s growing up right.
Mom there to be sweet, us to toughen her up.
I kinda wonder if that’s why Mom isn’t dating. If she thinks we have a great thing going and doesn’t want to jinx it bringing someone else in
Celia: Eh. Maybe. It’s not like bringing someone into the picture is going to have Lucy calling him “dad” though.
We’ll talk to her and see how it goes I guess. I don’t think she NEEDS someone to be fulfilled, but I’d like to see her get back out there again.
Healthier role model for the kids when they are with her.
GM: Agreed. Think you were right ~7 years ago tho. Someone older w/ grown kids or w/o kids is best
Celia: Well if this guy is a retired cop he’s older. Friend told me he’s got no kids. Think it’s perfect.
GM: Can also say from personal experience it’s never too late to start thinking of someone as a parent
Celia: Awww you’re right.
Yeah retired guy sounds great
Celia: I’ll hook it up.
Celia closes out of the message with Emily. She’s no less wound than she was when it started; it had done little to take the edge off, only reminded her that she, too, needs someone in her life. Unlife. Whatever.
For all that she hasn’t been around him in years, Roderick Durant sure has been on her mind lately. She scrolls through her phone to stare at his name in her contacts list.
She’d left him alone. All this time. Hadn’t gone back to the Anarchs. Hadn’t pushed her way in. Hadn’t called or texted or seen those games of his for herself. Was that why the Nossies were so rude to her? She recalls he was “in” with them. Maybe it was payback for… what, breaking his heart when she was 19 and still alive? That’s a stretch. They’re just dicks. A society of raging dicks, that’s what Lebeaux had once said.
She makes a noise. Might be disgust. For the months after she’d spent almost every night at her haven, the one she’d taken him to. Pretending to paint, to practice her face in the mirror, writing, reading, waiting. Waiting for him to show up. Waiting for her sire to show up. Waiting on boys.
Well, she’s done waiting. She doesn’t need either one of them. She’s going to go fuck Veronica or Gui or Pietro or maybe all three, throw in Lord Savoy himself for good measure. Maybe she’ll give that twat Preston a tumble, see if the bitch ever unwinds and lets her hair down. No, that’s unkind of her; Preston had seen to it that Jade knew what she needed to in order to get by with the older licks, and once she’d gotten it down they hadn’t had any issues.
She sets her phone down and changes into the dress Alana had brought for her. Short, tight, black: it checks all the right boxes.
GM: Alana is more than happy to help her into it. The ghoul is still naked except for the leather harness’ crisscrossing black straps.
“You can’t seduce Pete if you always show up in such boring clothes, mistress,” she purrs as she helps her domitor dress.
Celia: “What makes you think I want to seduce Pete?” Jade asks, amused, as if she hadn’t just been thinking the same.
GM: “Why wouldn’t you want to?” Alana only laughs.
Celia: Because he’s the only lick around whose good opinion means as much to me or maybe even more than my sire’s.
Jade just offers the ghoul a coy smile.
“I’ll take it under consideration. Did you happen to find out if Madam Alsten-Pirrie brought her lover?”
GM: “Not for sure, mistress, but last I heard they haven’t been fighting. It seems pretty likely he’ll be by if she is.”
She strokes Jade’s exposed underbreast. “I just love the cut of this dress. Pete and Pietro would too, I bet.”
Celia: Even when they’re not fighting they’re fighting. Jade can’t help but smile at her ghoul’s persistence. She is not seducing Pete. The poor lick will have whiplash if she bounces from trying to set him up with her mother to trying to claim him for herself.
“I have a task for you, starting tomorrow. New phones. Three of them. I’m also going to need you to use mine during the day to keep up appearances. This… fiasco with the hunters has shown me just how delicate our little ruse is.”
She touches a hand to Alana’s cheek, trailing a thumb across her lips.
“How would you like to be me for a week? Put in some appearances.”
GM: “I’d like to do anything you’d like, mistress,” Alana smiles at her touch. She kneels and rubs her head against the Toreador’s leg like an affectionate dog.
“Different phones. Actually being around during the day. You’re so smart.”
Celia: “You know you’ll have to act like Celia if you take this role.” Jade looks down at the ghoul. Even she isn’t that submissive. She runs her fingers through Alana’s hair. “We’ll practice later, pet. Stay here with Randy; poor boy looks so forlorn over his missing cheek. Be a good girl and I’ll come get you shortly.”
GM: Alana rubs her head against Jade’s leg again, closing her eyes. “Yes, mistress. I won’t let you down.”
Randy is konked out on the bed. It’s easy to overlook that her servants are diurnal by nature.
Celia: Poor boy. She’ll fix him soon, she promises herself. As soon as she can get back into the spa and collect the necessary materials. What a waste of a trip to the sewers; it irritates her again just thinking about it.
“The warden told me that you and Randy hid the phones from him, ’Lana. Where are they?”
GM: At least she has the materials. Two mostly fresh bodies.
Alana looks marginally alarmed that the Tremere saw through her.
“Under the mattress, mistress. I thought you might want to look at them first.”
Celia: “I do,” Jade confirms, moving toward the bed. “Very clever of you. You’re not in trouble, sweet, don’t look so shaken. He didn’t accuse you of lying, only mentioned he thought it odd they didn’t have any.”
She lifts the corner of the mattress to find the phones and pulls them out. She could just hand them over to Pete, she knows, but… last time she’d handed him evidence he’d refused to tell her what it was he’d found, and she’d almost died for these stupid phones. She isn’t going to take the chance that they leave her in the dark again.
Make yourself useful, they’d said to her.
So she will.
She presses the button in the bottom center of the screen to wake the phones up. Enter PIN, greets her from one, while the other displays a 3×3 grid of dots for her to trace over. This one, at least, will be easier to get into than trying to hack a PIN-protected phone.
If only they took a print, she thinks mournfully. It’d be so easy to nip down to the cooler and take off a finger to get inside instead of trying to guess a PIN or draw a pattern. How many combinations of four digit numbers are there? Ah, yes, thousands.
Jade doesn’t have time to try thousands of PINs. Nor is she willing to hand these phones over to the warden without doing a cursory search of them herself. His earlier words come back to her: while you’re busy on Instagram there’s a war going on around you. Fuck you too, Pete, for thinking she’s so busy with her page that she doesn’t understand what’s at stake for the rest of their kind. She had been captured. Kidnapped from her business. Not by someone older, stronger, and wiser than her. Not for venturing into Tulane without permission. No, she’d been abducted from a place that is supposed to be safe. Supposed to be hers. Kidnapped, missed her meeting, stabbed, body parts cut off, fucked by that piece of shit.
Fuck them if they think their phones are going to hide further secrets from her. Fuck Pete if he thinks she’s handing these over without getting into them on her own. Every snide comment anyone has ever made about her—pretty but stupid, spend as much time on your back as you do looking into your mirror—comes back to her. She’d killed two hunters. Not only that, she’d given them misinformation; if they had spread the word it’s full of lies, sending them running after someone else’s dogs.
She pulls at the thing inside of her. The monster that has taken over. Lets it come sniffing to the surface on a tightly held leash. She controls it, not the other way around. Seek, she tells it, and it does, drawing her eyes to the residue on the screen.
Residue left behind by the oils in human fingers. Pattern-protected phones are less secure than their PIN-protected counterparts. Unless the hunters had wiped them off recently—and it doesn’t look like they had, filthy as the screen is—the pattern will still be there. Seared into the phone.
Light, she thinks, taking the phone to the floor lamp in the corner of the room to view the smudges left behind.
She’d heard once that to protect your phone with a pattern is just asking for trouble, and now she sees why: under the light it’s easy to distinguish the prints left behind from human hands. They’re clustered toward the bottom of the screen, where the virtual keyboard usually hangs out and people spend most of their time. But there, in the center of the screen, is the information she’s looking for: a clear pattern that had been traced over and over and over again. Stupid design, really, to have the unlock so much higher than the rest of the keyboard, but she supposes there are flaws in every design.
Except hers. Celia and Jade are both flawless.
She winks at her reflection in the black surface of the phone before she traces her finger across the pattern, following the tracks left behind by the hunter.
GM: Flawless in visage.
Flawless in deed.
The Beast’s eyes make out what Jade’s can’t. The phone’s screen looks like it was smudged, perhaps by one of the hunters’ hands, perhaps by Alana’s. But there’s still enough of an oil-based residue under the light for Jade to re-trace the pattern. Her own fingers leave no residue behind. She supposes that makes pattern unlocks more secure for Kindred than kine. Just another perk to being dead.
The Solaris comes open with a light click.
Celia: Something like pride flares up inside of her as the phone opens. She makes a note of the pattern for future use, though perhaps she’ll just change it to a PIN code. Her fingers flick across the touch screen, swiping from right to left to take stock of the apps on the phone, looking for anything… unusual. Not that she expects to find something as obvious as “Hunter Info—Please Click Here,” but some people are less than intelligent. Case in point: this phone’s lock screen.
She can only assume that if the hunter was stupid enough to use a pattern she is stupid enough to leave other clues as to their identity lying around. Jade navigates to the settings and turns off the location data, then begins a methodical search: text messages, call logs, internet browser, photos, any other messaging apps she has on her phone, social media, banking. Anything that will give Jade a clue as to who this girl is or who she’s working with.
GM: The phone’s contents may at once be more and less than Jade may have hoped.
There are no banking apps, but there is an Instagram app that’s open to Celia Flores’ thousands-followed page. That’s it, so far as social media. The recent browser history consists of searches for Celia Flores. There are some pictures taken of Flawless and the license plate of Celia’s car. There’s also a text message which says that “we’ve picked up groceries” and asks where and when would be best to drop them off. The nameless contact replies with an address in Bridge City along with “1 PM tmrw.”
Celia: She checks the time stamp from the messages.
As an avid user of Instagram, Jade knows that in order to use the app on the phone there has to be an account created and summarily logged into. She presses the icon down in the lower right hand of the Insta feed’s screen to take her to the girl’s account to see what she can find.
If there’s nothing on the account, at least she had to register with an email address. She can check that, too, while she’s in the phone. See if there’s any incoming or outgoing emails that the girl forgot to delete.
If not, well, she’s at least got something. An address and a phone number.
Is it weird that she’s flattered they knew who she was?
GM: The account looks like a dummy one created with a dummy email.
However, a backup email address exists for the dummy email in the event of a lockout: email@example.com.
GM: Alana rubs her head against Jade’s knee again.
“You’re so smart, mistress, getting into their phone like that.”
Celia: Perfect. Jade finds a piece of paper and jots it all down. There’s more she could look into, she supposes: date of creation for the dummy account and if it followed anyone else, perhaps as a way to mark targets; recent browser searches; the address itself in Bridge City (also who the fuck even lives in that cesspit across the river?).
It’s enough for now. Pete might be pleased she’d managed to get into the phone for him, at least. Pat on the head forthcoming, like she does for Alana when the girl rubs against her.
The memory of that sugar-laced blood is thick on her tongue. Artificial. Like Alana’s affection for her, she supposes, and the thought… well. She doesn’t dwell.
“You did well today, ’Lana,” she tells the girl. “I’m proud of you. Even in pain you didn’t betray your mistress.” Her nails lightly scratch across the surface of Alana’s scalp.
GM: Alana glows under the praise, like always.
“Beauty takes pain, mistress. So does anything worthwhile.”
Celia: “The night before last I woke up to the strap-on again,” she says at length. “Is that what you wish from me? To take you in truth?”
GM: She leans in to her domitor’s touch.
“I’d love nothing more, mistress,” she purrs. “Besides going to the party with you, for everyone to see how you own me.”
Celia: “You know what they do to your kind at these parties,” Jade says fondly, stroking her hand down the ghoul’s cheek. She sets the phone aside and pulls Alana onto her lap. “Prettiest girl at the party,” she whispers in her ear, “do you want them all to use you like I do?”
GM: Alana nuzzles her domitor’s breasts.
“Whatever makes you happy, mistress. I just want them to see I’m yours.”
Celia: “What I want, pet, is to take the cock from the would-be hunter and fashion it to myself so I can fuck you.”
“Then we’d both have been fucked by the same cock; what’s more special than that?”
GM: “I can’t think of anything, mistress,” Alana beams.
Celia: “But we can’t do that tonight,” Jade says, tilting Alana’s face towards hers, “so I’ll save that thought for later. We’ll make an evening of it, when we’ve both recovered from this ordeal. Tonight, then, I’ll bring you down, and we’ll play mum about the escapades with the hunters, and I’ll let them play with you. As you wish. A reward, for services rendered.”
GM: “Thank you, mistress,” the ghoul smiles. “And can I say how how amazing an actress you were, back with those hunters. You were so fragile and innocent I almost believed it too.”
Celia: Jade is not immune to praise, even if it comes from one she’s so handily collared. A smile spills across her face, radiant.
“Often these licks think that aggression is the only way, that a display of strength or brute force will get them out of everything. Sometimes a more delicate touch is needed to survive an ordeal. You disarm them by playing human.” She presses her lips to Alana’s throat. The flutter of the girl’s heartbeat is there, right beneath the surface. She wants to drink… but, oh, she’s already done so; she won’t leave the ghoul weak before her appearance at the party. Let the others have their fill of this beauty. She settles for nipping at her neck instead, teasing with lips and teeth.
“People reveal who they truly are when you play at being stupid.”
“I think, perhaps, I’ll try out for a movie soon. I’d like to grow my brand beyond the online crowd, and… I had a dream…” Jade shakes her head. The details don’t matter to the girl on her lap. She won’t tell her of the dream. “Get me a meeting with the man from Zodiac, won’t you, pet?”
GM: “Yes, mistress,” Alana nods, even as she presses her own lips to the leaning-in Jade’s head in turn.
“And you’re right, like always. There are so many guys who look at me and think ‘airhead,’ just because you made me beautiful. But it can be useful for them to think that.”
Celia: “Always use the tools you’re given. You’re much more cunning than an airhead.” Jade trails her lips higher along Alana’s neck. Her teeth don’t split the skin despite her desire. “Silly them if they underestimate us because of how we look.”
Her hands traverse Alana’s chest, pinching and pulling at her nipples so that she makes the sound Jade enjoys so much. Happy noises.
GM: The ghoul obliges with all-too evident happiness. Soft little gasp-like moans. Her nipples stiffen under her domitor’s touch, and Jade can tell how wet she is, too.
Celia: “You’re dripping, pet,” Jade whispers in her ear.
GM: “I can’t help it, mistress, with how hot you are,” Alana breathes back.
Celia: Her fingers slide inside the girl, curling upward to find that spot inside of her that makes her shudder. Her thumb traces circles around her clit.
“I can’t wait to show you off,” she tells her, “everyone is going to know you belong to me, they’re all going to want a taste… you make your mistress so proud, pet. Such a good girl.”
GM: The ghoul’s moans deepen as she breathes heavier, her breasts rising and falling.
“Yes… mistress… I’m your property… your happy toy…”
Celia: It crosses her mind to tease the girl. To draw it out, make her mourn the loss of the fingers dancing inside of her. Leave her begging and panting for more. Jade likes it when she begs.
She doesn’t, though. She presses that spot with the pads of her fingers until her ghoul is well and truly spent, until she can feel the walls of her pussy clamping down around her fingers; she keeps them moving even then, prolonging the pleasure for her favorite toy.
GM: Her toy squeals. Her toy moans. Deep and throaty. In short order, she’s a goopy, wet, orgasming, and finally spent mess on Jade’s lap, her cheeks flush with color. She tenderly rubs the back of her head against Jade’s neck as she half-whispers, half-pants,
“I… love you… mistress…”
Celia: Jade beams at her pet. Such a good little toy. She tells her so, that she’s a good girl, that there’s all this and more waiting for her down at the party, that she deserves every pleasure imaginable for her actions today. She strokes her hands up and down Alana’s body fondly, once more nipping at her neck. She breathes it into her ear, “Your mistress loves you too,” the half-lie dripping from her well-practiced tongue. Loves her like a toy. Like a favored pet.
She wouldn’t hurt her toy by telling her the full truth. Let her believe the beautiful lie. It’s sweeter that way.
Tuesday evening, 8 March 2016
GM: Jade passes some more time playing with her ghouls until the party is due to start. Alana begs to come with her domitor when Jade considers leaving the spent ghoul behind.
“Please, mistress. I love it when everyone can see how you own me.”
Celia: Jade nuzzles the girl’s cheek with her own. “I didn’t even get to tell you that I stopped at Hustler Hollywood on the way home from campus to pick us up new toys. Don’t you want your collared debut to be with all the things that mark you as mine?”
GM: The ghoul’s eyes shine.
“Oh, yes, mistress! I’d love to wear whatever you’ve picked out for me.”
Celia: “Then we’ll make a spectacle of it. The great unveiling. Do you up in all your glory, put little roses in your hair… oh, ‘Lana, it’ll be divine. Let’s not spoil it by letting them see you without.”
GM: “Oh, yes, mistress!” the ghoul purrs, rubbing her head against Jade’s breasts. “That does sound divine. I can’t wait to see what you’ve picked out for me. I’ll wait. Good things come to those who wait.”
“I had another idea…” she murmurs, rubbing her head lower against Jade’s stomach. “You could give yourself a cock, and make yourself bleed through it, when you want to give me juice. So it’d be like you cuming inside my mouth. Like a real blowjob.”
She rubs her face along Jade’s groin next, planting kisses over the Toreador’s crotch.
“It’d be an honor to suck you off like that, mistress.”
Celia: Jade runs her hands through the ghoul’s hair.
“I love that idea, ‘Lana. I’ll need to do some research to make sure I get the tubing right, but once we try it one time we can keep it going, and I’ve got plenty of material to work with now.”
What a thought. And Jade had always mused that she was the depraved one.
GM: Alana tilts her head enough so that Jade can see her beam.
“You could also give Randy his juice that way, too,” she suggests with an amused purr.
Celia: Jade had considered that.
“Come now, pet, the boy has it bad enough. He doesn’t get nearly the attention from me that you do.”
GM: “It’s an honor to suck you off, mistress. He needs to think of it like that. He needs to accept that any attention from our mistress is a gift.”
“It’s his business if he wants to go around sucking other people’s cocks, but if he really loved you, he’d be happy to suck yours.”
Celia: “Do you suck off other people, ’Lana?”
GM: She rubs her head against Jade’s crotch again. “Never, mistress. My body belongs to you. I don’t get to decide what other people do with it. That’d be like stealing, to let someone else fuck it without your permission.”
Celia: Jade pats her head affectionately. That’s a good girl.
“If Randy fails me again maybe I’ll have you show him how it’s done, then.”
GM: “Oh, I’d be happy to show him, mistress,” Alana purrs. “It’d be a real bonding moment, for us to take turns sucking you off.”
She looks up with a delighted expression.
“You could even give yourself two cocks, so we both could, at once! Like how moms with more than one baby sometimes nurse both.”
Celia: “I wish you would bond with him,” Jade says with an affected sigh. “You know I hate it when you two squabble.”
GM: “I’d love to bond with him, mistress. I can’t think of a better way than by helping you get off together.”
“You’re not like other licks, you’ve said. You can still enjoy it.”
Celia: “Maybe I’ll have him fuck me while I fuck you, then. You think he deserves it? Seven years and I’ve told him no every time.”
GM: “I don’t think he deserves to put his cock inside you, mistress. That would take something truly outstanding. But for good behavior, he should get to take your cock inside him.”
“He deserves to be fucked by you, not for you to be fucked by him.”
Celia: How amusing. She’d offered to let Randy fuck her the other night and he’d turned her down, then refused to listen to her in the rat’s territory. Maybe he’ll find a way to make it up to her. If not, Alana’s suggestion bears some consideration.
Jade tousles her hair.
“Keep an eye on him for me while I’m downstairs. Let me know if he wakes up and does anything particularly silly.”
Support: He stirs slightly in his sleep, as if to promise that he probably will.
Celia: Jade inclines her head toward Randy, as if to say ‘see?’
She makes to stand, moving Alana off of her, the phones she’d lifted from the hunters in her grip.
“I need to see the warden before I can enjoy my evening. Sit tight, pretty. And get some rest. You’ve a big day tomorrow.”
GM: Alana nods from the floor and nuzzles Jade’s knee. “Yes, mistress. Thank you for making the next party so special for us.”
Celia: A final smile for both her toys sees her from the room.
Tuesday night, 8 March 2016, PM
Celia: Jade doesn’t know how long she was occupied with her ghouls and the phones that are now clutched in her hand. Long enough for the party to start, but she hadn’t been paying particular attention to the minutes themselves. She looks for Pete first in the room in which they’d interrogated Roxanne and, failing that, his office.
GM: Sound is inaudible through the door where Roxanne is being interrogated, though Pete’s ghoul Eric is standing outside. The large, bald man asks if Jade wants to see “the boss” in his distinctly high voice, then knocks on the door. Pete reappears.
Celia: Jade waits until the door closes behind him to speak.
“Sorry to interrupt, Warden Lebeaux. I have the phones for you from the two who grabbed me and additional information. Is now a good time?”
GM: “My conversational partner isn’t going anywhere.”
Celia: Of course not. She’s bound to a piece of bondage gear.
“I managed to get into one of the phones. I didn’t bother with the other, not without the proper tools. Have a name for both of them. A contact number for these ‘others.’ And… a, ah, meeting time and location. To hand me off. For tomorrow.”
GM: “Oh, really?” Lebeaux looks thoughtful. “Might be a chance to find out a lot more from these people.”
Celia: “I had the same thought.”
GM: “You could disguise us as those two pretty well.” He frowns. “Though probably at day. Ghouls, then.”
Celia: “1:00PM,” Jade confirms. “But… yeah. I thought a ghoul or two. Maybe some others to bring them in, if needed. And if they need a body, I could come up with something.”
Jade’s eyes don’t quite flit toward the door.
GM: The Tremere looks at her, then motions for Eric to leave. The ghoul does so.
“You want to hand your sister off to hunters?”
Celia: She almost says yes. She also almost says no. In the end she shakes her head.
“I meant one of their bodies. Altered. It’s dead, but… y’know.” Jade shrugs. “Shove a stake in it and they… might not know.”
GM: “They might not. Could also stick a bug inside it. But they’ll know they’ve been had, if these people aren’t rubes. Show up empty-handed and we might be able to stretch this out.” He thinks. “Granted, might not be able to anyway, depending on what they want. If their only interest is more staked licks, might as well get as much mileage out of a bug as we can.”
Celia: “Bug the stake itself, might keep it to use in the future.”
GM: “Smart. Make it a high quality one. They could toss the corpse, but stake less likely. And likely to be somewhere we’d want to snoop in the future.”
Celia: Jade nods. “Do you have a pair in mind to send? I’ll need some time to get them ready for tomorrow. And a body for the lick.”
This time her eyes do flick past him toward the door. “Anything, ah, interesting?”
GM: Pete’s initial response dies at Jade’s question.
There’s a… troubled, is perhaps one way to put it, look to his eyes.
“There’s no delicate way to put this. And maybe better you hear it from my lips than hers.”
“You’re an aunt.”
“Wha…? Um.” She’s thrown. It’s obvious in the way she stumbles over her words. She opens and closes her mouth twice, then, “…my dad’s?”
GM: Pete looks as if he’s weighing his words for a moment, then just settles on,
Celia: Her fault.
The world pulls away from her until all she can see is Isabel tied to the bed, Maxen violating his daughter, her broken smile when he finishes.
She sways on her feet. Shakes her head. Swallows against the lump in her throat, but it doesn’t go anywhere.
“Um.” Celia blinks large eyes at him. “Where… where is it? The kid? Who has it?”
“I mean. Does he…?”
How many lives had she ruined?
GM: “Him,” says Pete. “It was a boy.”
Celia: A boy. A little Maxen.
Was he proud when the kid was born?
Another son. Seven kids. Seventh son. Isn’t there some sort of magic in that?
She thinks she asks Pete that same thing, forms the words without conscious decision.
GM: But does it count as a son or grandson?
GM: “Well, in Romanian folklore, a seventh son is destined to become a vampire,” says Pete.
Celia: “Oh, well, his mom and aunt beat him to it.”
“Does Maxen have the kid? I… assume he knows it’s his?”
GM: “The folklore varies by country,” he continues, as if to temporarily take Celia’s mind off things. “Sometimes it has to be a seventh son with no daughters in between. Sometimes it’s the seventh son of a seventh son. People had larger families in agrarian societies than they do now, so that wasn’t as rare it might sound.”
“The kid’s name is Ethan. He lives with his aunt Mary. She and her husband couldn’t conceive.”
Celia: Aunt Mary. Celia hasn’t seen Aunt Mary since her grandparents died. Some… weird family drama that set Maxen against everyone else, Celia was too young to remember.
“Do they know?”
GM: “Your sister said she doesn’t know if they do.”
Celia: “Two women in the same night and they both end up pregnant.” What are the fucking odds?
GM: “Well, that’s what can happen when you don’t use a rubber.”
Celia: “Is that why she blames me for her being that?” Celia points at the door.
GM: “You’d have to ask her that yourself. I didn’t.”
Celia: Celia reaches for the door.
GM: Roxanne’s inside. Still blindfolded, bolted up, and otherwise as her sister left her. It’s not as if their limbs get tired, so Celia supposes it’s less inhumane.
Celia: For a moment all Celia does is stare at her bound sister. How is it possible that it has come to this? That two sisters grow so far apart that they’re each willing to kill the other. How is it possible to hate someone so much when they share the same blood?
Family isn’t blood. The words echo inside her mind. Family is choice.
Isabel had made her choices. So had Celia. They’re not Isabel and Celia Flores anymore; they’re Roxanne and Jade, two broken girls from the same broken home.
She’d tried to protect her that night. Eighth birthday. Had sent her back up the stairs to hide under the covers like a good big sister should, had faced the monster on her own. Protector, right? Only that had died the moment their dad sold his soul to it. They’d both been marked that night.
She pulls the door shut behind her with a look at Pete. She needs a moment, the look says. A moment alone for the two broken girls.
GM: He just nods.
Celia: Once the door is closed her eyes seek the face of her sister. Her body is still mangled. Hungry, then. Has to be, or she’d fix all of this. Pete’s given her a bit, she’s sure, enough to keep her talking.
Jade strides forward.
“Heard Maxen knocked you up before you died.”
GM: Her face looks bad, still, past the blindfold. Flesh sliced down to the bone. Gangrel can fuck you up something fierce.
“What the hell is it to you!?”
Celia: “The girl you tried to kill belongs to me. I’m familiar with her story. What happened in that house.”
“Seems to me you’d be mad at the prick who set you against each other rather than her.”
GM: “Ohh, you’re Jade, is that right? Well it’s such an honor!”
“If you were a real Sanctified, you’d turn her right now!”
GM: Roxanne giggles.
“That’s my big sis! Guess she pulled one over even on you, huh?”
Celia: “Does it hurt knowing that your dad loved her more than you? ‘Lady of the house,’ wasn’t she? After your mom bailed. Didn’t love you anymore. Wow, that probably hurt. And then your dad picked your whore sister over you, huh? She was always prettier than you, wasn’t she. No wonder Maxen loved her most.”
GM: Roxanne screams and throws herself at Jade, the cuffs digging into her wrists as her fangs gnash.
Celia: “Oof. No wonder you carried the baby to term. Thought he might love you if you gave him a son?”
“Too bad he shunted it off to his sister. Shame, that’s what that is.”
GM: “You have no idea! No! Fucking! Idea!” Roxanne froths, tugging against the cuffs.
Celia: “I think I have some idea. Celia told me enough.”
GM: “She told you SHIT!”
Celia: “Oh?” Jade laughs. “I imagine you have a different version of events? Paint yourself as the hero, yeah?”
GM: “She’ll do to you! What she did to HIM! What she did to me! Just WAIT!”
Celia: “What am I waiting for, Roxanne? What did your whore sister do?”
GM: “Gimme a drink, if you really care!”
Celia: Jade laughs again. “I can make her hurt, you know. She’s disappointed me lately; give me a reason. Just one.”
GM: “Oh, just you WAIT! You don’t know what a snake that bitch can be!”
“I slapped her! Once! And she destroyed my whole life! Her fucking SISTER!”
Celia: Jade forces the air from her lungs in a sigh, long and heavy.
“I’m sure the two of you would have made up if you hadn’t died. The fact that you’re holding onto it when you’ve been given this new unlife is… kind of pathetic, really.”
GM: “Yeah? She’s my REAL sire!”
Celia: “She’s mortal,” Jade says flatly.
GM: “And that was a metaphor, stupid! You think she can’t fuck up your whole Requiem, that she won’t stab you in the back when you really need her, you just WAIT!”
Celia: If Jade weren’t Celia she might even be convinced.
“Your sob story is starting to bore me, Roxanne.”
Her nails shift while the Ventrue talks. They lengthen beyond the tip of her fingers, tapering into fine points. An ombre of maroon to black; Jade doesn’t do anything that isn’t pretty. Their sides are razor sharp.
She touches the back of one to Roxanne’s cheek.
“Scourge really fucked you up, didn’t she?”
GM: Roxanne’s fangs, already partly distended, just out all the way at Jade’s touch. A low hiss sounds from the Ventrue’s mouth.
Celia: Jade trails those cruelly pointed nails down the lick’s cheek and over her jaw, then to the soft skin of her throat. She doesn’t press hard enough to break the skin. Not yet.
“Your daddy, though. That’s an interesting angle. Still love your daddy, Roxanne? Even after he put a baby in you and made you carry it to term… then gave it away?”
GM: Roxanne clenches her jaw at the contact.
“As if a Toreador slut hasn’t put worse things inside herself.”
Celia: “That’s a yes.” Roxanne can probably hear the smirk in her voice.
“Do you think he’d stick it in me if I cut off your face and wore it over my own?”
The tips of her nails press against the underside of Roxanne’s jaw, as if she means to carve her now.
“Maybe I can give it to your sister, instead. See if your daddy’ll give your son a cousin. Or… sibling?”
“Or maybe,” she breathes into the Ventrue’s ear, “I’ll go carve up your son into tiny little pieces. Then you can forget about what a slut you were, spreading your legs for your daddy.”
“I saw the sex tape, by the way. Titillating.”
GM: The Ventrue gives another low hiss, though whether at the contact, the skin-digging words, or both is unclear.
“Too much of a coward to even say that to my face. Feel safe with your blindfold on?”
Celia: “Oh no,” Jade says, deadpan, “the bound Ventrue calls me a coward because she thinks it’ll make me take off her blindfold.” She makes a noise. Might be a huff, might be a laugh. “You really are as stupid as your sister says. No wonder your daddy doesn’t love you.”
“You know that your brother is one of my clients? He told me all about how proud your daddy is of your sister. Gushed about it.”
GM: “How typical of a Toreador to only look at the surface of something,” Roxanne sneers. “I’m still nine-tenths dead and probably in the middle of the Evergreen, you idiot. And while I don’t doubt I could crush a mind as stupid and vapid as yours like a beer can, with only you as my thrall I doubt it would even help.”
Celia: “You presume that I give enough of a fuck about you to give you whatever prestige you’re looking for by removing your blindfold. You’re sub-Kindred, Roxanne. Sub-human, even. I think the Nos’ pet ape ranks higher than you. You don’t deserve to look at me. You’re a whore, Roxie. Just your daddy’s little slut.”
“I was going to ask you for the passcode to your phone so I could let them know you said goodbye after we ash you, but I guess watching your family wonder what happened to you will be more amusing. Just another little cunt that couldn’t hack it after daddy went balls deep inside of her.”
“Though… I guess to wonder they’d have to care.”
GM: Frenzied howls tear from the restrained Ventrue’s mouth as she mindlessly throws herself at Jade, slavering and gnashing her fangs.
Celia: Ah, sweet victory. Jade’s smirk doesn’t quite reach her eyes as she turns away from the slavering sight of her sister. She opens the door and steps outside, yanking it shut behind her with a final click.
Her sister is dead. She’d died long before her Embrace, back in college when Celia had made their father beat her bloody. Something had snapped inside of her that there’s no coming back from.
Whatever victory she thinks she’s won, it rings hollow.
GM: Pete glowers at Celia upon seeing the smirk.
“Had a touching moment between sisters, I take it?”
Celia: Celia stares back at him. She tries to keep her face as neutral as she can make it, but she’s never been able to lie to Pete. She shakes her head.
“No.” Her voice is soft. The bitch that had gone into the room hadn’t come back out.
GM: “Well, thank you so much. I’m sure she’ll be just as cooperative now as I’d managed to make her before you walked in.”
Celia: A dozen snarky and self-deprecating comments flit through her head, but she bites her tongue rather than say any of them to him. She’d only be saying them to save face, and he… he’s right. She wilts. Like the weed she is, choking the life out of everyone around her.
She wants to tell him but she doesn’t think he cares. Society of raging dicks, right?
She offers an apology to the floor. It’s all she has now: shame and regret. She’d broken her sister. Rather than mend the bridge she’d torched it. And she’d let Pete down.
Why is that cut the deepest?
Maybe it would have been better if she’d let the stupid hunters keep her.
Celia has no idea why Alana thinks she’d want to chase after the warden. He’s like an older, more grizzled version of Roderick: just too… beyond her. Too morally good. The satisfaction she’d gotten from riling up her sister had faded as soon as she’d left from the room, turning to poison in her mouth. She doesn’t even think she’d felt anything in the moment, either.
Empty. She’s just… empty. As broken as her sister, only she hides it behind pretty dresses and makeup and multiple lovers. Debauchery and sin. As if that fills the gaping hole in her chest where her dad and sister used to be.
“I’m sorry,” she says again. “If you still want me to fix up the ghouls for tomorrow I can. I’ll be…” Celia gestures vaguely. It doesn’t really matter where she is. No one cares.
GM: She can hear it. In her dad’s voice.
Celia: Pete hasn’t said anything, though, and that silence is… oppressive. Worse than her dad’s voice inside her head. Worse than her sister’s screams. Worse than her mother sobbing. That weighty silence is killer.
She chances a glance up at him.
GM: “At least one I want is your grandsire’s, so I’ll have to talk with him.”
At Celia’s look, Pete effects a sigh.
“Odds are good Savoy isn’t going to let her leave the Evergreen. If that happens, might be she and Celia should have a face to face. If your mom hasn’t started hating your sister since we last spoke, maybe you should take a leaf out of her book. Last I checked you weren’t the one who got maimed, beaten, and raped as a result of Isabel’s choices.”
Celia: No, it was the other way around. And that’s the problem, isn’t it? That Celia is to blame for everything. Not fixing things with her sister. Not sheltering her from Maxen’s impossible standards. Abandoning her mom the night she needed her. Taking out her anger on her dad on the sister she’d already failed.
And then giving them up. All of them. For someone who doesn’t give a fuck about her. Who probably never will.
Her lower lip trembles as she looks at the detective. She tries to stop it by clenching her teeth together, flattening her tongue against the roof of her mouth, but then the burning starts in the corners of her eyes and the back of her throat. She turns away, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes.
“I hate him. I hate him so much, Pete.” Her dad. Her sire. Herself, too.
Pete’s the wrong person to fall apart in front of. They all are, really. There was someone once, but she ruined that too.
GM: “I hear you. He’s done a lot to earn your hate,” Pete replies.
With her gaze averted, Celia can’t see what the look on his face might be.
“Look, stew over this and you’ll feel worse, since there’s squat you can do about him right now. Go do something nice for your family. You’ve got a mom, a grandma, and a gaggle of brothers and sisters. With that many relatives I’m sure you can think of something. You’ll feel better.”
“Probably best you avoid anything to do with your dad.”
Celia: Her shoulders don’t shake. She doesn’t need to breathe so there’s no hiccupping sobs or snot or spasming diaphragm. Just the faint smell of blood as it leaks from the corners of her eyes. She wipes at her face and her hands come away red.
It would be easier if she didn’t respect him as much as she does. Easier to just continue to be a shitty person, forget the consequences, mess up everyone around her and call it a night.
But she does respect him. She craves his approval as much or more than she has ever craved her dad’s. As much or more than she has ever craved her sire’s.
“Good job, kid,” she wants to hear him say just once in that gruff voice of his. Or have a conversation that doesn’t devolve into judgment. Christ, she’d take a pat on the back at this point.
Even now it’s like… like pity. It tastes of failure.
But Pete doesn’t want to hear about the misery and gut-wrenching guilt. They’ve all got ghosts. When she finally turns to look back at him she’s wiped the worst of it from her face. She nods. Tries to smile, even. It’s a faltering, broken thing. Like the rest of her.
Can’t tell him that every time she tries to do something nice she manages to mess that up, too.
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