“Make the game more fun. Isn’t that what we all want?”
Tuesday night, 8 March 2016, PM
Celia: It’s vanity, perhaps, that makes the Toreador pause on her way to the party. Pete’s words echo inside her mind—do something nice for your family—and she thinks of the younger brother that she had left at Tulane. A party, she’d promised him, a new job of sorts. But this isn’t the type of party he’d fare well at, and Jade is not yet willing to throw her brother to the wolves.
Mind on him, and remembering the photos that had been taken of her at Tulane, Jade opens the Instagram app on her phone to scroll through her feed. She double taps a few posts, leaves a comment on a few of the pictures she’d been tagged in from her admirers on campus, and finally navigates to her own page. Her most recent post stares up at her. Randy had been cooking something in the small apartment kitchen where Celia “lives,” and she’d taken the opportunity to snap a photo of the two of them with his creation in the background. No matter that she doesn’t eat; it sends the message she wants it to send, that she does eat, that she and Randy are a perfectly happy couple, that they do cute things together.
She makes a sound and reaches into the clutch purse Alana had foisted off on her, pulling free a tube of lipstick. The program she uses to upload photos is set for the rest of the month, but there’s no reason not to add another now while she has a moment. She wants to feel normal after her interaction with the hunters, Isabel, and that… dream.
Jade snaps a few photos with her phone, first of the tube of lipstick itself, then with her nails, then a glamour shot of it on her lips. She makes sure that the branded TF is easily seen.
New Tom Ford shade! she types in the caption. Wes! Perfectly centered between plum and scarlet; not really a Spring shade but we’ve got a few weeks to go before I have to bring out the pastels.
“Vampy” is the word that comes to mind when she views the shade, but she doesn’t use that on her page.
Swatches soon! She presses the post button after adding a smattering of hashtags.
GM: It’s not overlong before comments on her screen start to appear.
Omg super cute you lady are beautiful love the pics
Si nos costaba quitarnos lade nosotros imaginate esa AJAJAJAJA
Name of the song
All that pretty makeup and she can’t even smile lol typical
Echas mucho produ
To whoever is reading this, I hope you have a wonderful day and remember you are loved :)
What? What is this? And the song? Lol everything is so what??
So pretty! :D
Randy always seemed a little out of his element when striking Instagram-worthy domestic pictures with his domitor. Alana loved the idea of more people being able to admire how beautiful Celia is, but was a little slow to learn how to ‘get with it’ herself. It’s one of the few areas where Jade can tell the seemingly 20-something ghoul is actually her mother’s age.
Celia: It’s hard to still be upset when almost a dozen comments roll in within moments. She clicks the heart next to the positive ones and ignores the negative comment about smiling—if only you knew what kind of day I had, she wants to say but doesn’t—then types out a few generic omg thanks ;) responses to the particularly complimentary.
She has no idea what song they’re talking about. People are weird.
She flips back to the photo of Randy. How fake is his smile here? Is he tired of their “life” together? It shouldn’t bother her, really, but it does. She’s going to need to up the ante with him soon. They’ve been “together” for six years now; it’s a wonder Diana hasn’t started asking about grandbabies already.
Really, though, the licks like her who don’t take advantage of the internet adoration are missing out. Nothing like a handful of new followers to boost her mood.
GM: Randy feels a little out of place in the domestic setting, but his smile is completely sincere. He loves his “babe” more than anything. Including his car, if he’s to be believed.
He probably is tired of not having had sex, though.
Or at least hungrily anticipating that promised night.
Hungry probably more so than tired.
Celia’s mom might not be asking about grandbabies, but only because they spent her last spa session talking about marriage. Diana might not have had her last kid within the bounds of wedlock, but it does at least remain a cherished ideal.
Celia: How, though, is she supposed to make it special for him if she’s spent the past six years denying him? Boy’s hand is probably about to revolt.
She should just have that stupid fake wedding she and her ex had talked about all those years ago.
No, no. Marrying a ghoul is just… pathetic. Her lip curls at the thought.
If there was ever a time to call him, now is it, chimes a traitorous little voice in her head. She shoves the thought aside and returns to her phone.
GM: Her comments have gotten a few likes in response. The pictures themselves have gotten a few more, including a comment from Emily’s Instagram username:
Celia: She really is, isn’t she?
Pristine. Her complexion was the first thing she’d fixed when she’d learned how to manipulate the skin. She’d gotten rid of all the acne bumps and pustules that had plagued her since puberty. Smoothed out her face to reflect the glowing goddess within. Tapered her chin, taken off a small amount of lip, narrowed her nose. Her face is heart shaped rather than the oval she grew up with. Wider eyes, too. Brighter. Longer lashes.
No one looking at her now would ever think she was the same twelve-year-old with globbed-on concealer or homemade lemon juice and baking soda remedies. She hadn’t made radical changes, just turned her face into its ideal version. Gorgeous. Glowing. Glamorous.
Perfection incarnate. Flawless.
Tuesday night, 8 March 2016, PM
GM: “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.”
“You’ll feel better. With that many relatives I’m sure you can think of something.”
Maybe Celia could.
But right now it’s hard to think about anything except bacchanalia.
As Jade arrives downstairs in the Evergreen’s main lounge, she enters a world transformed. Everything that is red. Strategically placed LED lights shine from the ceiling, bathing her skin crimson. Gauzy red curtains divide the lounge area into sections. Red cushions are strewn about everywhere. Many of them are large enough to be more akin to mattresses, and stacked high into walls and corridors. The once-spacious lounge feels cramped and confined now, like it’s been turned into a maze built from pillows: a child’s dream fort. Roses and rose petals litter the floor. The scent of that same flour hangs heavy in the air along while a jazz band plays from the lounge’s main stage. All of the band members are comely. All of them are naked except for crisscrossing red leather straps that do more to emphasize their charms than conceal them.
Antoine Savoy reclines on a seat in front of the musicians with an easy grin. Mélissaire smiles by his side. Assorted Kindred are gathered about, including Veronica, Pietro, Harlequin, Shep Jennings, Reynaldo Gui, Arthur Duchamps, Laura Melton, Laura Ravenwood, Emerson Newhouse Hearst, Elias Tremaine, Corey and Zofia (of the High Rollers), Edith Flannagan, several other Kindred Jade doesn’t immediately recognize, and many more ghouls.
“…but you aren’t hear to listen to me talk. You’re here for a good time! Well, we’ll just see if my people can oblige,” the French Quarter lord grins.
“Mr. Gui, if you’ll kindly do the honors?”
“On your marks,” smirks the Ventrue.
He raises his hands.
Suddenly, it hits Jade’s nose. Makes her fangs go sharp and stiff in her mouth. Blood. A panoply of mortals materialize, seemingly from thin air. All of them are dressed in the same revealing red leather garb as the musicians, with the addition of some strategically placed gauzy silk. Jade’s eyes are immediately drawn to the glistening red cuts along their arms and legs before a thick cloud of scarlet fog fills the air, obscuring the Toreador’s sight. Bare footsteps smack against floor as voices scream and cry.
Heavier footsteps immediately thump after then as excited snarls and growls fill the air. Bodies shove and jostle against Jade’s, making her Beast snarl dangerously.
The hunt is on.
And so is the party.
Celia: Red everywhere. Red roses, red lighting, red pillows, red curtains, red leather. Crimson, claret, carmine, scarlet, ruby, garnet. A dozen various ways to refer to the same sanguine hue. The color of life, isn’t it, for all that the ancient Egyptians thought that it was green. Red flows through the veins of all creatures. It’s what makes their hearts beat, what nourishes their muscles to make them contract and expand, what delivers the much-needed oxygen to the brain.
More than all of that, though, it’s what feeds the Beast. The snarling, snapping, yowling thing inside of each of then. You can do anything with Blood, someone had once told her.
Jade’s Beast comes howling to the surface when faced with such delicious, bountiful fare. Not hungry, though, just greedy; Jade gives it a mental pat and it settles down at her promise to sate its voracious hunger. She imagines it as a green-eyed tiger sitting on its haunches, tail flicking back and forth while it licks its chops and waits to feast.
So much red, and before the night is through there will be more yet. On her. In her.
First, though, she has to catch it.
The thick haze of smoke obscures her vision, but she does not need to see to hunt. The band’s music flutters through her veins as she moves, guided by the smell of blood, the sound of hysterical breathing, the pitter-patter of human feet against the floor.
Different sorts of predators hunt in different ways. Bears, she knows, are opportunistic: they’ll take whatever comes their way, the first thing that they come across. Felines are focused predators: they pick a target and they stalk it until they can take it down. So, too, does Jade operate; she picks her mark from among the scents of blood that hit her nose and stalks after the panicked footfalls that take it across the room, always just a step behind. She hisses and growls when it thinks to turn back into the fray. When it tries to duck away she reaches out to shove it back, listening to its shriek. Only when she smells the saline leaking from its eyes does she finally pounce.
GM: Jade’s Beast finds someone. She doesn’t know who. All she smells is their blood—and their fear. She tackles their struggling, sweating, all-but naked body onto a cushion before she’s rudely bulled aside. Another vampire sinks his fangs into the kine and drinks ravenously. His arms are bound behind his back with a black armbinder, and his muscular body is otherwise naked except for a dog collar and leash. He’s missing his cock and balls. There’s just a scabbed-over mass of scar tissue where it used to be.
The effectively armless vampire is a thoroughly messy drinker. He snaps his jaws several times over the screaming figure’s thick thighs and stomach (female, as she also lacks a cock) and spills blood all over his chin when he feeds. He doesn’t care. He gulps down blood by the mouthful, clearly trying to take as much as he can, as fast as he can, before his leash’s holder gives the tether a sharp yank.
“That’s all you get, bitch. Don’t you even think about your owner?”
Celia: But she does know who. That missing cock and balls can only belong on one lick; she and Veronica have discussed how she’d like Jade to smooth him over so he can’t grow it back anymore. Coco’s other childe.
The name of the Brujah primogen, even in her head, floods her with irritation. Both of her childer are incapable of not causing problems. Jade’s claws come out, thick talons that itch to rake down his back at the affront, but she resists the impulse. Her lips curl in amusement instead when he is rudely yanked away. Let Veronica keep his leftovers, then; there’s other prey to be found.
Jade slips away in pursuit of another vessel.
GM: Jade’s purported sire steps through the smoke. She’s dressed tonight in a black leather bra and thong that resemble a porcupine’s quills: the surface is almost totally covered in silver-colored metal spikes. Some gauzy strips of silk drift around her hips. Her thigh-high leather boots are dotted with spikes too around the shoe proper, and have single long silver spikes for the heels. They must be murder on any floor, but Jade doubts the other Toreador cares.
She falls on the struggling, yelling kine and drinks her fill.
They had discussed removing Micheal’s cock for good. Veronica had said the idea was “very tempting” for Jade to give him an actual vagina. One that he could wake up to every night and know this was eternity.
On the other hand, “It’d mean I can’t listen to him scream anymore when I rip it off.”
Celia: Far be it from her to deny her sire the screams she so desires. She had suggested, though, that Veronica could keep his cock and balls as a little souvenir if she wanted, and fuck him with it if he ever truly displeased her.
GM: Leaving the harpy and her bitch to their feast, Jade sprints off deeper into the scarlet maze. She can hear the sounds of thumping footsteps, hammering hearts, and alternately terrified screams and wantful moans amidst the feasting. The smell of blood hangs everywhere, an aphrodisiac driving her Beast on in its hunt. There’s a flash of skin, through the smoke. Dark skin. Jade tackles the warm body down onto a cushion, leans in to bite—and feels her fangs sink into cushion.
Mere feet away, Pietro drinks from a blissfully moaning dark-skinned vessel underneath him.
He always has preferred the taste of stolen things.
Celia: Claws sink into the cushion beneath her, shredding through it. The sound of ripping fabric does little to assuage her. Dark thoughts swirl through her mind, things she’d like to do to the thief for stealing from her. She reins it in. She could join him, she thinks, it isn’t like they haven’t shared before, then swiftly escalate from feeding to fucking. Smack him around for stealing and call it foreplay. Tempting.
She edges nearer.
GM: The vessel, another girl, gasps with ecstasy from underneath Pietro. His hands lithely knead and massage the tips of her nipples as he feeds from her neck.
Celia: She remembers those hands. The way he’d touched her like that before, that night they’d met in the bar. Chase and Cici on the kitchen counter. Again, later, in her mom’s temporary house when he and the green-eyed goddess had shared her. If it were possible for her to do so she’d salivate at the thought. As it is a shudder runs down the length of her spine. Her own nipples stiffen beneath the black dress. She kneels on the floor and sinks her fangs into the girl’s thigh.
It’s not like she’s here for the kine, anyway.
GM: Pervert, he’d probably say if he could see her nipples. They aren’t nearly so dead as his flaccid cock.
But he looks busy.
The girl’s blood is sour with fear and sweet with lust. Sweet and sour, like teriyaki. The sour is bold and strong: this fear is for her own life, that most primal of all fears. It must have been induced quickly. It’s a good sour and a classic flavor of fear, though Jade has heard from Kindred who prefer the taste of slow-building dread or even specific phobias. The blood’s sweetness, though also strong, is cheap, unsubtle, and rather too strong, like someone poured sugar all over teriyaki. The girl’s lust is entirely due to the kiss rather than any natural arousal she’s feeling. There’s a faint undertaste of a more subtle, better sweetness, though: there’s a reason Pietro is massaging her nipples. It’s the same reason he fucked Cici over the counter. Real lust always tastes better.
Celia: Easy to tear something down when you don’t understand it.
She almost feels sorry for them, the licks who had to give up the pleasure of sex because they died. Sure, sure, they can talk all they want about how it’s all about the blood now, but Jade knows the truth: they’re jealous. Their cocks and cunts don’t work, so they can’t begin to fathom the double ecstasy of blood and sex at the same time.
She drinks from the girl. She doesn’t take much. She’d never been one for Asian dishes, and the forced, syrupy sweetness of the blood reminds her too much of the hunter who’d fucked her earlier. Something burnt to the taste, too, but that’s what happens when you go black, isn’t it?
Jade takes her fill and slides away. She’ll throttle Pietro later. Right now she wants her own writhing, gasping mortal to play with.
GM: She sprints deeper into the maze, the red LED lights bathing her skin crimson. Raucous jazz plays in the background, egging her on even if the heady traces of blood in the air weren’t already doing so.
But unclaimed vessels appear at a premium. She spots Edith Flannagan on the cushions having her way with another moaning black girl (that makes 3/3 vessels thus far who were black girls). The Caitiff seems like a less thoughtful lover than Pietro, though, and isn’t bothering with any nipples. She’s simply buried her face in the girl’s neck and gotten to work.
Celia: Silly to only bring enough vessels for a few, isn’t it? It’s just here that they’re at a premium. Jade moves deeper into the maze. She knows what she would do if she were a mortal here; she’d find a quiet, out of the way place to hide and bunker down until it was over. Breathe slowly. Burrow under a pile of cushions. Nothing to do about the heartbeat or the blood, maybe, but someone might fall for it. She slows her steps, listening for the sound that will give them away.
GM: The heartbeats and fresh blood are the giveaways. The kine might think they’re safe, might think they can hide, but they’re not and they can’t. Jade hears the telltale thump-thumping and smells the coppery tang of blood wafting from just behind one of the ‘wall’ cushions.
The blood smells like blood.
But the thump-thumps sound like two sets.
Celia: Silly mortals, fabric will never be enough to keep the monsters from finding you. That whole ‘blanket over the head’ trick only works when you’re a child.
She’s intrigued, though, that she managed to find not one, but two hiding vessels. Everyone who had stolen from her or bullied her out of the way is missing out with their easy catch. So much better to come across them like this when they think they’re safe. She can already taste it.
Jade finds the gap in the “wall.” She slides through it to join them.
GM: She sees a man and a woman dressed in the same skimpy attire as the event’s other vessels. Both look in their 20s and, once again, are black. She can smell their fear off the sweat dripping down their backs. They are pressed flat to the building’s actual wall as they hide behind the mattress-like cushions. It’d be a good hiding spot, if not for the fact that any Kindred would find it laughably easy to smell or hear them.
They freeze like deer in headlights when they see Jade.
Celia: Jade flashes a smile.
Then she hits them with it: that thing that makes people adore her. The thing that oozes out of her in waves. Sensuality. Sexuality. Power. She’s so pretty, isn’t she? Wouldn’t they like to play with her? She extends a hand.
GM: The man slowly takes Jade’s hand with an awestruck expression.
“Please help us…” the woman whispers, her eyes wide.
Celia: “I will,” Jade tells the woman. She pulls herself close to the man who has taken her hand as the words leave her lips. She will help. She’ll help them feel good. Really good. So good it’ll leave them aching for more even as the blood drains from their body. She knows; she’s been there before.
She lets the man put his arms around her. She likes that. Likes it in a way the rest of her kind don’t. Her mouth presses against his bared chest, his neck. His pulse flutters beneath his skin, dances against her lips. So easy to just bite down and take what she wants. To just… sink her teeth in. But the taste of that other woman lingers on her tongue; sweet and sour, adrenaline and lust. She’s looking for something… better.
She turns in his arms, her shapely body brushing up against his. A little wiggle of hips, what’s not to like? Jade is pretty. Really pretty. Her dress is so suggestive, too, so short. It’s just a sex party, isn’t it? He can touch. He should touch. Doesn’t he want to touch? She’s so… alluring, so human. She’s even warm. Can’t he feel her heart?
Her eyes find the woman’s. She extends a hand, taking hold of her wrist, pulls her close. His arms around Jade. Jade’s arms around her. A little chain of affection hidden behind the cushions.
“It’ll be okay,” Jade whispers. One hand slides through her hair, the other tilts her chin back. Jade trails kisses from her temple to her cheek to her lips. “No one can see,” she murmurs against the woman’s mouth, “it’s safe back here. So clever, hiding like that.” She kisses the woman’s neck then has her spin, her back to Jade, one arm around her stomach. Her fingers travel lightly over her body, brushing against the sensitive skin beneath her breasts, trailing in ever-smaller circles around her nipples. She doesn’t touch them, not yet, just suggests that she might by the way her hands move.
“Just stay quiet,” she breathes into the shell of her ear, “it’s only us three back here.” Safe.
GM: Jade’s second wave of supernal charm washes over the still-anxious pair like an irresistible tide.
The effect is immediate. The man is more direct in his affections, like men so often are, and eagerly kneads Jade’s breasts from behind her. She spots the faintest surprise on his face when he feels the bare skin of her underboob, thanks to the dress’ risque cut (she supposes the kine man can’t appreciate it in the dark, even if she wasn’t facing away). It’s a pleasant surprise. His hands work around the dress, feeling for the fabric’s edges to pull aside. He pulls Jade away from the girl so he can suck her breasts, his tongue hungrily flecking over the stiffened nipples.
The woman whimpers with pleasure at Jade’s delicate, teasing touch. The Toreador can already smell how aroused she is. Irritation briefly flashes across her face as the man takes Jade’s magical fingers away, but the expression doesn’t last long before she gets to her knees and plants her face between Jade’s legs. Alana didn’t include any underwear with the dress. The woman slowly kisses and licks the skin around the Toreador’s crotch, mimicking Jade’s teasing touch as she draws steadily closer to the other woman’s clit.
Celia: Now this is the sort of treatment she came for. Not to be tossed aside and stolen from. This adoration, this worship… yes, Jade can get behind this. Or… well, between it, as it were.
Her nails lengthen, sharpen, and shred the dress. She’ll find another. She doesn’t want to be bothered by the material, doesn’t need it to get in the way. The black fabric flutters to the ground, landing in a heap beside the woman on her knees. Just as she likes it. Her head tilts back, nails disappearing back into her fingers so she can run the soft digits through the woman’s hair. She makes encouraging noises as the woman’s tongue finally finds the spot she wants.
GM: The woman’s kisses trace Jade’s pubic lips. Her tongue ducks in and out of the Toreador’s womanhood, sampling her juices, before her licks and kisses finally arrive at Jade’s little nub. She seems like she could pleasure the other woman’s sweetest spot for a while, but the man seems to get tired of sucking Jade’s breasts. He kneels behind her, his tongue flecking in and out her asshole to get it as wet as he can, before she abruptly feels his cock filling her rear hole. He wraps his arms around her chest, holding her tight as he humps her ass.
Celia: There’s no pain. Not like last time someone had tried this move on her, when she’d been bent over his lap so he could deliver nineteen (twenty-three) smacks to her ass before he had shoved himself roughly inside. No warning. No prep. No, her current partner is more considerate, using his tongue and saliva as a lubricant to ease his way inside so that when he begins to fuck her it brings the enjoyment, the pleasure, that it’s meant to.
Jade can’t help the noises that she makes. Low, primal, purring and hissing and growling by turn, nothing more than a cat in heat caught between these two creatures that give her everything she’s ever wanted. She comes apart in their arms. Undone. Shiver, shuddering, climax after climax that (if she were mortal) would leave her breathless and gasping and panting for more. But Jade isn’t mortal. She doesn’t need air. She just cries out, again and again, as they take her to the edge and over.
Only when the fourth—fifth?—rips through her does she lift the woman from between her legs, press a kiss against her lips to taste herself—and oh, what a mess she made down her chin and chest, her dark skin glistening under the red light with evidence of Jade’s pleasure. She pushes her back against the wall, converging on her with all the hunger of her kind, teasing her with hand and mouth to bring her toward her own release. The man moves with her, humping away, and Jade finally sinks her teeth into the dusky little minx.
GM: The woman’s blood is sweet. So sweet. It’s full of lust. There’s a faint artificial tinge to it, the kind star mode usually leaves, but it’s only faint. It’s leagues beyond the vessel Pietro fed on. The woman’s arousal is real. It’s the difference between sugar dumped over teriyaki and a fruit plucked at natural sweet ripeness. Jade can taste the lust. Drink it into herself. Even as the man continues to busy himself in her ass, she feels like she’s swallowing a second orgasm down her throat. It’s a peak that lasts for as long as she drinks. Why would she ever want to stop?
Celia: It’s always worth getting them in the mood.
Jade drinks. The woman writhes beneath her as soon as she begins to slurp at the red deluge that drips from her neck. Jade’s lips fasten around it, the taste sweet on her tongue. Intoxicating. How easy it would be to drain the life from this vessel, to take all of her delightful self into Jade’s body, to extract every last drop, to feed the Beast inside of her so that it is nothing but a sated, lazy thing curled in her chest.
But… no, she will not be the reason her grandsire has a mess to clean up. And besides, there are others who might enjoy the true taste of rapture that Jade has coaxed out of these two fine specimens. It does not take long for her to hit her limit. She licks the woman’s neck to close the bloody holes and nibbles at her ear. All the while the man is buried inside of her, thrusting, thrusting, thrusting—until she twists, leaving him humping the air with his erect cock, a look of confusion on his face at the sudden loss of Jade’s offered promise. Still aroused, still needy and wanting, Jade wraps her hand around his length to help keep him in the mood.
But only a moment. She does not let him finish. She slows her stroking, leaning up to press her lips against his ear.
“Come with me,” she murmurs, “come with me and let me show you off, let me show them how lovely you are, let me show them your magnificent form, your strength, your grace; come with me so I can give you the release you so crave, so I can return tenfold the joy you’ve brought me.”
She moves his arms so that they are around her once more. She even lets him rub against her as she turns to the woman, pulling her close as well, to whisper the same sort of encouragement in her ear.
GM: The woman moans and shudders as Jade withdraws. Her eyes take a moment to focus. More than a few moments.
“They’ll… they’ll kill us…” she whispers.
But it’s such a weak-sounding defense against Jade’s strong and seductive words. It isn’t like the poetry and prose that spills from her perfect lips. It’s just whining. It’s small.
It’s also belied by the color flushing the woman’s cheeks and the wetness between her legs.
Some flies try to resist the spider.
The man, though, just nods raptly, his breath coming short and fast as Jade strokes his cock.
“Yeah… sounds… good…”
Celia: Jade strokes a hand down the woman’s cheek. She leans in again, lips against her neck, nuzzling this woman with as much affection as she knows how to give. It’s more than enough for most people. Two fingers slip inside of her, coaxing her closer toward the promised release.
“They won’t,” Jade murmurs, “I’ll be right there with you.”
Flush with their blood, it’s almost easy to see her as human herself. She’s certainly warm enough, breathes just like them, has a pulse. Her hand slides free, fingers taking the woman’s wrist once more, giving her a gentle tug. She takes the man by the other hand and works her way toward the slit in the cushions she’d entered through to find a worthy recipient.
GM: The woman must be most people.
She moans softly under Jade’s fingers, then just nods her head and takes the Toreador’s hand.
Celia: Vessels in hand, Jade stalks from their hiding place. She keeps a tight grip on both of them, leading them through the maze of cushions, pillows, and… well, that feels like a dead body there, or at least an unconscious one. Jade guides them well away from it so they do not lose their nerve. Every few steps she pauses to press a kiss against one or the other, teases them with mouth or fingers to keep their libido aflame.
Thick fog still obscures the Evergreen, but Jade had not needed her eyes to find these two, and she does not rely on them now. She searches with her other senses, uses the Beast to track down those like her, listens for the sound of jazz to guide her back to the main room where she assumes most of the guests had halted after they’d found their easy prey.
GM: She finds Veronica in one of the ‘chambers’ by the main area ramming the spiked heel of her shoe up Micheal’s asshole. His arms flop around uselessly in the armbinder as he howls and thrashes, but Shep Jennings still pins him to the floor by his waist and neck. He doesn’t even get to lie on a cushion. The other two Kindred both laugh.
“Scream like a bitch and get treated like a bitch, is that so hard to grasp?” sneers the harpy.
She jerks her foot around. Blood trickles down the Brujah’s exposed crack as he screams into the floor.
Jade remembers how much Paul liked it when she bled from there. He wouldn’t even use lube when he did it up her butt.
“Whores like you exist to be used, Celia. Your comfort doesn’t matter,” he’d said.
He liked it when she screamed. When she cried.
Celia: The sight of it doesn’t make her sick—she doesn’t have that sort of gag reflex anymore. But she isn’t interested in lingering. It’s ultimately possible that Veronica and Shep will kill these mortals, and while she certainly isn’t opposed to that (it’s not like she knows them), she has no interest in handing them over to Veronica to be used like… like the Brujah. She can’t even think his name. He’s only ever called “bitch” anymore.
Jade shoves the memories of Paul from her mind. She isn’t his whore anymore. She was never his. It was someone else, the other girl. She won’t let the thought of him bring her to her knees. Or think about how he’d put her on her knees. Bent over. Taking it like—
She tugs the mortals along before they can catch a glimpse.
GM: “Oh my god, what’s that—someone’s screaming,” the woman pales as Jade pulls her away from the smoke-enshrouded scene.
Celia: Jade pulls her close, presses her lips against the woman’s throat, runs her hand in little circles across her wrist. Calm, soothing gestures.
“He broke the rules,” Jade tells her, “you’re okay, sweetheart.”
It’s why they’re moving away from the screaming.
GM: The woman’s eyes swim under Jade’s supernal mien. She looks like she might want to say something, then just nods along.
“Can we… can we help him?”
Celia: Better this way. Better she says nothing and just follow along. Jade tugs her closer, though; she doesn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, doesn’t want someone to snatch her up. She’d said they wouldn’t kill her. She’d promised. Arm around her waist instead of her hand, fingers stroking her hips in long, slow gestures. It’s okay, those fingers tell her.
She pauses at the question.
GM: “C’mon, let’s go! So we can have… tenfold joy,” says the man, his tongue clumsily moving over Jade’s earlier words as his eyes shine.
Celia: Jade had wondered that same thing. If there is a way to help the Brujah. Distract his mistress with a new playtoy, maybe, but she doesn’t think that’s going to net her a positive outcome in the long run. She’s not interested in alienating Veronica or Shep when she’s frequently around both; the former as her “sire” and one of the harpies, the latter because she occasionally runs with his krewe.
“Not tonight,” Jade tells her, pulling her along. Pulling them both along, the eager and the uneager alike.
GM: And after all, Micheal’s own sire hasn’t lifted a finger to help him. Roderick had admitted he and his elder brother-in-blood were never that close. “He called me Coco’s pet a few times and we just never hit off. And it made me think of your relationship with your parents, actually, insofar blood can mean a lot… but it doesn’t always.”
“Like a lot of things, it’s what we make of it.”
Celia: Like her relationship with her own sire. Blood could mean something. It could mean everything.
And it does. To her.
Just not to him.
Not that she’d been able to share that with Roderick. She’d just nodded her head, made some vague comments about being close to Veronia and Pietro both (that’s blood too), and had let him change the subject.
She looks for another of her kind, whispering words of encouragement to the boy and the woman she has with her.
GM: Exiting the “pillow fort,” she finds an orgy unfolding in the center of the Evergreen. Kindred lovers alternately ravish or lounge about with their vessels over increasingly wet-looking cushions as the band plays on. Throaty moans, wantful cries, and the odd shriek of pain provide an accompanying soundtrack to the jazz. The LED lights bathe everything scarlet. The twin perfumes of roses and vitae hang heavy in the air. Crimson bacchanalia reigns.
Celia: It’s enough to make her fangs lengthen in her mouth again. She wants to dive into the pile of bodies in the middle of the room, to demand the attention she’s entitled to as the most stunning, most alluring, most beautiful Kindred in the city. She can simply start in a corner and fuck her way to the middle if she’s so inclined.
Her eyes dart toward the stage, where her grandsire sat with Mel at the beginning of the party. If she fails to find him she looks toward the writhing bodies instead, searching for one of her preferred partners.
GM: There’s Pietro, with his tongue between a moaning girl’s legs. Priming her for the real action. Reynaldo Gui, finally choosing pleasure over business, has another girl’s legs over his shoulders as he pleasures her with his fingers. He must not be willing to expend the precious blood to get his member hard. Harlequin isn’t unusual for the fact he remains fully clothed (the Kindred guests range across the spectrum in their states of undress), but even his mask is still on. Jade isn’t sure how he’s feeding, but the vessel he’s with, a comely young man, seems to be enjoying himself if the sounds he’s making are any indication. Many of the other regulars to Savoy’s court are present, locked in the throes of passion with mortal vessels or one another. The mass of bodies heaves and shudders with pleasure.
Celia: The hypocrisy is staggering.
Gui and Pietro both using tongue or fingers on their vessels to get them in the mood so that their blood is flavored the right way. It’s like adding salt or pepper to a dish; it’s a necessary part of feeding, and they (almost) all do it. Why, then, do they look down on her for enjoying the process? Why gripe and grouse about it if it’s simply a fact of (un)life now?
Christ. No wonder licks are so fucking miserable.
She’d been looking forward to smacking Pietro around. Has been fantasizing about Gui since their first flirtatious exchange. It’s been years of foreplay now and not once have they sealed the deal, despite what rumor claims. She can’t help but think of what she really wants. Who she really wants. It’s a poor host who leaves his own party, she muses. No sign of Preston, either (not that she expected her at an orgy), and Lebeaux is otherwise occupied. That last one is a real shame, too. She’s pretty sure she could show him a good time if he ever let his hair down.
No, the licks she wants to fuck aren’t here. Who does that leave? The masked harpy, Flannagan, The Rollers, that street magician, a handful of nobodies…
She could snag one of those unfamiliar faces maybe, make a new friend. Make a handful of new friends. She’s never minded being shared, has she?
But, there. A welcome sight. Adrieux and Melton on adjacent cushions.
Jade’s heels click against the floor as she strides toward them. It’s all she wears now, her dress long since shredded, and she keeps a hand on either human she has claimed as her own. She flops onto the pillows between the two licks and pulls both mortals down with her, the male to her side and the woman on her lap.
“My two favorite wolves, and me with an extra to share.”
GM: Roxy rolls over from her partner, a spent-looking black man with closed eyes whose breath comes in low gasps. The first of the two Gangrel is naked except for her panties. The pupils of her eyes don’t dilate so much as narrow, until they’re slit like an alligator’s, as she smiles at Jade’s man.
“Look at this one! He’s in the mood, I can smell it on him…” she murmurs, sniffing deeply of his hair.
The man just grins and squeezes her breasts, seemingly uncaring of the Gangrel’s eyes.
“Yeah, you bet I’m in the mood…”
Laura, a short blonde with wavy hair, giggles and runs a hand along the cheek of Jade’s woman. Her own partner is a caucasian woman who looks just as spent as Roxy’s.
“This one smells all shy…” She giggles and stares at the woman’s crotch. “But wet, too…”
Celia: Her eyes move to the boy, amusement at his antics curling up the corners of her lips. She wonders how many men have lost a hand for attempting the same thing with Roxy. Jade leans in to whisper to him, asking if he wants her friend to show him a good time. She nudges him toward the Gangrel.
“She’s very shy,” Jade confirms to Laura, attention drawn back to the squirming woman on her lap, “but so sweet, and so eager to please. Aren’t you, darling?” Jade nuzzles the back of the woman’s neck. Her lips pull back from her teeth, fangs exposed, and she trails them down the black flesh. A pair of tiny slits appear in the wake of those sharp points. Blood wells in the rivets of her flesh and Jade laps at it with her tongue. Her hands slide down her body, coaxing her thighs apart with a gentle touch. She makes a motion at Laura with her hand, a gesture for her to take her fill. She’s sharing, after all.
GM: The man hardly needs Jade’s encouragement to start pulling at Roxy’s underwear. The Gangrel, though, looks rather less interested in having a cock inside her than Jade. The man’s hand falls away as her fangs sink into his neck. He gasps and moans against his partner as she wraps her arms around him, grinding herself against his body. Someone seems to be enjoying the flavor Jade worked so hard to cultivate.
The woman perhaps starts to answer, but under the vampire’s kiss and teasing touch, all she replies with is a soft moan. Laura giggles again.
“Don’t worry, little thing, I’ll treat you nice…”
She slides her fingers up the woman’s pussy and bites down over her breast. To an onlooker, it might just look like she’s sucking the nipple, but Jade can smell the scent of flowing blood. The woman closes her eyes and gasps with pleasure, her other nipple immediately stiff.
Celia: Everyone looks less interested in having a cock inside of them than Jade.
They’re missing out, really, but she doesn’t blame them for it. Their skin and nerves are dead. They don’t get the same sort of pleasure from it that she does, the moisture pooling between their legs, the flutter in their stomach. She’s so much more alive than them that it hurts.
She’s happy to reap the rewards, though. The sweet flavor of the blood on her tongue from her vessels, none of that fake, corn syrup taste that comes from star mode or the Kiss itself.
She’s an artist. A pleasure artist. A beauty artist. So unappreciated by those who simply fail to understand. Like someone who eats instant ramen or hot pockets. Or someone who uses boxed broth rather than learning to make their own.
Not her problem, really.
She watches her two vessels feed the Gangrel. Her own nipples are hard from where the woman writhes on her lap beneath Laura’s kiss, and it isn’t long before the Toreador wants more than the blood of the mortal. She shifts the moaning girl aside and nuzzles her cheek against Laura’s, running a fang along the blonde’s shoulder in an almost-kiss.
She waits only seconds before her fangs penetrate the Gangrel’s skin, drawing the blood she seeks forth. She lets it cool before she laps it up from the surface of her skin, feeding on her while she feeds from the writhing, moaning mortal.
GM: The sensation there swiftly draws the other vampire’s attention. Laura breaks off from the girl to bite the skin above Jade’s breasts. She peppers the Toreador with one tear and puncture wound after another, giving the blood from each one time to cool. When she’s finished her initial handiwork, Jade’s chest is smeared red. The Gangrel happily falls on it, licking and sucking the surface clean like a bloody canvas.
She only gets too for so long, though, before Roxy yanks back her hair and throws her clanmate off. She buries her own face against Jade’s chest, nuzzling her nose against the wet skin as her tongue methodically laps up every bit of red.
Laura growls, fangs fully on display, and kicks Roxy hard in the ribs. The shorter-haired Gangrel hits a cushion as the blonde tries to get back to Jade’s tits. Roxy yanks her away by her leg. The two snarling Gangrel look about to fight.
Celia: It’s a fight that doesn’t need to happen, though. Jade is happy to be shared. Enjoys it, even, after her introduction to their society so long ago. Sharing is just another way of showing affection.
Jade’s lips pull past her own fangs, and she bites into her wrist. Offers it to Roxy, then falls upon the blonde, biting and licking and suckling at her chest. She yanks Roxy in after a moment, trails her fangs across her cheek in what passes for a kiss in their society, then sinks her fangs into the Gangrel’s shoulder. She drinks, lapping at the blood after it has a moment to cool, then shifts her attention to the blonde to do the same. The Toreador tops them both while they let her, alternating her attention between the two.
GM: At Jade’s benedictious offering, the quarreling Gangrel cease her feud. They fall on her, sucking her wrists, biting her arms, raking claws along her chest. In short order, Jade is tenderly running her hands through their hair as both outlanders bury their faces against her breasts. Their tongues lap at the blood cooling over each tit like tamed hounds.
The man tries to get back into the action a few times, but the Gangrel impatiently kick him away. He slakes his lusts on the woman instead, pumping and thrusting into her from beside Jade.
She tries to push him off and get closer to the three vampires, but he makes an annoyed sound and holds her down against the cushions as he fills her.
Celia: And tamed hounds they are. Nothing but little beasties that need someone like Jade to keep them in line. She’s happy to be their keeper, their benefactor, their master. At least for this moment of bliss, at least.
She writhes beneath them, just another lick caught up in the ecstasy of the kiss, happy to be fed upon by twin mouths at her breasts. She bites them each in turn, drinking her fill from the wolves at her teat, happy to be shared between the pair. They bite, lick, suck, snarl, and Jade gives as good as she gets. Their cushion is wet with blood by the time she and the wolves have slaked their lusts. Jade is content to stretch out on her back while they continue to nuzzle her breasts, though the moment is ruined when the mortals at her side catch her attention.
The woman said no.
She doesn’t want him, she wants Jade, or Laura, or Roxandra, and he isn’t listening.
It’s an ugly word she can’t help but think. Jade has been there before. Has been held down against her will, forcibly penetrated, taken, like she gets no say in the matter.
Jade only has to twist to yank the man off of her, snarling in his face to cow him.
The bitch is hers.
GM: Maybe it was Jade’s glamor earlier. Maybe he just really didn’t notice, amidst the red fog and hazy lighting. But with the vampire’s LED-painted face howling in his face, fangs fully distended, the man gives a yelp and starts to go limp in his cock.
“What the fuck…!”
Roxy sniffs deeply of his hair. “Oh, he’ll taste different… scare him a lot, or a little…?”
The woman scrambles away as Jade pulls the man off. Laura pushes her onto another cushion, pulls the struggling kine’s legs open, and busies her mouth between them.
“Relax, just relax, let me get you back in the mood…”
Celia: She waits only a moment to make sure that the woman is well in hand, spread open in front of Laura with the lick’s head buried between her thighs, before her attention returns to the man. Presumptuous, unworthy piece of trash.
“A lot,” she says to Roxy, “really get that dread-induced fear going.” She trails the tips of her nails down his chest, her lips curved up in a saccharine smile that does nothing to warm her eyes. Her fingers wrap around his swiftly softening cock, and she leans in to whisper in his ear.
“Put it where it isn’t invited again and I’ll remove it for you.”
GM: The man just stares at Jade’s mouth, then her hands.
He swiftly nods.
It’s harder to make out under the red lights, but his face seems to have distinctly less color.
Celia: She pats his cheek, then gives him a squeeze.
“There’s a good boy.”
She got what she came for, anyway.
Jade gives a little wave to Laura as she turns away—not that she sees it with her head buried in the woman’s snatch as it is—and slides close to Roxy to nuzzle her cheek. She tells the Gangrel she’ll see her later, to enjoy the boy, and melts into the crowd to find another playmate.
The cowboy, perhaps, or the thief. Maybe the host himself if he’s decided to rejoin his own party.
GM: She finds Pietro deeper in the maze of cushions. He’s abandoned his mortal toy for Reynaldo Gui. The two half-naked vampires are locked in one another’s sanguine embrace as they growl, kiss, and tear at one another’s blood-painted skin. There’s also a third set of seemingly extraneous pants on the ground next to them.
Celia: Or both.
Both is good.
Both is great, even. Jade sandwiched between Pietro and Reynaldo? She’ll take it. She’s already fantasizing about it. She stops to enjoy the sight. Some part of her wonders who the third set of pants belongs to, but the curiosity is driven from her at a growl and fresh spray of blood from one of her two marks. Jade stalks forward to join them.
GM: There isn’t much talking. Or, actually, any talking. They see she’s already naked. They pull her in. Pietro isn’t a new lover for Jade: she’s fucked him as a breather, as a renfield, and as a lick. She’s not sure how many more ways (or at least states of being) there are to have fucked him. But familiar doesn’t mean bad. She’s not sure she’s been with anyone as fast, besides her sire, and he wasn’t as inventive. The older Toreador’s tongue feels like it’s everywhere at once across her body, and so is he: licking blood from her nose, from her ears, from her underbreasts, from her thighs, from her asscrack, from her armpits: Pietro usually isn’t as interested in the neck or the wrist. “You can’t steal where they’re expecting you.” He bends and twists her like a pretzel to get at all the good places.
It’s hard not to miss his feather-light fingers. He could give her sex organs such pleasure with those. But he’s made the same “pervert” comments as Veronica.
Reynaldo, meanwhile, is a new lover. He feels direct and forceful, yet also vain and preening: the stylized image of a mobster. He 69s with Jade, inviting her to lap blood off his cock (even limp as that is) while he drinks from her inner thigh and Pietro drinks from her ass. When they’re done there, he sinks his fangs into her neck and laps the blood from there as he humps and grinds against her ass. He hoists one of her legs into the air, rips and bites the flesh along her ankle, and laps up the blood flowing down her knee like champagne running down the sides of a bottle. The taste of the Ventrue’s blood makes Jade think of wads of cash stacked in smoke-filled rooms, while scantily clad girls massage thick-muscled guys with tommy guns. It’s a similar flavor to Pietro’s: the enormous ego (though what Ventrue lacks one of those?), the preening vanity, the belief that money makes a man irresistible to women.
It’s a good thing she and Roderick aren’t an item anymore, to be letting this mobster fuck her.
Celia: This is what she came for. Not the gentle caresses of her ghouls, not the flesh ripping of Veronica, but this. Being used, manipulated, bent, twisted, fucked. Pervert, they call her, and she is. She gets off on it just as much as her Beast does, maybe even more so. Pietro won’t put his fingers where she wants them but nothing stops her from using either one of them to relieve the ache, and when it hits her she bites and drinks deeply from one and then the other.
Pietro is an old, familiar taste. The sort of thing she longs for after a hard night, that she can sink into and enjoy. He’s the only one who has kept her attention for the past seven years, the one she keeps returning to. But the Ventrue is new, exciting, fresh. Power, money, danger. She drinks it all down and goes back for more, taking a sick sort of pleasure in finally giving in to something that she considered taboo for so long. Giving herself to a Mafia man. It makes this threesome that much more enjoyable.
A thief, a mobster, and a whore.
It’s a perfect pairing.
GM: An unholy trinity.
Eventually, the trio lies spent and exhausted and painted in one another’s blood (what they haven’t licked off), the cushions wet and coppery-smelling beneath them.
“My name’s Reynaldo, by the way,” the Ventrue quips.
His eyes roam over Jade’s form.
Celia: Jade makes sure that she winds up in the middle of their pile when all is said and done, a lick on either side. Her head rests lazily against Gui’s shoulder, though when she catches Pietro’s eye she lifts her brows.
GM: “I’m admiring the view. What else do you think?”
Celia: “All sorts of wicked things, darling.”
GM: “I don’t doubt you are,” Reynaldo smirks.
“Someone’s missing her clothes. I’m sure Alan would be happy to sell you something,” remarks Pietro.
“Alan’s always happy to sell things,” says Reynaldo.
“True,” replies Pietro.
Celia: “Why would I deny others the sight?”
GM: “All good things come to an end, lush, unless you were planning on showing the whole Quarter your charms,” says Reynaldo, running his hand along her sides.
“Though I suppose you might not stand out that much, next to some of the street people.”
Celia: “This is art, Reynaldo.” Jade entwines her fingers through his, turning to look back at him.
GM: “Oh, she’ll always stand out,” says Pietro, his stroking hands joining the Ventrue’s.
Celia: Jade smirks at the pair of them. She will always stand out. A cut above the rest, isn’t she?
Celia: She takes a moment to preen, to simply soak in the adoration of these two, nestles herself further against Gui while he and Pietro take their sweet time admiring her body.
“Whose pants did you steal, Pietro?” Her eyes flick toward the discarded clothing.
GM: The other Toreador laughs.
“I guess someone knows me.”
Celia: Jade forces a sigh. So much for running into a pantsless Savoy.
GM: “Jealous?” smirks Reynaldo.
“Hardly. Veronica’s the biggest slut I know. But anyone who wants to fuck my cousin should expect some of their things to go missing.”
Celia: “How,” she asks, “did you even get them off of him? Was it a smash and grab? Or were you in and out before he even noticed?”
GM: “Please. Any idiot with two hands can do a smash and grab.”
Celia: “You do turn thievery into an art form.”
“Easy to steal something when its owner is distracted playing master to the cockless wonder, though.” She touches a hand to Pietro’s cheek.
GM: Pietro laughs. “Veronica wants to give him a real vagina, soon. Thinks the novelty of just ripping off his cock is wearing off.”
Reynaldo gives a laugh too. “I’m still amused how fast Kelly’s rep sank. Like a stone.”
“I remember when I first showed up to this city. Everyone was saying what a badass Micheal Kelly was and not to fuck with him. I guess that’s what you call a paper tiger.”
Celia: “Mmm, your cousin had her heel halfway up his ass last I saw. Par for the course, isn’t it? He simply bends over and takes it.”
GM: “She and Savoy have mindfucked him so many times I’m not sure how much mind is even left in there to fuck.” Pietro.
“Bending over and taking it seems par for course, with him.” Reynaldo. “We all might’ve gone on believing he was a badass forever if the Boggs hadn’t burned down his bar. And stuck all their pricks up his ass, of course.”
Celia: “Salt in the wound, isn’t it. Doubt he was even worth the blood.”
GM: “I’m just wondering how he fooled everyone so long. Licks were saying he fought in World War II.”
“He disappeared for a while in the ’40s,” Pietro shrugs.
“You think he faked it?” muses Reynaldo.
“I think that’d have taken too much thinking for him to pull off,” smirks Pietro.
“He probably just got torpored and lied about where he’d been.”
Celia: “His broodmate told me he didn’t know how to spell his own name until a handful of years ago.”
GM: “I can believe that,” says Reynaldo. “Fewer people who knew how to read, when he was breathing. Especially potato eaters. Might have just never learned.”
“I’d be more surprised if he learned how after so long.” Pietro. “But he wouldn’t be alone there. I’m pretty sure Rocco and Meadows don’t know how to read.”
Celia: “You say that like it’s some sort of surprise,” Jade drawls, though her smile takes the sting from her words. She drums her fingers along where Reynaldo’s hand rests on her hip. “Personally I’m impressed by your restraint in moving against him.” She turns her head to regard the Ventrue, one brow lifting.
GM: “I don’t need to move against him, lush,” Reynaldo smirks. “He’ll self-destruct all on his own. You were there for that Elysium, weren’t you?”
Celia: “That means the timing is perfect, sweetheart.”
GM: “I’ve known hotheads like him. Only a matter of time before he does something even more stupid.”
“Could be he’ll win back Vidal’s favor,” Pietro muses. “Though I suppose it’s easier to spiral down than climb up.”
Celia: “Mmm,” Jade says. It’s less of a word than a sound. A musing. An invitation to set their sights higher and kick a man while he’s down.
Like the greedy, backstabbing, self-serving bastards that they all are.
The opportunity is ripe and all that.
GM: They don’t hesitate.
“You hang with Becky Lynne sometimes, don’t you? Are those stories true about the ‘neonate party’ he had?” smirks Reynaldo.
Celia: “Telling, isn’t it, that it’s all he could get.”
GM: “Or all he thought he could handle,” smirks Pietro.
Celia: “All he can handle, no thinking involved.”
GM: “Rarely is with him, if that Elysium’s any indication.” Pietro.
“Wonder if Marcel’s been muscling in on his casino.” Reynaldo.
“He’d probably rip the ‘prince’ a new one if he thought so.” Pietro. “He might be stupid as Kelly, but that one’s even crazier than his sire.”
“Stupid gets itself killed, sooner or later.” Reynaldo. “Crazy just means more collateral damage along the way.”
Celia: “We should really save them the hassle of infighting and just liberate it from him.”
GM: “You got a bone to pick with Rocco, beautiful?” Reynaldo asks, amused.
Celia: “Can’t a lick just want to do something nice for her favorite cowboy?”
GM: “I don’t think you’re a nice girl,” the Ventrue smirks.
Celia: “What can I say, Reynaldo, one bout with you and I’m ready to mend my wicked ways.”
GM: “That doesn’t add up. I’m not a nice guy either.”
The Ventrue chuckles.
“I’m not opposed to moving against Rocco, beautiful. He’s bleeding and we all smell the blood in the water. But what’s your interest?”
Celia: Jade takes the opportunity to spin over within the loose circle of his arms, propping her chin up on her hand. She uses the other to pull Pietro closer at her back, keeping the three of them together in an unbroken line of flesh with her at its center, then traces small circles down the Ventrue’s chest and stomach while she considers her words.
“I don’t have a vendetta against him, personally. But I want what he has.”
“And in the game of families, isn’t he your rival?” Her smile turns sharp. “That’s enough for me to want to be the knife in the dark.”
GM: “It’s nothing personal. Just a bigger slice of the pie for me if he no longer gets a piece.” The Ventrue smiles at her delicate touch. “So you want in on the casino business, huh?”
Celia: “I’ve always had a thing for Hold ’Em.”
GM: “You don’t need a casino for that.” He smirks and holds one of her breasts.
Celia: Jade flicks her tongue across her lips.
“No, but I want one. And you want one. And Pietro is interested because we’d be stealing it right out from under their noses, aren’t you, doll?”
GM: “Pietro is getting bored by all the talk about Rocco and casinos,” says the Toreador. “You steal things. People, sometimes. But any lick can ‘steal’ another’s domain.”
Celia: That must be why he’s done so much of it.
GM: “So steal a thing or a person that’ll steal the domain,” says Reynaldo.
“Like what?” Pietro.
“Rocco’s a hothead. Steal something to make him lose his shit again.” Reynaldo. “Do something stupid.”
“Like what?” repeats Pietro.
Celia: “That girl of his. The gloomy one.”
Celia: Jade waves a hand.
GM: “He’d go apeshit if he lost her,” smirks Reynaldo.
“Pretty old renfield, isn’t she?”
Celia: “That’s what I’ve heard.”
GM: “Yeah. Older than me.” Pietro.
Celia: “Didn’t she belong to Lord Savoy’s sire?”
“I heard she’s a casquette girl.” Reynaldo.
“That’s bullshit.” Pietro.
Celia: “Value in her, all the same. Plus, darling, think of the bragging rights. Steal her right out from under the outlaw. He thought she was safe. That he’d stolen her. Thinks himself a thief, doesn’t he.”
Jade twists to look at her older clanmate.
“Can’t let them think they’ve won, can we?”
GM: “Didn’t hear he stole her.” Reynaldo.
“He did. From Lord Savoy.” Pietro.
He considers Jade with an amused air.
“All right. I’ll make her go poof. But there’s something you can do for me.”
Celia: “You know I’m game.”
GM: “You ever hear of the Julia Street Panthère?”
GM: “It’s an urban legend.”
Celia: “Enlighten me.”
GM: “A ghost along Julia Street. He has never been seen by any living man, but all the art curators laugh nervously at his name, for only a ghost could steal and replace their precious paintings with the subtlety and stealth that he does. There’s not a security system that can keep him out, nor or a guard that can hear his footfalls. Surely, he can only be a ghost, for no living man could be capable of such impossible burglaries.”
“He’s also me. I’m offended you haven’t heard of him.”
Celia: “I was about to say he sounds familiar.”
“Better, isn’t it, that the masses haven’t heard of you though? Leaves them that much more susceptible to your games.”
GM: “Oh, but they have heard of me.”
“Most of them think I’m just that. An urban legend. A ghost.”
“But there’s this one cop who believes with all his heart and soul that I’m real.”
“His friends laugh at him for it, but he doesn’t care. He’s got a giant hard-on for me that’ll only go away when the Panthère is behind bars.”
Celia: “And you want him… taken out? Disabused of his notion that you’re real?”
GM: Pietro laughs.
“My god, no!”
“He’s the most fun I’ve had in years.”
“I actually have to watch my step around him. Be a little more careful.”
Celia: “You do love a challenge.”
GM: “He stops things from being too easy.”
“And you can always say, ‘why not steal things from licks,’ but he’s a fresh challenge. A different challenge.”
“So if you’re both giving each other hard-ons, what do you want Jade here for?” asks Reynaldo.
“Well, he’s single,” says Pietro. “Every night when he goes to bed, there’s only one person in that bed.”
Celia: “You… want to reward him for a job well done?”
GM: “Hmm. Maybe I should,” the other Toreador muses.
“But no, I want you to fuck with him.”
Celia: “Break his heart?” She smiles at the thought.
GM: He laughs again. “Ah, it’s always a pleasure to work with a professional. Break his heart. Well, why not.”
“I want to add some more spice to our game. Maybe see how well he can still challenge me with a girl like you to distract him.”
Celia: “So you think,” Jade muses, “that he won’t be as on the ball if he’s getting his dick wet.”
GM: “If he is, I’ll be impressed. And maybe then I’d like you to reward him.”
Celia: “You’re making him choose between his long-hated foe and his new woman.”
GM: “Or just how well he can still focus with his dick buried between your thighs.”
Celia: “No one can focus with their dick buried between my thighs, darling. He won’t know which way is up.”
GM: Pietro smirks. “You could also ruin his life a little, if you think that’d be too hard. I don’t need to say there’s all sorts of ways a girl can do that.”
Celia: “Give me his name, Pietro, and he’ll be on his knees in no time.”
GM: “Vinny Cardona.”
“He’s a slim guy. Looks Italian. 30s.”
Celia: “Isn’t he part of a family?” Jade glances at Gui. The last name sounds familiar.
GM: “He is,” says Gui.
“But he’s a cop. Upright sort.”
Celia: As if there’s such a thing.
GM: “I don’t care what happens to him.”
Celia: She looks back to Pietro.
GM: “And you know, if you really don’t think he stands a chance, maybe don’t bring your A-game,” the older Toreador says thoughtfully.
Celia: “Your family?” Jade asks Gui.
GM: He shakes his head.
“Like I’ve said. He’s impressed me,” says Pietro.
Celia: “So distract him, but don’t ruin him.”
GM: “Ruin him if you want to. Just not irreparably. If he does well, he might have a future as my ghoul.”
Celia: Jade gives him a nod. She understands.
GM: “Test him. Challenge him. Make the game more fun.” He smirks. “Isn’t that what we all want?”
Celia: Jade twists again, back to Gui. She leans in, lips pulled back from her mouth to expose the fangs that she trails down Pietro’s cheek. She nips at his lips, then finally pulls back.
“It’ll be done as you say, Mister Thief.”
GM: “I knew I could count on you,” he purrs, his own fangs distending as he traces a feather-light finger across Jade’s back.
“Tell me when you’re finished with him. And Bella’s as good as gone.”
Celia: Jade smiles at the Toreador. A clash of fangs on skin seals the deal between the pair of them. Business and pleasure mix well, regardless of what Gui had once told her. Only when it’s over between the two of them does she turn to regard the mobster once more.
“Once she’s gone and our friend loses his shit, be ready to take the rest of it.”
GM: Gui’s fangs distend at the sight, but he doesn’t attempt to join in. Perhaps taking his own advice.
“So Pietro here steals Bella. Rocco goes crazy. But if you want a piece of the action with the casino, beautiful, what’ll you be doing?”
Celia: Jade doesn’t bare her fangs at him, though she thinks about it. Presumptuous fuck. She’s the reason Pietro is involved in the first place.
She touches a hand to his cheek, then trails it down his throat and back to his chest. She presses herself closer against the Ventrue, head on his chest with Pietro’s arm around her from behind.
She’s quiet for a moment while she considers the options.
“That depends,” she says finally, “on how hostile our takeover will be.”
“More importantly, Reynaldo… what will you be doing?”
“Because, as you’ve seen,” she flashes a smile at him, “I’m rather flexible.”
GM: “I bet you are,” he smirks. “What I do is get Agnello’s crew working for me, once he’s taken out. I can let them keep their old jobs, instead of you having to fight and kill them all. I know how to run Agnello’s crew. I know how to run his casino.”
“So what’ll you do?”
Celia: “That doesn’t quite answer the question of the takeover itself. To get his crew you need to take him out of the picture.” She eyes him, up and down, perfectly blatant about it.
She finally meets his gaze with an arched brow, though she does smile at him.
GM: The Ventrue shrugs. “Could take out a hit on him, but he’s old and tough. Easier if loses his shit in Elysium again. The prince can’t let him off the hook twice. Banished or ash makes no difference, so long as he’s out of the picture.”
Celia: “The first few weeks and months will be rough with the prince breathing down our necks, I imagine. Trying to get the territory back. Sheriff dispatched to take care of the interlopers…”
Jade lifts one shoulder in what might be a shrug.
“I can handle him.”
GM: Gui raises an eyebrow.
“You? The sheriff?”
Celia: “Haven’t you heard? My pussy is magic.”
GM: “Is your pussy hot enough to melt that block of ice?”
Celia: Jade shrugs again.
“Is it your neck on the block if not?”
“You seem to think you’ll just slide in and they’ll bow to you.”
GM: “Guess not. Whatever, then. Rocco out of the picture still a net gain for me.”
“As to that, if it were easy, anyone could do it.”
Celia: “That’s why I brought you in, silly.”
Jade rubs her face against his chest, nuzzles his neck. Makes him feel needed, wanted, desired.
GM: He strokes her hair.
“It sure is. So don’t worry about Rocco’s people. Once he’s out, I can take over Harrah’s fast. I guess it’ll be on you to see if we hold it.”
Celia: “I can hold the sheriff,” she reminds him. “If Meadows comes calling that’s another story. She doesn’t seem as interested in my feminine wiles.”
GM: “We’ll deal with that.”
Celia: “I want the Blackmatch.”
GM: “The capo?”
GM: “Why not, I guess. Blackmatch will be out of his old crew if you want him as your renfield.”
Celia: “Then I suppose we have a deal, don’t we.”
GM: “Few things last.”
Celia: Jade sighs at him.
“Shall I bite you, Reynaldo, to show you how serious I am?”
GM: “First, Rocco going apeshit. Like I said, easiest way to take him out is if he loses control again in Elysium. I can provoke him, but that’d feel like a surer thing with you and your sire lending a hand too. Also stop the prince from putting Rocco’s loss all on one lick’s shoulders.”
“Oh, she’d love to help there,” Pietro smirks.
Celia: “My sire has no lost love for him. I imagine she’ll play ball.”
GM: “I truthfully don’t give a shit about Harrah’s one way or another,” says Pietro, “but if you two want to take it over, you could do worse than to talk with Lord Savoy. I’m sure he’d be happy to help a couple licks extend his territory south.”
Celia: “Planned on it,” Jade says to Pietro. “I was hoping those were his pants you’d found and that he’s naked somewhere further in the maze.”
GM: “Oh, he most surely is.”
Celia: Jade sits up.
“Is he? Surely the two of you don’t mind if I bring this to him, then.”
GM: “Go ahead,” says Reynaldo.
Pietro smirks knowingly. “If you can find him.”
Celia: Jade rolls until she has straddled the Venture, taking his wrists in her hands to pin above his head. She applies very little pressure; he could break free if he wanted to with a thought.
“We’ll discuss further, sweetheart, but until then…” She lifts a wrist to her mouth and sinks her fangs into it, offering it to Gui. If he drinks, she does the same to him.
GM: “All right, lush.”
He takes a draught. Lets her take one from him.
Sealed in red.
“You’ve got yourself a deal.”
Wednesday night, 9 March 2016, AM
GM: After the party is over, Mélissaire tells Jade that her grandsire can see her in an hour. She’s free to spend that time as she wills before Savoy receives her at his usual spot at the rooftop garden. Preston is also there.
“It’s never anything less than a delight to see you, my dear, but tonight it’s no small relief as well!” he exclaims after kissing her hand. “Warden Lebeaux filled me in on events with those hunters.”
“The gall of those kine! I’d promise revenge, normally, but from what he tells me you’ve handily seen to that already.”
Celia: Jade doesn’t know where Alana found the dress. It isn’t the flouncy thing that she’d wanted to wear for Savoy, that she’d been planning for days since the original summons came. Nor is it the type of gown she’d wear to Elysium. This is entirely its own thing, a dark, slinky thing that frames her body and hugs her curves, that shows her long, lean legs with every step that she takes through the waist-high slits on the side. Cuffs around her wrist keep the open-topped sleeves in place. The opal sun ring is ever present on her finger.
As always, Jade dips into a curtsy when she greets her grandsire, batting her lashes at him as he presses a kiss upon her fingers. She smiles for him, then turns to offer Preston her acknowledgment as well.
“Madam Preston, good evening.” Her eyes flit back toward her grandsire. She does not adopt the more familiar pose of perched on his lap as she would were they alone; decorum, her respect for him, and various other warning bells trigger in her mind and keep her at a more formal distance. Would that the steward were not here, though; she’d have liked a moment to be more familiar with the Kindred sitting across from her.
“Please accept my sincerest apologies for missing our meeting last evening, Lord Savoy. Were it not for my untimely adventure I would not have been absent.” She takes the offered chair, inclining her head at his words. “Yes, grandsire, Warden Lebeaux and I have discussed our options regarding their meeting tomorrow.” She doesn’t take credit for cracking the phone and finding out about it. Nor does she presume to ask him for use of a ghoul; Lebeaux said he would handle it, and once this meeting is over she will see to the ghouls in question to twist their features into the proper shape.
GM: “Miss Kalani,” the Malkavian greets with a loo up from her tablet.
Savoy makes a dismissive motion. “The only people who need apologize for your absence last night are the hunters, my dear, and their corpses make better apologies than anything that might come from their lips. They have been growing troublesome, of late.”
Celia: “The warden has implied that I should expect more of that in the future.” She looks between them, the question clear despite her lack of vocal inflection. “The, ah, hunters suggested… something big is coming, though I daresay he has already told you of that as well.”
“I was, unfortunately, unable to obtain more information from the pair that took me, though if we manage to take one alive then I have no doubt they will sing.”
GM: “The Tremere would know that better than any of us,” Savoy smiles at Jade’s second statement. “Fortunately, more intelligence on local hunter activities might be about to fall into our laps. Warden Lebeaux tells me we have you to thank for that.”
Celia: Jade inclines her head in deference, as if to wave off her part in all of this, though she cannot help the satisfied smile that crosses her lips.
“Yes, Lord Savoy. I… am pleased that I was able to turn an unfortunate situation into this opportunity. I was able to crack one of the phones, and the other shouldn’t prove difficult once I find the proper resources.” A pause. There’s no harm in giving credit where credit is due. “Your Mélissaire proved a valuable asset after I neutralized the subjects, and mine helped gather part of the information on location.”
“He told me that he would speak to you about borrowing one of yours to send tomorrow. Has he had that opportunity? I will make myself available after this meeting to transform them appropriately.”
GM: “Excellent,” Savoy smiles. “You can go over the details of all that with him, and hand over the phones too. He can get into the second one while you work.”
“Sir, you had two orders of business to discuss with Miss Kalani,” says Preston.
“Ah yes, that’s right, Nat.” The French Quarter lord’s expression turns sober. “The first one was regarding your sister, Jade. I can’t imagine this has been at all easy for you. What course of action would you recommend, where she’s concerned?”
Celia: Send her to the hunters.
The thought is as immediate as it is snide, though Jade bites her tongue rather than blurt it out. Her jaw clenches, fingers digging into her thighs for just a moment.
“If I may be blunt, my lord?” She waits for his nod before continuing. “Warden Lebeaux mentioned rehabilitation. I wonder if that is even possible given her mental state. If we are loathe to cross the Traditions and bring wrath down upon us,” and here she smiles at Savoy, as if the prince can touch them within the Quarter, “then the only rehabilitation I see possible is to start her with a fresh canvas and a new face. It’s… possible, yes. But…”
Is she a terrible sister? A truly terrible sister?
“Her mind broke long before her Embrace. The fact that she still harbors so much hatred towards me makes me hesitant to release her.”
She meets his eye directly. Her thoughts spill outward, unrestrained. She’s long thought that he could simply look into her head to see her thoughts, though she has never so blatantly tested her theory.
She came after me. Without some degree of safety or anonymity I am loathe to allow her the possibility of doing so again. Following in the wake of the hunters I would not risk further complications until that is resolved.
GM: “It’s a dilemma indeed, my dear,” Savoy muses. “Like yourself, I’m not inclined to allow a neonate loyal to Vidal to simply wander back into his camp. His loss is our gain! But she is your sister, too. Better for everyone, if we could simply convert her to our side and way of thinking.”
“The Storyville Krewe are known for their fanatical loyalty to Vidal, sir, even were Miss Gerlette’s mental state less precarious,” states Preston. “Simplest just to execute her if we cannot utilize her.”
Celia: At least she hadn’t had to be the one to say it.
She should feel something. Guilt, maybe. Or shame. Or… loss. Loss for the sister she’d once held so dear. Loss for what could have been. But life—unlife—isn’t built on could have beens. It’s built on actions. And ever since Isabel took their father’s side in the war between parents, they’ve been on opposite sides.
Some part of her knows that her sister’s decision was survival. Maxen ruled with an iron fist. Better to be on his side and loyal than opposed and crushed, isn’t it?
She blinks back whatever emotion that might bring forth.
“She has a son,” she says finally, “whose father is my father, and hers. Should we seek to make a move against Maxen, we could use him. Prove that the allegations lobbied against him years ago were true.” Pete had told her to avoid anything to do with her father. But in this her hands will be clean. It was only her idea.
An idea that has, no doubt, already occurred to Lord Savoy.
“If you still wish to take him away from your childe,” she adds.
She’ll need to keep herself away from the sheriff until the deed is done, lest he draw the thought from her mind with his… affection.
So timely, that affection. Only when he needs something, or suspects something. Never just for her.
GM: “There is little reason Lord Savoy should not wish to deprive the prince’s bloc of a useful pawn. Whether that end result merits the effort and resources expended is another matter,” states Preston.
Celia: Jade chokes back the flush of shame at the steward’s words. Her fault that their first effort didn’t work. She doesn’t voice it; she’s sure that Savoy knows exactly how their plan came to light.
He’d have killed her if not. He plays games with her—the heights, the fall—but he’d have killed her if she hadn’t spilled. She knows it. It’s the only thing that kept her… animated, if not alive.
GM: “As it always does, Nat,” replies Savoy. “A child, though! That’s some evidence that’s rather hard to deny.”
“I can’t say that removing Maxen from his position is an immediate priority of mine, given the prior returns on our investment—such as it was. But the child could be a useful thing to hold in reserve.”
Celia: It’s an effort not to flinch. She nods instead.
GM: “What of yourself, my dear?” the French Quarter lord asks Celia. “What does Isabel mean to you, beyond simply her strategic value? Nat here has made her opinion plain, but I couldn’t bear to see any sadness cross a face as radiant as yours, if any sisterly bonds of affection yet remain.”
Celia: Celia is quiet for a long minute. Her thoughts turn inward, searching for the feelings that the idea of her sister’s death brings up. She thinks back to the memories they made as children: playing dress-up with mommy’s old clothes, homework help at the kitchen table, making wishes on the glow-in-the-dark stars fixated to their ceiling. They should have had a relationship to explore further. They should have been sisters in life and unlife, both cursed to an eternity of… this. Fast friends and allies; they could have leaned on each other when everyone else fed them poisoned lies.
But their relationship ended the night her sire had stolen into her house to take her father’s soul. He had taken everything from her: her dad, her sister, her life. And now her sister in truth, for without his actions Jade would not be where she is, and without his actions Celia would not have needed to rescue their mother, and Maxen would have never been a monster she’d needed to defeat, and Isabel… Isabel would not be Roxanne. They would be Celia and Isabel. The Flores girls.
Not this. Not these monsters that wear human faces.
She should feel something. Affection, even if it is a pale echo of what it means to be sisters. Grief, maybe, or rage, or… something. Something beyond the mental fog that plagues her now.
But there’s nothing, and that hurts her all the more. She is numb. Empty. Something is broken inside of her. Has been broken these long years.
Does he know, and that is why he puts the question to her?
“Warden Lebeaux has reminded me that there is a war going on,” Jade says finally, quietly. “It would be remiss to not push our advantage when it falls so neatly into our lap.”
There it is, finally. It starts in her stomach. Churning. Roiling. Snakes its way up her throat, where its fingers threaten to choke her on her own words.
She imagines her mother’s face at the news that her daughter is dead. No, not news; Diana will never know the truth. Celia will never tell her. Isabel will simply disappear. Her conversations will peter out into nothing. There will be no closure for her family.
Another knife in their gut. Thank you, Celia, for your service.
Do something nice for your family. His words echo inside her mind. They eat at her. She should have told him. Should have told him the thoughts that came to mind: the nicest thing she can do for them is to disappear.
GM: Savoy takes Celia’s hand in his and stares meaningfully into her eyes.
“You’re as steadfast and loyal a descendant as any Kindred could ask for, my dear. I’m just sorry Isabel wasn’t as good a sister to you as you’ve been a grandchilde to me,” he says softly.
“I’m sorry for what could have been between you and wasn’t.”
“I’m sorry for what she took away.”
Celia: She doesn’t clutch his hand. But she wraps her fingers around his and holds on for as long as he lets her while her heart breaks. Another piece of her soul neatly portioned off for the thing inside of her to consume. Another black mark.
Jade can’t tell him that Isabel didn’t do anything wrong. That it was her, Celia, who caused all the problems. I slapped her once and she ruined my life. They’d made their choices. Two girls trying to survive in a fucked-up world.
Jade is just better at it.
“Thank you,” she murmurs at last, “you have long been the balm to all of my wounds.”
GM: “If it would bring you pleasure, Miss Kalani, there is little reason you could not lay out Miss Gerlette to the sun yourself,” states Preston.
Celia: “Thank you, Madam Preston.” Her eyes find the steward’s face. Her voice stays soft, and she rubs her thumb along the back of Savoy’s hand in small, soothing strokes. The repetitive motion seems to bring her some measure of comfort.
“If that is the wish of yourself and Lord Savoy, then I will perform. Perhaps the act will bring about… closure.”
GM: “If you’d like to do the deed yourself, my dear, she’s all yours,” Savoy answers. “If you’d sooner not stain your hands, someone else will take care of it.”
Celia: “It is no small task to be asked to slay a sister,” Jade says to him, “no matter how frequently she and I quarreled, or how large the gap between us, there is history there. But these past years…” she shakes her head. “Since my Embrace I have endeavored to put the sentiments of the kine behind me. She is not my family.” Her eyes meet his. “You are. I will do this thing, and in doing so release the lot of them from where they hold harbor inside my chest.”
“And it… it means much to me,” she continues shyly, dropping her eyes to the table and then back to his face as if uncertain if she should speak the words, “that you would take my personal concerns into consideration in regards to her fate. Thank you, grandsire. Truly, I was blessed that you chose to retrieve me, and to receive your guidance and that of Madam Preston and Warden Lebeaux in these and other matters these past years.”
GM: The French Quarter lord smiles at Jade’s words, evidently pleased.
“I’ve often found good things to beget more of the same, my dear. It’s easy to be concerned for a grandchilde who’s been as loyal, clever, and faithful as you’ve been.” He chuckles to himself. “I haven’t had a peek at Nat’s notes, but I’d hazard they say Celia Flores has returned her investment a hundred times over!”
He lifts Jade’s chin to meet his eyes.
“Let’s bury the past, then, if that’s what you’d choose to do. Let’s bury it deep, so that it might haunt us no more. Fabien, some glasses of the good wine, if you’d be so kind!”
Jade didn’t see the ghoul. But the red-filled crystal glasses are suddenly right there on the table as Savoy lifts one into the air and clinks it against Jade’s.
“A toast—to the glorious future that awaits!”
Celia: Jade sincerely hopes that Preston’s notes do indeed say she has been worth her investment. A smile draws itself across her lips at Savoy’s praise, causing the corners of her eyes to crinkle genuine pleasure. She is happy that he is happy; happy to serve, happy to be useful. She’s flush with it, eyes alight, smile radiant.
Jade lifts her glass with him, echoing his toast to a glorious future, and drinks.
GM: The other two vampires drain their glasses.
Celia: Jade follows suit. The blood dances across her tongue, a sweet reminder of the power her grandsire commands. She sets her glass down upon the table once she has swallowed the sweet red, and the look that she levels upon the Lord of the French Quarter is no less predatory than the one she had given the kine at his party.
“There is another matter, grandsire, that I would bring before you.”
GM: He gestures grandly for Jade to proceed as he sets down his glass..
Celia: Jade smiles prettily for him.
“Harrah’s,” she says after she has cleared her mouth of the taste of the blood he provided for her. She mimics their movements, setting her empty glass on the table. She folds her hands on her lap.
“I seek to bring it under your rule by removing Agnello from the game. Silvestri, Gui, and I have come to an arrangement, though I would be remiss to try such a thing without consulting someone as knowledgeable as yourself, grandsire.” She dips her head.
She tells him, briefly, of their plans.
GM: He makes a sound of approval after Preston is finished asking questions.
“I’m very pleased with your initiative, my dear! I suppose this rather removes the need to take out Hound Agnello by another means,” the French Quarter lord chuckles. “If you three, or I suppose two, can take Harrah’s, I can tell the rest of my people that the domain’s borders are moving south. You’ll have to live with vagrants like Flannagan nearby, but they’ll be bodies between you and whoever Vidal sends to regain the territory. Perhaps I’ll talk with Mr. Gui about involving the rest of his krewe, too.”
“I wonder if we also might take this moment to lure Prince Guilbeau to our side. What do you think?”
Celia: “I’ve long thought that Mr. Guilbeau could be swayed to your side, grandsire, though I only hesitate due to the fact that I have not gotten to know him.” There’s a pause while Jade considers. “I could arrange a meeting, sir, and get a better read on him. There’s talk of throwing his name into the ring for prince once Prince Vidal enters torpor, but…” Jade trails off.
“Is he more interested in Baton Rouge or New Orleans? I could find out.”
“Should he desire to stay within the city, I imagine he will be clever enough to sense the shifting sands despite his clan’s ties to our current ruler.”
GM: “Oh, he wants his old city back. But I don’t see any realistic path to that happening.”
“Prince Meeks is too entrenched. Their covenant won’t pit one Invictus prince against another. While Mr. Guilbeau’s clan has bigger fish to fry in the city here.”
“He strikes me as a long shot for prince here, too. There’s not much he brings to the table that Regent McGinn and Primogen Poincare also don’t.”
Celia: Jade inclines her head. “I had only hoped to consider all the options. I believe, then, that we can sway him. He wants his own city back. Should we promise aid… well, does it matter how realistic it is versus the enticement of such a thing? We’ve all heard the story of what happened there. Who, I ask, is truly logical in the face of vengeance?”
“Thought I admit that you know his type better than I.”
GM: “They most certainly are. But you’re not in this just for a handsome ghoul, I imagine,” Savoy chuckles. “What sort of role do you want to play in the new management of Harrah’s, my dear?”
Celia: She’d wondered how Gui had bought that line.
“Are you familiar with Hold ‘Em, grandsire? When I was a child, still a breather, I had an uncle who taught me how to play. All sorts of games of chance, dice and coins and numbers, but that was what we kept coming back to. Cards. House always wins in gambling, you see, but in the poker room the players are in charge. You might get a bad beat and think your opponent lucked out on the flop, or caught the nuts on the river, but if you’re the one still throwing chips in it’s because you failed to read the board or your opponents properly.”
Jade leans forward in her chair.
“You’ve given me the time to study the opponents and the board, and I’ve slow rolled my way into the persona I’ve established.”
“As far as management…” Jade drums her fingers across the armrest of the metal chair. “People have this sort of idea of players, you know, about how tight-lipped they are while at the table. They say the same sort of thing about clients on my table. Truth is, when you’re naked and when you’re gambling, that’s when you’re the most honest.”
GM: “Hardly, Miss Kalani. Gambling is built on lying,” states Preston. “Lying to one’s fellow players and lying to oneself.”
Celia: “Certainly, Madam Preston. We lie about what’s in our hands. We lie when we throw the chips into the pot. We lie when we limp in with pocket aces. But the true nature of a man?” Jade cuts a look her way. “That’s what comes out.”
“My uncle, the gambling one, he used to travel all over the states to play. He told me that most of the stories he’d collected weren’t fit for my ears, but you’d be surprised what people talk about at the table. Employees don’t exist to the players; they’re just there to sling cards, run drinks, or rub the stiff muscles in their back and neck after they’ve been playing for hours. Mistresses. Bookies. Who was dealing what. Interesting little tidbits.”
GM: Savoy chuckles. “I believe I see where this is going. You’d like to provide spa services to the players?”
Celia: “‘A Touch of Luck.’”
GM: “And a very modest-seeming piece of the action to want in on. Very good, my dear! Always let the Ventrue think they’re holding the prize and leaving you the scraps.”
Celia: “You mentioned the exiled prince before. Were you looking for a way to bring him over with this particular piece?”
GM: “I do see an opportunity here,” the French Quarter lord smiles, drumming his fingers. “Something more tangible than just future aid he might think I could always never follow through on.”
“To ask him to betray his clan and prince in the present in return for aid that may take years or decades to realize in the future is an exceedingly poor bargain,” Preston concurs. “The Ventrue believe in nothing if not solidarity.”
“Oh, we both know Ventrue solidarity only goes so far, Nat,” winks Savoy. “Everyone has their price.”
“I’m not opposed to installing a Prince Guilbeau in Baton Rouge who’d owe his throne to me,” muses the Toreador. “But I do agree promises of future aid go down much more sweetly when there’s some present aid, too! ‘Half payment up front, half on completion’ is always my favorite way to do business.”
“We have considered him among our shortlist of potential regents for the CBD, sir. Even if assisting a praxis seizure in a foreign city looks to promise insufficient returns relative to the initial investment, domain over the CBD will put him in a better position to orchestrate his own eventual return to power.”
“Yes, that is a nicely more tangible thing to potentially offer him, Nat. But it’s not quite immediate, either. I’d like to offer him something more immediate in Harrah’s. How much is it worth, next to the Alystra?”
“The Alystra is valued at approximately $150 million, sir. Harrah’s $790 million.”
Savoy smiles at Jade. “A related lesson for you, my dear. It’s a common myth that we ‘control’ institutions. Harrah’s, for instance, is owned by a corporation headquartered in Las Vegas worth… how much, Nat?”
“$25 billion, sir. Harrah’s is one of many properties to its name. The age of the individually or family-owned Vegas casino is long over.”
“Too true,” Savoy chuckles. “Ownership of Harrah’s has gone back and forth over the years between various companies and parent companies and private equity funds with headquarters all over the country. I doubt that Agnello has any stake in them.”
“Or that a half-literate Mafia thug is even capable of understanding the movements of corporate capital on that level,” states Preston.
Celia: Jade quite likes Preston when her barbs are directed at other people.
GM: “Perhaps so,” Savoy chuckles. “Rather than truly ‘controlling’ Harrah’s, I suspect Rocco simply skims the cream off the milk. Is that how it is, Nat?”
“Even less so, sir. As best our sources have been able to gather, Agnello has no ghouls among the staff at Harrah’s, nor any personal financial stake in the casino. Vidal simply recognizes the domain as his, and Agnello has the freedom to do as he wishes there. The Mafia has a crew with an interest in the casino that, as you say, ‘skims off the top.’ It is from those mobsters that Hound Agnello skims off the top himself.”
“Mr. Guilbeau owns the Alystra through a fabricated mortal identity and is intimately involved in its daily affairs. Agnello, however, is uninvolved in Harrah’s actual management, beyond supporting the Mafia crew which skims off its profits. He simply feeds there. If he were to disappear tomorrow, the casino would carry on without him.”
Celia: “A firmer, more tangible hold on Harrah’s, then?”
GM: “To an extent, my dear,” says Savoy. “Unless the good prince has a spare $790 million lying around, he can’t own the casino in full. It’s simply too big. As Nat says, it’s corporations rather than people which own major casinos these days.”
“But that’s a good thing for us. Harrah’s is a very big pie.”
“Mr. Gui would like to take over the Mafia crew skimming from its profits. So much the better for us! I’m sure he can run a Mafia crew better than you or I could, and there’s all sorts of useful things a gang of toughs happy to commit illegal acts can do for a casino’s ‘owners.’”
“But there’s simply no way Mr. Gui can run the entire casino by himself, either. I’m certain he grasps this. He hasn’t attacked anyone in Elysium lately, so he seems more aware of his own limits than Hound Agnello does.”
Celia: “He seemed more interested in the taking than the holding when I spoke to him earlier this evening,” Jade agrees. “He does have a krewe… the High Rollers, isn’t it? Runs a den in the Quarter. I imagine if Mr. Gui is in we can bring them in as well, but as you say, big pie to share. Even split a handful of ways it’s still a large slice for our soon-to-be friend.”
GM: Savoy smiles widely.
“Exactly, my dear. A very large pie.”
“Rather than ask Mr. Guilbeau anything so drastic as ‘support Lord Savoy against your prince,’ we simply offer to remove Hound Agnello—clearing the way for him to petition Prince Vidal to take over Harrah’s. He’s perfectly suited to manage another casino, after all. In return for our help, Mr. Guilbeau cuts you and the High Rollers in on the action. It’s a more than large enough pie for everyone.”
“And… if they keep their presences in the casino circumspect, with the whole domain nominally belonging to Mr. Guilbeau, Vidal will have no cause to dispatch your sire to violently expel you and the Rollers. We instead establish a beachhead inside the CBD, unknown to the prince, ready to use when and if the city’s temperature turns… warmer.”
Celia: Jade smiles. “It’s a very neatly tied bow, sir.” She had planned on a different front to present to keep her sire from lopping heads, but that would have had too many moving parts, too many unknowns. She wonders, not for the first time, if Savoy’s chosen medium is the adroit art of scheming.
“There’s one more opportunity that this presents.”
“I can’t imagine that Agnello will keep his position as hound once all is said and done.”
GM: The French Quarter lord smiles back. “Annabelle is like a sister to him. A broodmate. I can’t think of a surer way to arouse his ire.”
“They were both ghouls to my sire at the same time, you know.”
Celia: Jade dips her head. “I had hoped to return her to her rightful place, should you want her.”
GM: “How would you return her, Miss Kalani, when Mr. Silvestri will be the one to ‘steal’ her?” Preston inquires critically.
Celia: “Mister Silvestri lives for the chase, Madam Preston. He is much like his cousin in that regard, and we see how she flits through partners. Put something bigger, better, shinier in front of him.” Disparaging words, but her voice is fond. She does so enjoy the thief.
GM: “Which causes you to believe he will simply give up a century-old ghoul for free,” the Malkavian states flatly.
Savoy chuckles. “Ladies, ladies. You pursue different roads to the same destination! I’ll richly reward any Kindred who returns my sire’s property to me—be that Mr. Silvestri or our own Miss Kalani.”
Celia: Savoy cuts her off before she can tell Preston that of course she doesn’t think Pietro will give up the ghoul for free. She’s not an idiot, despite what the Malkavian may think in that addled brain of hers.
She offers Preston a smile instead, inclining her head at her grandsire’s words.
“As he says, Madam Preston. I do value your pragmatism, I just also believe there is a way to ensure she winds up with Lord Savoy.”
GM: “So much the better for us all! Annabelle would make a lovely fixture here in the Evergreen, don’t you think?”
Celia: She’s not even being sarcastic.
GM: “Lovely indeed, sir,” Preston repeats dryly.
“I think she and Mélissaire would get along famously,” the French Quarter lord smiles.
“Oh, and two other things, my dear,” he says to Jade. “If we want to cut the rest of the Rollers in on Harrah’s, you and Mr. Gui might ask for their assistance in… any other components to this plot, really, where you think they might be useful. It’s only fair they should do some work if they want to share in the reward!”
Celia: “Of course, sir.”
GM: “If you want an additional in with Mr. Guilbeau, you also might try approaching his newest lover first. Josua Cambridge. By all accounts, he’s an extremely lustful creature.” The elder Toreador chuckles. “And one worth lusting after, himself!”
Celia: She’s heard of him. Almost as many notches in his belt as Veronica claims.
GM: “It’s really too bad Mr. Guilbeau got to him first. His temperament is well-suited to the Quarter.”
“But maybe not too bad, if he’s able to be of use here.”
Celia: “Is Mr. Guilbeau the possessive sort, or do you think the usual in would work?”
GM: “Mr. Guilbeau cycles through lovers like Mardi Gras krewes through plastic beads. I think he might be aroused to hear his latest plaything was intimate with someone else.”
Celia: And they call her a whore.
“Speaking of intimacy…” Jade drums her fingers against her thigh.
“There was a guest at your party that isn’t who they claim to be.”
GM: “If that never happened in the Quarter, it wouldn’t be the Quarter,” Savoy grins. “And which ostensible guest was this?”
Celia: Jade answers his grin with one of her own. He’s right, of course, but she wouldn’t be bringing it up if it were something as innocent as that.
“Miss Melton. The Gangrel.”
GM: “Ah, that lovely blonde thing! I suppose rumors of her death haven’t been exaggerated after all, have they, Nat?”
“It is still possible they have been, sir, although the presence of an impostor makes her continued survival less probable.”
“I suppose it does. Ah, well. If you see any more of ‘Melton’ around, you can assume the new one is operating with my sanction,” replies Savoy.
Celia: She hadn’t expected such clarity from him. She nods, eyes dipping to the roof below her feet before she looks up again.
“Yes, grandsire.” There’s a pause, then, “If she’s shadow dancing and needs a more permanent solution, I’d be happy to assist.”
GM: “I’ll be sure to let her know. But I suppose we’ll need to bring her up for a talk, first, to see if she wants to work for me! This Saturday should be a good time, if she’s back at the Evergreen. Would you enjoy helping to lure her somewhere private?”
Celia: “I always enjoy being pursued.”
GM: “Splendid,” the French Quarter lord beams. He pats his lap for Jade to come take a seat and runs an appreciative hand through her hair.
“I’m very pleased with you tonight, my dear. I can hardly wait to see what the coming nights have in store.”
Celia: Lord Savoy certainly knows the way to her heart, dead though it may be. She takes the offered seat upon his lap without hesitation, her smile positively radiant; she could outshine the moon this evening, she’s sure. Her eyes shine with adoration for the Lord of the French Quarter. With Preston sitting at the table Jade doesn’t let herself become overly familiar with him, doesn’t try to continue that speaking of intimacy comment she’d made earlier by taking it in his direction, but she does curl herself against him, nuzzles his chest and neck and cheek with her own. Wordless affection and gratitude and joy. She’s happy to help.
This is her favorite place in the world: on the lap of a powerful man.