Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
McGehee school dance teacher, retired ballerina, & mother of seven
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
“People tend to look at dancers like we are these little jewels, little cardboard cut-outs, and yet we have blood and guts and go through hell.”
“A dancer dies twice—once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.”
People look at Diana and think “Mrs.” or “wife and mother” even despite the lack of wedding ring. She wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s slight of frame and somewhat short, but still has a toned figure from her years as a ballerina. Wide hips, ample breasts, and a vibrant complexion give her a distinctly fertile feel. Weekly spa visits (her daughter Celia owns a salon) have kept her well-preserved despite her 40-plus years, and will surely continue to—it’s her demeanor and fashion choices that make people peg her as a mom more than her apparent age. She keeps her chin-length sandy blonde hair in a bob cut, her nails various shades of pink, and usually has at least a spritz of rose-scented perfume. It’s rare to see her without lipstick outside of her home.
Diana’s fashion sense is classy and conservative. She’s always seen in a skirt or dress: in her words, “pants just don’t agree with me.” She usually wears retro-themed clothes in bright but non-primary colors: yellows, peaches, whites, and pinks. She has a particular fondness for floral patterns that reflect her name (she can’t count how many floral dresses she owns), cardigans paired with ‘60s-style shift dresses, and flowing hems that make for easy movement. She usually wears moderate heels to work, though a long-ago leg injury makes her thankful for the stool she keeps handy. Outside of the job, she usually wears ballet flats or mary janes that place less strain on her leg. Although not as adverse to other shoe styles as she is to pants, she prefers to “maintain a classy look” and rarely wears sneakers, tennis shoes, or anything with laces. She has several thicker-soled pairs of clogs she wears when gardening or expecting to be on her feet for a while. Although her family knows she’s “obsessed with all things ballet,” she doesn’t try to incorporate it into her daily wear with ballet-inspired fashions. She likes to chuckle that, “they know I’m obsessed with flowers, instead.”
Name: Diana Mary Flores (née Underwood). Diana has been divorced from her husband from since 2003, but liked her married name more than her maiden name and chose to retain the former.
Ethnicity: American. The Underwoods are of Anglo-French descent, but it’s so distant they no longer self-identify with it.
Date of Birth: June 10th, 1973 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Weight: 118 lbs
Eye Color: Hazel
Hair Color: Blonde
Education: M.A. Teaching (Loyola University, 2009—2012), B.F.A Dance (Tulane University, 1997—2002)
Occupation: Teacher, McGehee School for Girls (2003—present), ballerina, New Orleans Ballet Association (1988—2003)
Religion: Roman Catholic
Ballroom dance is one of the most popular classes at the McGehee School for Girls. It’s one of the few where grading is entirely participation-based in the academically rigorous school, yet few well-heeled parents have any objection to their Southern belles learning how to dance (or just as often, simply getting extra practice). Consequently, Mrs. Flores’ classes are always full of students and can have as many as 20 or more girls instead of a McGehee teacher’s typical 10.
Diana’s background is typical enough for a dance teacher. She was born in 1973 as the middle of three children to a mother who was an assistant district attorney (one of the first female ones in New Orleans) and a father who was a heart surgeon at Charity Hospital. The family was affluent enough to send its daughters to the McGehee School for Girls, the “debutante West Point,” where Diana took her first ballet lessons at 6 and fell in love. Her father encouraged her: her mother tolerated her.
High school proved a strained time between Diana and her mother after her father’s premature death. She wanted to dance professionally, while her mother wanted her to pursue a more “serious” profession. The pair’s relationship was further stressed when an unfortunate decision with Diana’s then-boyfriend Maxen Flores led to her getting pregnant during their junior homecoming. She spent the rest of the year in progressively larger clothing, the baby a well-kept secret, until Celia was finally born in mid-July. Diana’s family paid for childcare to allow her to attend her final year of high school, and she married Maxen immediately after graduation.
Parenthood & Ballet
The children came frequently after that first. Celia was hardly out of diapers before she was joined by a younger sister, Isabel, two years later her brother David, and just one year after that another girl, Sophia. There was a longer wait before Logan was born in ‘97, but he was the last of the Flores brood. Dreams of dancing for the New York City Ballet or the London Royal Ballet were indefinitely postponed. Still, Maxen worked hard to provide for his growing family, and the Flores were able to afford enough childchare that Diana could dance part-time for the New Orleans Ballet Association.
The family’s fortunes took a turn for the better when Maxen was elected to the state House of Representatives at the young age of 25. Opportunities seemed to come steadily after that, and the Flores were soon able to afford full-time domestic help who freed up more of Diana’s time for dance practice. Their new house even had enough space for her to use one room as a dedicated dance studio. Diana couldn’t have been happier: she’d languished in the corps de ballet for a while, but swiftly moved up to second soloist and then first soloist. She was even able to enroll in Tulane to round out her dancing credentials (directors preferred college graduates for the most coveted roles) and plan for her approaching retirement. She thought she’d teach once she left the stage: she loved kids and teaching dance was a common career choice for former ballerinas.
Retirement came earlier than Diana expected in 2003 when a car accident crushed her right leg and left her in semi-chronic pain. She’d only just made principal dancer, an accomplishment she was very proud of at 30 years old, and it was a bitter pill to swallow after only dancing several pas de deux in front of a full house. She and her husband quietly divorced due to the strain it placed on their marriage. She kept his name, though, claiming to prefer it over Underwood: “It’s a much prettier, less somber name, and I’d had it for almost as long by that point anyway.” To this day, few people in her social circles even know she’s divorced.
For all the unhappiness of those events, though, Diana was still 30: the end of her ballet career was already in sight. She applied for a job at her alma mater, per the original plan, and has worked at McGehee for over a decade now. She teaches a number of dance classes, her favorite of which is ballet and the most popular of which is ballroom dance, which has grown on her since she started offering it. She likes to rib that she has it better than her colleagues, since she doesn’t have to grade tests or homework, and can easily find work during summer months teaching at dance studios. She sometimes also gives private lessons to moneyed families who want more individual attention for their daughter. (She likes to remark she’s open to teaching boys, but has yet to meet a family interested in hiring her for that purpose.) She’s toyed several times with the thought of working for a ballet production company in a managerial role, but finds in the end that she prefers working with kids and “spreadin’ all the fun and joy of dance to more people.”
In 2009, Diana became the legal guardian of her just-born granddaughter Lucy Flores, whom the girl’s mother Celia was unable to raise. She also adopted Celia’s best friend Emily Rosure, whose parents had disappeared from her life years ago, into her family as her own daughter. She and Emily live together with Lucy, who they jointly raise with semi-regular help from Celia.
Most of Diana’s acquaintances would describe her as meek and conflict-adverse by temperament, but since 2016 she’s displayed a spike of self-confidence that she attributes to starting martial arts and fencing. She’s turned out to be surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly) good at both from her long years practicing another very physically demanding art in ballet. She’s fond of repeating that, “Bruce Lee liked to say he thought ballet was harder than karate.”
Single since 2003, she’s recently dipped her toe back in the dating scene and is looking for a long-term partner.
GM’s Note: Minor spoilers for the adventure logs follow below in Story One. Significant spoilers for the adventure logs follow below in Stories Ten and beyond.
Amelie Savard had Diana as her dance instructor during her brief time at McGehee. Despite the masculine young woman’s difficulty fitting in among the school, the two got along well, and Diana was one of Amelie’s favorite teachers. Amelie’s aunt Christina Roberts claimed that Diana’s ex-husband regularly “beat her until her eyes were too swollen to see through” and attempted to saw off her leg with a hacksaw in a drunken rage.
Diana visited Emil Kane when he was hospitalized following the events at the LaLaurie House. She found the injured lawman rather stiff and strange, but left him with some tuna sandwiches and apple slices she’d brought for the families of the McGehee students injured that same night.
Diana was happy to serve as a smiling, happy housewife to Maxen Flores for the first 13 years of her marriage. That changed in 2003 when her husband took a hacksaw to her leg following an infidelity accusation that sent her to the hospital and ended her ballet career. Celia witnessed the attack, and was later in the hospital with her mother to see the result of Maxen’s abuse. There, Diana confessed that Maxen was not Celia’s father; her real father was Ronald Landreneau, whom she met at at party when she was 17.
Though she became estranged with the rest of her children, Diana continued a relationship with Celia and helped her raise the money to get into cos school in 2008. She even bought Celia a car once she started her college career at Tulane so that the two could finally visit. Diana later met Stephen Garrison, Celia’s then-boyfriend, and let the pair convince her into filing for bankruptcy to discharge the obscene amount of medical debt she had been under, as well as file a lawsuit against the insurance company. Things were looking up for Diana.
At least until 2009, when Celia decided to go after Maxen and get him arrested. Following that evening, Diana and Emily took Celia to the hospital, where the three of them met and disclosed their statements to Detective Peter Lebeaux. Diana picked up her children from CPS and filed a restraining order against Maxen, which did absolutely nothing when her former husband was released from jail and came to collect his children. He took Diana as well and spent the night raping, beating, and otherwise torturing his ex, and finally tied her to the bed so he could take a hacksaw to her feet to finish the job he had started years ago. Luckily, Celia was in time to save her mother. Her toes were later reattached by the back-alley surgeon Doc Xola, which Diana was unconscious for.
Story Twelve (Part I)
As of 2016, Diana lives a quiet life. Maxen’s rape led to the 2010 birth of another child, Lucy, that Celia claimed as hers to keep out of her father’s clutches. Diana has enjoyed the settlement she received from winning the lawsuit against the insurance company, as well as the added child support that her ex is entitled to pay. She bought a home in the French Quarter and was able to assist Celia with a business loan to launch her spa. Diana still teaches at McGehee and has enjoyed the addition of Emily Rosure to her family as an adoptive daughter. She is a frequent sight at Flawless, where she sees Celia once a week for a variety of treatments. It was during one of these treatments that she told her daughter about her brother Logan’s girl trouble (he’d hit his girlfriend), and offered her some romantic advice.
Twice a week she teaches Simmone Devillers private ballet lessons. The family asked her to teach a class to give Simmone some company her own age, for which Caroline Malveaux-Devillers was present. Diana was distraught when she walked in on Caroline kissing Celia, which led to the Ventrue Dominating her into misremembering her with Autumn instead. After the lesson, a still upset Diana told Celia about nightmares she had been experiencing:
GM: Celia’s mother bursts into tears and holds her for dear life.
Story Twelve (Part II)
Half of this nightmare has already come true. Diana was used as a lesson to teach Celia about her place in the world when her sire learned that she had been trespassing in the Garden District. The next morning, Diana was sick and reached out for help. It was, unfortunately, her husband that answered the call. In the days since Diana has said that it really wouldn’t be so bad to get back together with him, would it? Neither Celia nor Emily have any intention of letting that happen.
Shortly after she woke up sick, the vampire Jade discovered Diana’s truth: after repeated and increasingly physical fights with her mother Payton Underwood, the older woman sent her daughter to the “finishing school” ran by the Malkavian Elyse Benson to reform her. Elyse did all that and more, and showed Jade a video of Diana’s horrific torture. Jade frenzied on Elyse in anger, fled the dollhouse, and sent Celia to collect the woman in case Elyse’s servants sought to retrieve her. This suspicion proved well-founded, as Diana had already left the house to turn herself back over to her abusers when they threatened Lucy over the phone.
During that meeting, Celia finally told her mother the truth.
Story Thirteen (Part I)
Diana took to the news that her daughter was a vampire with surprising calm. She smuggled Celia, transformed into a cat, out of their home to avoid the threat of assassins and kidnappers. Diana brought Celia to safety at her ghoul’s house, then overfed her starving daughter with too much of her own blood and passed out. Celia revived her mother with a drink from her wrist and sealed her fate as a ghoul.
Since then, Celia has explained the rules to Diana. Things got out of hand when Diana couldn’t come to terms with the fact that she was an addict and repeatedly begged for blood, and a displeased Jade made an appearance to teach her a lesson. Diana meekly submitted to the Toreador’s humiliating punishments, only for a horrified Celia to then exhort her mother to stand up for herself. The pair drove Jade off and discussed their options moving forward.
GM: Her mom clears her throat. “Celia, it’s there in the back of my head. Even after all that happened, there’s this voice I’m listening to, this needful lil’ voice, that already wants to beg for more.”
Story Thirteen (Part II)
Evenings later, Diana met with Dr. Dicentra to have a tattoo put on herself so she could pass as a normal human. She still wants to have dinner with her estranged husband but has agreed to “take it slow.”
Celia learned from Janine Clairmont that Lucy, the doll, had a personality of her own inside of her. When Celia spoke to her mother about it the woman confessed that “Lucy” had been with her since birth and separated from her body by Elyse during her training. They discussed putting the pair of them back together again.
Since then Diana has begun to adapt to her new life as a ghoul and has endeavored to make herself useful to her daughter by learning to fence. More useful, though, she’s begun to offer cover stories for Celia’s frequent disappearances during the day and finally stopped foisting off human food on her daughter, offering something a little more palatable instead. She assisted Celia with some research into a problem she had been having with hunters and hosted a dinner for Henry Garrison, then took Emily and Lucy to safety when Roderick and Donovan showed up at the same time and got into a fight on the roof.
A few nights later Diana hosted a rather tense dinner for her ex-husband, Maxen, and Celia’s new boyfriend, who was actually her old boyfriend from college in disguise, Roderick Durant. When Celia and Diana found Lucy snooping on their dinner they put her back to bed and explained that she couldn’t see her grandfather because “sometimes he’s mean, and we want to make sure he won’t hurt you.” During dinner Diana found out that her estranged daughter, Isabel, was missing. She let Maxen stay to comfort her when Celia left to pursue a few leads and attend to various Kindred responsibilities.
When Celia returned she brought the Lucy doll with her, concerned that the doll had shown up earlier at her mother’s home and seemed to be moving on her own. Diana was cuddling on the couch with Maxen while a nonplussed Emily looked on. Celia and Diana had a private chat where the latter woman “merged” with the personality trapped inside of Lucy. A newly confident and steel-spined Diana kicked Maxen out of her home and life for good after giving him a thorough tongue-lashing.
Story Thirteen (Part III)
Celia, Emily, and Diana spoke at length about Celia’s “condition,” and Celia confessed to her mother that Isabel wasn’t missing but rather a vampire known as Roxanne. Unfortunately she had met her final death a week ago, for which Celia blamed the scourge or her childe. An inexplicable fire erupted in the house concurrently with Diana’s rage; Celia later attributed it to her mother having hitherto unseen pyrokinetic abilities. After Emily put out the fire, an exhausted Diana finally curled up with Lucy in bed and fell asleep.
The following evening Jade came to the house late at night with a child of her own, whose cries woke Diana. Diana confronted the vampire with a carving knife and made her leave. When Celia came back the pair spoke at length about the child, who Celia said had been abused by her prior caretaker, and Diana offered to take her in. Diana and Celia took Lucy to meet with Celia’s friend Caroline to erase her memories of some Kindred-sensitive information she’d overheard that broke the Masquerade. The meeting did not go well due to a personality conflict between Diana and Caroline, however, and the Ventrue did not end up performing the service for them. The pair called Peter Lebeaux instead, who showed up a few hours later to erase Lucy’s memories and put things to right in the Flores household. He gave Diana advice about how to protect herself and her home and, when asked how she could repay him, told the woman (who’d admitted she no longer wanted to be a ghoul) to “take your juice, Mrs. Flores.” A resigned Diana chose to comply for her family’s sake.
After the Tremere left, Celia and Diana discussed a number of things about this new life of hers, and Celia confessed to a handful of terrible things she had done… including being the one to murder her sister, Isabel. Diana forgave her daughter and said she’d always love her. She later asked to speak to Jade and smoothed things out with the fickle Toreador during a heart-to-heart in the car that culminated in Jade calling Diana “Mom.”
Quotes about Diana
“Blood. Blood everywhere. Blood on my mom. I’d failed. Failed my sire, failed my mom—but no, that can’t be right. It’s my blood spilled across the front of my torn gown, across my mother’s hands as, even now, even after all of that, she sees to her daughter’s wounds first. Stolen from her bed in the middle of the night. Carried across the Quarter. Thrown into the air. And still—still her concern is for her daughter."
“That’s love that he will never know.”
“That’s love that no one who has become a monster will ever understand.”
“Some people go through hell and come out the other side weaker than they were: brittle and broken, downtrodden. They use it as an excuse to be mean, angry, hostile. Diana went through hell, twice, and came out the other side as a source of light and love and life. Diana is stronger than she has ever given herself credit for. More than any other woman, she is a survivor. If only she would lift her eyes from the ground.”
“I’m unsure whether her kindness is just a polite facade, but I hope it runs deeper.”
“Your mother is a spineless coward.”
—Payton T. Underwood to Celia Flores
Timothy Underwood (b. 1947, d. 1988) + Payton T. Underwood (née Andrews) (b. 1947)
• 2. Stanton Underwood (b. 1972)
• 2. Diana Flores (née Underwood) (b. 1973) + Maxen Flores (b. 1972)
• 3. Emily Rosure (b. 1988, adopted in 2009)
• 3. Celia Flores (b. 1989) + (unknown father)
• 4. Lucy Flores (b. 2010)
Isabel Flores (b. 1991, d. 2016) + (unknown fathers)
• 4. Ethan Flores (b. 2010)
• 4. Abigail Flores (b. 2015)
• 3. David Flores (b. 1993)
• 3. Sophia Flores (b. 1994)
• 3. Logan Flores (b. 1997)
• 2. Prudence Bellamy (née Underwood) (b. 1975) + Norland Bellamy (b. 1974)
• 3. Lilly Bellamy (b. 2005)
William Andrews (b. 1906, d. 1974) + Marie Andrews (née Freneau) (b. 1907, d. 1982)
Doris Andrews (b. 1932, d. 1955) + (unknown father)
• 3. Douglas Andrews (b. 1955) +
Bianca Andrews (b. 1964, d. 1992)
• 4. Natalie Andrews (b. 1992)
• 3. Douglas Andrews (b. 1955) + (his second wife)
Judy Caldwell (née Andrews) (b. 1936, d. 2008) + James Caldwell (b. 1933, d. 2007)
• 3+. (The Caldwell family)
• 2. Beverly Collins (née Andrews) (b. 1939) +
Mark Collins (b. 1936, d. 2014)
• 3+. (The Collins family)
Kathleen Andrews (b. 1942, d. 1973)
• 2. Payton T. Underwood (née Andrews) (b. 1947) +
Timothy Underwood (b. 1947, d. 1988)
• 3. Stanton Underwood (b. 1972)
• 3. Diana Flores (née Underwood) (b. 1973) + Maxen Flores (b. 1972)
• 4. Emily Rosure (b. 1988, adopted in 2009)
• 4. Celia Flores (b. 1989) + (unknown father)
• 5. Lucy Flores (b. 2010)
Isabel Flores (b. 1991, d. 2016) + (unknown fathers)
• 5. Ethan Flores (b. 2010)
• 5. Abigail Flores (b. 2015)
• 4. David Flores (b. 1993)
• 4. Sophia Flores (b. 1994)
• 4. Logan Flores (b. 1997)
• 3. Prudence Bellamy (née Underwood) (b. 1975) + Norland Bellamy (b. 1974)
• 4. Lilly Bellamy (b. 2005)