Campaign of the Month: October 2017

Blood & Bourbon

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Story Three, Caroline II

“I’ll be damned if some creep in a mask is going to ruin me, even if he killed me.”
Caroline Malveaux

Sunday night, 6 September 2015, AM

Caroline: Caroline’s heart races as her eyes linger on the partygoers’ beautiful throats, their throbbing life’s blood. It’s all she can do to resist the urge to leap on them, to claw, and especially bite.

Part of her asks what the hell is going on. Analytically it argues her chill is shock, the result of a night of trauma. Emotionally, intuitively, she knows it is something else. Neither matters right now, because what she actually wants has become an almost overwhelming need.

Her tongue catches the first time she starts to speak.

She coldly tries to join in their laughter. She reaches out, eying on the bottle in the man’s hand for a moment.

GM: “Hee hee hic shake her hand, baby,” giggles the girl, oblivious to the struggle warring behind Caroline’s eyes.

“Nishe t’ meetcha,” guffaws the young man, extending the bottle towards Caroline. He pauses, realizing after a moment that he hasn’t offered her his hand. He guffaws again before extending the proper appendage.

Caroline: Caroline takes the bottle with a smirk when he first offers it. She takes his hand as well while mischievously bringing the bottle up to her lips.

GM: The contents taste vile. Unspeakably vile. Like a dead rat that’s been soaked in bleach and stuffed underneath a dresser for all summer long. Caroline has a fraction of an instant choose whether she retches over the grass or the front of the boy’s t-shirt.

Caroline: She turns away into the grass.

GM: The nauseating concoction loudly comes back up as it dribbles down her chin.

“Hoo, party hardy, PARTY HARDY!” the girl laughs, swaying in place.

Caroline: It takes Caroline a moment to recover, but she finally does before extending the bottle back.

“Can’t end a good party without someone on the floor. Start with that stuff though and you might start the party there.”

GM: “Shtil hic shtandin’ here!” the young man declares with a grand sweep of his hand. Some of the booze sloshes over the grass. His words set his inebriated companion into another fit of laughter.

Caroline: “Aren’t we all? At least so far…” She glances at the other girl’s open shirt.

GM: The girl sways in place some more, clutching her male companion for support. Her skin is white and pricked with sweat. Caroline can hear the partygoers’ hearts beating in their chests. Hear the blood pumping through their systems. That fact seems maddening—that the human body contains such a sheer quantity of liquid. Warm liquid.

Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thum-thump.

Caroline: “Taking the party somewhere else?” she asks, trying to avoid focusing on their blood.

It’s difficult. She wants it. Wants them. But how to do it? She wants to reach out and latch on… but not here. Some ounce of propriety remains even as reason and logic struggle against the insanity of this. What’s going on? Is she dreaming? Has she gone insane? Renfield’s Syndrome… no. This is different, this is… real. Overwhelming.

GM: “Baby, hic I AM the party!” the boy declares with another grand sweeping motion of his arm. More alcohol spills over the thirsty grass. His female companion all but howls with laughter and dabs at moist eyes.

Caroline: “Well, where’s the party going, babe?” She wipes her mouth clean.

GM: The girl hiccups. “Where you goin’, babe?” she grins at the boy.

He proudly draws himself up and surveys the park like a pioneer surveying a grand new expanse of territory. “Where’er… hic …th’ BOOZHE ISH!”

The girl claps in inebriated delight.

Caroline: The pounding of his heart is almost unbearable. She wants to touch it, to dive into that power. No, she needs it. She wants to ride that powerful engine roaring beside her.

“I seem to have lost my party. Mind if I tag along?”

GM: The boy grins widely. “Be our… hic guesh’!”

“Be our guesh! Be our guesh! Be our guesh!” the girl sings along.

Caroline: She falls in on the other side of him. Strangely, as odd as she feels, she doesn’t feel impaired as before.

GM: The park has a stream. The duo stagger along it edge, swaying on one another for support. Though the two revelers are clearly better-acquainted with one another than with Caroline, she can’t help but feel she is excluded from their camaraderie on some deeper level.

The boy groans after a moment. “Aw fuck, I hic gotta pish!”

Caroline: Caroline tries to keep the delight out of her eyes. Opportunity… the girl alone, perhaps? She needs them. She needs their blood. The wait is killing her, driving her mad. This must be what a junkie feels like. Another rational part of her mind fights against the very idea, but that part is very quiet indeed.

GM: The young man staggers up to the waterfront, unzips his fly, and begins pissing into the stream. The girl leans against him, giggling at the act of public indecency.

“Careful, you gonna make me hic mish!” he admonishes.

“Mish wha’?”

“I’m shpellin’ m’ name!”

hic In th’ wa’er?”

The boy pumps his fist. “IN TH’ WA’ER, BABE!”

Caroline: Caroline comes up behind the girl, leaning over the shorter woman’s shoulder to whisper in her ear.

“He looks talented.” There’s a mischievous hint to her voice. “But can he swim?”

GM: The girl, a curly-haired blonde, bursts out in laughter at Caroline’s suggestion. Her male companion guffaws too, hardly seeming to care that he isn’t in on the joke. Up this close, Caroline can feel the sweaty warmth emanating from her body like an old radiator heater. She’s so hot. So flush with life and laughter. And Caroline is so, so cold.

“Thas’ bad,” she giggles. “Thash’ soooooo bad!”

Caroline: “Is it?” she whispers again suggestively.

GM: “Sho bad… ish’ good!” the girl declares. “Like hic Rocky Horror!”

Caroline: Caroline smirks conspiratorially with the other girl, hand at the ready to help shove him in.

GM: The girl hiccups and giggles a few more times as she detaches herself from her friend. The steady trickle of piss into water continues to sound. “One…!” she exclaims, swinging her arms back and forth in the air. “Two…!”

Caroline: Caroline is ready with her to shove him in on the three count. Her strength surprises her, and the drunken unaware man has no chance. He flies into the drink before he can so much as stop pissing and chortling to himself. She falls onto the other girl, laughing, holding… coming closer… just a taste… just a bit.

GM: There’s a heavy splash before the young man’s laughter gives way to indistinct glorb-glorb-glorbs. He surfaces after a moment and yells for the girl to help him out. She remains doubled over in laughter at the sight.

Caroline: Caroline’s hand fall onto the distracted girl. She can’t wait any longer. The contact is intoxicating. One moment she’s laughing into the girl’s shoulder, the next moment… a flash of teeth, a gentle suck.

GM: Caroline lunges forward, her body no longer her own. She grabs the inebriated woman by her unbuttoned shirt, pulls her head back, and feels skin break beneath her so-sharp teeth. Maybe the woman cries or pushes her. Maybe. Everything else stops mattering as liquid bliss rushes down her throat. It’s the savory taste of fine wine and caviar. It’s the ecstasy of sexual release. It’s the high of her brother’s cocaine she flushed down the toilet. It rushes down Caroline’s throat like fire, shoots through her veins, and lights her up to each fingertip.

Caroline: It’s overpowering, addictive, overwhelming. She can’t give up. She wants it.

GM: More. More. Caroline digs her teeth deeper into the girl’s neck, ravenously sucking away. She is cold and empty and confused and hurting, and the blood inside this fucking meatsack can make her warm, can make her live, can sustain her for another night.

Caroline: Warm, comfortable… alive? She always felt alive. What’s going on? Does it matter? Drink…

GM: The thing under Caroline’s hands grows colder, its movements slow. Some part of her mind tries to whisper something to her, something important, but she is lost in the rush of blood, the rapture of feeding. The voice grows more insistent, and she pauses for a moment.

It slowly sinks in that the thing in her grasp is a human being.

Caroline: She wants to keep going, but life is creeping back into her… and with life comes awareness, comes control. She has to stop, she has to pull away… it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done, it’s a fight of will against want… but she breaks away.

GM: Caroline agonizingly tears her mouth away from her victim’s neck. The girl crumples to the ground, pale and unconscious, but breathing. Caroline stands up straight and takes in the night.

She just drank another person’s blood.

It felt like the most natural thing in all the world.

Caroline: She looks down at the girl in her arms as horror starts to sink in. A near-physician’s eye turns over her victims critically… what has she done?

GM: It’s been some time since Caroline took her last pre-med classes, but not that much time. And she got such intensive practice at the police station.

The girl’s lost blood. A lot of blood. Caroline doesn’t think it’s enough to cause anoxic brain injury like poor Sarah, but there’s no question that needs to get to a hospital. Leaving her here, drunk, unconscious, and open for Decadence’s late-night revelers to do as they will with, offers no guarantee she will make it through the night.

Caroline: Caroline swallows the taste of blood, the taste of life, that’s still so hot on her lips. There is no choice. She might have failed Sarah, even if everyone was thanking her, but she doesn’t have to fail again here. She spares a glance for the boyfriend in the water. Emergency services are no doubt overwhelmed…

GM: The man has only just managed to fish himself out, wet and sputtering. He dully glances towards the girl’s comatose form.

“W’sha… w’shap… t’her…?”

Caroline: “She fell when we pushed you, I think she’s hurt.”

GM: The man hiccups. “Shlee… shlee’ off… fuckin’ cold…”

Caroline: “Charming.”

Fortunately for the girl, she’s smaller than Caroline… and fortunately one of the best hospitals in the city is only half a mile away.

“I’m going to take her to the hospital. What’s her name?”

GM: The man hiccups again. “Larn. hic Lauren.”

Caroline: “Lauren what?” She tries to keep her eyes off his throat.

GM: “Uh.” He hiccups again. “I ’unno.”

He grins. “She got grea’ tish! Firsh thing I notished ’bout her.”

Caroline: Caroline scowls. Of course. She tries to gather up Lauren. She doesn’t even dignify the man’s comments.

GM: “She ma’ shure!” he giggles, running a hand through his wet hair. “Perky girls!” More giggles sound. “She hic sai’ she named ’em…”

Caroline: The tall blonde turns her back on him and tries to set off with Lauren gathered in her arms. Tulane Medical isn’t that far, but this is going to be a bear with the other woman. Maybe she’ll get lucky when she gets back onto the street, find a cab or something. A friend. Someone she knows from school to help. Maybe. If only she hadn’t lost her phone…

GM: Caroline’s luck doesn’t hold out with the cab. The city has been slower to allow ridesharing apps like Ryde in, so traditional cabs have remained competitive, but there’s so many people needing rides home at this hour. It almost feels like there’s an unspoken lingo she doesn’t know. The cabs just seem to stop for some people and ignore others, no matter how frantically they wave.

Still, as the minutes wear on, Caroline notices one thing. She doesn’t feel the least bit tired, even carrying something as heavy as a human body.

Caroline: The beginnings of a plan start to come around along the way. She’s known at Tulane Medical, especially after her recent visits to the Whitneys and Devillers. People are going to ask questions. Especially when a girl shows up with blood loss but no obvious wounds.

She keeps an eye out for something sharp. A shard of glass, a bottle she might be able to break, anything to sell a convincing story about a fall…

GM: Caroline has seen the movies. The tale is plain on the girl’s neck: two red puncture marks.

Part of her has to wonder if there are others like her. How they can possibly hide, leaving evidence like this.

Caroline: Questions for another time. Right now she has to cover up what she’s done. Punctures become less obvious as part of a larger wound, and no one is likely to look too closely in an ER on a night this insane…

GM: Glass bottles are easily located amongst the emptying streets of revelers. New Orleans’ open carry laws might dictate plastic cups, but that still isn’t what most booze comes in.

Caroline: Caroline acquires a piece of broken glass from one such bottle. She puts her plan into motion as she draws closer to the hospital. A cut here, a slice there, a bit of digging. Most people wouldn’t stomach it, but she’s seem enough operations, dissected enough creatures, not to mention seen the wounds on the Devillers and Whitney girls up close and personal. It’s a dangerous wound to leave in a dangerous place, but Caroline knows what she’s doing. She tears off a piece of her dress as soon as she’s finished to wrap around the jagged gash. It’s a crude bandage, and blood still flows, but she’s close to the hospital now.

GM: More blood stains Caroline’s hands as she goes about her grisly work, leaving an all-too visceral badge of her sin. It’s impossible to resist not licking it off her fingers. Waste not, want not.

Caroline thinks the newly-inflicted stab wounds look pretty convincing. With any luck, the doctors at Tulane will be too harried by too many other patients to pay much mind to any oddities.

Caroline: She carries the girl into the brick building, taking stock of the room as she enters. No doubt it’s busy.

GM: Tulane Medical Center is always busy, like any ER. Tonight it’s even more busy. The ER is packed to bursting with moaning, bleeding, bandaged, and sick-looking individuals, abject lessons against indulging too freely in the festivities—or being the subject of other revelers’ indulgences. Family members and significant others sit by some of the patients, nursing wounds and murmuring words of comfort. Others sit by themselves, alone in their own private worlds of pain. A triage nurse doesn’t even evaluate Caroline’s victim immediately.

“Take a seat and someone’ll be with you,” a receptionist with heavy bags under her eyes snaps at the Malveaux scion without glancing at her.

Caroline: Caroline knows how to get their attention despite the chaos. Some things require more attention than others…

“Neck wound! Unconscious! Hey! I’m talking to you! She needs help.” She flags a nurse down directly. “She needs help now. She lost a lot of blood.”

GM: The receptionist looks indignant as Caroline goes over her head, but the former med student’s authoritative words manage to snag the attention of an overworked-looking triage nurse. Seeing the unconscious girl’s still-bleeding neck wound, she quickly assigns Lauren level 1 priority (resuscitation/immediate life-saving intervention) and gets her hauled off for treatment by a physician. Someone else in medical attire brusquely tells Caroline to hang around, there are some questions she’ll need to answer and forms she’ll have to fill out (since Lauren obviously can’t).

Caroline: Like that’s going to happen tonight. No doubt Lauren will not be the only person dropped off amidst all of the pandemonium tonight. Caroline breaks for an exit as chaos reigns.

GM: Caroline doesn’t find it hard to vanish among the teeming press of groaning, wounded bodies and harried ER personnel. Perhaps she’ll be causing someone a headache with those forms left blank, but the new vampire has bigger problems on her plate.

She drank blood.

She has fangs.

There seems little else to call it.

Caroline: Caroline vanishes into the night. She can’t go home, not right now. She has to think. Fortunately, there are a dozen places in walking distance.

She heads back up Basin Street, towards Loius Armstrong again, but tucks into St. Louis Cemetery instead. Seems appropriately glum, and even in life the six-foot wall wasn’t really a barrier to her. There’s some drama to the choice. A vampire in a cemetery. Really, she just wants the peace of it. The stillness. Someplace she can get away. Someplace she can get lost.

GM: St. Louis Cemetery #1 itself well earns Mark Twin’s nickname: “the Cities of the Dead.” Everything about the eerily quiet cemetery’s character bolsters the illusion of days long gone by. Signs of age are everywhere: broken shells and cobblestones, dredged from Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, form the alleys, and the crumbling, chipped above-ground crypts hold the dead. The disorderly layout of the tombs and burial plots are a labyrinth that Caroline supposes only the dead themselves could easily navigate.

The dead are a lot more at home here. They don’t have to deal with the heat, either. Caroline has visited before during the day and can attest the subtropical New Orleans sun is as skin-baking as ever. There’s virtually no shade, and the heat-absorbing oven vaults block any semblance of a cool summer breeze while doing nothing to stifle the muggy humidity.

Heat isn’t an issue after the sun goes down, though. Then it’s simply graveyard at night. The atmosphere alone gives individuals little enough cause to linger, even if the cemetery weren’t closed to the public, even if the cemeteries weren’t nexuses of crime and gang activity. Caroline doesn’t run into any, though. Maybe she’s simply lucky.

Or maybe the would-be predators realize they’re outclassed.

The signs are there, though. Besides the usual cryptic symbols adorning many of the family tombs, signs of vandalism and and too-modern urban decay are as abundant as graves themselves: cigarette butts, discarded needles, and even used condoms. Caroline can only imagine what moribund, demented souls would require such in this place.

It’s a well-known factoid the dead aren’t buried in New Orleans. They’re interred. The ground is too wet—as early colonists discovered, to their horror, when the region’s periodic rains and floods washed back up their loved ones’ decayed corpses and sailed them down the city’s muddy streets. Above-ground mausoleums keep the dead where they’re supposed to be. Even when actual burials are more feasible today, history is too ingrained. And so the dead continue to make their homes within crumbling, neighborhood-like rows of house-sized crypts in a moribund parody of suburbia, all so they might not disturb the living.

“Cities of the Dead” feels all-too apt.

Like any city, some residents live large and others live small. The Malveauxes are one of the rich and historied enough families to have their own massive intergenerational mausoleum. A crucifix soars from the roof, as if to proclaim its occupants’ ascension to heaven. Caroline knows many of the names. Jean Malveaux, the family’s earliest recorded priest. There has always been a Father Malveaux. Joseph Malveaux, the patriarch when the family struck it rich off the oil boom. He came into his own when he was just 30, after Leonide and his wife met that tragic boating accident off the coast of Grand Isle. Andre Malveaux, their patriarch during the War Between the States. His peers looked down on him for collaborating with the Yankee invaders, but he laid the groundwork for Leonide and Joseph to bring the modestly wealthy to its current heights of power. Benjamin Malveaux, the albino, dead in a lunatic asylum. Westley has nothing against the black sheep he was.

There aren’t as many names from after the ‘60s. Thomas would say the family forgot itself then, relocating to Baton Rouge. Caroline’s father and uncles always believed her grandfather James weakened the family and left them to pick up the pieces, starting with moving the seat back to New Orleans. The Crescent City has always been their home. Caroline’s, too, even if she wasn’t raised here.

Whatever else she may be, it’s hard not to feel at home surrounded by the dust of so many of her ancestors.

Caroline: Minutes pass into hours. Thoughts run through her mind. What is she? The night was full of horror before she became an active part of it. That poor girl. Which one? Self-pity wars with self-loathing. What the hell is she going to do? She still feels it, the hunger, the desire… she wants to get up and go back out, wants to drink and drink and drink… and leave a pile of bodies or broken people. It’s monstrous. How is she going to hide this, even if she can control herself? Fang wounds are rather obvious. And how is she going to explain this? Her life is over just as surely as if the rapist had murdered her in the alley.

The time lets her clear her head a bit, wrap her hand around everything going on. On what she is now. It staves off the worst of the fear and despair. Two things are immediately clear.

First, she’s going to have to feed again, and that means figuring out a better method. No more ambushing college students in a park. It was clumsy at best, hunger and fear and uncertainty.

Second, she’s going to have to find a place to stay. She looks around at the vaults around her. Family vaults. Too on the nose? Probably. A hotel room then, at one of the nicer hotels. Do not disturb. Will she combust under sunlight? That’s what happens in all the movies. It didn’t in Dracula, but better to play it safe.

One thing isn’t ever really in question, in spite of her self-disgust and loathing. She’s not going to give up. She’s going to figure this out or die doing so. And she’s going to find that bastard René. She may be a monster, but as the graves of her many ancestors remind her, she’s a Malveaux. A rightful ruler in this city.

And I’ll be damned if some creep in a mask is going to ruin me, even if he killed me.

She rises. Time to get to work.

Sunday night, 6 September 2015, AM

Caroline: Planning takes time. It won’t do to simply go home for the night. Caroline needs a safe place where she won’t be bothered. She needs new clothing—her dress is soiled, torn, bloodstained, and torn again. She has to go home at least once, find a hotel with an open room, leave a message for Aimee to find… assuming nothing happened to Aimee amid all the chaos…

So simple.

It’s a thought she doesn’t really have time for. The night has grown late already and she had no idea what the dawn will bring. She walks home at a brisk pace. First, pack a bag. Get her credit cards. Feed the dog. Make a few phone calls.

GM: Home in Audubon Place is about five miles away. Bereft of a wallet, and likely to make a memorable impression in her bedraggled, bloody state if she attempts to bum a ride, Caroline goes it on foot. She makes her way past the Quarter’s raucous partying, the stately manors of the Garden District where several of her family maintain residences, and the suburban sprawl of Carrollton. She arrives at her home’s literal gates around an hour and a half later. She doesn’t feel tired. She isn’t sweaty either, nor does her heart rate feel elevated.

Audubon Place is a fortress neighborhood and gated community with some of the most expensive residences in the city. It’s home to John Dyer (the owner of the Saints, richest man in the state, and the uncle of Caroline’s Aunt Vera), Edward McGregor (the president of Tulane University), Maxen Flores (her father’s successor as Senate majority leader), Ernie Marchesi (who Caroline is pretty sure is a mobster), and other business and civic leaders who don’t want to associate with “the riffraff” that is the district’s middle-class homeowners and the Tulane and Loyola student bodies… to say nothing of the elements that prey on those students after dark.

Caroline’s uncle Matt owns a house in the neighborhood, which between that fact and being only a several-minute walk from the university campus, made it the perfect place to live. Matt wasn’t using the property for much of anything else.

But by design, Caroline’s home isn’t easy to get to. High concrete walls tipped with barbed wire declare the neighborhood’s desire to divorce itself from the rest of the world. A grilled iron gate and adjacent guard house control vehicle access. Masked Blackwatch mercenaries (“security contractors”) patrol the perimeter with leashed attack dogs, bored and tense for action. Caroline has seen them laugh more than once when the snarling German shepherds snapped at frightened college students who wandered too close. Normally she only sees the dogs through her car window…

The mercenary in charge of the gate detail, an ex-Marine whose only name Caroline has ever heard is Johnson (his hard-eyed masked face appears identical to his men), initially levels his gun at the bloody-attired woman and growls at her to halt. For a moment, Caroline fears the mercenaries are going to shoot her. They’ve shot trespassers before. Some real, some posthumously declared so. Johnson relaxes after recognizing Caroline’s features, but only marginally. What the fuck happened to her? Where’s her ID? He doesn’t see any purse or bag on her.

“No ID, no entrance,” he states flatly.

“Our asses on the line if she gets raped or murdered or whatever the fuck else,” says another lean-looking merc with angry eyes and a badly scarred face.

“So call 911 and get the princess to a hospital,” snorts a tall and cocky-looking merc with blonde hair in a ponytail.

Caroline: Caroline smothers her fear. There may be savages out and about in the city tonight, but these people are professionals. Professional killers, yes, but there is something familiar here. She’s been around private security all her life. She knows the type. She also knows that she’s not getting dragged to a hospital.

What face to wear? The victim? No, these people have seen enough victims, created enough victims. They are much like their vicious dogs on a leash. They respect power and authority, wealth and influence. And no one in town has as much influence as a Malveaux.

“Sergeant, excellent. Some savage tried to shove me into an alley while one of his associates made off with my bag. I had to walk. Walk, mind you, miles, just to get home. My keys, my ID, my phone.” She rattles them off and shakes her head, blonde hair tossing against the night.

“Can you believe it? In New Orleans! This isn’t some backwater slum. My uncle was right about this ‘festival.’ Brings out the degenerates.”

That’s right, she thinks. My uncle. Fit it into place. You don’t want anything to do with this headache.

She shakes her head again, seemingly astonished by the nerve of some people, before turning back to the merc in charge. “Can you send one of your people to open my door for me? You should have an extra key at the gatehouse?”

It’s a request, but it sounds like something more. Not quite an order or demand, but it’s clear she has a set expectation.

GM: Johnson and his fellow mercenaries initially scowl, then merely grumble as the heiress’ authoritative words take hold. When the blonde corrects with a snort, “You know, we don’t actually have sergeants in-” Johnson snaps back, “Can shut your mouth for fucking once, Hall?”

He stares back at Caroline, then seems to decide what state she’s in isn’t his problem. They’re only paid to keep intruders out. He growls at her to “have some ID next time,” because they’re not breaking the rules twice. If they were “real military” she’d be stuck outside, doesn’t matter if they recognized her face. His tone would probably feel more menacing if she hadn’t just nearly killed someone.

He tells the scarred mercenary, who he calls Turner, to retrieve the key and drive Caroline to her house, “Since you won’t run your goddamn mouth doing it.” The woman does those first two things and doesn’t do the third. She wordlessly opens the door for Caroline to get into a black SUV whose side is emblazoned with the company’s black-starred logo.

It’s a short enough trip. Audubon Place has only 28 homes down along a single street. Rows of majestic oaks line each side of the wide boulevard with a manicured park in the middle separating each home from the neighbor across the street.

Caroline’s home at 18 Audubon Place is a three-story, turn-of-the-century mansion that sits on a large 100×200-foot lot with a swimming pool and private backyard oasis. The house retains many of the design details created by famed architect Emile Weil in 1913, including custom cabinetry, high ceilings, leaded-glass windows, intricate crown moulding, original millwork, grand staircases, marbled mantled fireplaces, and gloriously sunny spaces. All Audubon Place homes feature breathtaking views of the private park, but one step onto the grand veranda and the Beaux Arts mansion immediately impresses. A soaring entry, decorative trim, and softly curved staircase welcome guests and homeowners alike. The home flows gracefully from room-to-room, with natural light streaming through (at least during the day), warming up the oak and walnut inlaid hardwood floors.

The 7-bedroom and 5.5-bathroom house is valued at $5,500,000: even Caroline’s family wouldn’t have bought her a property like that. However, Matt had inherited the house from his great-aunt Clementine (she’d been well provided for as one of Joseph’s only two children), who’d died childless, and he’d never had any pressing need to sell it. He’d been renting it out for some years, and upon his niece’s acceptance to Tulane University, made it available for her use. He did insist upon rent, albeit much reduced from what the house would normally be worth, to impress “the value of money” upon Caroline. This was the first place she’d lived outside of her parents’ house.

As a move-in present, he’d had it refurbished and improved with a ceramic roof, copper gutters, plus repairs to the flooring, and plaster and paint repairs inside and out. While still faithful to Weil’s architectural style, the house had room for modern updates in the kitchen and bathrooms. The blank slate approach allowed Caroline to personalize the interior décor to her liking.

Caroline’s escort opens the car door for her, thrusts the spare key into her hands, then drives off without a word.

Caroline: The entryway gives way to a sprawling entire floor given way to entertaining. It is largely unchanged from even a few years ago when she first entertained Aimee. Open spaces, comfortable furniture, original art on the walls. It’s a comfortable but modern space paneled in rich dark wood with a full bar against one wall. Even glancing at the liquor makes Caroline a bit nauseous. One more thing taken from her in all of this. The dominating feature at the moment, however, is the rather large dog waiting to greet her.

Caesar is a relief for Caroline, a familiar furry face she has had since she first left home. A protector and friend. And now a growling snarling beast slowly giving ground as she approaches. She stares at him with concern and uncertainty. Caesar is a huge dog that easily outweighs her. If he attacks her…

But he doesn’t. Instead he just slowly gives ground, ignoring every attempt to calm him down. He refuses to approach when she sits down and tries to call him over. Even pulling a sausage out of the fridge doesn’t coax him. It isn’t until she almost pins him in a corner that his ears go down, his tail rigid—warning signs she can recognize. She backs away. The dog refuses to take his eyes off her and continues to growl. It is with great difficulty that she leaves him alone downstairs and makes for her room to pack a bag.

The upstairs is far different than the downstairs. It is her sanctum, her place away from the world. There are three bedrooms, one of which is a guest room that is supposed to host her youngest brother Gabriel in a few weeks. Her own is furthest from the stairs. It is almost spartan. Clean and functional furnishings, heavy with glass and metals rather than the rich woods of the downstairs. Nothing so tacky as Ikea brand, but similar in function. The room feels cold and clinical. The master bathroom is filled in black and offsets the white carpet starkly. Even the art is muted—mostly what looks like a few Ansel Adams pieces and a few small sculptures in silvery metals.

She barely pays the room any attention, though she does cast a longing glance at the shower. Maybe she will actually feel warm under some hot water. Instead, she mechanically drags a large rolling suitcase out of her closet and starts packing a bag. She only pauses when she is is down to a laptop to look up the numbers of several local hotels of repute. She needs to get away for a while the last thing she needs is Aimee wandering in on her. Who knows what daylight will bring?

She curses the loss of her cellphone, but is fortunate enough that she’s never had to even consider getting rid of her landline. It’s closer to dawn than the middle of the night by now, with even the most extreme parties finally winding down—but the beauty of expensive havens for the wealthy is they cater to whatever you need. She sets about calling around for a room.

GM: Caroline looks up a number of hotels.

The Windsor Court, located in the CBD, is one of the city’s two 5-star hotels. Four U.S. presidents, a U.K. prime minister, and the prince of Monaco have all been guests of the Windsor, which proclaims itself “one of the premier hotels in America, enjoying a reputation for unmatched elegance, location and guest services.” Online search results also show that business seems to have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks. The Times-Picayune reports that several staff have gone missing amidst a police investigation. A manager has been committed to a mental institution. A homeless bag lady was allegedly seen in one of the suites.

Caroline well recalls the Hilton Riverside, which is also located in the CBD, as the site of her junior débutante ball back in 2003. Uncle Orson snubbed it for being part of a national chain: the sort of place that “new money goes.” The hotel’s website does not mention when it was built, so the date is presumably nothing to boast about. She remember it offering a lovely view of the nearby waterfront.

The merely four-star Hilton St. Charles Avenue makes its home on Canal Street, the historic thoroughfare that divides the CBD from the French Quarter. Restored in 2007, was originally built in the 1920s and was one of the first hotels in the now-internationally reputed chain. It remains famous for its Roaring Twenties ambiance.

The Roosevelt New Orleans is managed by Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, the company that owns the eponymous hotel of the same name in New York City. The hotel was originally built by Louis Grunewald, a German immigrant, and opened in 1893 as “The Hotel Grunewald.” It was renamed the Roosevelt Hotel in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, whose efforts building the Panama Canal had been of tremendous financial benefit to the city.

The closer one gets to the French Quarter, the older the hotels tend to get, and the more pride they seem to take in their histories. Some are recognized as historic landmarks.

Le Pavillon Hotel is one such establishment. Dating back to 1907, the hotel is included on the National Register of Historic Places. During Prohibition, it was a popular destination for discrete activities, and an underground passage stretching over a block and a half was used as a discrete exit by politicians and other well-knowns who didn’t want to be recognized. The website conspicuously advertises the fact that the hotel is located close to the French Quarter, though its actual location is in the CBD.

Hotel Monteleone has the Pavillion beat for age. Originally opened in the 1880s by Antonio Monteleone, a Sicilian immigrant, his five generations of descendants have continued to operate their namesake hotel as an independent, family-owned business to this day. In addition to being the French Quarter’s only high-rise hotel, the Monteleone has had a number of famous authors as guests, including Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Anne Rice. The hotel even has its own Wikipedia page.

The Omni Royal Orleans beats the Monteleone and Pavillion for age, having opened all the way back in 1843. The establishment was originally built by indignant Creoles who, upon seeing upstart Yankees opening luxury hotels in the new American Quarter (now the CBD), decided to outdo them by building a “European Grand”-style “place for aristocrats to meet and do business, to eat and drink and make love, to buy slaves and sell plots of land on the banks of the Mississippi.” The City Exchange, as it was then known, was the city’s most popular auction market being destroyed by a fire in 1841. Its second incarnation, the Saint Louis Hotel, was burned down by another fire in 1914. It was finally reopened as the Omni Royal in 1960, and boasts Richard Nixon and Bettie Davis among its former guests.

Hotel Villa Convento is located on Decatur Street, near the waterfront and historic French Market. The former Creole townhouse scoffs at the age of its younger neighbors and is the oldest hotel Caroline can find in the city, dating all the way back to the 1830s. Seven generations and 185 years later, it is still owned by the Campos, a Spanish-descended family who migrated to Louisiana in the 1780s. Even the Monteleones, who take pride in being a family-owned establishment, must reluctantly accept second place next to the Campos. The language on the Convento’s website isn’t as polished as some of the others, however, and doesn’t seem as if it was written by a PR specialist. They even misspell ‘amend’ as ‘ammend.’

Last of all, though by no means the last historic hotel in the French Quarter, is the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. It boasts a location in the historic and cultural heart of New Orleans, only 2 minutes away from Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral. The website has little to say about a grand, centuries-old past, suggesting that like its peers in the CBD, the hotel is a recently-owned establishment.

Caroline: She decides on the Hilton. Her uncle might look down on her for it, but it’s familiar and part of a larger brand.

She’s also heard that a number of the historic hotels are supposedly haunted. She’d have scoffed at that last night, but she’d have scoffed at vampires being real too. Choosing a newer hotel seems like the safest play.

While she navigates her laptop, she opens her nightstand to reveal a small safe bolted into it. It’s not the only one in the building, or even the only one in the room, but it’s the most convenient. She withdraws several extra credit cards, a copy of her driver’s license that is technically illegal to possess (but only slightly), her passport, and several bands of cash. A small neat little 9 mm pistol comes out last, almost as an afterthought.

It is a dangerous world out there, after all.

Sunday night, 6 September 2015, AM

GM: The Hilton Riverside is a half hour drive away in the CBD. It’s an odd time of night, late enough for even the most wild parties to be winding down, but still too early for dawn to creep over the horizon. It’s less a moment of relief than embittered exhaustion, when the monsters no longer feel like playing, but have yet to fully retire to their lairs.

The 29-story concrete and steel monolith looms territorially over the Mississippi. Lacking the proud history of its rivals in the French Quarter, the hotel embraces the cold monotony of mass-produced luxury with an air that’s at once sullen and haughty. Silent, weary-eyed valets and bellhops efficiently take care of Caroline’s car and luggage.

The lobby is as empty as its employees’ spirits. Several stony-faced men, their expressions as blank as their suits are black, stare at Caroline with the silent intensity of jungle cats surveying rival predators. The hotel’s receptionist, a young woman whose makeup and professional attire cannot conceal the weariness in her eyes, offers Caroline a smile with all the sincerity of a minimum wage service worker pulling graveyard shift as she regales the newly-turned vampire with details about the hotel’s many amenities, from the fitness room to the pool to the sightseeing tours, as she signs the Hilton’s newest guest in.

“…and how long will you be staying with us, ma’am?”

Caroline: Now isn’t that a question? Caroline considers for a moment before realizing that it doesn’t really matter.

“A week.” The Platinum AMEX card has little concern for what the total is.

GM: The receptionist types something into her computer. In short order, Caroline has a keycard.

“Here you are, ma’am. Have a pleasant evening,” the woman replies with another $7-an-hour smile.

Caroline: Caroline replies in kind while she waits for a bellhop to show up for her bag and lead her to the room. The crisp hundred dollar bill is excessive even for her, but she can’t be bothered to make change.

GM: The receptionist’s baggy eyes widen at the generous tip. She thanks Caroline profusely while the bellhop takes the luggage of the hotel’s newest guest. The desperate yet hopeful look in his eyes says she’s going to get the very best service.

As the elevator doors close, Caroline observes the stone-faced men walking out the lobby, each one grasping the end of a sagging sheet with something heavy-looking inside.

Caroline: There’s a new coldness to Caroline’s eyes as they track the sagging sheet and the hard men as they work. Well, isn’t that interesting. Not interesting enough to pull her away tonight though. Not given the late hour.

She eyes the bellhop. “Let’s go.”

GM: The elevator hums its way up to Caroline’s executive suite on the 27th floor. Her amenities include a spacious live area with a work desk, separate bedroom with a king-sized bed, wet bar with refrigerator and 37-inch LCD TV, complimentary WiFi, Executive Lounge access, Health Club by Hilton access, and a stunning view of the Mississippi River. A spread of cheeses, crackers, meats, fruits, and other evening hors d’oeuvres reclines on one of the tables. It takes only one whiff of the food to know she won’t be able to stomach it.

Caroline: The poor bellhop gets his own crisp bill and is sent on his way. Anything to make him leave and take that pulsing vein in his throat away.

GM: The bellhop’s eyes don’t widen like the receptionist’s did, but probably only because he’s expecting a tip that big. “Have a pleasant stay, ma’am. Let us know if there’s anything more we can do,” he states as he leaves. His tone is cordial if not downright servile, but tinged with the bitterness of one who routinely stares luxury in the face while being spurned from its lap.

Caroline: For Caroline it has nothing to do with kindness or affection. Good tips generate a reputation and promote good service. Something too many with wealth forget. The money means nothing to her, but the world to these overworked souls. For an inch they’ll pull her a mile.

She draws the shades, flips the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door, and collapses on the bed. The night has already been a whirlwind. Who knows what tomorrow will hold. If there even is a tomorrow. Who’s to say she doesn’t have to sleep in a coffin? Too many questions and unknowns. She eyes the closet. Demeaning… but she has too many questions, and the night is coming to a close.

GM: Caroline observes the room’s windows are quite wide, though they have drapes. If she does not wish to close those, the closet or the bathroom both might offer sanctuary from the dawn.

Caroline: The drapes are closed, but Caroline eventually retreats into the closet with what clothing she unpacks as well. Darkness closing in? Or is it light? Only tomorrow will tell.

It’s been a hell of a night.

Previous, by Narrative: Story Three, Louis IV
Next, by Narrative: Story Three, Emmett IV

Previous, by Character: Story Three, Caroline I
Next, by Character: Story Three, Caroline III

Story Three, Emmett I

“Smart people seem to have caused me most of my problems.”
“Then maybe you should get smarter yourself.”

Emmett Delacroix to Christina Roberts

Friday morning, 4 September 2015

GM: Too late.

Clouds rumble overheard as the church bells toll midnight. A costumed young man dances among the ballroom’s throngs, laughing as chandelier-light glints off his mask.

Too late.

The crowds sweep him up, drape an ermine mantle about his shoulders, and place a crown upon his brow. He laughs as they carry him before a throne, then snatches a second crown from the sitting gold-robed figure; he is to be king of both courts. The crowd roars at his audacity. The queen swoons. He takes her gloved hand in his, grinning as he prepares to sweep her off her feet, but his mask is so heavy.

Too late.

He ignores the rain’s warning patter as he lifts the weight from his head, just for a moment. The queen screams and pulls away. He holds her hand fast and tries to console her, but when he stares into the jewels around her neck, no face stares back.

Too late.

Thunder rumbles. Lightning flashes. The crowd screams as the floodwaters rise, and a young man gasps to wakefulness in his bed, his phone’s alarm clock buzzing.

Too late?

Emmett: He stiffens, briefly, then suddenly relaxes. Dreams don’t come to him often, or at least tend not to stay around for the morning after. A lesser man might wonder what it meant. But Emmett Delacroix blinks and breathes shallowly. He strokes the sweat-soaked sheets and stares at the ceiling.

Em doesn’t have anyplace to be, but he’s as much a morning person as he is a night owl. So he listens to the monotone screeching, and lays alone in an empty apartment, and for a second, Em is nobody and enjoys it.

Then it passes, and he tells Siri to shut her stupid trap, which she does. He paces barefoot through the French Quarter apartment. He should be hungover, but nobody seems to have told his head so. The apartment is more set than home. Tasteful furniture, tasteless dinners in the fridge.

Shower. Brush. There’s bills, letters on the table. His gaze lingers on the pink envelope that arrived two weeks ago. The one with the looping, cursive Mom. He thinks of masks and crowns and for a second, he wonders if he should…

No. He’s not too late.

Em smiles a snake’s smile as he steps outside with a smoke.

He has all the time in the world.

GM: At about a grand a month, excluding utilities, the Saint Louis Street Apartments don’t offer private balconies, but they do offer a communal one. The humid morning air is warm against Em’s bare chest, but one benefit to being a late riser is that it probably won’t get too much warmer into the day.

Beyond his shared balcony, which overlooks the building’s courtyard, Em can hear the sounds of the Vieux Carré ‘rising’ to greet the Friday morning, if such a term can honestly be said apply this close to the crack of noon. Lazy jazz from buskers playing for enjoyment as much as crowds at this hour. The clop-clop-clop of horses’ hooves. Occasional groans and slurps of coffee from nearby apartment units. The French Quarter collectively grouses off its Thursday night hangover in anticipation of the always-harder Friday hammering.

Emmett: That smile gets wider as Em adds the hiss of butane and crackle of tobacco to the air.

Friday noon, 4 September 2015

Emmett: “Madeline, Madeline. What am I eating today?” Em smiles sunshine up at the waitress.

GM: “I don’t know, Em, whatever you order?” the wavy-haired waitress answers with a roll of her eyes, though she can’t stop herself from smiling back at the perennial charmer either.

She pours the smooth-talker a glass of ice water and hands him a menu. Past noon, breakfast is off, and it’s lunch and dinner items to break Em’s fast.

Café Soulé is a modestly-priced restaurant literally next door to Em’s apartment building. It’s still a bit more expensive than making his own breakfast, but the convenience can’t be beat. The surroundings reflect the price tag. There’s round, slightly scuffed wooden tables and functional chairs, spruced up with flower vases and Belle Époque-era paintings of ballet dancers and suited gentlemen meeting at, fittingly enough, a café. French flags and cast iron lamp lights give the place an Old World ambiance. At the far side of the room, there’s a modestly well-stocked bar and chalk blackboard that spells out the day’s specials, as well as drinks for a happy hour that’s still a ways off.

It’s a few minutes after Em places his order that his point of contact arrives. Christina Roberts is a handsome, 40-something woman who people her age would describe as wearing it well, and people around Em’s would just call a MILF. The former attorney has long brown hair that falls to her upper back, matching eyes, and faint lines around her mouth that give her face a slightly sad, or at least contemplative expression. She wears a dark suit, skirt, and black stilettos.

Christina assumes a seat opposite of Em’s and pulls one of the paper menus off its holder, briefly glancing it over. “Hello, Emmett.”

Emmett: Em’s costume change is sudden but seamless, discarding one mask for another in between sips of ice water and the clicking of Roberts’ heels as she makes her way to his table. The cocky twenty-something dressed for a lunch date is gone, and a young entrepreneur is sitting in his seat.

Act one.

He smiles at her as she sits. “Ms.—” emphasis, “—Roberts. You really didn’t need to dress up for me.”

GM: “I didn’t. I have somewhere else to be after this,” Christina answers as she glances across the menu, then up at the approaching waitress. “I’ll have the eggs benedict and a coffee, please. Sugar and no cream.”

Emmett: “Of course.” His smile remains. “They don’t make breakfast after noon, I’m afraid. Hurts if you’re a late riser who hates to cook. But the shrimp and eggplant pierre’s delicious.” He tilts his head. “Although maybe you’re more of a crabcakes woman.”

GM: The waitress looks as if she was about to similarly remark on the absence of breakfast items. Christina turns the menu over. “Hmm, that’s early. Make it the onion soup instead.”

The waitress writes down her order and replies she’ll be back soon.

The former attorney doesn’t look amused by the much younger man’s remark as she takes a sip of her water. “Let’s make this a strictly business lunch, Emmett. What do you have for me?”

Emmett: A sense of humor, if you wanted it. He spins her the pieces of information she wants to hear, the secrets coaxed from drunk businessman, the interesting bits that come out in bed when people think they’ve already shared the most important parts of themselves. What he overheard from his local cocaine dealer (Westley Malveaux’s off the wagon and the wagon’s on fire). He’s tempted to make it a yarn, force her to sift through the watery anecdotes for the gold, but he’s stayed on her good side—or, her less hostile side—this long, and he’s already pushing her with that crack. So he gives it to her straight and boring, just the way she likes it.

“Worth your while?” he asks when he’s finished. He knows it is, but is curious if she’ll admit it. It’ll make the next part easier if she does.

GM: Whether Christina Roberts enjoys all things in her life straight and boring, Emmett cannot say, though like many professional women she does appear uninterested in trading sexual innuendos with a boy young enough to be her son. She interjects with the occasional follow-up question or request for clarification as Em relays what he’s picked up, and halfway through, the pair’s food arrives.

The onions in Christina’s soup are carmelized to a rich orange-brown hue, though some of that might be from the apple cider and dash of cognac. A fat slice of french bread coated with melted fontina and gruyere cheese lazily floats in the center of the bowl, half-submerged by the chicken broth and beef consomme it’s soaked up. Scattered green chives provide a finishing touch and dash of contrasting color to the dish.

She finally nods in satisfaction once he’s finished, then cuts off a section of the moist bread with her spoon. “Yes, those are some useful tidbits. I suppose that makes it my turn now. What are you curious over?”

Emmett: He leans forward, curious to see her reaction. “Prince Talal al-Faisal al-Saud.”

GM: Christina’s face doesn’t let much slip, but Em’s pretty sure he sees some amount of recalcitrance, or maybe simple wariness, there. “All right. What’s your interest in him?”

Emmett: “I think I might want to make friends. I’m sure he’s employed some of your, ah, services over these last few months?”

GM: “I don’t discuss my employees’ clients, Emmett.”

Emmett: Oh, I’m sure you do. For the right reasons.

“I can respect that. But I don’t need to talk about your professional relationship. I’m simply interested in what any acquaintance of his might know.”

He quiets as Madeline lays the nutella-and-banana crepe in front of him. Probably not the best choice, given Roberts’ view of him, but he can deal with being called a child.

“You don’t object to gossip, surely?”

GM: Christina takes another sip of her still-steaming soup. “I’d be a hypocrite if I said I did, after how we’ve spent the rest of this lunch. If you want to talk about al-Saud, that’s fine. Anything that could hurt my business is off-limits.”

Emmett: Em nods and gets to it, taking bites of the powdered-sugar-and-chocolate explosion on his plate between questions. He asks general questions first—what’s prince Talal like? Does he speak good English?— and then slowly works deeper. He fishes for as much as he can get of Saud’s personal business and hobbies as he can, keeping the tone as casual as the setting.

GM: Explosion is right. The crepes have been pan-fried to a buttery gold-brown and are folded in half, not unlike tacos. Slices of banana and liberal latherings of nutella and whipped cream ooze out from the corners. A gentle snowfall of powdered sugar tops off the sweet confection.

“You want some lunch with that dessert too?” Madeline asks wryly.

Christina, meanwhile, is fairly noncommittal where prince Talal is concerned. Em honestly can’t say whether she’s acquainted with him personally. She does explain to the college-uneducated young man, though, that she would be surprised if Talal doesn’t speak fluent English. It’s the first language of the countries whose oil purchases make up nearly half of the Saudi GDP, after all. Many young Saudi elites study abroad at Western universities and have to learn English. Plus, Talal has more or less set up a life for himself in America—not being able to speak the language would make that pretty hard for him.

Emmett: He smiles through the lecture, nodding even as he grits his teeth inwardly.

GM: As for Talal’s hobbies, it’s fairly common gossip that the Saudi prince loves to dance and party his nights away in the French Quarter. Beyond that (if carousing can be called a hobby), Christina has also picked up that he enjoys boating, water-skiing, betting on horses at the fairgrounds, and eating out at fine restaurants like Antoine’s and Commander’s Palace.

Emmett: Not a complete waste of his time. Just mostly one. He savors the crepe and keeps up friendly appearances, but the games are over, for now. As the conversation lulls to the clink of steel on china, and he reaches for the check, Em hears himself asking without thinking, “How’s Sam?”

GM: “Sam?” Christina raises a questioning eyebrow. “Oh, you mean Sami. She’s doing very well for herself. She’s attending, or it might have been throwing, another gallery exhibition in a few days. Money agrees with her.”

Emmett: “Always did,” he says wryly. More than I did, anyways.

GM: Samantha’s former employer seems to consider the young man for a few minutes. “Smart people in her line of work learn to keep business and personal separate, Emmett. Don’t take it too harshly.”

Emmett: “Smart people,” he mutters, “seem to have caused me most of my problems.”

GM: “Then maybe you should get smarter yourself.”

Emmett: “We’ll see. It’s a rigged game, I find.”

GM: It probably wouldn’t be too hard either, part of Em can’t help but observe. His parents are still professors at Tulane, last he heard. They could maybe get him into the college. He’s not that much older than the student body.

Emmett: He could also probably get a job starring in porno. At least that way he wouldn’t have to listen to Professor Mom and Dr. Dad.


He made his choice a long time ago, and now it’s…

Too late.

“You should probably get going,” he says. “I think we both have better things to do.”

GM: “I was about to say that very thing.”

Christina calls for the bill and hands their waitress a credit card, stating to charge her for the soup and coffee. After Madeline returns with her card, she stands and shoulders her purse.

“One final word of advice, if you’re serious about making ‘friends’. The Sauds are big money. And royalty. They don’t make a habit of rubbing shoulders with plebs like me, much less you.”

Emmett: Em shrugs. “They just haven’t met me yet.”

GM: “In any case, I’m off. Give my number a call if there’s any other gossip you want to trade.”

Emmett: Em smiles and waves her to the door, then takes off himself. He pauses to leave a twenty for Madeline before he goes.

His good mood is melted with the ice in his water.

Friday noon, 4 September 2015

GM: It’s a several-block and eight-minute walk from Café Soulé to the Ritz-Carlston New Orleans, the hotel where prince Talal is known to be staying.

The elegant, fourteen-story, five-star hotel is located just off Canal Street, the historic divide between the French Quarter and Central Business District. Its web site boasts 527 rooms, 35,000 square feet of meeting space, a 25,000 square foot day spa and fitness center, one restaurant and one lounge, all within walking distance of the French Quarter’s world-famous landmarks and attractions.

The lobby is a suitably impressive affair. Glittering chandeliers, richly upholstered furniture, tasteful Neo-Classical statues and portraits. Expansive, multi-tiered windows allow natural lighting to pleasantly illuminate the white marble floors. Past a wide set of glass-paned double doors, an indoor courtyard and garden invitingly beckons.

It doesn’t look unlike the one at Em’s apartment. But much larger. Much classier. Much more expensive. The same can well be said for the hotel’s people. A few well-suited guests recline on chairs, reading newspapers (the ones who are old enough to still do that), tabbing through their iPhones (not Em’s much cheaper Android), or engaged in quiet conversation with one another. All eye the comparatively shabbily-dressed young man suspiciously.

Meanwhile, minimum-wage bellboys cart around bags of luggage, while politely smiling receptionists at the front desk see to the needs of the well-to-do clientèle. Em can still feel a pronounced iciness, but it’s diminished, not so much through any sense of commonality as the pressing immediacy of their jobs’ tasks.

Emmett: He knows better than to try to talk his way through them, at least for the moment. He effects an expression of dumb awe as he takes in his surroundings, and then forces a blush onto his face as he leaves, attempting to look appropriately intimidated.

GM: The well-heeled guests watch with little-concealed smugness as he slinks away. The suited security guards do not look so overtly pleased, but neither do they make any attempt to follow him.

Emmett: He gets to the other side of the road, gags a bit, and then promptly fishes out his crap Android and calls the number he pulled off the hotel site on the walk over.

GM: “Good afternoon, thank you for calling the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans. This is Sandy speaking. How may I assist you?” greets a receptionist.

Emmett: He sounds like he’s choking on happiness. “Hello! I’m calling for my boss. Do you have a guest there by the name of, um…”

He lets the silence drag on a second too long to be comfortable. “A… Tal-al al-Faisal Saudi?” He’s found people are less threatened by idiots.

GM: There’s a slight pause from the receptionist. “May I ask who you are calling on behalf of, sir?” The ‘sir’ sounds all-too forced.

Emmett: Here goes. “Christina Roberts.”

GM: There’s another brief pause and sound of keyboard typing. “Yes, Talal al-Faisal al-Saud is one of our registered guests,” the receptionist confirms.

Emmett: “Can you see if he’s in at the moment?”

GM: “Certainly, sir, just one moment.”

There’s a longer pause.

Then, “I’m afraid he’s asked not to be disturbed before 2 PM. Can I pass along a message for you?”

Emmett: “I’m sorry, I was told to only speak to Mr., um, Saud. It’s a pain, I know, but I just started working here…”

Milk the embarrassment.

“Maybe I can call back in a little?”

GM: The receptionist assures Em that it is before wishing him a pleasant afternoon and exchanging goodbyes.

Emmett: He rings again two hours later, after a few vocal exercises.

GM: Em is greeted by another receptionist named Susan.

Emmett: He plays the same game. “Christina Roberts for Mr. al-Saud.”

GM: There’s a brief wait as he’s transferred before a so-slightly accented male voice asks, “Hello, zis is Ms. Roberts?”

Emmett: Em hangs up and heads down the street. He glances at the glass castle over his shoulder, at the peak where al-Saud would clearly sleep.

“A pleb,” he says. “My ass.”

Friday afternoon, 4 September 2015

GM: Em has a nagging feeling in his gut as he hangs up. Several minutes later, his phone is ringing.

Emmett: He lets it go to voicemail.

GM: The phone rings and rings. Finally, it a middle-aged-sounding woman states over the voicemail, “I advise you to pick that phone up, Emmett, if you don’t want al-Saud to know about your interest in him.”

Emmett: Click.

“Ms. Roberts! I’m afraid I’m still full from our last meeting, but I might be able to make lunch tomorrow.”

GM: “I just got off the phone with Mr. Al-Fawaz, one of al-Saud’s assistants. He said he spoke to one of my employees, but the line died. The employee was a young-sounding man.”

Emmett: “That is odd.”

GM: “Yes, especially after a young man with no apparent concept of client confidentiality was prying into my relationship with al-Saud.”

Emmett: “As I recall, I agreed not to ask you about your clients. Not the other way around.”

GM: “Last chance, Emmett. I’m in no mood to play games.”

Emmett: Em rolls his eyes and hopes she hears it.

“Last chance for what, exactly? You called me. Do you want an apology? Some kind of repayment?”

GM: “Let’s start with what your real interest is in al-Saud, and why you would try to impersonate one of my employees.”

Emmett: Em replies promptly, “I’ve found money may agree with me too, Christina. He has a lot of it. I plan to take most of it.” He strides into an alley. “As for the impersonation, I just wanted to see if he was a client of yours or not. I’m still gathering intel.”

GM: “Oh, isn’t that reassuring. You’re willing to throw my business under a bus for your own convenience.”

Emmett: “Hardly. If your business could be undone by a confused phone call, it wouldn’t have lasted this long. You didn’t tell Mr. Fawaz that the man who called him was a thief who you shared information with, I assume?”

GM: “Don’t tell me what is and isn’t good for my business, Emmett, when you don’t have a clue how it runs. You’ve put me in a difficult position with al-Saud, too. Can you imagine how, or are you just making this all up as you go along?”

Emmett: “Both, actually. This level of improvisation takes a large amount of imagination.” He grins into the phone line. “I imagine there was some manner of arrangement between you two of which I was unaware, that I violated?”

GM: “Try there being too many ways a grifter’s ill-considered ‘get rich quick’ scheme could go south and too many links between him and me.”

Emmett: “Not quick,” he corrects. “I’m observing, learning. First contact is a ways off. Samantha waited three years for hers to pay off, yes? Mine may take longer, although I probably won’t have the option of sucking his cock to speed things up.” He pinches his nose. “What do you want to get out of this, Christina? We beat around the bush plenty at lunch.”

GM: “How thoughtful of you to ask, Emmett. What I want is complete uninvolvement in any illegal activity that could balloon into a diplomatic incident—if your scheme even works. I’m weighing my options. It would be safest, and simplest, just to tell Talal everything I know.”

Emmett: “But you aren’t doing that because you’re talking to me.”

GM: “I’m not doing that because I’m waiting to hear if there’s a better one. Which seems unlikely at this point, but it costs nothing besides a few minutes on my phone plan.”

Emmett: Em closes his eyes. He sighs.

“If you fuck me on this, you take damage too. Maybe, maybe, Talal will forgive you enough to live and let live. That’s a thing in Saudi culture, right?” He lets a moment of silence elapse before continuing. “But he sure as hell won’t be your customer anymore. And judging from what I’ve heard about the bastard’s appetites, that’s a lot of Café Soulé lunches you’re flushing down the toilet. Not to mention what’ll happen to your business if word gets out about how you sold information to a hustler about one of your clients.”

“Granted, as you’ve rightfully pointed out, I don’t know anything about how your business runs. Just your name. And Samantha’s name. And two or three of your other girls’. I actually don’t relish screwing my allies just for convenience, Christina, but as you just noted, I am quite petty. Petty enough to screw over my enemies as I go down for them. Are you ready to hear what I have to offer, or should I start typing up my confession for NOPD?”

His heart hasn’t thumped this loudly in years.

GM: Emmett’s heart beats and beats in his chest with a steady thump-thump. It’s loud enough, in fact, that he barely hears the ‘click’ on the other end of the line. His phone screen spells it out for him, though:

Call ended.

Emmett: “Huh.”

Then he starts running.

Previous, by Narrative: Story Three, Caroline I
Next, by Narrative: Story Three, Louis II

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Next, by Character: Story Three, Emmett II

Story Three, Caroline I

“Are you lost, little lamb?”
René Baristheaut

Tuesday evening, 1 September 2015

GM: “You should forget about everything for a while. Just have some fun,” Aimee had said.

The last two days have been rough. Law school has started back up. Nothing else has let up.

Caroline’s mother called her for the first time in months to berate her for how she’s “squandering the goodwill” she earned with the Whitneys and Devillers. Hasn’t she at least invited them to one of her father’s fundraisers? It’s all well and good if they think she’s a hero, but that means “absolutely nothing” if she’s not actually using it to advance their family’s interests. There’s so much she could be doing. Luke and her mother have been doing those things instead.

Christina Roberts, like any lawyer, only wants to stick to the letter of her agreement. She’s kept hounding Caroline over various ‘allowed’ things they can still do to mitigate Amelie’s sentence. The Devillers, who seem equally un-thrilled by that same sentence (they really wanted a felony on Amelie’s criminal record), consider the topic closed and are completely uninterested in revisiting it. They just want Yvonne to get better—and for Richard Gettis, who remains at large, to be brought in. Caroline may find some small comfort in how the media hurricane is mostly fixed on the murderous ex-detective.

Her publicity-hungry family doesn’t. Claire wanted Caroline to do a TV interview. She’s had to make do with having her daughter, together with Luke, speak to reporters from a number of media outlets. They acted sympathetic, but they hounded Caroline for as many gory details about the event as they could. Jackson Kibbe, the family’s designated media hitman, was especially relentless. He even asked if she “had any regrets” or “would’ve done anything differently.”

The Whitneys are doing terrible. Sarah remains stable in a medically induced coma, but it’s anyone’s guess how much is going to be left of the probably brain-damaged teenager’s mind when the doctors wake her up. The family’s affect towards Caroline has been a discomfiting combination of deeply mournful and profusely grateful. Lyman, when he isn’t fixatedly staring at his watch, has been talking out loud to his decade-dead daughter Rebecca. Carson may have said this was all Gettis’ fault, but that haunting question of whether Caroline could have done more still remains. Maybe Sarah would be okay if Caroline had worked her first. Yvonne was the less injured of the two.

Law school’s attendance requirements, meanwhile, mean Caroline can’t skip class and stay enrolled, even if she maintains good grades. Carson has offered to put in a word with her professors that she’s going through some rough times. Gabriel has dared ask the unthinkable question of whether she should take the semester off.

Amidst it all, her dad hasn’t called.

Too busy.

Like always.

Aimee had observed Caroline seemed to be “sleeping really badly” before presenting her with a solution: Southern Decadence, the so-called gay Mardi Gras. But there is no Ash Wednesday following its revels for the multitude of penitents to pray, fast, and repent their sins. They will simply head home, perhaps poorer, certainly exhausted, some with stories to share, and some with secrets to keep forever.

For now, those stories are still being written. Alcohol flows like water past a breached levee. Women shriek with laughter as they flash their breasts. Beads fly from floats and galleries like plastic snowflakes. Rainbow flags fly everywhere. Throngs of bulging crotches, leering painted faces, garish feathers, exposed butt-cheeks, and tight leather go on forever. Caroline’s read a couple news articles about Decadence, and has heard about in passing from friends and acquaintances, but her family wouldn’t have even countenanced that she experience the festivities for herself. Uncle Orson has condemned the festival for “celebrating unwholesome lifestyles” and sponsored multiple initiatives over the years to shut it down. He might as well have tried to reinstate Prohibition for all the success he met. The city likes to party.

Caroline: It’s taken weeks, months of working on her by her best friend, though perhaps that wouldn’t have mattered after the shooting. Caroline’s resolve was already crumbling, already worn down, but that night brought down too many walls. Between it and the backlash from it, the pressure from the family, the arrangement with Roberts, the never-ending headache of juggling school, and work, and responsibilities to the family… it’s just too much. It never stops. She needs to get away. Away from who she is. From what she’s seen. Needs to block out the memory of blood weakly pumping out between her fingers and the nightmares where teenage girls are screaming, are dying, and she feels so helpless.

Carson keeps calling, keeps telling her they should talk. He wants to talk about the shooting, wants her to talk about it, but it’s the last thing Caroline wants. She doesn’t need to talk through her feelings. Doesn’t need to explain (again) how much it all scared her. She just needs to forget it, to get away from it, to stop getting reminded of it every day and night. She’s told him she’s fine. That she’s busy. That she’ll find time later. She’s lied.

It’s been years since she went out on a non-official event, just to have fun. Years since she broke the unwritten rules of the family. Maybe it’s what she needs—a break from her life. An opportunity to have no concerns, no worries, and no responsibilities. And if it isn’t… well, maybe the drinks will succeed where all else fails. They did last night. “You’ll stick close?” she asked Aimee.

That was hours ago, and now she’s half lost in the crowd, just another blonde at the city-wide party. She’s not a Malveaux here. Wouldn’t be wanted as a Malveaux. There’s no pressure. No expectations. New Orleans is a party and for once she can simply enjoy it.

Her drink is in a glowing cup—a gimmick off Bourbon Street. Spirits? Something off reality TV. She’s not really paying attention to the taste, just the effect. To the blur that takes the edge off, that lets the tension out between her shoulders. That lets her laugh out of its cage.

GM: Aimee nods. Caroline’s future chief of staff is attired for the occasion in a bright pink, circa 1860 Southern belle dress, complete with coiffed hair, wide-brimmed hat, and parasol to spin around. She’s ditched the hoop skirt, though, for something that’s still ruffled but only knee length. Like all festivals, Decadence can get pretty out of control. Sometimes it’s safer for a woman to have her legs free. Aimee carries an open red plastic cup of something alcoholic. Only in this city.

“I’ll keep my phone on. Just shoot me a text if we get separated.”

Caroline: Caroline is more conservative. Black dress, tailored but not overly tight, and sleeveless. The darkness seems to drink in her pale skin and hair. That hair is pinned up and neatly arranged. She looks out of place, insomuch as anything can look out of place in such a chaotic sea of humanity. Too perfect, too proper, too disciplined. She admits the clutch bag was a poor choice. She looks more like she’s going to the opera than out into the city-wide celebration of deviance.

She gives a haughty smile that’s skewed just a bit. She started drinking early, before they went out. How much? Not even Aimee is completely sure. Caroline is good at holding her liquor… to a point.

But she’s had a lot of cause to drink.

“Then lead on.”

GM: Aimee leads on.

Thursday at midnight is the big dick contest. Men scream, bellow, slap their rear ends, and strut their junk amidst roaring crowds and flashing blue lights. The crowd’s chosen winner, a beefy guy wearing a gold chain necklace, receives a gift basket from an outrageously attired drag queen who comments what a shame it is that public decency laws prevent the contestants from being inspected “up close and personal.” The drag queen still loudly volunteers to “inspect” the winner once the show’s over, much to the crowd’s laughter.

Caroline: In spite of herself, Caroline is in the swing of the party by the time the show rolls around, enjoying every absurdity of it. Every excess. She laughs hard and loud. She wants to laugh. Wants those traumatic memories of the shooting, all those ‘what ifs’, to briefly slip away, along with years of control. Not enough to leap into it, but certainly enough to laugh and observe. She floats through the shows, an observer, a part yet apart.

GM: The booze flows, and Caroline’s inhibitions with it. A few partygoers rib her for being dressed like she’s “going to the opera” or “attending a funeral,” but by and large, Decadence just seems to be an outrageously campy, over-the-top festival where everyone can have a “gay old time.” Caroline hears that pun at least a dozen times. Uncle Orson made the festival sound like it would despoil good Catholic girls and irrevocably ruin their lives.

Friday comes the float parade:

Caroline: Caroline has swapped out for more comfortable garb by by Friday. It sets her apart once more in its own way. White on her pale skin cuts through the crowd visually, but more people may suspect this is some statement rather than a faux pas. Innocence in a crowd of debauchery, perhaps? She doesn’t drink like an innocent as the party rolls through days.

GM: Following the float parade are the boys on parade: rows and rows of shirtless, pants-less men in tight thongs and garish feathers. Most of them are probably gay, but they’re no less incredible to oggle. More than a few whistle or make humorous catcalls about what a “choir girl” like her is doing at an event like this. All the while, the drinks continue to flow. New Orleans has very loose open container laws: so long as it isn’t made of glass, people can drink as much as they want in the streets.

Caroline: Caroline seems to enjoy the attention, or at least certainly wants to, her inhibitions loosened by the drink and day before. That longing for comfort is sliding towards carelessness.

GM: Saturday features the outdoor music concert and and the hot ass contest. More easily quantifiable than the big dick contest, dozens of participants drop their pants and submit to public paddlings to determine whose cheeks are the tightest and firmest. Men (and women) periodically grab Caroline’s ass and shout racy comments. People didn’t touch her like that earlier, but with each passing day the city seems to get more and more inebriated. A couple women in the crowd look upset, but their friends laugh off that “tons of guys here are gay anyway.”

Caroline: Caroline is conservative, but not a prude. She takes the gropings in stride as part of the writhing mass of humanity. Every pinch keeps her mind off the last few days. Besides, she asked for it a bit…

The dress is far tighter tighter than what she’s worn on previous outings and amply shows off her athletic figure… and that lays aside the infamy of the garb in the first place. It might be a poor choice for this evening, but then Caroline couldn’t have known it was going to be a day obsessed with posteriors… could she?

GM: Whether Caroline was ignorant or all-too aware of her chosen outfit’s likely effect, her ass smarts something fierce by the time she stumbles into bed. Aimee doesn’t dress as provocatively, but submits to the public paddling. She calls it quits after several slaps reduce her to a half-guffawing, half-shrieking drunken mess. She doesn’t press Caroline to join in, likely realizing that her friend is already stepping outside her comfort zone to wear an outfit like that on a day like this.

Saturday comes the walking parade.

The press of humanity is tighter than ever. The city feels drunker than ever. Caroline can smell the musk of sweaty, alcohol-saturated bodies. An endless sea of laughing mouths, bulging crotches, and exposed flesh surrounds her on all sides. The sun’s final rays stretch out from the horizon, covering the city in a haze of gold and red, illuminating the party-goers, marking the second to last day of celebrations. And then the light is gone, and only wan twilight remains. A chill creeps over Caroline, as though something other than the time of day has changed—and she notices Aimee is gone.

Caroline: It takes her a moment to realize that she’s alone, but at first it doesn’t seem to faze Caroline as she slides through the tightly packed crowd. She’s been drinking again—this week is a blur of liquor, color, and sweaty bodies—and her buzz distracts her from the concern that should be gnawing for several minutes. The party is winding down as much as it is nearing a climax, and only a very small part of her doesn’t want it to end. It’s been something to lose herself in. Still, as moments turn to minutes and beyond she begins to grow concerned. She reaches for the phone she’s tucked in the corner of her bra.

GM: Caroline shoots off a text. She waits. And waits. Something bumps against her. Her phone drops from her hand. “Watch where you’re going, slut!” leers a voice. Caroline turns to confront it, but sees no one. The crowd just keeps moving. She is alone among the throngs. Looking about, the other people present seem alien and distant, their cheers and shouts mangled into a language she has no recollection of, their masked faces twisted by the twilight into grotesquerie.

Caroline: She blinks, trying to clear her vision. It’s the heavy drinking. What time is it? She has no idea. How many drinks has she had? Ten? Twenty? She looks back down, fighting building dread. Her phone has of course vanished in the mass of feet. Stolen, smashed, or simply kicked away. Another glance at the masked faces convinces her not to look for it. She tries to push away instead, to break out of the crowd into a building. She suddenly feels sick.

GM: Rough hands grope at her breasts. Taunting fingers snap her bra straps against her skin. Laughter rings in her ears. She even feels a wet tongue slurp against her hair. Everyone around her seems to be laughing. The freaks and the deviants. Leashed collars, mohawks, muzzles, spikes. SS uniforms. Nipple clamps. Masks of devils and grinning skulls. Leaking blood. Stitched-shut lips. Every face that isn’t concealed wears a sneer or lecherous grin.

Caroline: Malveauxes don’t panic. They don’t flee. But nor do they attend debauched festivals, hide from their responsibilities, and polish off bottles of Jeffersons every night for a week. Her father insisted on martial arts. Discipline, self-defense. She’s neither disciplined nor capable of self-defense right now. Not against anyone, much less a crowd. She tries to push away from the freaks, from this sudden horror show. Bile burns at the back of her throat, but she fights it down. Just get away. What was she doing here in the first place?

GM: Caroline fights against the crowd. Fights against the rising panic. She pushes and shoves, but it’s like trying to swim through molasses. Mocking laughter rings in her ears. Something wet and pungent-smelling drenches her face. The empty plastic cup hits the ground with a light plunk before being crushed by onrushing feet. Just as abruptly, she feels a metal chain loop snap her neck and pull tight, cutting off her air.

Too-strong arms yank her face to face with her attacker. He is a big man, and completely naked save for black leather boots, crisscrossing straps of the same material, and steel nipple rings. His face is hidden behind a black executioner’s hood. It’s spattered with red that she can only pray is paint. His manhood is almost mockingly concealed underneath a tight black latex sheath—tight enough she can see the individual veins bulging along his shaft. Pointed, hungry steel spikes jut from its length.

Caroline: Fight. Flight. Warring impulses come to a stop as she is stopped short. Panic takes over, her hands fighting at the chain. There’s something she should be doing, some move, some technique… Alone, sober, prepared she might have a chance against the bigger man. Drunk—no, hammered—and confused, it’s all she can do to fight for her life against the chain, rather than against the man.

GM: Black-gloved hands with what look like miniature knives built into each finger dextrously tug the chain around Caroline’s neck, yanking her through the press of bodies. She might wonder how this is even happening. Why no one is doing anything. Why no one is stopping this freak. Why the laughter in her ears rings even louder.

Something hard slams against her back. The chain burns her neck like fire. She chokes and hacks, lungs gasping for air. She can’t tell where she is. She’s had so much to drink. It’s getting dark, but even that shouldn’t be making block spots blossom across her vision.

Caroline: At last, but too late, she fights back. Blind and weak kicks and punches. She’s so slow, but everything else is slowing down too… she wants to scream. She would, if she had air.

GM: A deep, heavy voice pants in Caroline’s ear:

“I’m gonna fuck your eyes out.”

The man’s spike-tipped, latex-ensconced, bulging member looms too close to her field of vision.

Caroline: The words barely process. Her brain shuts down as darkness takes her. At least he had the decency to kill her first.

At least she won’t disappoint anyone again.

GM: Sight recedes. Pain recedes. Blackness embraces her.


A heavy, animal grunt.

A deep-throated, hair-raising screech. Almost more animal than human.

A hard thud.

The fire around her neck recedes. There’s great big choking gasps of air that hurt to take. Her head pounds and swims.

Caroline: She wants to vomit, but can barely breathe. Wants to run, but can’t move. Wants to think, but everything is fuzzy.

GM: “Poor little lost lamb.” She feels a hand against her shoulder.

Caroline: Her vision is starting to clear, and near-death has a remarkable sobering effect. Play weak, draw them closer. The beginnings of a plan, perhaps. Trauma comes later. For now, training is coming back. Rationality is asserting itself.

GM: Sight hazily swims back into focus. Her ‘rescuer’ is no angel. He’s quite the opposite.

He wears a blood-red vest, black leather pants, and knee-high boots of the same make. A red cape drapes from his shoulders. A horned half-mask of the same color conceals his upper face. His lips are quirked into a slight smirk.

The devil-costumed figure extends a hand to help her up.

Caroline: It takes her a moment to take her gaze off of him and examine her surroundings. She lets his hand hang for a moment while she does, but at last she takes it. At least he’s not trying to rape and murder her.

GM: Caroline registers after a moment that they are sandwiched between two buildings in a dark alleyway. The parade of costumed revelers and sounds of their merriment continue unabated mere feet away.

“This doesn’t look like your kind of party,” the costumed man remarks.

There’s another soft smirk.

“Are you lost, little lamb?”

Caroline: Her breathing is still ragged, her voice weak. “I… yes. Thank… thank you.”

GM: The man brushes a stray hair from Caroline’s face with a crimson-gloved hand.

“Why, you’re welcome.”

Caroline: She shakes her head. “I don’t know what happened. One minute…” Her shaking head stops as his hands touch her.

GM: “Mmm. One of the late-night crowd. I’m surprised you ran into him this early,” the man remarks.

“But then, parties in this city are rather like angler fish. Dangling their glowing lures of fun and booze. Then snapping the partygoers right up. Poor lost little lambs. You know that there are more missing persons reports filed in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and Southern Decadence than any other time of year?”

Caroline: She looks at him questioningly and nods. “Makes sense. Parties attract all kinds, people lower their guards. Lots of easy vic… tims.”

The trauma still hasn’t really set in. She remains wary and alert.

GM: “The parties had their little lambs, their fleece as white as snow. And everywhere the lambs went, the monsters were sure to go.”

Caroline: Caroline swallows uncomfortably, that dread returning. “You’ve been watching me.”

GM: The devil-masked man chuckles. “Oh, I’m sorry. That really isn’t the best thing to say to a woman in your position, I suppose.”

He glances over his shoulder.

Caroline: A chill.

“What position.”

It’s as much statement as question. A challenge, maybe?

GM: Another soft chuckle. “A morsel nearly gobbled up by the angler fish, my dear. In any case. I’d advise getting off the streets. The party’s only going to get wilder from here.”

Caroline: “I was trying, when he grabbed me. Speaking of… where did he, they, go?”

GM: The man shrugs. “Where do wolves go when lambs leave the pasture? Somewhere, out there, where he’ll wait for his next chance to strike.”

Caroline: She swallows. “Against me?”

GM: Another shrug. “Maybe. Some wolves like to finish their meals. Others will take whatever falls into their jaws.”

Caroline: “And what are you? Some kind of sheep dog?” It’s an analogy she’s heard many times before.

GM: The man throws back his head and laughs. His diabolical mask glints with dull light from a distant street lamp.

“A sheep dog. Well, why not.”

Caroline: Bizarre, freak, weirdo. Some damaged soul, maybe. He could be former military, hiding from some trauma? Thoughts begin to organize themselves in her mind.

Still, if he’s dangerous, he doesn’t seem dangerous towards her. No more dangerous than whatever else might be lurking out there.

“Would you be willing to walk me home then, Mr. Sheep Dog?”

GM: A smile touches the corners of the devil’s mask. Caroline starts to pick up details as her mind comes together. He’s lean. Slightly taller than average for a man. Around the same height as her in tall shoes. Not exceptionally muscled. No excess body fat though. Lean and languid.

“I’d be honored, Miss Lamb.”

Caroline: Her mind fits those pieces into a matrix. Special forces, maybe. He fits the build. She moves out towards the street with him.

“Do you have a real name, Mr. Sheep Dog?”

GM: “You can call me René. I can keep calling you Lamb, unless there’s another name you’d prefer.” He extends a lean arm for her to take, if she desires.

Caroline: She takes the arm. “Caroline.” Her voice is still weak.

GM: “Caroline.” René smiles as she links her limb through his. “The original meaning is ‘song of happiness’, isn’t it?”

Caroline: She nods. “And René is ‘reborn.’ You’re an educated man, René. Mostly people don’t immediately go that direction.”

In spite of the casual talk, her hand has the slightest tremor against his arm.

GM: Another chuckle sounds as René leads them away. “Not to sound boastful, but I hope that I’ve helped your song to be… preserved, to bring happiness to a great many. Reborn, in its own way.”

Caroline: “Reborn is one way to put it… he’d have killed me, left my body in the alley. You saved my life.” The tremor in her hand is more noticeable as she talks about it.

GM: The pair emerge from the alleyway. The city isn’t just sloshed at this point. It’s having an orgy—and committing rape.

Revelers who’ve had too much to drink, or perhaps too much else, openly wretch onto the ground. Masked, sweaty couples fornicate against walls behind the flimsiest pretensions of cover.

Some of the screams sound pleasurable, or at least wantful. Others are raw and pained. Some people don’t make any sounds at all. Their eyes are dead, or they just look too out of it to even comprehend what is happening to them, but they are nevertheless the subject of multiple partners’ hungry affections. The smell of sweat, piss, and booze is thick in Caroline’s nostrils. Revelers drunkenly stagger through the streets, spilling drink as often as they swig it, as if they might share the liquid sin with the earth itself. As if they might cause the very city to join in their revelry, swallow them up, and never let the party end.

Caroline: Caroline looks away, horrified. Her uncle was right, this is a blight on the city at best. An affront to God. She focuses on René, trying to ignore what is going on around them.

“I had no idea…”

GM: “Don’t blame it on the gays,” René remarks idly.

A shirtless young man screams as three masked revelers smash a glass bottle over his head, laughing, and drag him by his feet into an alleyway.

“Mardi Gras sees at least as much excess.”

Caroline: “As this?”

GM: “As this,” her companion echoes. “If not more. It gets more attendees, after all.”

Caroline: “But this is… violent. Bloody. Deviant… It’s horrifying.”

GM: The sound of a woman’s retching assaults Caroline’s ears. The stink of vomit wafts up her nostrils.

“Oh, this is just what they can get away with in public,” René continues. “You should see the private parties. Sin is refined into an art form.”

Caroline: The smell is too much. Caroline pauses, doubling over. She dives for the side of the street and vomits into a gutter.

GM: René waits silently. Caroline can see two unconscious figures lying face-down in their own waste not far from her, spilled cups by their sides. Two teenage boys in skull masks pass by, laugh, drop their flies, and begin urinating on the unconscious pair.

Caroline: The sight brings on another bout of vomiting. She dry heaves until she has nothing left. She looks away from the scene when she stands and moves back towards René.

“I… how does this go on?”

GM: Caroline can see a woman huddled by a bar’s entrance. She’s crying, black mascara tears running down her cheeks, and clutching her stomach. A glaring, muscled bouncer rams his foot into her back and literally kicks her to the curb. She’s barely smashed face-first into ground when a giggling masked reveler snatches her purse and takes off running. Whether the theft is motivated out of greed, drunken amusement, or some other incomprehensible reason, Caroline cannot say. Dozens more scenes of equal cruelty and Dionysian excess repeat themselves around her. The city drinks up their misery like a bourbon-tossing alcoholic promised a night of free drinks.

René shrugs. “How does the world go on?”

Caroline: “I don’t know,” Caroline asks, assaulted by all this horror.

GM: “Maybe I should call you Rapunzel instead.”

Caroline: “You’ve freed me from my cage?”

GM: “Perhaps shown you the world at the foot of your high tower. The drink and the atmosphere makes these people less mindful of the consequences of their actions, but it doesn’t change who they are. Not really.”

Caroline: She wants to deny it, but can’t.

GM: “It just lets their true selves out.”

Caroline: “A tower I appreciate much more.”

GM: “I’ve heard the Catholic Church, among other groups, has been trying to get Decadence banned, but that’s simply cutting off one of the hydra’s heads. People are what they are.” René gestures about them. “And this is what they are.”

Caroline: “You’re quite a student of human nature.”

GM: “Humans are fascinating creatures. Their emotions are so… real.”

Caroline: “You’re not quite what I expected out of a man that ran off a dozen others.”

GM: René chuckles. “One other. The remainder were still enjoying themselves, but only through watching. Sloth often wins out over the other six sins.”

Caroline: “One then. Still, it’s a brave man to step in. If there’s something I can do to repay you…”

GM: René raises an intrigued eyebrow at the suggestion. “And how would you propose to repay me, Caroline?”

Caroline: “My family is powerful, if it’s money, or some favor…”

GM: “I don’t have much use for money, to be quite honest. As the song goes, it can’t buy you love.”

Caroline: The tremor. “What is it you want then?”

GM: “I might even be doing you a disfavor, come to think. How would your family feel knowing you were out here amidst all… this?” René gestures towards the distance. Caroline can see a masked man—masked in a black’s executioner’s hood—brutalizing some victim a wall. For a moment, she fears it’s her assailant, only to notice another man garbed in the same executioner’s hood laughingly kicking a motionless body. After a moment, she spots a third hood. Evil seems as common and unremarkable as weeds.

Caroline: “Not well. But they don’t need to know.”

GM: “Show me someone without secrets and I’ll show you a liar.”

Caroline: She nods in agreement. “But you’ll keep mine, won’t you?”

GM: “I don’t even know your last name, Caroline. How could I give it away?”

Caroline: “Malveaux.”

GM: Her rescuer’s eyebrows raise under his diabolic mask. “Ah. Malveaux. An old family. Your… uncle, if I’m not missing my guess, is the archbishop.”

Caroline: She nods. “You’re Catholic then?”

GM: A low chuckle. “I suppose one could say.”

Caroline: Lapsed. It happens. “I thought you should know, since you saved my life.”

GM: “Tell me, Caroline Malveaux, daughter of the church, do you believe that people are inherently evil?”

Caroline: “Sinful, but not evil.”

GM: “Well, I think they are. I think we live in a hideous, twisted world so bogged down by the weight of our sins, the only reason God hasn’t cleansed it with a second Great Flood is that he’s given up on the potential of intelligent life to be anything but evil,” René declares blithely.

“If he isn’t evil himself. Maybe all creation is simply a joke he’s telling for his own twisted amusement.”

Caroline: If she’d been sober the talk might have shocked Caroline. As it is…

“I can see why you would think that, if this is what you see.”

GM: “Isn’t this what I see?” Her rescuer’s voice is suddenly sharp. “Do you see something different, pray tell? Are there diamonds I am overlooking among the rough?”

Caroline: “Free will, the capacity for good and evil, is implicit in God’s promise to us. You yourself are the surest example I could provide. Would an evil man rush to the defense of someone he didn’t know? Risk his life?”

GM: René chuckles darkly. “Maybe I took no risk. Maybe I wasn’t saving you. I could have just bee absconding with this little lost lamb for myself.”

Caroline: “You could have done that in the alley.”

GM: “Maybe the alley wasn’t the opportune time.” René’s devil-mask glows like hellfire under the Quarter’s jeering lights. He smirks as he strokes Caroline’s cheek and whispers, “I can show you evil, Caroline Malveaux.”

Caroline: “Just because you’ve done evil does not mean you are evil.”

GM: “I can show you evil that makes these… festivities seem like a children’s tea party.”

Caroline: “I’m sure you saw it overseas.”

PTSD? Seems likely. Haunted by the wars, perhaps. Not uncommon. She’s seen enough haunted eyes on hardened men. Her father is a Republican senator, after all.

GM: “I can show such evil to you less than five minutes from here,” René continues. His blue eyes are cold, hungry, and… longing. So very longing.

“You see, I do not possess free will like you do. I have forever forfeited that, along with what was left of my soul.” His tone is deadly serious.

“I don’t have a soul, Caroline,” he exclaims, his eyes widening as his voice rises in pitch. “I can remember when I did, but remembering isn’t the same as having.”

Caroline: A chill runs through her.

“There’s always room for all of God’s children, there is always forgiveness. No matter what you’ve done.”

Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to give him her name…

GM: René’s fist sharply cuffs Caroline across the jaw. Her heads snaps back from the impact as she tastes blood in her mouth. Black pinpricks blossom across her vision.

“It’s not what I’ve done, you stupid bitch,” he hisses.

“It’s what I am.”

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Day ? Month ? Year?

GM: Caroline’s surroundings blur into focus. She’s lying on a green field, the grass damp against her back. Weeping willows’ boughs droop over her comatose form. The multicolored lights of the French Quarter blurrily swim and shimmer in the distance. She can make out sounds of revelry. New Orleans never stops partying. That’s just who she is. The sounds are distant, though; Caroline might not be in the Quarter. The late summer night is warm, and she feels a breeze flow over her from the north. It should cool her, but she does not feel any perspiration.

Caroline: She tries to rise.

GM: Caroline shakily ambles to her feet. The light from the street lamps seems distant and hollow, and her clothes feel cold and rough against her skin. A grassy expanse of trees intersected by a snaking river unfolds before her.

Caroline: She was just on Bourbon Street, or somewhere in the Quarter. Walking with René when he… hit her. Hard.

The images come forth, but she pushes them away. He must have left her here. She’s been in the city for years, and visited all her life. She looks around and starts to walk. She’ll certainly see a landmark somewhere.

GM: She soon spots a suited man with a trombone. She recognizes that statue even before reading the plaque underneath. She is in Louis Armstrong Park, just a short ways away from the French Quarter.

Her ears perk. People are approaching. Two of them. She can tell by their slurred mumbles and by the way their footsteps fall that they are drunk.

Caroline: She slides towards a shadow.

GM: Caroline is still groggy from whatever happened to her, and moves too slowly. The footsteps catch up. The two people, one man and one woman, are obviously college students. Neither of them looks older than 21, and both are clearly drunk, leaning on each other for support and as they stumble through the dark. The man clutches a whiskey bottle with a few swallows left in it, and the woman’s shirt is partially unbuttoned. The partygoers look at Caroline and begin giggling as only inebriated people having fun can. Their jugular veins throb in the lamplight, their chests heaving up and down as they breathe. She feels the warmth of their bodies, and it only reminds her of how cold the night feels.

That’s when the hunger blazes to life in her chest like a roaring bonfire. Her teeth feel so large in her mouth, and oh so sharp. Caroline doesn’t know what it is about the pair. She doesn’t know what happened to her. But she knows one thing:

She is a predator, and these people are her prey.

Previous, by Narrative: Story Three, Louis I
Next, by Narrative: Story Three, Emmett I

Previous, by Character: Story Two, Caroline Epilogue
Next, by Character: Story Three, Caroline II

Story Two, Caroline Epilogue

Caroline: Caroline’s next stop takes her to the intensive care unit and another, equally unpleasantly necessary conversation over the troublesome dyke and her aunt. As before, she coaches it in terms of blame—suggesting that Kane might even have been in league with or inspired Gettis—and ease for Sarah on her road to recovery.

GM: The two Whitneys, especially Lyman, are wholly consumed with grief and worry for their (grand)daughter. They still don’t know if she’s going to wake up as herself or as an invalid with no future and the mental faculties of a toddler. Their only concern besides her recovery is apprehending the man responsible for doing this to her.

Neither man evinces any great interest in Amelie Savard. They have even less in Emil Kane. They agree to support the latter’s removal from NOPD because Caroline has asked.

Caroline: Caroline’s final conversation with Uncle Carson at his home after dinner follows a similar route. She skips out on the emotion gets straight to the point with him: deflecting blame puts another person in the pocket of the family, removes a potential future problem in the form of Kane, and keeps the boat from rocking too hard.

GM: Carson and his wife are empty nesters (their children have long since left home) and seem pleased to have Caroline’s company. They serve a pleasant dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, collard greens and peach pie. Carson agrees with Caroline’s logic of minimizing the fuss on all those counts.

The Devillers, after several phone calls over several days, seem willing to let things go with Amelie facing expulsion and conviction for the misdemeanors. The largest fly in the ointment is Christina Roberts.

Christina doesn’t fight Amelie’s removal from McGehee, but wants to withdraw her rather than have her formally expelled. The school is firm that it will expel any student facing criminal charges. Christina wants to fight that. Caroline has to convince her that it’s outside the Malveaux or Devillers families’ direct control—or at least that there’s no way they would leverage influence on Amelie’s behalf.

Caroline: There are limits to even Caroline’s influence in her family. Spending as much as she has on Amelie is already a questionable proposition. Made palatable only by her existing relationship with Roberts.

GM: Christina also wants to squeak by on as few charges as possible, with as lenient a sentencing as possible. She brings up a deferred sentence program and community service instead of jail time. Her attitude is combative from the start, and Caroline also has to be careful not to make the Devillers feel like they are re-entering an argument they consider finished.

Carson agrees to drop the drug charges that could land Amelie in federal prison (he says the LSD pills in police evidence will be “taken care of”), which limits them to just two with any real real basis: criminal damage to property and being a minor in possession of alcohol. Christina seems like she wants to fight that charge too, but blaming the other girls is off the table and there’s no good explanation for why Emil would have brought a bottle of chartreuse to the scene. Damaging the LaLaurie House, on the other hand, is something that Amelie actually is guilty of. Additional municipal ordinances make the sentence especially stiff due to the building’s status as a historic property. Between those charges and how willing inspectors are to overstate (or downplay) damage to the house, Amelie could still face multiple years in prison.

Caroline: Caroline is forced to play mediator between the two parties with utterly opposing goals, and it’s as enjoyable as walking a greased tightrope. Roberts continues to push for less and less for Amelie, arguing with the methodical arguments of the lawyer she once was. The Devillers are still out for blood. The Whitneys are brief spectators amid their much deeper grief for their stricken grand/child.

In the end, Caroline is forced to acknowledge that neither party is likely to be entirely satisfied. She settles on a middle ground. Multiple charges will stick, as will some jail time, but Caroline builds back doors into the sentencing to undercut the impact, especially as she learns more of Amelie’s physical condition.

The girl is likely to face a significant recovery time, and it’s in that ambiguity that Caroline finds her thread to pull on, aided by the knowledge, and promise, that she can probably milk more medical time than is typical with a bit of influence on the medical staff and how they evaluate her condition. Neither side comes out thrilled, but both are going to come out heavily in debt to her. She’s willing to sacrifice a little bit of goodwill to keep both in play.

Certainly her conscience never enters into it. The guilt that someone might feel over summarily ruining Amelie’s life in the first place is not the kind of thing that the heiress to a family like the Malveauxes can entertain… is it?

If it does, she never lets it on to the parties involved, save perhaps her demand of Christina. She never makes mention of it as part of any of her arguments. What thoughts go on behind her emerald eyes are hers alone. To everyone else they are as cold and empty as those same precious stones. She is Caroline Malveaux. Heiress to the Malveaux family. Daughter of Senator Nathaniel Malveaux.

And to the world she is above such petty things as right and wrong in the pursuit of power.

Previous, by Narrative: Story Two, George IX
Next, by Narrative: Story Two, Emil IV

Previous, by Character: Story Two, Caroline V
Next, by Character: Story Three, Caroline I

Story Two, Victoria VI

“That dream you had that you don’t want anyone to know about? I make those come true.”
Victoria Wolf

Friday morning, 23 October 2015

GM: The next day, Anna calls the superintendent’s office and asks to schedule a meeting with the man. Sylvia listens over speaker mode.

The woman she speaks to, the superintendent’s secretary, tells Anna to pound sand. Her contract is through the year. They don’t care her life was threatened. Go back to work.

Victoria: When they’re told to fuck off, Sylvia has Anna claim irrecoverable, emotional damage, and educates her on playing the part.

GM: The woman tells Anna to pound sand. Again.

They have all the power and don’t care about her plight.

“I guess why would they,” Anna glumly remarks after hanging up. “It’s a hassle to replace a teacher midway through the year…”

Victoria: Sylvia pulls out her laptop, leaving Anna’s quip unanswered. She types in the public school district’s website, looking for information on the superintendent.

GM: She finds the address for his office easily enough. It’s in the

The superintendent, Leonard Weiss, has a photo and biography posted. It’s essentially a puff piece lauding his “extensive administrative experience,” “long-term strategic planning,” and “crucial leadership” that “raised the bar for classroom teaching and evaluation, resulting in significant performance gains among low-income students.” It reads like he’s the best thing to happen to New Orleans public schools since sliced bread.

Anna remarks it’s interesting how the piece never says he taught in a classroom.

Victoria: Sylvia calls Weiss’ secretary back. She is polite, to start. She’s kind to the woman, stating the urgency of Ms. Perry’s departure from the school district.

GM: The annoyed secretary tells her to pound sand too.

NOLA’s public charter system, Sylvia is keenly reminded, is a for-profit business enterprise. Its goal is to make money. Anna’s resignation and replacement will cost them money. They don’t care if they squeeze the life out of her to save a few bucks.

It’s all about the bottom line.

Victoria: Sylvia reminds them that their inability to provide a safe environment will cost them a bottom line if they take them to court.

Or, they could just let Anna go.

GM: Anna is paid shit, says Weiss’ secretary.

They’d like to see her file a lawsuit.

Victoria: Sylvia is not paid shit, and will see them burnt to the ground and nailed to a cross before Anna steps foot in that school again.

GM: The woman grudgingly says she’ll schedule Sylvia for a meeting with the superintendent. Anna doesn’t have to go in to work until then.

Victoria: Sylvia wishes her a blessed day and thanks her for her time. She’s never sounded more poisonously sweet.

Friday afternoon, 23 October 2015

GM: The NOPD, at least, is much faster getting results. Derek texts her, then meets her to pick up the cash. He says the boys have been arrested, including for the charge of assaulting a public officer, and are awaiting their arraignment and sentencing “somewhere that’s not much fun.” He expects a judge to be unsympathetic and to drive a harsh plea bargain.

Victoria: She meets the man, bringing the requisite amount plus $250 “for his hard work”. It never hurts having an officer on your good side, and that little sum paid forward might warm him to future prospects—or to going easy if she finds herself on the opposite side.

GM: Derek grins, shakes her hand, and says it’s been a real pleasure doing business. Call him anytime.

Saturday afternoon, 24 October 2015

GM: Like everyone, he fills out her online form.

His Location is New Orleans/Local.

His Duration is One Hour.

He describes himself as a “a police officer.” His spelling and grammar are riddled with errors. His language is simplistic and unimaginative, like a middle schooler’s book report.

His Time of Day Preference is Flexible.

His Day of Week Preference is Weekends.

Under Interests, he says wants her to be a “mommy domme” and strict with him, but “nice” when he does well. He also likes spanking and getting hit.

He doesn’t specify much else. He seems like a very poor writer, if his form submission is anything to go by.

He specifies no hard limits.

He provides a Facemash profile link. He has no references in the BDSM community.

But it’s been a slower week, and cash is cash.

Victoria: It feels like every week is a slow week, but the more she works, the more she builds rapport with clients, the faster the slow weeks quicken.

Still, this is a slow week. It’s allowed her more time to spend with Anna, but she still needs an income to eat.

So she accepts. Ordinarily, she prefers to go for the smarter applicants—often discernible by proper typing and wording indicative of as much—but money is money, and marketing is marketing.

And power is power. Knowing a police officer is helpful.

At the appointed time, Sylvia—Victoria—waits upon a sofa by the door to her humble working dungeon, a simple home converted to the darker plush aesthetic of gothic blacks and sanguines, dressed in one of several outfits she owns or the occasion.

As the number and variety of clients she’s taken have increased, she’s needed to acquire a proportional variety of outfits to suit the tastes. Today: leather pants, a corset, and heeled boots whose click heralds her danger as much as being stepped on.

GM: The smarter ones are more fun, too. They usually the more elaborate fantasies and detailed instructions.

Then again, sometimes it’s fun to have a free hand.

Per her instructions, at least, the doorbell rings.

Let it not be said the police officer can’t follow instructions.

Victoria: Victoria Wolf opens the door, gesturing the man inside.

“Hey there. Jordan?”

GM: Jordan Ratcliff is a long-limbed and lanky man with short dark hair and unremarkable facial features. His face isn’t an ugly one, but he’s got residual acne scarring and a five o’ clock that’s several hours short of five. It’s the sort of face that looks handsome after drinks. He’s casually dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.

He takes in Victora’s leather-clad and booted form.

His eyes take a minute to leave her breasts, pushed forward as they are by the corset.

“Yeah. That’s me,” he says lamely.


He holds out the money.

Her site says to discretely leave tributes by the door.

But at least he’s actually brought the money.

Victoria: Her words are laced with feather-soft pride, supportive and soothing, while her eyes glimmer with warmth. She brings him inside, shutting the door behind him. The moment that click sounds, it’s on.

“I’m so glad you’re home. It’s a special day for you, isn’t it? You know what we do on special days, riiiiight?”

A hand rests on his lower back, rubbing.

GM: “Good things?” smiles Jordan. His eyes move up to her face again at her words and tone. So soft and understanding. He’s already starting to look relieved.

“Can I touch you?”

Her site does say no sex. Even if that’s not always the reality.

Victoria: “Mmmnnn…” she hums, a dramatic flare to her thinking. Her thumb comes to rest on the cleft of his chin, her index finger curled beneath.

“Lots of good things! Touching me?… That depends.”

Not yes. Not no.

Work for it.

She leads him down a hall, into a smaller room painted baby blue, a white sofa large enough for two—or three, squished—against one wall. A paneled closet door is closed adjacent.

“You’re going to pick your favorite outfit, and if you get changed and clean up well, then maybe. Cookie?”

GM: “Yes please,” says Jordan.

He looks like he really wants to touch her. His eyes go to her corset again.

But he opens up the closet.

Victoria: She beams.

“You used your nice words. Good boy.

She disappears out into the hall, her heels clicking away.

GM: “Thank you… mistress? Should I call you that?”

When she gets back, she finds Jordan dressed in schoolboy uniform. High socks, shorts, white shirt with goofy tie, jacket. All a little short on him, and intentionally so. To make him feel smaller and emphasize he’s not put together and in control like she is.

Thinking back to Anna, the outfit is certainly topical.

Victoria: When she returns, it’s with a plate full of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Her expression, however, crumbles from the beaming well of pride that she held from the moment he entered her home to a more restrained, statuesque irritation.

She clicks her tongue, setting the cookies down.

“Is this how you’ve been taught to dress?”

Her words are just shy of a snap, laced with all the disappointment of a mother who’s told him time and time again.

“Tie crooked. Belt too tight. Socks uneven.”

She makes no comment on the goofy state of the outfit as a whole. He’s a child, after all. No, her comments are focused entirely on every tiny, minuscule fuckup he made in putting it on.

“And your shoes! Make the puppy ears, and wrap them together. The loops should be even.

The tips of her fingers hit his cheek, not quite a full slap, but certainly a physical outlet of her frustration.

GM: Jordan flinches at the not-quite slap. His face is crestfallen, though Victoria can see he’s getting hard against his parts.

“I’ll do better… mistress? Should I call you that?” he repeats.

He adjusts his tie. Loosens his belt. Raises one sock. Re-ties his shoes.

“Is this better?”

Victoria: “Would a mistress dress you like this? I’m your mommy. You want to make mommy happy, don’t you?”

She doesn’t yet comment on his adjustments.

GM: “Yes, Mommy. I do want to make you happy.”

His face turns a bit red.

Victoria: The same hand comes to rest on his face, patting his cheek. This time, it’s gentle.

“Good boy. That’s much better.”

Her hand traces the line of his jaw, over his throat, and the flat of her palm presses to his chest. She pushes him backward, no more force than a nudge.

When he sits on the sofa behind him, she climbs into his lap, straddling him.

GM: He smiles at the praise.

He falls backwards at the push.

He looks up at her longingly.

He looks like he wants to do nothing more than run his hands along her sides.

Victoria: Her hands clasp around the back of his neck, her forehead pressed to his. Her lips are so close to his that he can smell the cool scent of mint with every word.

“You’ll be good from now on, won’t you?”

She dons an air of concern.

“I don’t want to have to fix your outfit again.”

GM: Jordan’s breath is hot and flushed. His cock is very hard against her.

“Yes, Mommy. I’ll be good. You won’t have to.”

Victoria: She grinds her hips down, the stretch of leather creaking, and only that and a little fabric preventing their coupling.

“Mommy loves when you listen.”

GM: “Mommy can I please touch you,” Jordan whisper-moans. His cock desperately throbs.

Victoria: She chuckles a heady laugh. How they sit, he might be able to reach the skin of her breast if he reaches his tongue far enough.

“So hasty, baby. Don’t you want a cookie?”

She reaches over to the side table, retrieving the plate. Her hips never leave his groin.

She places it between his lips.

“Now now. Don’t. Drop. A crumb.”

GM: Jordan, she is certain, is amply aware of that fact.

“Yes, Mommy. Please,” he says. The longing in his eyes looks little abated.

“Bu-I wi’ wi’ou a play-” he tries to get out past the cookie in his mouth, eyes now wide at her commanding tone.

Victoria: “Shhhh…”

She cups a hand below his chin, giggling when crumbs dribble onto her palm.

“Careful! Don’t make a mess.”

GM: So he does his best.

He really looks like he does.

He chews and eats the cookie.

But without a plate, crumbs are inevitable.

He looks crestfallen.

Victoria: She kisses his nose.

“Precious,” she says, tipping the crumbs into his mouth. She’s strict, but she isn’t unfair.

Unless he drops the crumbs from her palm.

GM: He tries.

Again, he looks like he really does.

But some crumbs spill and get over his shirt.

“I’m sorry, Mommy…” he apologizes, plaintively.

Victoria: The look of bemusement he sees wouldn’t look out of place on a nun who caught two girls kissing.

Her hand snaps to his face, squeezing his cheeks so hard that he has difficulty speaking. The other hand snaps to his crotch.

“Do you like disappointing me?”

Both now squeeze.

“Do you not want your reward? I don’t think you do. I said, quite clearly: No. Fucking. Crumbs.”

GM: “I-’m s-ry-M-my,” Jordan tries to get out.

He looks so disappointed.

He looks just like a little boy being caught leaving a mess.

Would he cry, if she pushed?


Victoria: She gets up off his lap, snapping her fingers.

“Clean. It. Up. Lick those crumbs up!”

GM: Jordan looks unsure, and terrified for a moment, then runs his hands along his crumb-laden shirt and licks them.

“Like this, Mommy…?”

Victoria: “Good boy.”

There’s no warmth in those words.

GM: “Thank you, Mommy.”

Victoria: Victoria shakes, seemingly with anger, and brings a hand to pinch the bridge of her nose. She breathes a centering breath, and calms herself.

“You upset me, Jordan. You upset Mommy so much. So much correction. So, so very much.”

GM: Jordan scrambles off he couch, getting to his knees before her.

“I’m sorry, Mommy. I’m so sorry. What can I do?”

Victoria: She breathes a shallow, shuddering breath. Her foot presses to his chest, pushing him back against the sofa. Oh, that heel; he can feel it digging into his ribs.


GM: He obediently leans down, kissing the tip of her boot. Some blush creeps into his cheeks.

Victoria: She pushes that boot up to his throat, firm, but not strong.

“Like you mean it. You call that an apology?”

GM: Jordan plasters his mouth to the leather, running sloppy kisses up and down its length. His redness deepens.

“I’m sow-wy, Mommy,” he gets out.

Victoria: “I don’t _believe you!”_

The toe of her boot presses to his mouth.

GM: He takes it into his mouth, sucking back and forth on that pointed toe. She’d say it’s like a cock, but to him it feels more like a breast.

m sowwy!” he gargles out.

Victoria: Her foot settles back to the floor, her anger settling to a simmer.

Her voice is almost pensive. “You’re sure you’re sorry, Jordan? You know I don’t like when you make me discipline you, but Mommy has to make sure you grow up to be a good man.”

She sighs and shakes her head.

“So long to go.”

GM: “Please, Mommy,” Jordan begs, face crestfallen as the boot withdraws. “What do I have to do? I want to be good. I do. I want to be good.”

Victoria: “You want to be good?”

She wants to believe him. It’s in her voice, so subtle. But does hse?

GM: “Yes, Mommy,” he repeats. “Honest. Please. Let me be good. Help me be good.”

Victoria: She smiles that fond, motherly smile, tugging the boy to his feet by his collar.

“Tell you what, baby. Why doesn’t Mommy show you what you get when you’re really good? Maybe if you see that, then you’ll be everything Mommy needs you to be. Does that sound fair?”

GM: Jordan smiles widely.

“Yes, Mommy. That’s fair. That’s very fair. I’ll be everything, I will.”

He looks like he wants to touch her more than anything, but keeps his hands down.

Victoria: “Good boy.”

She guides him back to the chair, again settling into his lap, and again pressing her hips down into his groin.

This time, she reaches into a nearby coffee table, pulling out an unmarked bottle. It remains on the table for now.

“Mommy wants you to be big and strong. Don’t you?”

GM: Jordan smiles at those first words and Victoria’s warm tone.

He nods at her question.

“Yes, Mommy, I do.”

He’s in moderately good shape, she’d say.

Victoria: Her hands rest upon his chest, patting him. Then, they part for her own chest, where she unzips the front of her corset. Finally, though she still hasn’t given him permission to touch, he’s at least receiving partial nudity for his abuse.

“Is this what you want, baby?”

GM: He stares as though hypnotized.

“Yes, Mommy. A LOT.”

Victoria: She runs her fingers through the man’s hair, pulling him closer. Her lips press to his forehead, so warm and tender, then he’s pushed downward.

“Come here. Grow big and strong.”

GM: So he does.

He sucks her tits with earnest, hungry vigor, like it’s his mother’s milk he’s sucking. He’s actually not half-bad at all. Victoria can feel her nipples stiffening beneath his lapping tongue.

Victoria: She soothes him, slowing and settling him to to a more patient pace.

“That’s a good boy. Calm… calm…”

While he slobbers away, she reaches behind her back, down between his legs to unzip his fly, pulling his member free. Her fingers are soft as silk against that sensitive skin, gently tugging him what little he needs to come to life.

“Mama’s going to take care of you…”

GM: Victoria doesn’t need to tug him at all. He’s already rock hard. His cock quivers at her touch as his moans deepen, even muted as they are by his mouth around her breast.

Jordan looks like he could stay in this position forever.

Mama taking care of him.

Victoria: And Mama is only going to take care of him more. She reaches over to the table, tipping the bottle against her fingers. When they return to his shaft, it’s with a sudden warm wetness that makes him wonder if she sunk him inside her.

She kisses his hairline.

“Shhh… Just let yourself relax. Let’s get that stress out, huh baby boy?”

GM: ‘Baby boy’ moans and humps against her. Her hand. Her pussy. A fleshlight. Most men can tell what they’re filling, but Jordan seems content with something, anything, to fill. More than content. He thrusts in and out like mad, moaning as he sucks Victoria’s breasts.

She’s not sure if he’s relaxed, but he’s definitely getting that stress out.

Tears leak from his eyes as he pants,


Victoria: Her hands are warm, the lubricant even warmer after sitting on a warming plate. Is he fucking her? Is he fucking her hand? It doesn’t matter. It’s warm, it’s wet, and—for those few minutes—he has everything he wants in the world.

She hushes him, letting him relax.

“Mommy takes care of you, doesn’t she? Relax…”

She shifts her hips, ceasing his thrusting. Where he stops, her slow, spiraling motions take over, attempting to bring that life from his balls.

GM: Jordan moans into her breasts, switching from the right to the left.

He doesn’t look like he wants to stop. But he does. There’s life aplenty in his balls, and in his quavering, precum-leaking cock.

He does what Mommy says.

Victoria: Her back arches, one of her nipples presented to his mouth.

“Close your eyes… That’s a good boy.”

Now that he’s calm, she begins to pump him with more intent.

“You have something of Mommy’s, and Mommy needs it…”

GM: “Y-ess… Momm… y….!” Jordan pants past that nipple.

She can feel his urge to thrust. To fill. But she’s said not to.

And he does so very want to be a good boy.

Victoria doesn’t have to run her hand up and down his shaft for long. He ejaculates with a messy shudder, his seed running over her fingers as he sinks forward against her breasts. Not even tonguing them now. Just resting his face against them like they’re a return, in truth, to his days as a suckling infant. Where all was right in the world, absent whatever trauma or inadequacy has driven him to seek her out.

Victoria can’t know for sure, of course. But she has enough experience to have an ear for such things, especially after he whimpers,

“I… love… you… Mommy…”

As ever, the domme provides the fantasy he’s looking for.

Another day, another dollar.

Sunday afternoon, 25 October 2015

GM: Anna asks Sylvia’s permission over where and how to spend money. She greets her, kneeling, like they discussed.

It’s on the last day of their agreement that she seemingly forgets to.

But Victoria is no stranger to this business.

She recognizes bratting when she sees it.

Anna is curious what will happen.

Victoria: Sylvia shuts the door behind her, returning her keys to her bag and setting it on a small table beside the door. She turns, catching sight of Anna.

She stares.

She waits.

She cants her head.

She waits some more.

GM: “Hey Sylvie,” she smiles, approaching her girlfriend for a hug and kiss.

Walking towards, not kneeling.

There’s an impish cast to her eyes. She definitely isn’t just forgetting.

Victoria: Sylvia runs her tongue over the sharp edge of her teeth; an idle, thinking tell, Anna knows.

She beams.

“I missed you so, so much, Anna.”

She leans in to kiss her.

GM: “You too,” Anna smiles, closing her eyes as she leans in to the kiss.

Victoria: The kiss she gives is far more heated than an expected greeting, her hands wandering lower than a hug would merit.

GM: “Hello to you too,” Anna giggles, but her hands are soon touching Sylvia’s intimate places too. Her tongue explores her girlfriend’s mouth.

Color starts to rise in her cheeks as the pair get going.

Only two days in, they really have been fucking like bunnies.

Victoria: She seizes Anna’s bottom lip between her teeth, as she knows drives her wild, hands coming to her hips. She moves the pair of them back into the room, across the hall and into the bedroom.

“Right now.”

GM: Anna doesn’t say “you don’t have to tell me twice.”

She just tugs off Sylvia’s clothes, skin flushed with the heat of desire as they trade further kisses.

Victoria: Sylvia blocks the hand that goes for the button of her shorts, pushing Anna backward with her torso, both wrists in hand. She pins them beside her head, breath hot on her throat.

“Uh… uh… uh…” she hums, as if telling a child no.

GM: “Yes… yes… yes…!” Anna giggles. She playfully struggles at first, but also leans into it, stretching her arms back and her legs forward in an exaggerated ‘come ravish me’ pose.

Victoria: She climbs onto the bed, shimmying her back up toward the headboard. Anna’s lips meet Sylvia’s, this time for a more tender kiss.

“I love you.”

GM: Anna returns it, just as softly, eyes shining up at her.

“I love you, too. With all my heart, since the day we met.”

Victoria: She bites her own lip, looking fondly down at her.

“Stay here.”

She hops off the bed, running to her closet. Anna can hear boxes shifting around, and then an “ah ha!”

Sylvia returns.

“Close your eyes.”

GM: Anna stays.

“Oooh, getting one of your _toys?”_ she smiles.

She closes her eyes.

Victoria: “Uh huh. Something like that.”

She rolls Anna onto her belly, taking one of her hands. She kisses the palm, so, so tenderly, and wraps a silk scarf around it, tying it at her wrist.

GM: “Kinky!” Anna exclaims, happily.

She wiggles her bottom.

Victoria: She climbs over her, repeating the process for the other wrist. She’s just as soft, and the other hand gets a kiss, too.

Then, she ties each of them to a bed post so her arms are just short of outstretched.

GM: “I like where this is going…” Anna says, breathily. She tugs against the bonds and spreads her legs for Sylvia.

Victoria: “Me too, Anna. Me too.”

She shifts her dress upward, planting a kiss on her of her cheeks, before slipping her panties down to her ankles.

GM: She finds Anna very wet. Her girlfriend tugs against her restraints some more.

Victoria: She parts her cheeks, her tongue tracing the lips below.

“My, my. Someone’s been dreaming of me coming home.”

GM: “A housewife has nothing to do but dream of her breadwinner to come home and ravish her,” Anna sighs.

“Mmm, ‘breadwinner.’ ‘Woman of the house?’ Or how about… ‘mistress?’”

Anna bucks and wriggles her pelvis towards Sylvia’s face.

Victoria: CLAP!

Anna’s ass turns a pleasant shade of red.

GM: “Eep!” Anna exclaims.

Victoria: Seconds later, Sylvia’s nails trace and trail over that reddened skin.

GM: “Eech!” Anna exclaims at that, with somewhat less comfort. But she doesn’t use the safe word.

Victoria: “You, my love, are so forgetful…”

Those nails feel like razors against reddened, sensitive skin.

GM: “Ahhh!” Anna squirms. “What’d I forget!”

Victoria: She spanks her again, this time on the other cheek.

GM: Anna gives another yelp. “I’m sorry I didn’t kneel!”

Victoria: Clap!

“It’s so pretty when it turns this red.”

GM: “Ack! I’m sorry I didn’t kneel! Mistress!”

Victoria: Anna feels the soft skin of her fingers rub that red mark. She doesn’t answer.

GM: Anna whimpers.

“I’m sorry I wanted to see what you’d do…!”

Victoria: She presses her lips to that new red mark, so tender, so loving.

“Mhmmm… But…”

GM: Anna sighs with relief.


Victoria: “But now I’m having fun.”

This time, the spank is more gentle; a spark, but not a fire.

GM: “Eep!” Anna giggles, wiggling her rear. “I’ve learned my lesson!”

Victoria: Sylvia crawls up the bed, burrowing under Anna’s arm to lay below her.

“Have you?”

GM: “Yes. Promise. I’ll be a good girl.”

Victoria: “Uh huh.”

She doesn’t believe her.

GM: “You don’t think I’m good?”

Victoria: “Oh, you’re good…

GM: “I’m very good! The goodest!”

Anna wriggles against her bonds.

“Are you going to untie me?”

Victoria: She presses their lips together, fingers wrapping her hair about her fist to keep her in place.


GM: “But you said I was good…” Anna whines.

She tries to give Sylvia a kiss.

Victoria: Anna feels a finger slip between the lips that aren’t being kissed.

“If you complain, I’ll stop and leave you here.”

GM: “…yes, mistress,” says Anna.

She gives a softer whine.

Victoria: Her touches below are soft; more explorative than carrying intent to pleasure her.

“Say it again,” she purrs.

GM: “Yes, mistress,” Anna breathes, clearly savoring that touch.

Victoria: A finger disappears inside her, curving up and in toward that special spot inside her.

“Say it again. Again. Tell me every thought in your head.”

GM: Anna gives a little gasp of pleasure.

“Mistress. Mistress. I… wanted to see what you’d do…”

“I was bad, but I’ll be good…”

Victoria: The more she talks, the more Sylvia tries to turn those subtle touches into a drive for warmth in her cheeks.

GM: She amply succeeds. Anna is very warm. She squirms against her bonds, calls her mistress all sorts of delightful things, and tries to drive herself deeper into Sylvia’s fingers. She’s soon a shuddering, needful mess on the verge of cumming.

Victoria: Every time Anna thrusts herself downward, begging more of that gratuitous touch, Sylvia retracts her fingers just as much. She keeps Anna there, pushing her forward little by little, making her fight that instinct to seek her own pleasure. No, Anna gets what she deserves; what Sylvia deigns to give her.

As she approaches that precipice, Sylvia pulls her fingers out and brings them to her own mouth. She savors each one, leaving the beast atop her starving before a plate of raw meat.

GM: It’s so frustrating.

To thrust deeper, every time she gets closer, and get rewarded with less. Maddening.

But little by little, she gets closer. Until Sylvia stops. Anna whines and pulls against her bonds. She’s red-faced, sweating, and dripping like mad between her legs.

“Please… please… let me cum… mistress…!” Anna blubbers. She looks so frustrated. Like she could cry.

Still, she doesn’t use the safe word.

Victoria: The barest touch brushes her clitoris, engorged and begging for attention.


Consideration, but no answer.

GM: Anna gives a high-pitched whine.

“Plea… eeeaaase…!”

Victoria: “I could hold you here…”

A kiss to her jawline.

“Right here…”

To her chin.


To her lips.

“Left in purgatory…”

GM: Anna really does look like she could cry. Her breath is hot and ragged. She’s so close. Sylvia’s touch, even the barest brush against her clit, is like lightning through her body.

PLEEE-AAASE…!” she begs, bonds strained to their utmost.

Victoria: She whispers in her ear, her breath hot as fire.

“…I could get a toy. I could make you feel so full. I could use my tongue.”

Her touch is just a little heavier, fingers sliding to either side of that node.

“I know you love it when I suckle on it just the littlest bit until you’re close, then take it in my mouth and overwhelm you.”

She pauses, just to let her suffer.

“I think you’re already overwhelmed. Maybe we should start over.”

GM: Every breath against Anna’s hot skin seems to draw another ragged pant.

It’s Sylvia’s touch that makes her scarlet-faced, sweating, and mad-eyed lover look ready to scream.

Oh, yes. She’s suffering. Sylvia loves to see them like this. Taken right to the edge. Where all they can think about is release, every other thought purged from their mind, and they know Sylvia has the power. She is God to them, at this moment. They will say anything, do anything, agree to absolutely anything. Putty in her hands.

Anna throws back her head and screams, eyes moist from her frustration.


Victoria: Her fingers disappear. For a moment, Anna might wonder if she’s really going to keep her in that hellish state.

She climbs out from under her, resituating herself behind her lover. Using her hands, she guides Anna to lift her hips into a kneeling position, then presses her torso to the bed.

She can feel Sylvia’s breath on her lips. Only her breath.

GM: Anna obeys without thought, on purely unconscious instinct, her eyes mad with desire.

Victoria: She presses her face to her sex, pulling the skin down from her clitoris, and pulls it into her mouth. There’s not more talking. There’s not more teasing. There’s only Anna’s frenetic brain, a flood of too many hormones, and the fact that Sylvia is doing her best to cause a short circuit in her brain.

GM: It feels like Sylvia’s tongue has barely even touched Anna’s clit when her lover comes apart. Anna screams as the climax rips through her, every muscle contracting, her juices soaking Sylvia’s face. Anna shudders, twitches, and collapses. She lets out an exhausted pant-like breath.

“M… m… iss… thank… you…” she whimpers, her voice shaking like a leaf in the wind.

Victoria: The flood of fluid soaking her face is a surprise, but not an unwelcome one. She doesn’t even clean it off before she kisses Anna.

She unties the girl, pulling her into a spooning side-lay, then tosses a blanket atop them.


Sylvia doesn’t even mention reciprocation. She only holds her, rubs her arm, and hums in her ear.

GM: “Mmmm…” Anna murmurs dreamily. She curls up against Sylvia, laying a head on her side.

She doesn’t speak for several moments, just breathes and… well, recovers.

“I don’t think I’ve ever cum so hard…”

Victoria: “There’s something to be said for being restrained…” she purrs into the woman’s throat.

GM: Anna laughs faintly.

“What’s it you like… about this?”

Victoria: Her words are a dreamy song.

“Does it need… an explanation?”

GM: Anna rubs her head against Sylvia.

“No… but I’d like to hear yours anyway.”

Victoria: “I’m not sure you’ll understand, but you might appreciate it from outside the window,” she answers after a thought.

“There’s something… powerful; addictingly so. You take someone—a brilliant, kind person, full of hopes and dreams, full of life and love—and you reduce them to a quivering, begging mess. For as long as I have them, they’re not their own person anymore. They’re mine. They’re a pet. They’re reduced to the sum of their animalistic urges, no more than a hungry dog.”

She kisses behind her ear. Anna isn’t that anymore. The moment’s passed.

“And then… once all is done, they’re at the peak, and they look down and wonder at the journey that got them there. Sometimes they blush. Sometimes they grin. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes they regret it. Sometimes they deny, and cast blame seated in anger. Yet… they’re all there, and they don’t forget the experience. Neither do I.”

A pause.

“…though, I’m not quite as vulgar with my clients as with you.”

GM: Anna laughs faintly.

“Well, I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“That helps me understand, though. What you like about it. Having power.”

“I thought about using the safe word,” she says. “I was, well, you could see how close. I absolutely had to get off.”

“But I just thought… I’ll trust you, and see how this turns out.”

“And, plus, the safe word’s for if you’re being hurt. Not just denied something you want. Right?”

Victoria: “Exactly! You can’t use the safe word to make me finish you. Only to make me stop what I’m doing and let you out of restraints, and I will always let you out without question.”

GM: “I think that makes it even more exciting, that I can’t make you finish me…”

Victoria: Another kiss lands in her hair.

“On my very first interview with Chakras, they taught me a lesson that I’ve held close to my heart every day since. It applies to more than just the BDSM world. The goal of a dominatrix is to push their clients beyond their comfort; to experience new sensations, and to learn to become in touch with the creature inside them that only comes out when all sentient thought is left behind. Your safe word should always be just out of reach, held just so that your fingertips can only brush it. If you’re uncomfortable or in mild pain, you’ll stretch for it, but your fingers will only push it away. Only when it burns so sharply that you jerk your hand forward as if from a hot stove will you grasp it. That is when you should use it.”

GM: “That’s beautiful,” Anna smiles at her description. “Seriously, what a beautiful way to put it! You’re an artist with words at describing BDSM. You make it sound like so much more than just a way to get your rocks of…”

Victoria: She nudges her belly, fingers spidering as she tickles her.

“So! Let me push you!”

GM: Anna breaks off giggling under Sylvia fingers.

“Ack! Noooo!”

Victoria: “All these years and you didn’t know I have a tickling fetish!”

She’s relentless. Lucifer, watch out.

GM: “Ahhgh-ghh-ghh! Aieeep! Noooo!”

The already breathless Anna is soon doubly so under Sylvia’s relentless fingers. She sues for peace and pardon.

Victoria: The only pardon she gets is a heated Sylvia atop her, kissing her as if it is the last night they’ll both see each other alive.

GM: Anna returns those kisses with equal vigor, and soon the two are lying in one another’s arms again, breathless and warm-cheeked, seemingly content to let the moment last forever.

“This was fun,” says Anna.

“These past two days, that is. Trying things out.”

She looks at Sylvia and smiles.

“What do we do next?”

Victoria: She cants her head. She’s not going to tell her that it’s polite to return affection given, but it’s pretty plain in her expression that something is missing.

“What do you want to do?”

GM: “I’m asking for you, too,” Anna says in response to that look and cant.

“Besides make you feel as good as I just did? I want to follow your lead.”

“I like where that’s taken us.”

Victoria: “You want me to tell you what I want you to do for me…?” she asks, a dangerous glint in her eye. Uh oh.

GM: “You like being in charge, don’t you?” Anna asks innocently.

Victoria: She smiles that crooked smile.

“Go into the closet. Pick something out. My command is your partial choice. I’ll teach you how to use it, and… if you don’t perform well, well…”

GM: “Wuh-oh…”

Anna returns with a riding crop and a flogger.

“Hm, decisions…”

Victoria: Sylvia is laying back against the pillows, waiting.

“Decisions, decisions, decisions…”

GM: Anna selects the crop and lightly smacks its end against her palm.

Victoria: Sylvia actually shivers.

“That… sound…”

GM: “You’re a deviant,” smirks Anna. “And you weren’t helpful deciding. So you’re gonna get _punished.”_

There’s a louder, crisper smack.

Victoria: A larger chill rips through her, and she bites her lip.


She doesn’t move. She doesn’t reach to remove her clothing. This is all Anna.

GM: “Grrrr!” says Anna, raising the crop. She makes a face.

It could be fierce.

Or it could be cute.

Or both.

Victoria: “You are like a little cub growling at her mother,” she chides. “Come on. Prove me wrong.”

GM: Anna smacks her palm with the crop again.

“Take off your clothes, young lady. You’re in trouble now.”

Victoria: Every time that clap sounds, Anna jumps or shivers, as if she’s been trained. Pavlov’s riding crop.

She sinks her thumbs into her jeans, but before she shimmies them at all, she stops.

“Make me.”

GM: She receives an abrupt swat with the crop to her backside.

“Don’t make me repeat myself, young lady!”

It’s not the most adroitly placed, but it does leave a sting.

Victoria: Sylvia yips! Even through denim shorts, she can feel the familiar sting, though it’s more the promise of it and the memories it surfaces than the pain itself that gets her moving.

“Yes, mistress.”

She unbuttons her shorts, shifting them down with her thumb. Her underwear does little to cover her rear, but she doesn’t move to remove it.

GM: “No initiative,” Anna says critically. “This must be why your grades are so poor.”

She swats Sylvia’s hip.

“Underwear too.”

Victoria: Sylvia yelps!

The look she gives Anna is the same as if a man walked in and claimed to be Jesus, and she’s just as happy as if it was true.

Her underwear disappears.

“No teaching the teacher, huh?”

GM: Anna touches the crop to Sylvia’s chin.

“Poor grades. Repeated phone calls and emails with your parents. Placement in Learning Strategies. IEP. So many extra credit opportunities and classroom accommodations. And so many assignments not even turned in. After all that.”

The crop critically taps against her cheek several times.

“What do you have to say for yourself, young lady?”

Victoria: IE… P?

She looks lost.

“B—but… I’m sorry, Ms. Perry.”

She even looks sorry, though it only looks skin deep. Sylvia lifts her hips, offering herself to the teacher.

“It’s so boring! I don’t want to do homework!”

GM: “No, no, no,” says Anna. “You know what school is, young lady? Practice for life. And in life we have to do all sorts of things we don’t want to do. Someone who can’t buck up to that is a _child.”_

The crop delivers a hard, fast swat to Sylvia’s backside.

Victoria: She whimpers as the crop strikes her, her heart thumping inside her chest. What the hell?! What happened to Anna May Perry?!

“I—I’ll be a good girl! Promise!”

GM: The crop lightly taps against Sylvia’s swatted flesh.

“Did you know that corporal punishment is still legal in Louisiana schools?”

Victoria: “Is th-that why Louisiana has the best students?”

She relents.

“Ms. Perry, I’ve been a bad student. I understand. I need to be punished.”

GM: The crop swats Sylvia’s flank again.

“Minus five!” says Anna.

“No, that’s wrong. Louisiana has some of the worst performing students in the country. And you’re one of them!”

“I think you’re the worst performing student I’ve ever had.”

She sits down on the edge of the bed and pats her lap.

“Over my knee, young lady. Bottom up.”

Victoria: She begins to cry.

“I’m s-sorry, Ms. Perry!”

Reluctantly, she clambers to the edge of the bed, resting atop Anna’s lap chest-down.

“I’ll be a better student!”

GM: “I suppose we’ll just see,” says Anna, rubbing Sylvia’s struck bottom.

“Here’s how this is going to work. For every wrong answer, you get a spank. For every right answer, you get something nice.”

“We’ll start off easy,” she says, rubbing Sylvia’s bottom. “Now… what year was New Orleans founded?”

Victoria: The domme appears completely defeated. She hasn’t just given up. She wants to give up. What a role reversal!


She swallows, nervous.

“Please don’t hit me! I… 1803!”

GM: There’s a pause.

Then: SMACK!

“That is the single WORST answer I have ever heard from a student!”

Victoria: “I’m s-s-sorry, Ms. Perry! I’m s-sorry!”

GM: “New Orleans was founded in 1718. That was such a bad answer we’re keeping your score in the negatives, now.”

“-1, young lady. You have a hole to dig your way out of.”

Victoria: “Y-yes Ms. Perry!”

Chakras has nothing on this.

GM: “Now, let’s try something else, since dates don’t seem to be your forte. New Orleans has been ruled by what three countries?”

Victoria: She swallows. Fuck, why didn’t shy pay more attention in class? Who knew it would come back to bite her—spank her—years later.

“Uh-uhm… France, and… the United States, and…”



“…Sp… ain?”

GM: Anna rubs her bottom.

Victoria: She whimpers.

GM: “Very good. You’re at zero now.”

Victoria: “Thank you, Ms. Perry!”

GM: “Benjamin F. Butler, the Union general who oversaw New Orleans’ occupation during the Civil War, was nicknamed ‘Spoons.’ Why was this?”

Victoria: Oh, fuck. This is a hard one.

She can feel the warmth rising in that reddened skin, rushing to treat the wounds. She can feel the looming crop, hovering just above, ready to strike. She can feel Anna grinning down at her, reveling in that reversal.


She swallows.

“H-he… he made his soldiers dig a trench with nothing but spoons!”

GM: There’s a sharp swat to her backside.


Victoria: She yelps!


GM: “And you know what else that wrong answer is, young lady?”

There’s a second, even sharper swat to her reddened backside.

“It’s DOUBLE wrong! You can’t dig trenches around New Orleans! It’s why we don’t have basements either!”

Victoria: Her backside is bristling against the cool air of the apartment!

She whines.

“Wh—what’s… the answer?”

GM: “Because he was accused of stealing silverware from the homes of wealthy citizens. He wasn’t a very popular man in the city.”

Anna rubs Sylvia’s reddened skin.

“Let’s try something easier. What are the three colors of Mardi Gras?”

Victoria: What the fuck? Come on, Sylvia! You can’t be so frazzled from this that you can’t remember the colors of fucking Mardi Gras!

Yet, she is.

“Red… and, uhm… green, and… yellow!”



She’s indistinguishable from a tomato.

GM: “I’m sorry, young lady, is your calendar wrong? Do you think it’s December to be telling me red and green?”

Victoria: “I wish Santa came at the same time as Mardi Gras!”

GM: There’s a lighter swat.


Victoria: Sylvia snickers.

Sorry, I don’t mean to be a distracting student.”

GM: “You’re hopeless,” sighs Anna, some of the authoritative tone slipping.

“Now. Describe, in brief, New Orleans’ involvement in the War of 1812.”

Victoria: “Wh—”

She hasn’t been asked a question like that since the long form essay of her junior year high school history exam!

Well, if Anna wants to be a brat…

“Ms. Perry,” she begins with a sudden confidence that’s indubitably telling, “we armed ourselves against the negro menace to prevent a hostile usurpation of the white man’s breeding rights. If not for those brave 1,812 souls who defended the sanctity of our bodies, why, you and I might just be plugged into a zoo somewhere carrying children of all colors of the ethnic rainbow.”

GM: Sylvia receives two very sharp smacks against her already reddened, sensitive skin for that.

Anna doesn’t need to say ‘double wrong.’

Victoria: She receives a double yelp in return.

Worth it.

“Uhm… do you still want an answer?”

GM: There’s a third sharp swat.

“How do you address me, young lady?”

Victoria: She whines.

“Ms. Perry.”

GM: “I suppose that depends. Do you still want a chance at getting off?”

“You seemed so unhappy I didn’t reciprocate.”

Victoria: Truthfully, Sylvia can be left unsatisfied right now and not complain. Anna is showing a side of her that she’s never seen before, and that she prays will be making a return.

But that won’t be fun for either of them!

Pleeeease, Ms. Perry,” she mewls, rolling only enough to look back at her. “Would you give me just one more chance? I promise I’ll be the best student you’ve ever had!”

GM: “Okay, ONE more, for the one question you got right,” says Anna.

“1812. Real answer?”

Victoria: She draws a breath, already preparing for the inevitable swat. Sylvia is bright when it comes to her field and interests. Unfortunately, that does not overlap Anna’s specialty.

“It was… when the British came back, and they got fussy about who owns what in the United States.”

GM: “I asked what New Orleans’ involvement was,” reminds Anna.

Victoria: “U-uh…”

GM: Anna rubs Sylvia’s reddened ass cheeks.

“Oh, so sad.”

Victoria: The domme breathes a pathetic whine. In all her years at Chakras, in all the games they’d played after hours, she never fell quite this hard into her submissive side. Anna truly is a magical teacher.

“…please. Please. You can hit me all you want, just don’t leave!”

GM: “I don’t know, I’ve already hit you a lot of times,” says Anna, rubbing her tender cheeks.

“I think it’s lost its novelty.”

Victoria: She looks back at her, her internal gears turning. Anna’s never seen her this desperate.

GM: “And you’ve not been able to answer the question. I don’t think there’s much else we can do here.”

Victoria: Her face scrunches up.

“An—Ms. Perry…”

“Isn’t there anything I can do?”

GM: “I think you’ve failed out of my class, young lady. You’re getting held back if you don’t want summer school.”

Victoria:UGH! You mean I’ll have to spend ANOTHER year with you?!”

GM: “Yep.”

Anna kisses her head.

“You’re stuck with me.”

Victoria: She rolls a little further, then hugs her.

GM: Anna laughs and hugs her back, rolling into bed with her.

“Okay,” she smiles, “now it is your turn…”

Sunday afternoon, 25 October 2015

GM: Soon, Sylvia knows the same release as her lover, and they both lie spent and satisfied in one another’s arms.

“That was a change of pace,” giggles Anna.

“I think I prefer you in control, though.”

Victoria: She pulls Anna halfway atop her, resting her head against her breast. Idly fingers trace through the teacher’s hair.

“Me too… but it was a nice change of pace. I didn’t know you had that in you!”

GM: Anna wraps her arms around Sylvia, content to lie her head against that breast.

“I was surprised too,” she smiles. “Easier once I stepped into the teacher role, though.”

Victoria: “You will be doing it again…”

“If you’re good.”

“Or if I’m bad.”

GM: “Eh, honestly, I prefer letting you be in the driver’s seat. I have to be the authority figure around kids all day.”

Or at least, did.

Victoria: “I’m your kid. Sometimes. I act like it.”

She suddenly bounces. “Can I have a cookie?!”

GM: Anna gives a soft laugh.

“I mean, I definitely prefer to be more supportive and instructive than authoritative. But ‘head of the class’ is a hat I wear all day, all the time. I like how I can just… let it all down, around you.”

“I really really like that.”

“This helped put it into perspective.”

Victoria: She trails a finger up her neck, supporting her jaw by the tip. “You know that bag of Oreos in the closet…”

GM: “…yes?”

Victoria: That finger taps her chin. She waits.

GM: “Are you asking me as a kid, or telling me as a mistress…?”

Victoria: Tap, tap, tap goes the finger. It is a common gesture when Sylvia doesn’t want to have to say something twice.

GM: “Mmm… have you really put the mistress hat back on, I wonder….” Anna wonders lazily.

Wonders, still from bed.

Victoria: She flicks her nose.

“Cookies, or I’ll put the riding crop away and you’ll never see it again!”

GM: “Mmm… I don’t know… you have so many other toys, and I’m so comfortable here…” Anna sighs blissfully.

The seasoned domme can tell bratting when she sees it.

Victoria: She kisses her chin, then moves to her ear, biting the lobe.

“You know… that thing you love me to do? That thing… I only do when you’re really… really… good…?”

GM: Anna smiles and giggles lightly at the contact.

“Mmm… which thing…?”

Victoria: Her nails trail down the outside of the teacher’s thigh.

“You’re thinking of more than one… there have been a few in the last few days, mmm?”

Victoria knows bratting. If it isn’t stomped out early, it becomes an infestation.

“Pick one.”

That sultry purr becomes an angry growl.

“I will not do it to you until Christmas if you do not get that fucking bag of cookies.”

GM: “…I pick getting the cookies,” says Anna.

Victoria: Sylvia smiles.

“You’re learning.”

GM: “Lots,” she smiles back, kissing Sylvia’s head.

She slips out of bed, her earlier laziness forgotten, and returns shortly later with cookies.

She makes a show out of kneeling low and proffering them up with raised hands.

Being naked adds to the effect.

Victoria: “Ooooh, this is fitting. I approve.”

A pause.

“This is how you’ll hand me things for the next week.”

GM: “Yes, mistress,” Anna smirks.

“Do I get a reward…?”

Victoria: “Close your eyes.”

She pulls her back into bed.

GM: Anna smiles and closes her eyes.

Victoria: Sylvia presses a cookie between her lips.

“Good girl.”

GM: “Mmf.” Anna chews the cookie. “We’ve had sooo much junk food.”

Victoria: She pokes her navel.

“Uh huh. We should be better… but what’s one week?”

GM: “We’ll eat more salad next week.”

They’ll have next week.

And all the time in the world.

Monday evening, 26 October 2015

GM: “So,” Anna says the next evening on the couch together as a movie plays in the playground, “what’s next?”

“We tried out asking permission with money, and kneeling with greetings. What’s next in the whole… lifestyle?”

Victoria: Sylvia doesn’t answer for a while. When she does, it’s with pensive patience to her words.

“There are… what feels like an endless amount of activities to do in the lifestyle. New ideas come up every year. There are more tame activities, like pet play and public play. There are not-so-tame ones like wax and fire play, which require some setup, and shouldn’t be performed by the uneducated. And… There are extremes. Whipping. Real whipping. Knifeplay. Fireplay. Deathplay.”

GM: “I think I’d prefer to start somewhere tamer,” Anna replies, amused.

“Like pet play and public play.”

Victoria: “You mean to tell me, my sweetest love, that you don’t want to have a knife on your throat again?”

She looks obviously faux-hurt.

GM: Anna kisses her cheek.

“The only person I’d trust with a knife at my throat is you, my sweetest love.”

Victoria: She trails a finger across Anna’s throat, gentle, her painted nail the faintest echo of what a knife would be.

“And I’d do you no more harm than appropriate.”

But not none.

GM: “‘No more than appropriate.’ If we’re getting that hot and heavy, take me now,” Anna declares dramatically, baring her throat.

Victoria: Her teeth seize her throat, just above the artery!

GM: “You’re a vampire. Why am I not surprised?” Anna laughs. Sylvia can feel her throat vibrate with each word.

Victoria: “It was me the whole time!” She tugs the flesh, suckling greedily between her teeth.

GM: “How do I taste?”

Victoria: She runs her tongue over the ‘wound’.

“Like last night’s Indian takeout.”

GM: “Yum.”

Anna shifts.

“Seriously, though. What do we want to do next?”

“Activities, and also non-sexual things.”

“Like with the greetings and money.”

Victoria: She drums her fingers on her thigh, thinking.

“There are… hmn…”

What to do, what to do…

She takes Anna’s face in her hands, pressing her lips to her nose.

“How did lending your financial decision making power to me feel?”

GM: Anna smiles at the affection, rubbing her nose back.

“It was… interesting. It felt serious, because it was happening outside of the bedroom.”

“It was kind of a relief.”

“Things had been stressful. I liked just… handing control to someone I knew I could trust.”

Victoria: She nods, assenting.

“The transfer of power is your gift to me, not my theft from you. It’s you conveying authority to me so you don’t have to think about it. Even the little things, we feel some guilt. Should I buy that two-for-one apple pie with my combo? Should I turn my soda into a milkshake?”

Always food!

“You just have to look at me and ask. So… let’s continue that, hmn? I’ll continue to maintain light control of your finances for now, and we’ll discuss as we go. In addition, you’ll take up some of the more domestic duties here. You’re a fantastic chef, and I’d be a foolish mistress if I didn’t take advantage of that. So, for now, you’ll be making dinner five nights per week.”

She kisses her nose again.

“Remember, my love: the power you grant me is yours to give, and at any moment you can seize it right back. Okay?”

GM: “Okay,” Anna smiles back, nuzzling her nose against Sylvia’s.

“So I keep asking you permission to buy things, and I keep doing the cooking. That sounds good.”

Anna thinks.

“Is there anything more we could do? This is continuing what we’ve been doing, basically. I’ve already been doing a lot of domestic stuff, since you’re bringing in the money.”

Victoria: “Non-sexually?”

GM: “Yes. That’s the more interesting to me, I think, in some ways.”

“I mean, sex is sex. It’s always fun, there are always ways to spice it up.”

“Non-sexually is… a paradigm shift. It’s something different from what I’ve done, in other relationships.”

“Like with Jeff, the spanking and calling him Daddy was never outside the bedroom. It was always just play.”

Victoria: Tap, tap, tap goes her finger.

“I will expect you to ask permission to leave. After all, you attend to the needs of your goddess, don’t you? You’ll need to be reeeeally sure that it’s safe to leave me alone while I’m at home. If it happens to be that I come home and you’re not here…”

She lets that trail off. The outcome, even this early, is clear.

GM: “…I’m in trouble,” Anna smiles.

“Yes, mistress.”

Victoria: “Anna, you are and have always been the biggest brat I have ever known, and I love every ounce of it. You’ll have trouble sitting the first month, I imagine.”

Of course, that’s only one way to punish a brat.

GM: Anna smirks and rubs her rear preemptively.

Victoria: “…do you have any limits to declare?”

GM: Anna thinks.

“I don’t like getting insulted or called mean names.”

“I put up with enough put-downs at work.”

Victoria: “Don’t call Anna a bitch. Got it.”

GM: “Yeah. Brat is fine, slut isn’t.”

Victoria: “Well… as they say: you are what you eat.”

She returns to gnawing her throat, this time not quite so hard.

GM: “Mmm… so that literally makes me a pussy, then? Your pussy?” Anna smirks.

Victoria: She earns a blush at that.

“You can’t still be hungry.”

GM: Anna laughs. “I’m ‘full,’ thanks.”

“We just went at it!”

Victoria: “I’m rather enjoying the closeness and conversation…”

GM: “Oh. Uh, scat and pee.”

“Not into that.”

Anna smirks again. “How’s that for closeness?”

Victoria: She flicks an ear.

“I agree with that. No peeing in Anna’s mouth.”

GM: “Anything that’d out me to my family or at work. I don’t think you’d cross that line anyway, but… good communication to bring up, right?”

Victoria: Her eyes widen.

“I will never subject you to anything that would endanger you to your family or jeopardize your career.”

She is deadly serious.

GM: “I know, I didn’t think you would!” Anna assures. “We just talked about public stuff, earlier.”

“Oh. And needles.”


Victoria: “Mhmm, we’ll be very careful not to be caught! Mama and her two boys in the grocery store haven’t consented, sooooo…”

“Yes, no needles.”

GM: “They haven’t consented,” Anna says thoughtfully.

“Yeah, that’s it. That’s why I have a problem with people doing dirty things in public. I haven’t asked to see that!”

“I mean, outside of someplace like the Quarter where I’m pretty sure it’ll happen.”

Victoria: “I’m pretty sure at least a few children a week are made there…”

But she doesn’t want to think about fat tourists copulating.

“We’ll be cautious.”

She wraps her in her arms, kissing her hair with a breathy laugh.

“I won’t let my little Anna be found out.”

GM: Anna smiles up at her adoringly.

“And I trust my big Sylvie to keep me safe.”

Wednesday afternoon, 28 October 2015

GM: Sylvia’s appointment with the superintendent rolls around. The contrast between his office and Anna’s literally falling apart school is like night and day. It’s in a nice, modern building in a nice part of town. It looks like a corporate office. No delinquent youths in sight. Sylvia would not even know it administered the public school system from a glance.

She’s inside the superintendent’s office after a brief wait. It’s a nice office. There’s not a trace of decor related to kids. There is a framed PhD from a prestigious university, along with other awards and a photo of him shaking hands with the mayor. The man himself wears a business suit and looks like a corporate executive. He looks like the kind of guy who can afford Victoria on the regular.

He also looks less than pleased to see Sylvia.

He explains, with a cool smile, that if she believes she can afford better lawyers than them, she is mistaken. He says they will win any suit Sylvia brings to court and that she will pay both sides’ attorneys’ fees. He says he is inclined to “make an example” out of Anna for wasting his time.

“That little teacher,” he states thinly, saying the word like he might say ‘janitor’, “will only leave her job in a body bag before her contract is up. Are we understood, Miss St. George?”

Victoria: Sylvia wears her best to this meeting: pressed slacks, a plain, white blouse and a blazer. Her heels herald her entrance to the room, but heels this time that scream enticement, vice terror.

When she enters the room, she smothers the fire inside her. She wants him to pay for his threats, but—just as that day in school—Anna’s security comes first.

“Peace,” she says, palms lifted in a minor gesture of surrender.

“You’re an important man. We’re wasting your time. I know how it works. Surely there’s something we can agree on to make you forget Ms. Perry’s commitment.”

“We’ll find our agreement, and that’ll be the last you see of us.”

GM: The superintendent looks Sylvia over coolly, but without the same hostility.

“You can cover the school system’s costs, with interest, that replacing the teacher will take.”

‘The teacher.’ Not ‘Ms. Perry.’

Not even ‘a teacher,’ in the abstract, a position that Ms. Perry is filling.

Just ‘the teacher.’

‘The maid.’

‘The help.’

Victoria: “What do those costs amount to?”

GM: He quotes a figure in the quadruple digits.

Extra if it takes longer to fill Anna’s position.

Victoria: This girl is going to break her bank if she keeps this up.

Worth every penny.

Her mental voice sounds more tired every time she has to say it, but still she pays.

It’s nothing compared to Anna’s life, but she built her business on knowing these people, and she knows she can do better than this.

“Surely there must be something I can do for you, Superintendent Weiss, that can make her contract disappear.”

GM: The superintendent looks Sylvia over with a vaguely bored air.

“I suppose that depends what you can do for anyone.”

Victoria: “There’s very little I can’t do for anyone. My business is spinning dreams. Is there something you want to experience? Something you can’t just… go out and buy?”

Her eyes are burning with curiosity, watching him.

GM: “I wasn’t aware that ‘dreamspinning’ was an industry,” the superintendent says thinly. “What’s the projected growth rate?”

“Explain yourself, and clearly.”

Victoria: “That desire in your head? That little whim or wish that you won’t admit isn’t so little? That dream you had that you don’t want anyone to know about? I make those come true. There’s no qualm with legal greyness or lacking morals, and signed confidentiality.”

Perfectly clear!

“My services aren’t cheap, nor are they available to everyone. I prospect my own clients, and I only take those who have interesting wishes. You have an unprecedented carte blanche.”

The chances are slim, especially with an offer made at his place of business. She knows that. She also knows she’s going to start charging Anna rent if she has to shell out another four to five figure sum just to keep her alive.

They say medical insurance is robbery…

GM: It is in the middle of his workplace.

In the middle of his work day.

During an appointment over a problem he didn’t want to deal with.

After he threatened her and thought she was wasting his time.

After he made fun of her veiled pitch.

He looks at her for a moment, and Victoria sees it in his eyes, simmering with lusts she has so expertly stoked.

She has him.

“I have an appointment I need to take soon,” he says.

“My schedule is full up for the near future.”

“The Corner Club at 6 tonight would be a better place to discuss these… things.”

Victoria: She smiles that devilishly crooked smile.

“Just a discussion, and a drink. If you decide it’s not for you, I’ll have a check ready.”

Either way, Anna is safe.

Until tomorrow. Sylvia can only guess what she’ll have to pay off tomorrow.

She holds her hand out to the man, shaking it firmly.

Wednesday evening, 28 October 2015

GM: One visit to the Corner Club, one discrete visit to Victoria’s dungeon, and one new client later, and Anna is released from her contract with New Orleans’ public school system.

Anna is thrilled, amazed, and above all, thankful.

Victoria: “You owe me,” a haggard looking Sylvia says after she returns.

GM: Anna looks at her with concern.

“Did something happen?”

Victoria: She shakes her head.


Translation: she doesn’t want to talk about it.

GM: Anna looks at her a moment longer, then hugs her.

She makes dinner.

She shows just how thankful she is, after dinner.

She doesn’t ask.

She brings up helping pay rent. She has savings, even if she’s now unemployed. She’ll find a job that’s temporary until she can apply to schools in the summer.

Victoria: Sylvia doesn’t want her to pay rent. Not anymore. That thought left her mind the moment she left the superintendent’s office.

“If you handle things around here, you can take your time finding a meaningful job. Fair?”

Translation: she likes Anna’s cooking more than her own. The not-so-subtlety of domestic roles adds to it, too.

“I want you to be happy. We’re not shy on money.”

They’re not rich, either. Not yet.

GM: Anna thinks that’s fair.

She’s happy to cook. And clean. And do laundry.

Very domestic.

“I know,” says Anna. “I just don’t want to freeload.”

Victoria: “You’re not freeloading.”

She doesn’t complain about boxed mac and cheese as a side. Who would?

“I offered for you to live here, and I’m making good money doing what I’m doing.”

She reaches across the table, taking Anna’s fingers.

“You being here when I come home every day is more than I could ever ask for.”

GM: “I was thinking exactly the same thing,” Anna smiles back, squeezing her hand.

“What kinds of temporary jobs do you think I should shop around for?”

“Maybe daycare or something else with kids.”

Victoria: Sylvia rolls her eyes.

“Focus on finding a job that fulfills you. You don’t need to waste your time with a temporary job. We will get by.”

GM: “Right, this is just until summer. I want it to be something I like, even if it’s not forever. Hence the kids thought.”

Victoria: “If you’re set on it…”

GM: “I’m set on teaching,” Anna says. Her voice is faintly strained, but she smiles to offset it.

“Daycare was just an idea, though. You also mentioned working for you?”

Victoria: She nods.

“You coooould let me teach you… I’m sure there are some guys out there who would pay good money out there to see you look down your nose and smack a ruler against your hand. To start.”

She clears her throat.

She fans herself.

GM: “Oh,” says Anna.

She gives a laugh.

“Wow. I guess that’s no surprise!”

Victoria: “You sound surprised.”

GM: “I thought it was going to be something administrative.” She snickers. “I have literally no idea why.”

Victoria: She chortles, playing with her macaroni.

“I—yeah, that was a joke. You know I’ll teach you if you want, but I did mean administrative.”

GM: “Hm,” Anna says thoughtfully. “It definitely sounds… interesting. But I don’t have much actual experience with the lifestyle. And, well, I’m kinda more of a sub at heart. I’m not sure I’d be very good.”

She smirks.

“Except roleplaying a teacher, maybe.”

Victoria: “A sub at heart… a sub on your knees… a sub in the kitchen…”

Despite Anna’s interruptions, giggling, smacking, and a phone call from her mother, Sylvia continues to list over one hundred examples of where and how Anna has been a sub.

GM: Anna cannot deny them.

“YOU’RE sure not complaining, though, are you?” she smirks.

No, Sylvia can’t say that she is.

Previous, by Narrative: Story Two, George IX
Next, by Narrative: Story Two, Emil IV

Previous, by Character: Story Two, Victoria IV
Next, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria I

Story Two, Emil IV

“It’s all in God’s hands now, I think.”
Diana Flores

Sunday evening, 30 August 2015

GM: Dinner eventually rolls around.

Nurse Green sets down the still-steaming, delicious-smelling bowl of beans and rice on Emil’s tray without a word. Per his request, there is also a green apple, glass of water, and crepe topped with a gooey nutella and powdered sugar drizzle.

“What’s his majesty want for breakfast tomorrow?” she glares.

Emil: Emil’s mouth waters as he looks at the delicious-smelling meal. He picks up the apple, preparing to take a bite. He can’t help but feel a knot twisting in his stomach, worse than when he ate his first meal in the hospital. Whether the knot comes from not being acclimated to such good food or from guilt he’s unsure. Either way, it feels wrong to eat this ill-gotten grub.

His eyes drift to the nurse. Emil imagines what she must think of him. He’d like to apologize, to be a better man, but he has appearances to maintain. He doesn’t want to risk his bosses ire on either of them. He replies instead, “Some scrambled eggs and a yogurt cup if you would, Nurse Green. I would really appreciate it. And I’m no king, ma’am, you can call me Officer Kane.” He feels a little dirty, but when in Rome, you must do as the Romans do.

He bites into the apple and swallows the knot.

Monday afternoon, 1 September 2015

Emil: Emil’s mind becomes clearer over the next few days of his hospital stay as the fog that seemed to clog his head slowly dissipates. He can think easier, stay awake longer, and enjoy the meals he gets each day. However, he also suffers more from headaches which seem to last longer every day. The clock seems to have cruelly slowed down time’s passage. He needs to do something to get the pain and the boredom out of his mind.

He talks to Dr. Brown every time he visits. He tries not to speak too much, but encourages the man to stay and talk with occasional strokes to his ego. Emil finds it interesting to listen to people drone on about their lives. He can sort out truth from embellishment and guess at what they choose not to admit. It’s a fun little game that keeps the mind sharp. Even when it isn’t fun, it’s better than silence.

When the nurse comes in, he tries to open her up as well. She was so quiet before that it makes it even more interesting to listen to what she might say. He waits for his daughter too. He’s sure that she’ll come to visit him. All he wants is to speak with her. He eventually asks the nurse for access to a phone so he can call his daughter and invite her to visit.

GM: The ever-smiling Dr. Brown stops by often, and is never without an encouraging word as he talks about Emil’s treatment (and soon-approaching discharge date). He does not speak about himself, but playfully chides the bedridden cop that he has other patients to see.

Nurse Green brings Emil delicious-smelling meals each day. She sarcastically addresses him as “your majesty” and still barely talks at all. She looks like she wants to spit in his food during the occasions Emil talks with her.

“You’re all just a bunch of thugs,” is one of the few (glared) sentences Emil is able to pry from her.

When Emil asks for a phone, Nurse Green wordlessly opens one of the cabinets in his room. She removes a heavy white plastic bag stamped with PATIENT BELONGINGS and a ‘name’ and ‘room number’ field. She pulls out his phone and just as silently thrusts it in his face.

Emil: It hurts to be called a thug. He’s not a thug. He wants to help people. But he has to act the part if he’s ever going to get in a position to help these people substantially. He takes the phone, calmly thanks her, and dials the most recently inputed number, his daughter’s.

GM: He first sees there’s a text from her.

you ruin everything

Emil: He sighs deeply. Great, he thinks. Just fucking great.

He presses the green call button and practices breathing. He has to stay calm.

GM: It rings, but no one answers. He eventually gets a pre-recorded teen girl’s voice saying to “leave a message, and I’ll probably call you back.”

Emil: He waits for the beep and then speaks shortly and sweetly, unsure if shell ever hear what he says.

“Sadie, I know you’re mad, and you can be mad. Just know I love you and I miss you. I can help you right now. Please call me.”

GM: Emil ends the call. His fervent words replay in his head as he surveys his bare hospital room, the TV for now turned off.

Emil: He searches his phone for another number. He dials to reach Sadie’s mother, Stephanie, doubtful about her response. That bridge may be burnt for good, but he can’t be sure unless he tries to reach her.

GM: He reaches another answering machine that ends somewhat less irreverently with, “…leave your name and number, and I’ll get back to you.”

Emil: He sounds less intense this time and speaks with plain concern.

“Stephanie, we need to talk. Sadie’s future prospects depend on it. I know I’m a jackass, a piece of shit, what have you. But we need to protect our daughter from a potential situation. Call me when you get this.”

GM: Emil ends another call. Another set of words replay in his head. The bare hospital room remains the same as it last was.

Emil: He wants to yell. Or cry. Something to release all this tension building inside him, his innards twist, but all he is able to do is grunt. You make one mistake. One misstep and the city knocks you down. He has to be more careful next time. There has to be a next time. He remembers the start of this mess, right before he got that phone call from Sadie. He licks his lips as he remembers the taste of the shitty coffee he drank, and starts to scroll through his contacts while he remembers that package he never opened. He finds the number of his apartment complex, The Preserve. He presses the call button and waits.

GM: He reaches the residential manager, Bess Cunningham, after a few rings. “Hello, Emil, what can I do for you?” she greets.

Emil: “Well I just wanted to know how far back security camera footage is kept. Do you have ready access to it?”

GM: There’s a pause. “I’m sorry, but why might you be asking after that?”

Emil: “Well sorry for the trouble, ma’am, but I found an unmarked package at my doorstep four days ago. It’s probably a surprise arrival gift from my family, but there’s always a risk it was placed by someone maliciously. I’d handle the situation, but after receiving the package I ended up in the hospital. I’m recovering right now, but I was hoping you could check the footage from that day and send me a picture of who placed the package. Can you do that for me, Bess?”

GM: “All right, I can do that,” the thick-voiced woman answers. “Though really, I’m not sure who would go around leaving you packages but a neighbor or UPS. You didn’t make an extra key for your family, now did you? They should just buzz you whenever they want to come in.” There’s a hint of reproach.

Emil: “Thank you Bess, I know. I’m sure it’s nothing,” he returns with nothing but calm respect.

GM: “You know, Emil, I have a boy who’s grown up now. When he was in high school, I’d ask him, ‘did you do this’, and he’d nod and say, ‘I know, mama.’ Not ‘yes, mama, I did,’ or ‘no, mama, I didn’t.’ He’s working in a law office in San Antonio now.”

She adds after a pause, “The job suits him.”

Emil: “Well I apologize, I meant I didn’t, Bess.” Emil speaks to her with the same lightness with which he speaks to his own mother.

GM: “That’s better. And I hope you’re feeling better, too, after your hospital stay. Nothing too serious?”

Emil: “Nothing too bad. But it’s a head injury so the doctors want to observe my recovery a bit longer than usual. I’ll be back in a few days’ time,” Emil says reassuringly.

GM: “I’m sorry to hear about your head injury, Emil. I hope you have a full and speedy recovery. But there is a late fee if your rent isn’t paid today.”

Emil: “Well I’m probably gonna have to eat the fee, I have the check but no one to deliver it for me. I could do a money order right now if you’d be all right with that. If not that’s perfectly fine.” Well not perfectly, but his predicament is not Bess’ fault in the least.

GM: “I’m afraid that’s not the payment method specified in your lease, Emil. But thank you for letting me know now. Get well soon.”

Emil: “Thank you, Bess. Once you find the footage, just call me. I’ll be waiting. Goodbye.”

GM: “Goodbye now,” his landlady (well, residential manager) repeats, hanging up.

Emil: Emil slouches back against the bed and chuckles to himself that getting late on his rent is the most positive interaction he’s had all week.

Monday afternoon, 1 September 2015

GM: Emil’s next visitor several hours later is a 40-something-looking woman with a toned figure, vibrant complexion, and sandy blonde hair. She’s dressed in a blue and yellow sundress printed with lemons and carrying a large shoulder bag.

“Hi there, I’m Diana Flores, the dance teacher at your daughter’s school,” the woman smiles. “I was visiting some other students, and heard about another girl’s father winding up in the hospital… thought I’d drop in and say howdy. Have we met before at the PTO meetings?” she remarks, extending a hand as she approaches Emil’s bed.

Emil: “We haven’t met there, no, I’m newly returned to the city. I just began to settle in before I landed in here.” He shakes hands with her and adds, “I’m Emil Kane, Sadie’s father.”

GM: The woman sits down on the chair by Emil’s bed and un-shoulders her bag, then fishes out two smaller ziploc bags containing a sandwich and apple slices. “You hungry for any real food, Emil? I know they don’t serve anything close to it at most hospitals…”

Emil: He really isn’t that hungry. He had eggs for breakfast, but it would be impolite to deny a visitor’s gift. “This one ain’t too different. So kind of you to bring me something, Diana. I really appreciate that.” He gestures for her to place the baggies on the bedside tray.

GM: Diana sets them down, then pulls out another baggie for herself and munches on an apple slice. “You just say the word if you want any more, I made more than anyone could eat before I came by. I figured better safe than sorry, with how many families there are here right now. People get so caught up taking care of their loved ones when they’re in hospitals, they forget to take care of themselves too.”

Emil: “Well, thank God you’re here, I suppose.” He smiles at her, unsure whether her kindness is just a polite facade, but hoping it runs deeper.

GM: “Oh, that’s sweet of you to say. The girls and their families have plenty to eat without me, of course, everyone’s been sending them gift baskets. And everyone’s happy for the families help themselves, it’s just that most of it’s candy and snack foods.” She laughs. “I swear, it’s worse than Halloween. The grown-ups will eat well if they have real food in front of them, but I didn’t have much luck getting the younger girls interested in plain ol’ apple slices, not when there’s candied ones they can munch on.”

Emil: “Well, kids will be kids I suppose. But it’s the effort that counts here. I’m sure they appreciated the visit. I have.” He smiles and grabs an apple slice. “Are you close with the girls’ families?”

GM: “We aren’t on each others’ Christmas card lists, but I’ve taught all of their daughters in my classes for going on eleven years now,” Diana answers, taking another munch of her apple slice. “They’re all wonderful girls. And wonderful families. It’s so sad to see them in the hospital like this.”

Emil: “I’m sure. It’s a damn shame when bad things happen to innocent people. Especially children. Those girls should be in school learning right now, not stuck in a hospital.”

GM: Diana finishes her apple slice. “Speaking of that, Emil, if you don’t mind my asking, how did you get stuck here yourself? The girls said something about you hitting your head?”

Emil: He remembers Caroline’s advice and considers how much he should really say.

“I don’t remember much of that night, the doctor says I had a stroke and then I got hit on the head. It’s honestly very confusing for me,” Emil sighs, rubbing his temples.

GM: Diana’s eyebrows raise. “Oh my goodness, that’s awful. You look so young to’ve had a stroke… you can’t be more than what, thirty?”

Emil: “I’m twenty-nine. I thought the same thing, but, uh… that’s life, I guess. Presents you with challenges when you least expect it.” Emil smiles halfheartedly.

GM: “I guess so. At least taking blood thinners can’t be too bad at your age, you can still bounce right back from anything.”

Emil: “You’re right. I’m trying to look optimistically at this whole situation. The important thing is that everyone is alive and recovering.”

GM: Diana’s face falls just a bit at Emil’s words, but she nods in seeming agreement. “You’re right, everyone is still alive. Always count your blessings where you can.”

Emil: “That’s right. Things are looking up I’m sure. My biggest worry is about getting my rent in on time. But that’s nothing compared to life.” His eyes smile.

GM: Diana’s lips smile back. “That’s a happy thing to be worrying about, at least. Does your landlord let you pay online? You’ll probably think I’m old-fashioned for saying this, but ‘I hear that’s a thing’ nowadays. It sounds so convenient, next to sliding a check under a locked door.”

Emil: “My building has us mail it in. And sorry. I meant was my biggest worry. When someone gets injured, it really puts things in perspective. Those girls have long roads ahead of them, hopefully they’ll get the support they need.”

GM: Diana nods more soberly. “It’s all in God’s hands now, I think. Two are in comas, I suppose doctors can only do so much about those. That poor Sarah especially. I think she might have even been clinically dead for a few moments.”

The dance teacher pauses, then adds more quietly as if it’s insensitive to be discussing, “No one knows if she’s going to be herself when she wakes up, or if the brain damage is going to leave her a whole different person. I have her in one of my classes, and she is just such a sweet and thoughtful girl. Just like her aunt was. I can’t even imagine what this might be like for the family.”

Emil: “Oh no. That’s horrible. Sometimes life is cruel, though maybe if enough people pray, God might intercede. In the meantime, we have to support the families as best as we can.” Emil looks on solemnly.

GM: “They’ve all been spending a lot of time in the chapel for sure. If your doctors don’t mind you stopping by, I’m sure they’d be grateful to know their daughters are in someone else’s prayers.”

Emil: “I’d have to get my doctor’s approval, but I’d be happy to visit if the family is willing. It’s the least I can do to support them,” Emil replies seriously, his brow furrowed.

GM: “Every lil’ bit can count. Say, you want any more sandwiches? I made more than anyone could eat, like I said… they’re tuna and mayo, so they’ll just taste soggy if they sit in my fridge for too many more days.”

Emil: “No thank you, I don’t think I should eat too much food outside what the hospital provides. I don’t want to risk angering a nurse by being too full to eat the food they cook me.”

GM: Diana actually laughs. “Oh, you are just the sweetest man. A little funny, but definitely sweet.” She goes on, “The nurses don’t actually make your food, Emil, they won’t take it personally. Pretty much all that stuff gets delivered to the hospital frozen, then shoved in an oven. If anything, they might be obliged if you called ahead and saved them a trip to your room… the amount of time those women are on their feet is crazier than a soup sandwich.”

Emil: The corners of Emil’s eyes wrinkle as he laughs with her. “Well in that case, I’ll take another two sandwiches if you please.”

GM: Diana pulls two more out of her bag and sets them down on Emil’s tray.

“That oughta keep you filled up for a little while. You want any more apples too?”

Emil: “No, that’s fine, Diana. I’m all set with those sandwiches. In any case, I think I need to get some rest. Thank you for visiting me. I hope we can meet again at a less somber moment.”

GM: “Maybe we just will at the PTO meetings. But yes, you should rest up. With strokes especially, you want to take things easy.” Diana rises from her seat and shoulders her bag. “Let your daughter know I said hello when she stops by, will you? She’s a real sweetie.”

Emil: “For sure. Have a good day, Diana.”

GM: “You get well soon,” she waves as she closes the door to his room.

Emil: He thinks he will. If he can find kindness like Diana’s in other people, they might be able to effect some real change.

Maybe there’s hope for this city yet.

Sunday evening, 30 August 2015

Emil: But real change is for later. For now, Emil wants to help pick up the pieces of his mistakes. He waits for Dr. Brown, chewing on both his thoughts and on Diana’s sandwiches.

GM: Emil sits in bed as the clock ticks and ticks. He has some time to wait until his doctor’s rounds tomorrow morning.

Emil: He struggles not to stare at that clock, worried that even a peek might turn the world back an hour behind his expectations. Nevertheless, the clock’s hands prove too mesmerizing as they move in slow circles, following the same paths for an eternity and change. Emil turns on his phone and checks the notifications to force his eyes off the moving arms of time.

GM: There’s some updates to various apps, news stories, and posts on his social media circles. Little of true note, but enough to distract oneself. It’s another few hours later that he gets a call back from his landlady, asking at what time he received his package.

“A day has 24 hours in it, Emil. I’m not watching the footage for them all.”

Emil: “Sorry about that. I got it on Friday, the 28th. Relatively close to midnight,” he says immediately.

GM: A few minutes pass.

“Hmm, that’s funny. The footage shorts out.”

Emil: “Oh. That is weird. Do you have footage of the parking garage then? Any unfamiliar cars?”

GM: “Only people who live here can park in the garage. But you seem to have lucked out, as one of our cameras covers the sidewalk parking spots.”

Emil: “Oh, right. Silly me. What do you see there?”

GM: “There’s a taxi pulling up and someone getting out. I can’t make out a lot.”

Emil: “What can you see? What does the person look like generally?”

GM: “It’s nighttime and raining. The person is wearing a coat and holding an umbrella. Male, I suppose. Could be a bulky woman too. As I said, there’s not a lot to make out.”

Emil: “All right. Anything about the car? What’s the company? Do you see what number cab it is? Maybe its plates?”

GM: “Hold your horses, Emil. The name on the side is for Checker Cab Taxi. The plate says…” Emil can picture the woman squinting. “T… G… M… 368.”

Emil: “Thank you so much, Bess. I really appreciate you doing this. One last thing. What’s the timestamp for that footage?” Emil opens a notepad app and jots down the information for safekeeping.

GM: She gives him the time. It’s a few minutes before the package was delivered to his door.

Emil: He taps the information into the note on the screen. “Thanks again, Bess. If you ever need anything, I owe you one.”

GM: “I’m sure something will eventually come up. You get well, Emil,” his landlady wishes in farewell.

Emil: “Goodbye, Bess.” The call ends with a press. Emil’s mind roils like the open ocean over the new information. Who might have delivered that package? And why did the footage short just when he arrived? Was it more than a coincidence? Emil doesn’t know any of the answers. It will be difficult to find them. Despite that, he grins wide as his eyes loop through the note.

Excited by his success in finding a lead on the package, he switches over to his internet browser. He begins a digital hunt for information on the house where his troubles all started. The LaLaurie House. He sifts through a myriad of URLs from Google, Bing, and to be thorough, Torch and the Hidden Wiki, from which he can find links to the dark web. He wants to find out if any other visitors to the house had similar experiences and injuries. He passes from forum to forum and archived page to archived page. He collects the bits of information, types it in his notes, and tries to fit it together in his head to make sense of it all.

The story about Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her house is difficult to put together. The truth is buried under centuries of embellishment and the primary sources are found in newspapers which were more interested in getting attention and money than in maintaining journalistic integrity. Despite this, a discerning researcher can suss out some basis of the truth.

Marie Delphine Macarty was born in New Orleans to a Creole family and went through two marriages before marrying Dr. Leonard LaLaurie. Six years later, she purchased a property at 1140 Royal Street and finished construction of the LaLaurie mansion within a year. It acted as her family’s lodgings until 1834, when it burnt down in a fire set by Delphine’s cook in fear of punishment. Prior to marrying Dr. LaLaurie, Delphine was reportedly courteous to black people and only after the start of her third marriage did rumors of her abuse of slaves begin to circulate.

Those rumors were proven horribly true when a slave girl named either Lia or Leah fell to her death from the mansion’s roof running from a whip-wielding Delphine. Whether she fell, jumped, or was pushed by Madame LaLaurie is unclear. This event resulted in the LaLauries being convicted of the abuse of nine slaves, whom were confiscated but then returned after being purchased by Madame LaLaurie’s relatives. Rumors continued to fly until 1834, when the house was set ablaze by Delphine’s cook, who was found chained to the stove. Once the fires were put out, the house was investigated. Seven men and women were found in the slave quarters above the kitchen, shackled, and having undergone various degrees of torture. Later accounts make the descriptions of their treatment increasingly extreme and horrific. For instance, they reported a hole being drilled into a man’s head so that Madam LaLaurie could fit a stick inside to stir the brain, and that a woman had her skin peeled off in a circular pattern to look like a human centipede. Few historians give these gruesome reports any credulity. They were pushed by authors trying to spice up their novels, tour guides exaggerating the truth to spook tourists, and simple storytellers whose embellishments morphed the events they described from from historic account to urban legend.

An enraged mob descended upon Madam LaLaurie’s house after the fire exposed her abuses. They tore up the remains of the house, but the LaLauries never were brought to justice. They fled the scene in a great stage coach as the mob howled for their blood, and allegedly immigrated to Paris. Speculation persists that they later returned to New Orleans before Madame LaLaurie’s death.

All of the remaining slaves were kept in jail until they could be purchased. Madame LaLaurie did not free any of them before she died. Two of the seven found slaves died soon after they were saved from the flames, and the rest were never interviewed. Their fates are unknown. Corpses of dead slaves were allegedly found buried on the premises of the house, including one of a little girl suspected to be Lia, and especially around the property’s condemned well.

The house was rebuilt and changed hands many times after the fire. It was a high school, a bar, a music conservatory, an apartment building, and filled in for a variety of other purposes. Its haunted reputation started a few decades after the fire and ramped up during the 1890s into the now-legendary site that it is today. It’s been privately owned in recent decades, so tourists have been barred from entering the premises.

This has not stopped people from trying to break in. Many people who claim to have done so also claim to have had supernatural experiences. Accounts describe visitors as hearing a crying girl, rattling chains, and wailing from the attic. Interestingly, none of the older reports described these alleged spirits as angry or aggressive. The crying girl, which people attribute to the ghost of Lia, makes it seem as if the ghosts were downright docile.

Emil come across another story about the house, though, that sounds less peaceable.

The story of the Demon Baby of the French Quarter.

His brow furrows as he reads over the disturbing tale. There’s something…

He blinks.

Then he freezes.


No no no no no NO-

He tears his eyes from the phone’s screen. He fights down the bile rising in his throat and clutches his chest as his heart pounds like a war drum. He mashes the call button before it’s too late. He screams into the plastic at the top of his lungs:


Monday afternoon, 1 September 2015

GM: The medical team rushes Emil’s gurney towards the surgery room. Jargon flies back and forth over the motionless and unresponsive lawman. They’ll place a clip to seal off the bulge in his artery wall to keep it from bleeding further: maybe surgery would have been best after his first stroke after all.

The physician holds up a hand, places a stethoscope on the patient’s still chest, and waits. She watches for him to take a breath. She thinks about the surgery’s details, and soon realizes the question is moot. She places a hand on his neck and looks up.

“No surgery for this one.”

A first-year medical student brings up shining a bright light into his pupils and ‘assessing for pain’ with a sternal rub. The physician tells him such practices are to be avoided. They aren’t necessary. Anyone could call this one.


She will soon face the inevitable pile of paperwork, which one hospital she worked at labeled the ‘Final Discharge Packet,’ and another, in bold letters on a red binder, the ‘Death Binder.’ That will be followed by calls to admitting to report the death, minutes that feels like hours on hold with the medical examiner, death certificates returned if she signs on the wrong dotted line. One of the worst parts of having a patient die is those bureaucratic forms and phone calls.

No one pays attention to the phone that slipped from Emil’s trembling hands back in his now-vacated hospital room. It only took 60 seconds after he dropped it for the screen to lock and forever blot out the deceased lawman’s final sight.


Previous, by Narrative: Story Two, George VIII
Next, by Narrative: Story Two, George IX

Previous, by Character: Story Two, Caroline IV, Emil III
Next, by Character: Story Eight, Emil I, Emmett V

Story Two, Victoria V

“This is the warmest, brightest, happiest spot in the universe, and I never want to leave it.”
Anna May Perry

Thursday afternoon, 22 October 2015

Victoria: She makes her way back to Anna.


GM: Anna has gotten her bag and looks like she’s been making statements to the other police officer. She looks more than ready to go, and relieved when she hears Sylvia approach.


Victoria: She rests a hand on Anna’s arm, confirming her okayness for herself.

“Come on.”

She leads her back into the classroom.

GM: “Wh…” she frowns as they head back inside.

“I’ve got my things. I want to go.”

Victoria: “Anna. All of your things.”

GM: Anna doesn’t look like she disagrees with that sentiment. At all.

“But my contract. It’s for the year…”

Victoria: “Fuck your contract.”

There’s no love in the words, and no explanation to follow.

“Get. Your. Things.”

GM: Anna gets the rest of her things.

She slings her bag over her shoulder and carries the fan with both hands.

Victoria: The tension in Sylvia’s voice spreads to her shoulders, and her back. She doesn’t realize how tight her body became during the encounter and subsequent negotiation.

She doesn’t help Anna carry the fan. Every other day of their friendship, she’s offered.

GM: It’s made of plastic and not heavy. Just bulky. It’s a cheap fan that does its job of circulating air.

Anna follows her out to the parking lot, making her way up to Sylvia’s car.

“We can call a truck or something for my car later.”

Victoria: “Whenever you’d like.”

She opens the trunk.

GM: Anna fits in her stuff, then gets in next to the driver’s seat.

She stares at Sylvia for a little while after she starts driving.

Then she says, “I feel safe with you.”

Victoria: Sylvia occasionally glances sideways, but doesn’t turn her head.

“They won’t bother you again,” is her answer.

GM: “I feel safer with you than anywhere else.”

Victoria: “I need to stop by my office.”


GM: “You saved my life.”

Victoria: She glances at her, but says nothing.

GM: Anna doesn’t say anything else, either.

She doesn’t pay any attention as Central City’s slums give way to Riverbend’s middle-ish class residentia.

She doesn’t look away from Sylvia’s face.

Victoria: They come to a stoplight.

Sylvia looks halfway toward her.


GM: “Sylvia…” Anna says slowly. There’s a tremble to her voice.

“…I love you.”

She leans in and kisses Sylvia. It’s a chaste-feeling kiss, rather than hungry, but deep with feeling.

Years of feeling.

Victoria: So much of her energy and focus is spent on cooling the boiling volcano inside her that she doesn’t fully understand it.

“I love you t—”

It’s not the first time they’ve said it. It is the first time she’s been interrupted with a kiss.

Her lips are soft, but rigid. The kiss is returned, but more on mechanical instinct than conscious desire.


GM: It’s the first time they’ve said it that way.

Anna slowly pulls away.

Her eyes are dewy, her face faintly unsure.

Victoria: A car horn behind them reminds them of the light that turned green seconds before.

Half of her attention returns to the road, but only half.


GM: Anna stares at her. Oblivious to the road.

The moment feels as fragile as spun glass.

Fragile. Perhaps sharp, if mishandled.

Perhaps beautiful, too.

Victoria: Why did Anna have to do that while she’s driving? She wants to give real answers, and the tsunami of affection that’s already converted her magmatic insides to butterflies.

She also doesn’t want to kill someone.

She’s painfully aware of her breathing, heavy, deep, and patient. She’s aware of the wetness in her eyes.

She wants a hug. She wants another kiss. She wants to ravish Anna more than any client has ever wanted her.

Blocks go by. So close.

GM: Not closely enough.

The drive feels like it takes a million years. Neither of them says anything. The moment hangs seemingly suspended in the air. Its own small, buoyant piece of eternity. Anna never once looks away.

Finally, though, Sylvia parks her car.

Victoria: She looks more at Anna than the road. It’s a blessing they make it there unscathed.

“I think… I don’t remember how to let go of the wheel.”

GM: Anna’s eyes are wet too, like hers.

She lays her head against Sylvia’s shoulder.

Victoria: “I think…”

Thinking isn’t something she can easily do.

“We should go… inside.”

GM: “I’d like that,” says Anna.

Her voice has a faint tremble.

Victoria: Sylvia releases her fingers from the wheel.


She pushes the door open, not entirely sure her legs still work.

GM: She’s not sure whether they do or not. But she winds up inside, Anna’s arm wrapped around her waist, head still leaning against her shoulder.

Victoria: “Can we… try that again?” she asks, breath shuddering, hands on Anna’s waist.

GM: Anna pulls away just enough to meet Sylvia’s eyes, hands joined through hers.

“I love you,” she repeats, then leans in to kiss Sylvia.

Victoria: Anna can feel the tense restraint in Sylvie’s musculature. She wants her. She wants her so badly that she has to hold herself back from taking her. When their lips meet again, it’s patient, and tender, and she can feel how badly Sylvia is trembling.

It’s the sum of years and years of restrained desire, only ever teased at, but never really addressed.

This time, she doesn’t break the kiss. She steps forward, their lips locked, hands around the small of Anna’s back, sandwiching her between her and the wall.

GM: Anna presses herself against Sylvia, chest to chest, losing herself in the other woman’s lips. Her hands wrap around Sylvia’s back. Each kiss comes with a wantful shudder, her breath hot and heavy as her tongue explores Sylvia’s mouth.

Victoria: Sylvia’s breath is hot, her breathing shallow. She seizes Anna’s wrists, pinning them to the wall beside her head. She bites the teacher’s lower lip, tugging.

Their kiss is the trove of gold and jewels from her dreams; the meeting she’s always desired, and the one she’s never allowed herself to pursue. Anna is her forbidden fruit, sinfully sweet. Anna is her everything. Yet, to love Anna like this is to risk everything they share.

An iota of restraint returns to her simian brain.

“You’re… sure?”

A heartbeat passes. She bites her own lip, an internal struggle plain on her face. She seems to compromise on something, whether Anna answers or not.


She isn’t sure whether or not she should let this happen, despite the overpowering scent of Anna’s strawberry perfume, and the silken softness of her lips, but if she is going to let it happen—and that doesn’t seem like it’ll take much convincing—she isn’t sure it should be here. It’s not the most romantic place.

For all the unbreakable control Sylvia curates in her life, in that moment—that moment alone—Anna has the power to crumble all of her iron-wrought bindings to ash, and bend her to her knees as if she were a seraph, and Sylvia a sinning devotee.

GM: Sylvia is no stranger to offering forbidden fruits.

Is it so great a leap to sample one?

Anna writhes in place as Sylvia pins her, her face hot and flushed as she struggles against the taller woman. She moans with every bite and tug of her lip, hungrily leaning in to return Sylvia’s kisses with equal energy, if greater gentleness. Sylvia has always been the biter.

With her hands pinned, she can’t pull off Sylvia’s, or her own, clothes. She presses her crotch against Sylvia’s thigh, grinding back and forth.

“Here,” she breathes.

For all the power she might now wield, the trove of gold and jewels is all-too ready to spill its riches.

Victoria: She fumbles out of sight to her left, locking the door she’s never had trouble with before. Her thigh presses up into Anna’s pelvis, taking some of her weight right on her heat.

For how badly she’s wanted this, why does she feel so damn tentative?!

Her hand slip around Anna’s waist, squeezing her rear and lifting her off the ground. The pair doesn’t go far. Only far enough to crash onto a sofa in the living room, Anna tossed flat onto her back, Sylvia atop her. Her knees sink to either side of the teacher, fingers clasping the back of her head as she dives in to kiss her.

GM: Anna might give a delighted giggle at Sylvia picking her up, any other time.

Now it looks like it just makes her want, even more, as Sylvia takes charge. Like she always.

Anna hits the sofa with a thump. Of course she’s the one on her back. Of course Sylvia’s the one on top.

Anna practically tears off Sylvia’s pants and panties in her haste to get at the other woman’s wet sex. Anna’s tongue is not shy or tentative in its sampling. She presses the whole of her mouth to Sylvia’s crotch, all but making out with it as her tongue explores Sylvia’s most intimate places.

Victoria: She’s never seen Anna with this much vigor! This much need! Sylvia silently thanks herself for not taking Anna’s hands again, feeling them hungrily tear at her jeans with all the gnawing urgency of a starved animal at a package of meat. For once in her life, Sylvia doesn’t care that she’s seen that way.

She slips a leg off the sofa, supporting her weight on her foot while Anna unbuttons her jeans, ripping them down. The other leg leaves the sofa, the girl herself almost thrown off balance as Anna continues to make her clothing regret its existence.


Jeans (and panties) around one ankle, she falls back atop Anna, only half of it driven by her intent. If there is any doubt of her desire for the woman, the slickness of her lips casts it away. Anna’s hands pull her closer, her tongue sinking inside her, eliciting a sharp inhale at the flood of sensation, and validation. This is it. This is finally happening; the culmination of dreams.

She shifts her hips upward, a few inches above Anna’s mouth.

“H-hey… shhhh… you are eager. My clients aren’t even this hungry.”

GM: “Why are my clothes still on,” pants Anna, as if coming up for breath.

Then she leans upwards and buries her face into Sylvia’s pussy again.

Victoria: “Why are y-hhh—!”

Anna’s tongue severs the thought with a rushing river a bliss.

“F-fuck, Anna! When did you learn t—”

Fuck it.

She seizes Anna’s hair, wrapping it about her fist and pressing her face firmly between her thighs. There’s no escape. There’s only the hungry teacher, and her curious tongue.

GM: Anna seems all the more turned on by Sylvia’s forceful action. Her hands caress Sylvia’s thighs, then her hips, touching her, stroking her, trying to feel every part of her. Anna’s tongue hungrily explores and laps against and eats out Sylvia’s pussy, making her breath hitch and come out in raggedy, uneven gasps. Sweat beads Sylvia’s body, hot rather than cold this time. Anna tries to pull her head away, to tease and touch with her fingers, but Sylvia’s holding her fast by the hair.

She’s in control. Like she always is.

“Clothes,-” Anna breathlessly gets out again.

Victoria: Sylvia chortles a heady, breathless laugh.

“Sorry. I don’t speak pussy. You started this. Finish it.”

She tugs her hair, firmly reseating her face where she managed to make enough room to talk.

GM: Anna moans out something inarticulate, then goes back to speaking pussy. She licks in circles, up and down, and side to side, sampling and savoring and kissing and licking every part of Sylvia’s most sensitive place. Sylvia feels the sensation building in her, leaving her panting and breathless and squeezing Anna’s’ hair, as hard as she can. It doesn’t take long to cross the point of no return. She feels her muscles clench as the climax rips through her. Anna’s chin is wet with her juices.

Victoria: Sometimes, enthusiasm trumps experiences. A need built over so many years, teased, but never let free, dwarfs it all so thoroughly that Anna could have been biting her clitoris and she would still have found her way to a climax.

It’s with a sharp inhale, a whimper, and a sudden cessation of breath at all that she finishes, her thighs clamping Anna’s face in place.


She falls forward, panting, head pressed to the edge of the sofa. She slumps over, only halfway off Anna.


GM: “My… my tur…” Anna pants, wet face still pressed against Sylvia’s pelvis.

Victoria: She wiggles herself down between Anna and the back of the couch, and pulls her into a kiss.

“I didn’t say it like I mean it before. I love you, Anna May, and I would have gone to jail if it meant saving you today.”

GM: Anna returns it tenderly, cheeks still flushed red with desire.

“I love you, Sylvia… I feel so, so safe with you…” she whispers, burying her face against Sylvia’s neck.

Victoria: “You’re still not going back,” she answers, lips finding the ridge of her jaw; the underside; her throat. Her fingers work to unclasp Anna’s pants, and once she does, her kisses vanish.

She sits up, shimmying Anna’s pants down but leaving her underwear in place. Once her pants are seated around her calves, she stops, fingernails trailing gentle lines down her thigh.

“Your turn…?”

GM: Anna doesn’t argue it.

Not now. Perhaps not ever again.

“Please…” she breathes, her breath hitching under Sylvia’s touch.

Sylvia does so love to make them beg.

Victoria: She doesn’t intend to make Anna beg.

Even if that’s what she knows will happen.

Those nails travel between her thighs, the other hand joining it as they return, tracing a serpentine pattern back downward, twisting on the sensitive skin under her knee. Her head pokes between her legs, kissing her belly.


GM: “Please…!” Anna whispers, arching her back. Her breasts rise and fall with her heavy breaths.

Victoria: Sylvia sucks the skin of her lower belly in between her teeth, then plants a soft kiss on the reddened mark. Then another, lower. Then another, even lower. As she speaks, her lips move against the sheer fabric covering her folds, each word interwoven with another kiss.

“Please…?” A kiss. “Please…” A kiss. “…what?” She breathes in her heavy scent, the flat of her tongue pressing against the cleft of her panties.

GM: Each kiss brings a little gasp. Anna squirms and grips the sofa.

“Please… make me… feel good…!”

Victoria: The drive to be her playful, controlling self battles the need to please the woman who just professed her love to her. They clash, and for the moment neither seems to gain the upper hand.

Sylvia sits upright, tugging her pants off the rest of the way, bringing her panties down after it. Both are tossed somewhere across the room, landing in the far hallway. Instead of returning to her meal, she lays back down beside Anna, one leg crookedly resting over one of Anna’s.

Those manicured fingernails return to her lower belly, this time tracing down directly to her labia where they slide between each set of inner and outer lips.

“I’ll taste you every day of your life, Anna, but I want to see your face the first time.”

GM: Anna pulls off her blouse. Undoes her bra. Tosses both aside.

Sylvia hasn’t seen her naked before. Her breasts are round, the tips pink and stiff from arousal. Her slim frame has put on a little weight around the belly, it looks like, from her recent diet and stress. Somehow that makes her feel more exposed. Baring all her imperfections and perfections alike before Sylvia.

It feels right, that Sylvia should be the one partly clothed, while Anna lies naked and exposed and vulnerable under her gaze. But for all that the teacher’s face is flush with the heat of her arousal, her brown eyes are wide and trusting. So trusting.

At Sylvia’s words, those eyes positively shine. She can see the love pouring out of them.

“I want you to see me too…” Anna whispers.

“And I want to see you…”

Victoria: Sylvia’s fingers explore the lover she’s always wanted, exposing and brushing over that sensitive node capping her lips. She’s gentle there, consistent in the speed and breadth of the circular motion she spins. She doesn’t cease when Anna bares herself, and only slows to drink in the form before her.

“Beautiful,” she purrs, as if a cat that could appreciate fine art. She means it, more than any admiration she’s ever gone. Every imperfection. Every little divot in her skin, and every little mole. They both need some time in the gym, and some time away from junk food, but she doesn’t care about it in the moment. Anna is perfect.

“You are perfection brought to life.”

Their lips meet, this time impossibly soft, barely a brush, while a pair of fingers slip inside her, her thumb replacing those slow circles..

“You are perfect, and I love you. So, so much.”

GM: Anna looks like there’s nothing she’s wanted more in the world, than for Sylvia to say she is beautiful.

Her breath hitches at the feeling inside of her, drawing out little gasps and shudders as Sylvia gets her closer. She’s incredibly wet. How long has she wanted this? How much has pleasuring Sylvia driven her towards the edge?

And then those words. Those tender, loving words. Anna’s heart looks like it’s swollen up to her head and filled everything behind her eyes.

“I love you… Sylvia…” she breathes. “I want… to spend… I never… want… to leave…”

Victoria: “Shhh…” she croons, her fingers curving upward inside her, toward the underside of her belly. The movements are soft, and tender. She knows love, and love isn’t about secret tricks. It’s about attention to your partner, and Anna has every ounce of attention she can offer.

“Let yourself go…”

GM: So she does.

She loses herself in the sensation. Of the woman she loves most in the world, just being there, and giving her every ounce of attention she has, to make her feel good. Anna lies and exposed beneath her partner, and Sylvia smiles down, there for her, there to make her feel pleasured and loved and like the center of her entire world, because she is.

Anna’s eyes never leave hers. Not as they widen and she hits her peak, crying out as she grips the couch. Sylvia’s fingers run slick with her juices as Anna breathes up at her, red-faced and spent,

“I love you…”

Thursday evening, 22 October 2015

GM: After that, Anna doesn’t want to do anything except hold her. And be held in turn. The pair lie in another’s arms on the couch, Anna curled up against Sylvia’s side. She looks like there’s no other place she’d rather be, right now. No other place where she feels safer.

“What are you thinking?” she asks, looking up at Sylvia’s face with trusting eyes.

Victoria: In truth, there’s no place Sylvia feels safer either, though she doesn’t say it. She doesn’t have to. It’s a different type of safe than Anna. Whereas Anna considers her physical safety, Sylvia finally finds some safety of the heart.

“I’m thinking… that I’ve been in love with my best friend since the first day of college, that we’ve spent years dancing around each other, and… and I wouldn’t change any of it, just to ensure this moment happened to us.”

A pause.

“Even the knife-wielding monkeys.”

GM: Maybe Anna feels safety in both.

She rubs her head against Sylvia.

“I wouldn’t change anything either.”

“Not a thing.”

She lets that hang for a moment.

“Has it really been since the first day…?”

Victoria: “Has it really ever not been obvious?”

GM: Anna laughs softly.

“I think, like a lot of things… in hindsight.”

Victoria: “Yeah… you too.”

She breathes, her chest expanding and retracting, Anna rising and falling with her.

“I think… can I be bold?”

GM: “When aren’t you?” smiles Anna.

She looks completely lost in that simple sensation of Sylvia’s breathing.

“Yes. You can, always. That’s one of the things I love about you.”

Victoria: Sylvia returns the smile, if faintly. She’s more serious.

“I think that if you weren’t in love with me, you wouldn’t have left Jeff to stay here, and… I think that if I wasn’t selfishly in love with you, I wouldn’t have made you stay.”

She parts her lips, but whatever is meant to be said doesn’t come.

“I’m glad I did. I don’t regret it. I don’t feel sorry.”

GM: “You didn’t make me stay,” says Anna, rubbing her head against Sylvia again.

“I chose to. Because… I think you’re right… you.”

Victoria: “You…?”

GM: Anna plants a soft kiss against her cheek.

“I stayed. Because of you.”

Victoria: She earns a silent smile and a blush.

GM: “How is this going to work?” asks Anna, nuzzling her head against Sylvia again.

Victoria: “What… do you mean?” she asks, a bit nervous.

GM: “Us.”

Her voice is as gentle as a voice can be.

“Just… everything. What’s it going to be like?”

Victoria: “What do… you want it to be like?”

GM: “I want it to be…”

Anna thinks, then doesn’t say anything for a moment, content to just lie against Sylvia with the other woman’s arms around her.

“Like this. You holding me.”

“I want it to always be like this.”

“I feel so safe with you, Sylvia. I feel like I could stay here forever, in your arms. And know I’ll always be loved and always be safe. This is the warmest, brightest, happiest spot in the universe, and I never want to leave it.”

Victoria: “Then stay here,” she answers as if it’s the most simple thing in the world.

“Just stay here forever. Come here every night. Wake up here every morning. Take naps here after work. Tell me stories here in the evening. Just be here.”

GM: “I think I like that a lot,” says Anna, nuzzling against her side.

Victoria: It’s so simple to her, and she hopes it’ll stay that way.

“Get me my phone, would you?”

GM: “Yes, mistress,” Anna laughs. She gets up off the couch, retrieves it, and then lies back down against Sylvia.

Victoria: She checks her messages. As blissful as she feels, she doesn’t want to earn a less pleasant visit.

GM: Derek hasn’t texted her yet.

Victoria: Safe. Phew.

She breathes a sigh, running her fingers through Anna’s hair.

“Say that again.”

GM: “Yes, mistress,” smiles Anna.

Victoria: She swats her rear.

The bare skin reddens.

That’s a first.

GM: “Eep!” Anna exclaims, giggling.

She rubs her rear and asks, still smiling, “How is that part going to work?”

The question sounds serious, too, though.

Victoria: “How do you want it to work?”

It’s becoming a theme.

GM: “Why don’t you say how you want it to, this time.”

Victoria: “Because I’m not sure how I want it to.”

It’s honest, if indecisive.

“How do you want it to?”

GM: “You’re the professional, that’s why I asked you,” smiles Anna.

Victoria: “And you’re my girlfr—”

GM: “I like that,” Anna says quietly as Sylvia cuts herself off.

“Will you say it again?”

Victoria: “I like that, too,” she says just as quietly.

“You’re my girlfriend.”

GM: “I really like that,” says Anna, planting another kiss on her cheek.

“You’re my girlfriend, too.”

Victoria: At the risk of ruining a sweet moment, she gets one of those playful looks.

GM: Anna smiles and rubs her side.

“So, for real. I know BDSM is a huge part of who you are. And I know you’ve been into it with your other relationships, outside of work.”

Victoria: “I mean, yeah…”

She lets her continue.

GM: “I mean, I know about it. I’ve read about it on the internet. But I don’t really have any direct experience with it. I mean, I’ve never had a girlfriend who’s a dominatrix before.” Anna’s tone grows slightly teasing at those words.

“But, it’s important to you. And I want to explore things that are important to you, and understand what makes them important.”

Victoria: “You haven’t really ever had a girlfriend, period,” she corrects. “Not more than a short fling, anyway.”

She looks at her, really absorbing her intent. Is it all for Sylvia?

“The thing is… it’s something that’s beneficial to both parties; desired by both parties. It shouldn’t be because you want to please me in exclusivity, but because you want that sort of relationship.”

GM: “I don’t think I know enough to honestly say what that sort of relationship is like,” Anna says frankly. “Outside of, you know, smut, or fantasies. I’ve never lived one, or your vision of one.”

“But I want to explore it, and see if it’s for me. Because I know it is for you. And if it’s something we both enjoy, that’s wonderful. And if it’s not, we can reevaluate.”

“Does that sound healthy?”

Victoria: She strokes Anna’s cheek fondly.

“That sounds like a well-adjusted woman wanting to test a life before she commits, even if she’s certain about the person it’s with.”

GM: “Yes,” Anna nods in understanding. “Exactly.”

“I think all couples should try to get to know one another’s interests.”

“If they can share them, that’s wonderful. If they can’t, they’re allowed to be their own people.”

Victoria: She continues to stroke her cheek idly.

“Mmn. You’re not your own person anymore.”

She winks.

GM: “Oh, that’s right… mistress,” Anna laughs.

Victoria: “Ooooh, so it’s funny to you already?”

Her tone is dark, but the grin makes it all fall apart.

GM: Anna giggles.

“It’s always been funny, Dark Mistress Dominatrix!

Victoria: “You’re going to be ‘Miss Wearing A Gag Until Bed’ unless you set that tone straight.”

GM: “Mmm, hot.”

Victoria: She stuffs her underwear into Anna’s mouth. At least they’re mostly clean.

GM: “Mmmf!” Anna protests, laughing.

Victoria: Sylvia can’t hold it in. She bursts out laughing.

“I can’t take it seriously!”

GM: Anna pulls out the underwear, also laughing.

“Do we have to take it seriously?”

Victoria: “Not if you don’t want to, no,” she shakes her head. “But if you do want to really try, I will.”

“I mean, try—you know. You’re my girlfriend no matter what.”

It feels a little better saying it a third time.

GM: Anna looks thoughtful. “Is it more fun, when it’s serious?”

“What’s your experience?”

Victoria: “Depends on if you like it or not.”

“It could be just bedroom play, or it could be all the time.”

GM: “I like making fun of it. It’s funny. But I’m open to trying serious, and seeing what that’s like.”

“What is it like, when it’s bedroom versus all the time?”

Victoria: “I… just don’t want it to change who you are. Who we are, you know?”

GM: “I don’t ever want to change what we are, either,” Anna nods.

“Do you think that’s a risk?”

Victoria: “It’s… I mean. It’s this. This play, but serious, but only in bed, and only when we want, or…”

Maybe it is right for them.

“Or it’s what you got at school, every day, all the time. Not quite so dour, but… that. You’re told what you are and are not allowed to do, and where permission is needed. You can poke and prod at boundaries, if you want to be bratty—don’t comment, yes, I know you are—and punishment is met out as is appropriate.”

She hums a thought.

“How about this. You trust me, yes? With everything in the world?”

GM: “That’s the first thing I was going to say,” says Anna.

“School was… school. Work. They didn’t care about me, they cared about them. And me was usually at the expense of them.”

“I trust you with my life.”

“I have trusted you with my life.”

Victoria: “I meant more how I was at your school, being how it’d be all the time.”

GM: Anna frowns and thinks about that.

“As in… do this or get shot?”

“That sounds pretty extreme even for BDSM…” she remarks, faintly amused.

Victoria: Sylvia sighs into her palm.

GM: “Or is it just being a really dominant and in charge figure?”

Victoria: “Okay, words aren’t working. That’s not a surprise.”

Is that an insult?

“Get me your bag.”

GM: Anna looks about to ask why not, or how they can. But she gets up, pads off, and returns with her bag.

Watching her walk around naked is far from an unpleasant sight.

Victoria: Sylvia didn’t want to stop the first time they stopped. Mentally, she’s already on round four.

She takes the bag into her lap, pulling out Anna’s wallet. She unzips the leather item, and sets in in her lap. One by one, she thumbs through each of Anna’s things. He Louisiana ID, store memberships, rewards cards and medical cards are left. All credit and debit cards are removed. She pulls the cash out, counting it under her breath.

The financial cards are set aside in a neat stack. She replaces five twenties back into Anna’s wallet, and hands it back to her.

“Two days. You have one hundred dollars in there. When you want to spend, you ask me. If you’re disobedient, I take money away. If you’re good, I might give you more cash, or a card. If you spend money and I catch you, the punishment is worse. Get receipts.”

A pause.

“Don’t go anywhere stupid, or where you can get lost. Don’t go to bad areas. Don’t just—be sensible.”

She’s almost begging in that last bit.

“See how you feel after two days. Do you like the restraint? Do you like feeling that tug on your personal life? That dependency? The need to ensure I’m happy ahead of your personal life and duties?”

She slumps back, posture gone to the wind.

“It’ll provide you a good view of the non-sexual components to the life in a way that isn’t overly restrictive, but that still provides a constant reminder of your place. If you like it, we can continue. If you like the idea, but not the financial dependence, we can experiment with other ideas. If you don’t like it at all… Well, you’re still my girlfriend.”

That’s the first time it sounds completely natural.

She holds the stack of cards up.

“I’ll keep these with me at all times. I will not use them. I will not lose them. I will not betray your trust.”

Her gaze is heavy, laden with how serious she is about doing this the right way.

“Oh, and pick a safe word. It counts, even in non-sexual play. Something you don’t say every day.”

“Something silly.”

GM: Anna takes all of that in thoughtfully. She doesn’t interrupt, just listens.

“What’s being disobedient and being good, in this context?”

“And as far as safe words… hmm. How’s… ‘zangdoodlefish’?”

“Or maybe just ‘doodlefish.’”

She smirks. “I don’t know when else I’d say that.”

Victoria: “Not every aspect is about the whips and chains and physical abuse. That’s just what they show in porn and popular culture. It’s not as interesting to show the girl nervously texting her Mistress asking if she can buy new shoes, or the guy who asks her to take his cage off because he has to go for a physical and he doesn’t want the embarrassment, is it?”

She smiles wryly back.

“Don’t spend more than you would, especially without severance this time. I wanted to leave you enough that you wouldn’t feel in danger, and you’d be able to get a cab if you need.”

She snorts at the safeword, but nods.

“Mango Doodlefish. How’s that? As for being good and bad, well…”

She takes Anna’s hand, guiding her to her knees as Sylvia rises to her feet.

“Every time we meet for these two days, greet me like this. We’ll start simple, huh? If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Not every kink is for everyone, right?”

GM: “I don’t know, I think that is more interesting in its own way. It’s more psychological. Subtler.”

Anna gets to her knees.

It’s a position Sylvia has put a lot of people in.

It never gets old.

“Okay,” says Anna. “Every time we leave, and I see you again? And if I don’t, I lose money?”

Victoria: “Depends on my mood. Depends on if you misbehave otherwise. We’ll play with it, and we’ll find out, right?”

She pulls her to her feet.

“There’s a wealth of play out there, Anna. If you don’t like this, there are other things to try. It’s like not liking broccoli, so you decide you don’t like food. Make sense?”

GM: Anna rises with Sylvia.

“Yes, Dark Mistress Dominatrix,” she smirks.

Victoria: She takes her chin tightly in hand.


It’s a correction she’ll receive once.

GM: “Yes, mistress,” says Anna.

She tries out the word, almost experimentally on her tongue.

Victoria: “…okay, call me the other one sometimes. I don’t know if I can live without your silly jabs.”

She pulls Anna back up and onto the couch, hugging her tightly.

GM: “Yes, Dark Mistress Dominatrix,” Anna giggles, hugging her back.

“I don’t think I could live without some silliness either.”

Victoria: She peppers her shoulder with kisses.

“Maybe I should thank those boys. This wouldn’t be happening without…”

She sighs.

“I’m glad you’re okay.”

A pause.

“So, moving in next week?”

GM: “I think it would’ve, just maybe a little later,” says Anna. “Feelings are feelings. They come out.”

“I’m glad I’m okay too.”

“And that you were there to make sure I’d be.”

“And, why wait? Why not tomorrow?”

Victoria: “It’s cute that you think we can be as we are today and still get out of bed tomorrow.”

GM: “Oooh, right. Fucking like bunnies all day sounds more fun.”

Victoria: She smiles faintly. “You can, if you want. To save money. I don’t mind. You’re… not going back to that place, nor any school like it. Not ever again.”

GM: Anna’s face loses some of its mirth.

“But my contract. It’s for the year…”

Victoria: “The only contract you have to worry about is with me. Call them tomorrow, tell them you’re moving.”

GM: Anna looks ready to swoon at those first words.

Victoria: She drags a fingernail up her chin, capitalizing on it.

GM: “Yes… mistress. You’re my first contract.”

Victoria: “Anna.”

Something’s wrong.

GM: “Yeah?”

Victoria: “First?”

She looks bemused.

GM: “My first priority. My first commitment.”

Her answer looks more serious than joking, there.

Victoria: “Until I say otherwise, I am your only priority, and your only commitment. You aren’t worry about anything else. Understand?”

Unhealthy as it is, and she knows it’s unhealthy, it’s to Anna’s benefit to shirk thoughts of her life at school.

GM: “But,” says Anna. “If I just quit… that is illegal. They can take me to court, get my teaching license suspended…”

Victoria: “If you go back, you can be taken at knifepoint again. I won’t always be there, Anna.”

Now Sylvia is stressed.

GM: “I know,” says Anna. Her voice sounds pretty stressed, too. “I don’t want to go back! Not after that. Not ever! I just don’t want to get sued, or lose my license, either.”

Victoria: Sylvia huffs.

“What happens to all the other teachers who disappear during the year?”

GM: “Sometimes they get taken to court… or they just don’t work as teachers, anymore. Or both.”

“You can ask the school district to release you from your contract, early. That’s how teachers prefer to get out. It’s a letter to the superintendent and basically completely up to him.”

“Sometimes teachers also just quit and hope the school district won’t do anything about it. Because sometimes they don’t. But sometimes they do.”

Victoria: She settles Anna to the sofa, gets up, and disappears down the hall bare-assed. It as Anna’s turn to have the distracting sight.

A minute later, she returns with her laptop, open to a word processor.


GM: Anna looks distracted.

But not for long.

She starts writing.

“Do you have a printer? They like physical letters, for this kinda stuff.”

“Yes, it’s old-fashioned.”

Victoria: “Yes, it’s Wi-Fi enabled. Consider this: McGehee destroyed you. Since they let you go, your prospects teaching have only gone down. The students you receive care less. Your colleagues are burnt out. Your employers see you as replaceable parts in a broken machine they don’t want to fix. If you want to teach, your prospects in New Orleans are…”

They’re dead.

“Better it than you.”

“I don’t want to see the woman I love lose her soul to this disgusting system.”

GM: “I want to teach,” says Anna. Her voice is something between sad and frustrated. “It doesn’t have to be at McGehee, just… somewhere permanent, not as a sub, I’m not doing that again. Somewhere the kids and parents give a damn, and there aren’t police and metal detectors at the doors. That’s all. That’s all I want. Why can’t I just… why can’t they just let me teach.”

Anna gives a sniff.

Victoria: Sylvia pulls her into a hug again, taking those tears into her shoulder once they inevitably come.

“There, there. You’ll teach again. I promise. I’ve a few ideas, just… let’s get you out of that job alive and with a license, okay?”

GM: “I love teaching, I love working with kids,” Anna sniffs into Sylvia’s arms. “I’m qualified, I’m WELL-qualified, I didn’t do anything to hurt those girls…”

She hits print.

Victoria: “You are the single best teacher New Orleans has ever had, and what they did to you is wrong. You are a sacrifice. A scapegoat, and nothing more.”

“…do you want to light Strong’s car on fire?”

“I’ll do it.”

GM: Anna manages a chuckle.

“Tempting. But I’d rather just be a teacher again.”

“Maybe I’ll have better prospects in the summer, when they’re actually hiring again…”

She gets up again, her turn to distract Sylvia now, and retrieves and signs the letter.

“All right, just gotta mail this in… you got stamps and letters anywhere?”

“I can call in sick tomorrow, too. And however long it takes for the letter to get read. They can’t sue me for that.”

Victoria: She lofts a brow, wondering why Anna would mail the letter in when she’d said she’s planning to return to work, until she mentions calling in sick.

“That’s better. I like that idea. How many sick days do you have?”

GM: “Ten. Seven sick, three personal. Though I need a doctor’s note to take more than three sick ones.”

Victoria: “I’m not breaking your leg, though that might still be less dangerous than you going back to work.”

GM: Anna gives a mock-thoughtful expression.

Victoria: “No.”

GM: “I was kidding.”

“Anyways, stamps and letters?”

Victoria: “We’ll have to figure out how to make the doctor thin—In the desk. Be right back.”

Sylvia’s turn again.

GM: “Baby, I hate to see you leave, but I love to watch you go,” she fawns.

Victoria: “Take a picture. It’ll be you more often than me.”

She hastily sits before she actually does.

GM: “No fun,” pouts Anna, too slow in retrieving her phone.

Victoria: “Later. Do you think they’ll go for it?”

GM: “I don’t know,” admits Anna.

“They kind of… don’t care about teachers.”

“I could try talking with HR, but, well, they say HR exists to protect companies, not employees.”

Victoria: “It does, yes, but you were threatened with knives yesterday. It may be in their best interest to ensure you don’t take them to court.”

GM: “I think they’re counting on teachers being too poor to do that.”

Victoria: “Tell them you’ve got a rich girlfriend.”

GM: “Do you think I should threaten a lawsuit in my letter?”

Victoria: “Let’s see if they appeal to your rosy cheeks and sparkling smile before we use a stick.”

GM: Anna smiles back at that.

“All right.”

Then she smirks. “What about a whip?”

Victoria: Sylvia’s brow hits the ceiling.

GM: “I’m just saying, you have whips, not sticks.”

Victoria: “You don’t believe I have sticks.”

GM: “Sticks seems like a weird kink.”

Victoria: “There’s lots of sticks. Sticks can be used for whipping, and sturdier sticks can be used for striking. A cane is technically a stick, and surely you’ve heard of caning, hmmn? And then there’s the thicker sticks…”

GM: “Mmm, no, I haven’t heard of any of those,” Anna declares. “Maybe you’ll have to show me…”

Victoria: “You are much too innocent for that, dear. You wouldn’t survive the encounter.”

The pair spend the rest of the evening mulling about the dungeon. Sylvia offers to cook Anna a meal—as the dungeon is in a house—but decides she’d rather have a crispy chicken sandwich from O’Tolley’s. This earns a glance from Victoria, followed by an apology from Anna. She asks if she can buy one, and the two set off.

Three combo meals, a shared apple pie and yet another shovelful on the pile of ‘We should eat better’ later, they’re back at Sylvia’s apartment.

They manage a whole two hours of sleep.

Previous, by Narrative: Story Two, George IX
Next, by Narrative: Story Two, Emil IV

Previous, by Character: Story Two, Victoria IV
Next, by Character: Story Two, Victoria VI

Story Two, Caroline V

“I can’t stop what’s happened here from going forward, but I can make the process much less neat and tidy than everyone else would like it to be."
Christina Roberts

Sunday afternoon, 30 August 2015

Caroline’s second trip back to Tulane Medical Center feels much like the first. Neil has already eaten lunch, but still says hi when he sees her and provides the directions to Emil’s room. Her talk with the injured lawman is what it was.

People are still showing up to pay condolences, drop off gift baskets, and wish the girls speedy and complete recoveries. Sarah is still in a coma. Visitors give her their prayers as well. Yvonne seems to be tired out, and Caroline spots four of her sisters camped outside the door to receive further well-wishers in her stead. They mention Yvette is staying inside. She hasn’t ever left Yvonne’s side except to use the bathroom.

Susannah Kelly and several girls (some familiar to Caroline, some not) stop by Yvonne’s door to leave her with balloons. Other students from McGehee pay their respects, including Rachel and her father; Caleb Gallagher’s granddaughter Mackenna; a South Asian girl with her parents who are probably some of Rich Pavaghi’s many relatives; a redhead who Caroline doesn’t know; and a black girl who’s the daughter of Eric Lancaster, the (Democratic) U.S. representative for New Orleans’ congressional district, and who pointedly ignores Caroline’s presence.

Adults stop by too. There are two lawyers from Caroline’s old job at HMHL&P, and whose number do not include Denise; Carson Malveaux, who checks in on Caroline too; McGehee’s headmistress Catherine Strong, who tells the Devillers and Whitneys (for what doesn’t sound like the first time) that Amelie has been expelled; a blonde woman who brings food and Caroline recognizes as the ex-wife of Maxen Flores, her father Nathan’s successor in the state senate, and who half-playfully admonishes the girls to eat something besides sweets; two executives from Whitney Bank, along with Lawrence Thurston, who was her Aunt Vera’s portfolio manager; and a few further faces Caroline doesn’t know.

There’s also a delegation from NOPD, who have updates on Richard Gettis. He doesn’t seem to have gotten the message that he’s no longer a cop. He’s actually arrested two people for suspected crimes, handcuffed them to doors, and vanished after calling NOPD to come pick them up (both victims were released and not charged with anything). In so many words, “He’s gone off the deep end.” It makes his movements all the easier to follow, and they assure the Devillers and Whitney families that Gettis will be brought in—“dead or alive”—very soon. Both receive the news coolly.

Luke doesn’t seem like he has plans to leave the hospital anytime soon, and not just for his girlfriend’s sake. He glibly greets and shakes hands with as many people as he can, taking the opportunity to wave the family flag and praise Caroline’s heroism without seeming like he’s doing that (but which Caroline knows is exactly what he’s doing).

Caroline: Caroline plays the part opposite of him, the demure savior grateful the girls survived. It’s far from her most difficult role.

GM: It’s after a few hours of this that Caroline spots Christina Roberts among the various visitors coming and going.

Christina_Roberts.jpg Caroline: The heiress frowns at the sight. Roberts is many things, but an ambulance chaser isn’t one of them.

GM: Luke frowns at Caroline, as if having the same thought. “What do you suppose she’s doing here?”

Caroline: “I’m not sure. But I’ll find out.” The heiress crosses in front of the madam on her way to the bathroom.

GM: Christina looks notably stone-faced as Caroline intercepts her. She greets the Malveaux scion with a perfunctory, “Caroline.”

Luke does not accompany her.

Caroline: “Christina,” Caroline replies obliquely as she crosses ahead and into the restroom in front of Christina.

GM: The madam walks around her into one of the stalls, closes the door, and audibly goes about her business.

Caroline: Caroline pays the noise little mind as she moves to the sinks and checks her makeup and general appearance, waiting for the madam to finish her business. When Roberts emerges the heiress watches her through the mirror.

“I don’t expect they’re your clients, and they seem a little young to be your employees,” she offers.

GM: The sound of running water punctuates Roberts’ snort as she washes her hands. “They’re a little well-off to be my employees.”

Caroline: “I’m told that some teens enjoy rebelling against their families,” Caroline replies.

GM: Roberts’ expression looks as if she could snort again. “Some girls who’ve wanted to work for me have wanted to do that. They can rebel anywhere else they like, but I don’t employ minors, girls who’ll just make me enemies, or both.”

Caroline: “Personal, then,” Caroline replies.

GM: “My niece was hospitalized and arrested,” Roberts answers as she dries her hands.

Caroline: “I didn’t know you had one,” Caroline replies. “Anyone I might know?”

GM: “She’s only been in town for a few weeks. I doubt you know her, but after last Friday I’m sure you know of her.” Christina examines her reflection as she starts to touch up her makeup. “Her name is Amelie Savard.”

Caroline: Caroline pauses what she’s doing for a moment.

“That’s unfortunate,” she says at last.

GM: “I rather thought so too,” the madam deadpans.

Caroline: “I don’t need to tell you how ugly this is. And will continue to be,” the heiress replies.

GM: Christina silently continues to fix her face. The look on it is hard.

Caroline: Caroline finishes her own efforts and snaps her purse shut.

“Call me if you need something. My advice though, given the powers in play, it may be far better to ride this one out than swim against it. For her.”

GM: Christina turns away from the mirror to look at Caroline. She regards her for a moment.

“Your family connections could be very useful here. Something tells me Carson is going to be the judge who decides her case.”

Caroline: “I’m open to pitching something to him when we get there,” Caroline begins. “But I’d need a scapegoat. Someone isn’t coming out of this with a slap on the wrist.”

GM: “Yes,” Christina agrees, though not happily. “And Amelie makes the perfect one.”

Caroline: “Well, perfect save you,” Caroline replies.

The heiress’s expressionless mask cracks for a moment. “If it had happened with almost any other group in the school, this would have been a far easier matter for you to sweep up, if so inclined.”

GM: Christina simply sighs. “The Devillers and Whitney girls are off. The Freneau girl is more convenient, but still inconvenient. That leaves the injured cop and the Burroughs girl, so far as people who were actually there.”

Caroline: “I’m certain you can come up with something. This probably isn’t the time to discuss it though,” Caroline replies.

GM: “Quite the opposite. I’m sure your parents have told you some variation of ‘the longer you wait, the harder it gets.’”

Caroline: “And what do you propose? And is your niece smart enough to follow along with whatever you’d be selling?”

She lets that hang for a moment, then bites her lower lip. “The police officer is likely your best bet. I could spin advantages to pushing them further on the defensive, and he struck me as…. well, let’s just say someone unwilling to play ball.”

GM: Christina seems to think on that. “I’d heard a few strange things about him.”

Caroline: “He started ranting to me about bringing justice back to the police for the common man,” Caroline answers dryly.

GM: “An idealist among NOPD? I thought they were an endangered species,” the madam quips back, equally dryly.

Caroline: The smile Caroline gives is positively predatory. “They might be.”

GM: “That does change things a good deal,” Christina considers. “Brass will want him off the force sooner or later anyway if he doesn’t change his tune.”

Caroline: “And it would be easy to argue his call set it all in motion,” Caroline agrees.

GM: “It’s chains of events that build towards fuck-ups this big. Never just one thing,” Christina sighs. “But you’re right. Now, so far as what Carson wants to hear.”

The madam rubs her forehead. “I won’t fight Amelie’s expulsion from McGehee, sue the school, or sue the girls’ families. That should be enough for them. But anything that results in Amelie getting a felony conviction is a dealbreaker. I won’t allow this to destroy her future.”

Caroline: “She’s going to get something—there’s too much on the record now—but I can make that argument,” Caroline replies. “Extra attention isn’t something the girls’ families are likely to want either, given all that was involved.”

GM: “A misdemeanor conviction will probably be too hard to dodge,” Christina grudgingly agrees. “Carson and I can haggle over the sentence particulars—but no felonies. The drug charge is bullshit and we all know it. I can’t stop what’s happened here from going forward, but I can make the process much less neat and tidy than everyone else would like it to be.”

Caroline: “You’ll need something on the cop,” Caroline replies. “Making the drug charge stick to him might be ideal. And easy. He’s stuck here for days.”

GM: “He needs a motive.” Christina thinks for a moment. “He could have wanted to strike a blow against the city’s old families. Send a loud and clear message that no one was above the law.”

Caroline: “He certainly accomplished as much. I confess, my understanding of exactly what happened makes it difficult to frame it neatly, but I expect your own perspective may lend itself well.”

GM: “The girls have a better idea than either of us regarding what happened. I’m sure they’d talk freely around you.”

Caroline: “You’re asking for a lot,” Caroline replies. “That could leave me high and dry.”

GM: “Asking the ones who aren’t in a hospital bed costs you nothing relative to my goodwill,” Christina counters. “Any of the girls would be more than happy to complain about the cop who got them into this mess, I’m sure.”

Caroline: “And filling in all those holes for you?” Caroline counters. “Is your niece going to play ball when she wakes up, or are our plans going to come apart?”

GM: “She’ll do what she’s told,” the madam states.

Caroline: “I trust you can find a way to make the drugs stick to him,” Caroline answers rather than asks. “I’ll call you later with details on what happened.”

GM: “Good. If you’re looking for more on Kane, he’s since been visited by Delron Mouton, some other lieutenant, and Senator Flores’ ex-wife. They all might have more to share with you than me about any unsocial behavior.”

Caroline: “Someone’s been busy,” Caroline replies. “I’ll see what I can do.”

GM: Christina snaps her purse closed. “I have no doubt.”

Sunday afternoon, 30 August 2015

GM: Yvonne’s room is much as it was when Caroline left it last, or at least the outside is. Four of her sisters are camped out on chairs with cushions, occupying themselves on phones and tablets. One result of last Friday and Saturday, Caroline supposes, is that she can now tell them apart better. Yvette, Noëlle, and Cécilia are present, along with Luke and another pale woman who looks a little younger than Cécilia. That has to be Adeline.

Caroline: After the predictable and expected round of introductions, Caroline asks Cécilia to step aside with her for a moment.

GM: All of the girls are as grateful to see Caroline as before and offer an abundance of treats from Yvonne’s gift baskets, which they say she’s fine with them offering (“there’s just so much”). Cécilia tells her sisters she’ll be back momentarily.

Caroline: Caroline politely inquires as to Yvonne’s condition before moving on to the topic at hand. “What exactly happened that night, Cécilia? There’s a lot more to this than I was selling the night of.”

GM: Yvonne is feeling a lot more out of it than yesterday, Cécilia answers. She’d wanted to look strong for her initial visitors and has received fewer today. She’s too tired to have anyone in her room besides Yvette right now. But she is making a steady recovery. Everyone only hopes the same can be said for Sarah.

Cécilia frowns over the topic of what happened. “It’s a long story, Caroline, but one I know pretty well by now. It all started over a school project. It was for a history class Yvette was taking with Amelie. They were supposed to research a haunted historic building. I guess the teacher thought that would be a fun project.”

“Yvette and Amelie got paired up when they didn’t want to be. Or at least when Yvette didn’t want to be. Yvette had a thousand reasons for disliking her, I won’t go into them, but she said Amelie was paranoid about ghosts and convinced the house really was haunted.”

Caroline: “So they decided to play to it,” Caroline fills in.

GM: Cécilia nods. “Yvette said Amelie was even stabbed by some Quarter psychic over the weekend, which I’m sure made her even more scared. But you guessed what Yvette did. She gathered up a bunch of other girls, who didn’t like Amelie but were pretending to be her friends, and decided to play a prank on her.”

“They tried to give Amelie a drink spiked with LSD and then wanted to host a pretend séance, where they’d have acted like ghosts were actually there. Once she started really hallucinating, they’d have locked her in the attic overnight. Where all the slaves were tortured, and let her think the ghosts were getting her.”

Caroline: It’s a particularly cruel ‘prank,’ but Caroline has heard worse.

GM: “They’d have left her there for the caretaker to find the next morning, where they must have figured she’d get in even worse trouble.” Cécilia sighs. “I suppose teenagers will be teenagers, no? But obviously that isn’t what happened. They said Amelie was already on edge. She was jumping at shadows and wouldn’t even take the drink. She was seeing things all without LSD.”

Caroline: “So what happened? How did she end up with her head cracked open, and her phone destroyed?” Caroline asks.

GM: Cécilia sighs again. “The house had all the girls on edge. Things sounded like they started to get really downhill after… they found some disturbing painting the last owner, that movie star, left behind. It scared all of them, not just Amelie. Yvette took a picture of it, then texted it to Amelie after they’d all split up.”

“It must have really scared her. That’s when the girls all heard her screaming, and saw she’d fallen down a flight of stairs.” Cécilia’s brow furrows. “They aren’t sure exactly happened to her phone. But Amelie brought a lot of knives, maybe it fell on one. She was out of her mind when the others saw her. They tried to calm her down, but she ran off and tried to climb the gate… and fell.”

Caroline: “And when their friend’s cop father showed up, he had the bright idea to make them write out this plan of theirs—and they did.”

GM: Cécilia nods. “In garbled bits. Most of them left out the drugs and other parts that could have gotten them in real trouble, I think, but Simmone is only 10… she told the full story.”

Caroline: “And then the cops searched and found the drugs. Lord, how much did they have?” Caroline asks rhetorically. “Can the drugs be traced back to anyone?”

GM: Cécilia shakes her head. “They were very plain-looking pills, you could mistake them for medication tablets. No smiley faces or rainbows like you see on some.”

Her face falls a bit. “They said that was Sarah’s idea, to keep them plain. In case Amelie saw them spiking the drink, or something else went wrong… like it did.”

Caroline: “Small mercies,” Caroline replies quietly. Gears turn in her mind. “Do they have any idea what happened to the cop? Just a stroke?”

GM: “It… must have been. The girls all say he started screaming over Amelie. Really screaming, like some kind of… animal, then ran out of the house. Everyone must have just been so scared. When they found him, he was lying passed out in the rain. The doctors all say it was a stroke compounded by hitting his head.”

Caroline: “Then the other cops and paramedics showed up,” Caroline fills in.

GM: Cécilia nods. “The girls were all arrested. And then, well, you were there for all of it.” Her face looks more than a little numb. “It was such a nightmare.”

Caroline: “Yes, it was,” Caroline agrees, flashing back to blood squeezing its way between her too-pale fingers working over paler-still flesh.

GM: “Everyone says that house is cursed.”

Caroline: “Maybe it is,” Caroline answers. “Do you know anything about Amelie beyond what your sisters shared?”

GM: Cécilia shakes her head. “Mostly just what Yvette shared. And Yvonne. They both had classes with her, I’m sure they could all tell you a lot more. And Mrs. Flores, their dance teacher, who’s been by.”

Caroline: “Her aunt is Christina Roberts.”

GM: “Oh, I see.” Cécilia clearly does see if her stiller expression is any indication.

Caroline: “I don’t think she could actively derail things at this point, but I suspect if so inclined she could turn this into a very messy and too-public spectacle.”

GM: “Yvette wants Amelie to pay. So does our mother. I’m not sure they’re wrong.”

Caroline: “For being a fool?” Caroline shrugs. “She’ll be expelled either way, and is likely to end up with an array of criminal charges. To say nothing of her own road to recovery. At the end of the day she wasn’t why the girls got arrested.”

GM: “There’s a lot of people at fault for what happened last night,” Cécilia grants with a faint sigh. “These sorts of things are too big for any one person to be responsible.”

Caroline: “Really? Because I can think of someone whom it falls on more than others,” Caroline answers.

GM: “Completely responsible,” her brother’s girlfriend amends with another stiller look. “And he of course chose to do everything that he did, knowing what would happen. But even Yvette and the girls are partly—partly—responsible, for their prank to make Amelie so scared. So am I for driving them to that house. And Amelie is the most responsible of all, for obvious reasons, and getting the police involved.”

Caroline: “I spoke with him,” Caroline continues. “Idealist type. He was preaching to me about turning the police around to help the ‘little guy.’”

GM: “How unfortunate he couldn’t help my sisters,” Cécilia notes coolly.

Caroline: “Were it not for his prying, there would have been little reason to touch them,” Caroline replies. “And while I can only speculate as to what possessed Detective Gettis, I have to imagine those writings played a part.”

GM: “I don’t know why he had them do that,” Cécilia frowns. “I’ve never heard of police taking written statements before.”

Caroline: “They don’t,” Caroline answers.

GM: “Everyone knows how bad police corruption is in this city, of course, but I thought they at least cared about people like my family. They’re making an énorme show of it now, of course. The superintendent was by yesterday, along with Nolan Moreno, and that commander just a little while ago. They even wanted to ‘pay respects’ to Yvonne, in her room. As if we would let them.”

Caroline: “It was disgusting,” Caroline agrees. “But I think holding Detective Kane accountable would make a larger impact than platitudes.”

GM: “Officer Kane. They say he’s been demoted.”

Caroline: “A slap on the wrist,” Caroline scoffs.

GM: “Yes. I suppose it would be a step in the right direction to have him off the force, thinking on it now. My mother would agree, I’m sure. Things have just been… well, you know how.” Cécilia looks a little numb again. “When we’re thinking about anything besides the girls, it’s about Gettis, and then Amelie. What to do about Kane just fell by the wayside.”

Caroline: Caroline nods in understanding. “He doesn’t seem the type to let things go. Pitch it to your mother for me,” she asks. “She has more police connections than I do. If she’s willing to let Amelie off with the more minor charges—and a removal from McGehee—I can make Roberts play ball, and the rest of this can go away without dragging the girls into trials and other unpleasantness.”

GM: “Oh, mon dieu, a trial? Do you really think she would?” Cécilia asks.

Caroline: “I think she’d call them as witnesses in any more serious trial for Amelie, and perhaps pursue civil measures.”

GM: Cécilia sighs. “Well, Yvette might relish that, but Yvonne and Simmone don’t need to go through another ordeal. Or the other girls. I suppose as long as Amelie’s out of McGehee, that’s what matters.”

Caroline: “Out of your lives,” Caroline agrees. “Do you think your mother will go along with it?” she asks.

GM: “Out of our lives,” Cécilia repeats, then pauses. “She wants the people who’ve hurt her children to pay.”

Caroline: It’s not something Caroline can relate to, even though she understands.

GM: “Gettis is the person who’s on her mind most of all right now. I think she’ll also be glad to avoid a trial, but she’ll want more than just expulsion for Amelie.”

Caroline: “An array of misdemeanors are all on the table. Her future is finished. She’ll be lucky to finish high school.”

GM: “Would it be?” Cécilia asks, seemingly half-curious. “You are the lawyer, but a few misdemeanors is much less of a black mark for jobs and colleges than a felony drug conviction, isn’t it?”

Caroline: Caroline pauses. “It isn’t an outright end, but it closes many doors. To say nothing of how long her recovery is going to take.”

GM: “My mother keeps an eye on the long term. She’ll want this to keep a lot of doors closed for good.”

Caroline: “I see few doors open to a potential high school dropout,” Caroline replies. “It certainly closes the doors on any prestigious schools.”

GM: “There are other high schools she could enroll in. Not prestigious ones, after an expulsion on her transcript, but still.”

Caroline: Caroline spreads her hands. “Amelie’s future destroyed, the girls not dragged into a public debacle that could damage their own.” She weighs one hand against the other for emphasis. “If she’s as unlikable as you’ve made her out to be, it seems doubtful she’ll make much of herself. And if the police are forced to sacrifice one of their own at her altar, it’s unlikely they’ll turn a blind eye to her.”

GM: “That’s also very true,” Cécilia considers. “Maman could put in a bad word with them. All right, Caroline, I think I can convince her on it.”

Caroline: “There are many opportunities, past this, for things to go a bad way for her,” Caroline agrees.

GM: “More than. By the way, your brother is coming back with lunch for everyone, would you like to join us? My sisters would love it if you did.”

Caroline: “I’d love to, but I need to make sure the Whitneys are on board as well, then call my uncle.” She gives a strained smile. “If all goes smoothly, I’ll come back by—but when does it?”

Previous, by Narrative: Story Two, George VII
Next, by Narrative: Story Two, Julien V

Previous, by Character: Story Two, Caroline IV, Emil III
Next, by Character: Story Two, Caroline Epilogue

Story Two, Victoria IV

“You’re DEAD, bitch, DEAD.”
Unknown juvenile delinquent

Sunday afternoon, 20 September 2015

GM: Weeks pass. Richard Gettis makes the news again: shot dead by SWAT while resisting arrest.

Anna is glad he won’t hurt any kids again.

But she’s still a little sad.

McGehee does not offer her job back.

Victoria: Sylvia reassures her, commenting that everyone is safe again.

She also offers burning the headmistress’ car again.

GM: Anna smiles. But declines. That won’t help anyone.

She tries to move on. She applies to Mount Carmel Academy, the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Brother Martin’s School, and still others. None have openings.

All of the good schools tell her not to apply for next year.

Anna lands a subbing gig.

At first she’s hopeful.

It’s not long before she says it sucks.

“Regular teachers leave busywork for the kids. They know it’s busywork. So they refuse to do it.”

“Sometimes I don’t even know the material. All I can do is tell them to get to work, or help them look it up, because I can’t explain it. So kids who don’t understand either copy, or do nothing.”

She sighs.

“They know I’m just a sub. They don’t care.”

Victoria: She knows how significantly it affects Anna to see her passion turned into a monkey turning a lever. Especially when Anna is the monkey.

Perhaps poorly placed, she tries to make her smile.

“You’ve always been a sub for me.”

She nudges her in the ribs. It feels like trying to get a rise out of a sedated dog.

GM: Anna just gives a half-hearted smile.

“Oh, my god,” she says the next day, her voice tired. “These kids. They will pull things they wouldn’t even think of trying with a real teacher.”

“Guess what happened today. One boy started a fight with another one. I asked his name to write him up. So, guess what happens when he’s sent to detention? Another kid goes in. Because he gave me a fake name.”

“The principal called me in to yell at me. Told me what an idiot I was.”

Victoria: Sylvia drags a palm down her face.

“You can’t be serious. And they blame you for that?”

GM: “Yes,” Anna says dully. “They do.”

Wednesday afternoon, 23 September 2015

GM: “You know what the worst part is?” Anna says, several days later. “It’s lonely. I feel invisible. The other teachers know I’m not a real teacher. I try to eat lunch with them in the lounge, and they ignore me completely. I try to talk to them and they act like they don’t even hear me. Like I’m a ghost.”

She sniffs and dabs her eye.

“I’ve never seen people be so rude.”

Victoria: Anna’s made a habit of coming home, and calling Sylvie, or coming home, and calling Sylvie over, and coming ‘home’, but to Sylvie’s apartment.

Home, home, home.

Work, home, work, home, work, home.

Every time they see each other, she has another anecdote of another poor experience at work. Sylvie sees her, a dehydrated ball of oversqueezed passion, the puddle of her love all over the floor. She’s a mess.

All Sylvie can ever say is…


She doesn’t know what to say anymore. She’s her best friend, and all she can do is be a shoulder for her to cry on.

“Is this… really worth it?”

GM: “I don’t know what else to do so,” she says tiredly. “I’m applying to other schools. This… pays the bills, until something turns up.”

Anna has more stories, as the weeks go by.

She subs on a class trip day, where there are a bunch of subs. The vice principal walks down the hallway and asks in a loud voice, “Where are all the teachers?” Anna remembers thinking, I’m a teacher too, you know.

She subs for a class of fourth graders. One gets into an argument with Anna over something she tells him he can’t do. He tells her, “You aren’t a teacher. You’re just a substitute!”

She subs at a school where she sees a student slam another into a locker so hard the kid loses consciousness and has to be transported to the hospital. No one believes her over what happened, or will call 911, until they see the unconscious kid themselves. No one believes the offending kid is the one she identifies.

She subs at another school where a regular teacher angrily lectures her that she should “know her place” and accuses her of “running my classroom like your personal playground.”

She says that regular teachers treat her like a maid. Like hired help. That she gets absolutely no respect.

She says she doesn’t actually teach anything. The kids don’t pay attention. She is a glorified babysitter while half of them do busywork and the other half pushes her buttons as far as she will let them. No one remembers her name. They just call her “the substitute.” She eats lunch at her desk, tries to read a book while the video plays for a subject she isn’t qualified to teach, and counts the hours until her work day is over.

“I never did that at McGehee,” she says dully. “Never. I looked forward to every class. Now I just can’t wait until I get to leave.”

“I’ve started applying for jobs at schools… lower down on my list. I can’t keep doing this.”

Victoria: Sylvia listens with all the patience of a guardian angel, and provides even more warmth. She’s everything she can be for the teacher in her many (daily) times of need.

When Anna calls her in tears over lunch, she answers.

When Anna doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, she pushes her.

When Anna, jittering over the looming day, hits a raccoon in the middle of the road, Sylvie is there minutes later.

“You are so much more than a babysitter, Anna,” she affirms with rock-solid assurance. “You are so much more, and you deserve to be seen that way, and see yourself that way.”

She takes Anna’s face in hand.

“I’m… not sure you’ll fare any better searching for schools further down. You might find a career in another city, but you are the soul of New Orleans.”

Their foreheads touch, Sylvia’s hands wrapping around the back of Anna’s neck.

“…it might be time to let it go. I’m not saying you have to stay, but if you want to work for me, it might be helpful for your mindset.”

GM: “That means the world, Sylvie,” Anna says quietly, head touching against hers. “It really does.”

“So does… everything, these past few weeks. You’re such a good friend…”

There’s no cracks about dominatrixes this time.

There’s been fewer cracks in general, these past weeks.

“But teaching is what I want to do with my life. It’s always been. Maybe… I can make a difference, teaching underprivileged kids, in ways I couldn’t at McGehee. Maybe this is even fate.”

“I know you’ve been to worse schools, as a kid… is there any advice you’d give?

Victoria: The hands holding her neck slide down her arms, and Anna finds herself pulled into a firm hug. Not crushing, as Sylvia does when she jovially forces glee into her friend. Not gentle. Not police. Simply firm and supportive, where Anna can let herself go limp, and she wouldn’t budge an inch.

She murmurs in her ear.


GM: So she does.

She goes limp, content to be held in Sylvia’s arms, the one always safe port in an angry storm. The one refuge and reservoir of support she can always turn back to.


Victoria: As she so often does, Sylvia leans the pair back, partially laying atop each other.

“Because the only people who care less than the teachers are the students, and the parents make an effort to care less than that. It isn’t a school. It is a daycare. You will be a babysitter, and nothing you do there will ever make a difference.”

GM: “Did you have good teachers?” Anna asks. “Any?”

“And if you didn’t… would one have helped?”

Victoria: “At that age? In those schools?”

She shakes her head.

“I didn’t give a fuck. No one did. No structure at home, no structure at school. If school decided to make a structure, it would have broken the moment I got home. If it wasn’t for Mom…”

She cringes. It isn’t fun to entertain what she might have become.

GM: Anna squeezes her shoulder.

“But you did have your mom.”

“I’m not going to say I’m a Superwoman like her, but… what if she was your teacher?”

Victoria: “Then my trash home would have erased any care in the world when my foster-brothers took my homework and stuffed it in the toilet. It’s hard to want to be better when the whole world tears you down. A child’s home is their whole world.”

For the first time since Anna lost her position with McGehee and husband in the same weekend, Sylvia exhibits frustration. She speaks with tension, but not anger, her fatigue coming through.

“Look, Anna, I’m not going to stop you from doing what you want to do, but I’ll voice my opinion every time. The public system—every fucking public system we have here in this city—is fucked, and one person isn’t going to change that.”

GM: “I don’t think I’m going to,” says Anna. “I just want to help what kids I can.”

“I can’t just quit teaching, without exploring all my options.”

“I feel like that’s… like that’s backing down.”

Victoria: “Sometimes, backing down an reevaluating is exactly what you need to do.”

GM: Anna’s quiet for a moment.

“I think I’ve made up my mind to do this. I want to at least… try.”

Victoria: Sylvia stares at her, silently smoldering.

GM: Anna takes her hand.

“Please don’t be mad.”

Victoria: “I’m not mad…”


GM: Anna looks relieved.

“I’d still like your advice, if you have any.”

Victoria: “Wear armor. A friend’s niece makes some. Maybe I can get you a suit.”

GM: “Ha. Okay, I’ll add that to my school supplies.”

Victoria: “To be fair, you’d look hot in a set.”

She daydreams.

“Maybe a little sweaty. Mn…”

GM: “Armor?” Anna replies, amused.

“I think I’d rather be the princess than the knight.”

Victoria: “I’d rather you be a princess, too.”

GM: “I can see you in armor, though.”

“Black with lots of spikes.”

Victoria: “I can see me saving you from a tower.”

“As long as it has an elevator.”

GM: “I can see you doing that too,” Anna says with a soft smile.

Victoria: “I’ll stand in your classroom in armor, if I have to.”

“You might need it.”

GM: “That would make me feel very safe.”

“But I hope you don’t have to.”

Victoria: “You’re okay if I skewer a few children for warning?”

GM: “As long as they’re the ones who’d distract the others most.”

Victoria: “I’ll let you decide how the herd is culled.”

GM: Anna smiles.

“For real, though. Advice?”

Victoria: Sylvia releases a breath.

“They don’t want to learn, and no amount of forcing will change that. You can make it fun. That might help. Appeal to their sense of games. Kids love games. Their home lives are shit, mostly, so anything you give them to take home likely won’t be done, and any supplies they have will be left out to be chewed by a neighborhood dog.”

She thinks.

“I can tell you a hundred things you already know. You’re a great teacher. Maybe you’ll be the magic touch they need, but… Don’t lose your heart when—if—they don’t see that.”

GM: Anna nods.

“Okay. Go into this with open eyes. And play games with them.”

Victoria: “You already know all of that.”

GM: Anna shakes her head. “I didn’t do games at McGehee. The girls were all very focused. Very serious about getting into good colleges.”

Victoria: “I’m sure they’ll do very well. They’re learning in civilized society.”

GM: “Oh, of course. I’m not worried about their futures.” Her face sinks. “Besides Amelie’s, anyway.”

Victoria: “I know it’s your nature to fret for your students, but…”

But she’s not your student anymore.

GM: “But…?”

Victoria: “But you need to worry about yourself now.”

GM: “I’ll do that.” She smiles and gives Sylvia’s shoulder another squeeze. “Thanks for the advice. And supporting me in this.”

Victoria: “You know very well that I’ll be here whenever you need.”

She’s proved it almost every day, sometimes at her own sacrifice.

Monday afternoon, 5 October 2015

GM: Anna gets a job at a public charter school in Central City, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods in New Orleans. They’re willing to give her a contract after the school year has already started. Apparently, there is a lot of turnover in faculty.

Anna has stories from the very first day. She says there are metal detectors at the doors and police officers in the halls. She tells Sylvia about classrooms with such bad water damage that half the tiles are missing on the floor, mold is growing on the walls, and the A/C isn’t always reliable.

She brings a fan to class on the second day. It’s one of the many school supplies she winds up buying out of her own pocket. The charter school is a for-profit institution and seems to make money by ruthlessly slashing as many costs as it can.

“You know the weird thing?” Anna says. “All of the kids are black. All of the teaching staff is white. Literally the entire staff. None of them are from New Orleans. I think I’m the closest there is to a native. The other teachers are from all over the country.”

“I’m not going to say minorities should get hiring preference. I’ve never believed in affirmative action. It’s just… none of us understand the culture. I’d feel better if there were more local teachers. Whatever their skin color.”

Victoria: As soon as Sylvia mentions metal detectors and police officers, she moves from concern over Anna’s looming disappointment and the broken heart to follow to concern for her life.

“Anna,” she says one day, “if they have cops in the hallways, it’s because the student body is violent. Violent. Like, throwing punches, stabbing, probably bringing guns into the building. I don’t want to see you hurt.”

She already knows Anna won’t listen to her.

“If the world had more of you, it wouldn’t matter where the teachers are from, but the world is how it is. Are the students listening to you?”

GM: “Sometimes,” says Anna.

“They like the games.”

Victoria: Sylvia still dreads the worst.

“You keep your coffee with you? No open water left where they can touch it?”

GM: “Water?” Anna asks confusedly.

Victoria: “I don’t want to hear about a pretty, new teacher being drugged in the news.”

GM: “Oh. That doesn’t seem like something they’d do. They’re more… direct.”

“There are fights in the halls. All the time.”

Victoria: Sylvia pales.

“Please, Anna.”

GM: “It’s been just a day,” Anna says. “Nothing’s happened to me. And I’ve signed the contract.”

“The cops are pretty responsive…”

Victoria: “How… many times have you seen them be responsive… in one day?”

GM: “I saw them tackle and arrest one student. He was… god, Sylvie! He was completely out of control!”

Victoria: Sylvia whines.

“I’ll pay you what they are!”

GM: “Look, it’s been just a day! I’ve not seen anything happen to teachers. The fights are between students.”

Victoria: " ‘Seen’?"

GM: “And I’ve signed the contract, I literally can’t quit.”

“I’ll bring pepper spray in my bag. To be extra safe.”

Victoria: “Do you know how to use it?”

GM: “Point and spray.”

Victoria: She can’t see Anna crushing a bug, even after it bites her.

It doesn’t seem to sate Sylvia.

GM: “My dad showed me. He was concerned for his daughter’s virtue.”

Victoria: “Virtue isn’t exactly rolling off you, honey.”

GM: “Because I’m friends with a dominatrix?”

“A professional purveyor of sin?”

Victoria: Sylvia drags a fingernail up Anna’s neck, under her chin, and kisses her nose.

GM: Anna’s cheeks blush faintly, though she smiles.

It’s one of the more genuine ones Sylvia’s seen in a while.

“What was that for…?”

Victoria: “I wanted to see you smile.”

GM: Anna smiles back.

“You succeeded.”

Tuesday afternoon, 6 October 2015

GM: Anna smiles less over the coming weeks.

The accounts she gives are hauntingly familiar to Sylvia.

Class is basically optional. Kids walk in and out constantly, if they show up at all. Any attempts to enforce any kind of rules about tardiness and truancy are usually met with “fuck you, bitch." Class sizes vary each day. The kids who show up are rowdy and off task constantly. Very little education takes place in Anna’s classroom. Or any classroom, really. Anna describes how one girl pulls out her phone, turns on some music, jumps on her desk, and starts dancing on top of the desk. Anna tries to get her down but she keeps telling her “fuck you” over and over. This occurs at least once a week.

Trying to manage these kids is bad enough, but each class has about 40 kids in it. Sylvia might think this is a problem with funding but the school gets, in Anna’s opinion, enough funding. It doesn’t go to hiring teachers, it goes to paying a handful of extremely well-paid top administrators. It also goes to maintaining all the shit the kids destroy just for fun. Anna talks about how some tech or charitable organization tries to equip the kids with laptops. In short order, at least half are gone. The kids pawn them or destroy them for fun. Several times, Anna catches groups of kids just throwing the laptops against the wall or down the stairs, cackling and howling while taking turns filming it for MeVid. Every single TI83 calculator in the building gets stolen from every math and science teacher. The teachers try to make them put the calculators back. The kids howl and scream about any number of things and just storm out with the calculators anyway. Police only recover some of them.

That’s the real big issue at the school. Violence. Fights are a daily thing. At any given moment, there is probably a fight going on in the classroom. The police tackle and arrest the worst offenders, but plenty more get away with it. Sometimes punishment is just an hour in ISS or one-day suspension. Teachers get assaulted, too. Anna says there is a first aid kit in the teacher’s lounge.

Her kids haven’t hit her.

They do seem to enjoy the games.

Victoria: Every time Anna recounts another event, Sylvia worries more. She doesn’t try to convince her out of going to work anymore, but there’s little she can do other than caution her.

She isn’t about to go punch a child, even if she wants to. If they harm her.

Thursday afternoon, 22 October 2015

GM: One day, Anna gives Sylvia a call around when school gets out.

“Hey, big favor, can you pick me up from work? And bring some tires? I went out to the parking lot, and… someone slashed my car’s….”

Victoria: Sylvia answers the phone.

“Your tires? I can’t see a world where one of them targeted you specifically.”

She heaves a sigh.

“Okay. Okay. What size? I’ll come by. Or I can call you a truck.”

GM: “I did think about doing that. But this gives me an excuse to see you.”

Victoria: “You want to see me…?”

It’s probably surprising that she sounds surprised. They’ve spent almost every evening together.

GM: “I was kidding,” Anna says, lightly at first. Then more curiously. “Is that really a surprise…?”

“I love seeing you.”

Victoria: There’s a short pause.

“I’ll be there soon. Text me a picture of the tire size.”

GM: “Okay. Will do.”

“And can you swing by my classroom, when you’re there? I don’t like to wait out in the parking lot by myself.”

Victoria: “Of course. What’s the room number?”

Anna can hear her bag jingle, and the door close over the phone.

GM: “23.”

Sylvia picks up the tires without overly much trouble. It’s a short enough drive to Central City, but feels like she might as well be a thousand miles away from the quiet neighborhood where her dungeon is. She hears a gunshot and several blaring car alarms before she pulls up to a sagging, dilapidated, and graffiti-tagged school that looks like something out of the worst parts of her childhood.

True to Anna’s description, there are metal detectors and a police presence at the doors. The cops ask who Sylvia is, but let her through. She’s a well-dressed white adult.

Victoria: Sylvia recalls a time where she heard gunshots while walking into school. The gunmen never came for her. The shooter never came for the children.

So she thought as a child.

It’s so much worse as an adult. Seeing the school with the backdrop of rampant crime, Sylvia resolves to lock Anna in the bathroom at home until she concedes to breaking her contract.

For a moment, she considers calling the police just to escort her in to the building.

She passes through the detector and police checkpoint, walking as quickly to room 23 as she can. Sylvia cuts as imposing, focused a figure as she can.

GM: She does that best when she goes by Victoria. But she’s no slouch as Sylvia either.

There’s not many people in the hallways, though. School seems dead after the bell rings. Who here bothers with extracurriculars?

She makes her way to room 23. Through the door, she sees two teenage youths pressing knives to Anna’s throat and pinning her against a wall.

“We pass your class. Or you’re DEAD, bitch, DEAD. You fucking get that!?” spits one of them.

“Yes! Yes! I get that!” Anna repeats, pale with fear. “You’ll pass! You’ll pass!”


So much for that metal detector.

Victoria: She opens the door.

“Hey, An—”

Sylvia experiences something new in that moment. She’s been threatened with knives before, when she was in school. It terrified her. It mortified her. It made her feel tiny, and weak, and helpless.

She grew from that. She became stronger. She made mistakes, and she threw punches when she shouldn’t have, and she earned a scar on her belly for it. That was years ago, though, and she’s almost forgotten the pain of that wound.

Sylvia St. George has never felt her heart leap to her throat and not her life, but another life, flash before her eyes. Her everything stands there, rocks crumbling beneath her feet off into an abyss. All they need to do is push her, and half of her heart will be gone.

An inferno of ice erupts inside her. She wants to hurt them like she’s never wanted to hurt anyone before. Not the man who touched her foster-sister. Not the mother who cast her out. No one. No soul.

She’s not stupid, though, and Anna’s life takes importance over her own bestial drive. She holds her hands up, a peace offering.

“You’ll pass,” she echoes. “She gets it. Cops are walking down the hall. You might want to get going before they peek in.”

GM: The two boys whirl at the sound of the opening door.

Sylvia sees simultaneous violence and alarm flash in their eyes.

She sees the desperate flash of hope in Anna’s. She looks about ready to cry in relief. At the arrival of her knight in spiked black armor.

Sylvia doesn’t think she has ever seen someone look so thankful to see her.

One of the boys presses the knife harder against Anna’s throat, drawing faint beads of red.


Anna chokes back a gasp.

HEY!” says the second boy. He walks away from Anna, crosses the room towards Sylvia, and points his knife at her.

“Make them leave, bitch! NOW!”

Victoria: “Hey, hey,” she soothes, hands still palm out at shoulder height. “You guys are in control.”

The words make her retch inside.

“You’re the two with the knives. You want me gone, I’m gone, no calling the cops over, but I’d like to take her with me. You made your point, you’ll get your grades.”

GM: The kids stare at Sylvia, faces tense.

The one by Anna yanks off her glasses, tosses them to the floor, and stomps over them. Glass crunches under his shoe.

Then he shoves Anna forwards, into Sylvia.

Anna suppresses a cry and flings her arms around her friend in a death grip.

“Get out!” spits the boy. “We don’t pass! She’s fucking DEAD!”

Victoria: She catches Anna with an arm, hugging her lightly, and ushering her behind her. She takes a step backward after her, looking out the door. Are there cops nearby?

GM: There are none. The last cops she saw were by the front entrance.

Victoria: Sylvia draws a Sig Sauer P365 from her bag, pointing it at the boys. She capitalizes on the sudden threat. None of her clients have ever heard her as intimidating as she tries to be.

“Put. The fucking. Knives. Down.”

She counts her blessings on two very fortunate events: one, her urgency to help Anna making her forget to take the weapon out of the bag, and two, the broken metal detector allowing her to keep it in the bag.

She keeps Anna behind her.

GM: She sees it in the boys’ furious eyes.

The primal instinct to fight or flee.

Staring down the end of her barrel.

There’s two of them.

One of her.

They can’t stop her from getting off at least one shot.

But can she drop both of them before one cuts her up?

Victoria: She takes a step out the door, pulling Anna with her, slamming it before either of them make the decision for her. Whether it locks or not, she takes a step away from it, leaving the barrel of the gun clearly visible through the slot.

“You come out, you earn what you get!”

“Get the cops!” she hisses to Anna. “You tell them I have a gun to them if you have to!”

GM: The door does not lock.

“I’ll be back!” says Anna, face still pale. She takes off in a sprint.

The boys stare at Sylvia through the slot like caged and furious animals.

They don’t drop their knives, now.

Victoria: She keeps the weapon pointed at the glass, both hands on the weapon. It’s in that moment, her heart hammering, none of the fear she feels touching her face, that she promises herself to buy both her and Anna lessons.

“You open that door and you get exactly what’s coming.”

She glances at the weapon, ensuring the safety is off.

GM: The boys watch Anna flee.

They look at the gun.

Through the glass.

Through the door.

Then they dash up to the windows outside and start hurriedly forcing them open.

Victoria: She waits, still pointing at the door. She isn’t going to stop them escaping like cowards.

GM: The boys climb out and dash off without a backwards glance.

Victoria: She sets the safety back on, stows her weapon back in her bag, and waits for Anna to arrive with the police.

GM: She hears the very thump of hurrying footsteps before she sees Anna round the corner with two officers. Her face looks terrified, and she looks ready to weep with relief when she sees Sylvia still there.

“Oh thank god you’re okay!”

“They’re in there!” she says, pointing at the classroom.

The officers draw their guns.

Victoria: “They jumped out the window.”

She sounds disappointed.

Then she puts up her hands.

“They threatened Ms. Perry with knives. Look at her neck.”

GM: The cops look through the door slot.

“Yeah. Open windows,” says one.

Victoria: She looks to Anna.

“You know their names, right?”

GM: The other looks at Anna’s neck. “You’re right. Bleeding.”

Anna nods.

“Sean Pace. Shane Jones.”

Victoria: She nods her head toward the cops.

“Can you do anything?”

“Those are the whitest black names I’ve ever heard.”

GM: Anna manages a slightly crazed-sounding laugh. “What…?”

Victoria: She shakes her head. Only now, with the police here, Anna safe, and the threat gone, does she finally feel just how hard her heart was racing. She’s covered in a cold sweat.


GM: “Sure, radio ’em in,” says one of the cops. “Battery against a teacher.”

Victoria: “Do you know the boys?” she asks the police.

GM: “Nope,” says one cop.

The other cop radios in the two’s names and says to arrest them.

“Fuckin’ idiots,” he says, switching the radio off.

Anna wraps her arms around Sylvia. It’s not a death grip this time, but she can feel the teacher’s heart racing against hers. Sylvia does not look like the only one covered in cold sweat.

Victoria: She hugs Anna tight as she can with one arm, pressing her lips to her hair.

“You’re fine, Anna. You’re fine. I need a moment, huh? Just wait right here.”

She parts from her hug, regretfully, and beckons the white officer a few paces away.

GM: Anna looks like letting go of Sylvia is the last thing she wants in the world right now. But she nods tightly.

The white officer follows her.


Victoria: So only he can hear, “What sentence does battery carry?”

GM: “Up to a thousand bucks, six months, or both.”

He thinks. “Oh yeah, probably aggravated assault too.”

“Can also be up to a thousand, six months, or both.”

Victoria: There’s a pause.

“What’ll it take to up it?”

GM: The cop grins.

“I like the way you think, lady.”

Victoria: She gives him a telling wink.

“Benjamin likes the way you work, if neither of them come back.”

GM: “Uh,” says the cop. “We can beat the shit out of ‘em and get ’em for resisting arrest and assaulting a public officer. That’s a lot worse.”

Victoria: She glances up.

“No cameras in here, right?”

GM: “Ha ha. In a shithouse like this?”

Victoria: She snorts, producing her wallet.

GM: He glances up. “The ones they got are fakes. Don’t work. Dunno if they used to.”

He shakes his head. “Whatever.”

Victoria: “Getting paid to have fun. Lucky you.”

GM: “Lucky me.”

All right, so. Aggravated assault on an officer. That’s…" he thinks, “one to ten years, and up to five thousand.”

“Resisting arrest is up to six months and five hundred.”

Victoria: “They have knives, you know, officer,” she adds with faux concern. “They might charge you. You could be wounded. You can defend yourself, can’t you? If they get close…”

GM: “Yeah, that’s what aggravated assault is. Deadly weapon.”

“Okay. Gimme five thousand, for each boy, and they’ll have aggravated assaulted me with a knife.”

“Since that’s what the fine is.”

“Fair, innit?”

Victoria: She stares at him.

“Do you like vacation?”

GM: “Sure do.” He spits on floor. “This place is a shithole.”

Victoria: “How would you like five thousand and some time off?”

GM: “Time off, huh? Howzat?”

Victoria: All pretense of concern is gone. Clearly, he didn’t get it.

“I’m asking you to shoot them. At least one of them.”

GM: The NOPD is not known for hiring the best and brightest.

“Oh, I see.”

“Shoot ’em dead, or just shoot ’em?”

Victoria: She pulls out a checkbook, then pauses.

“Dealer’s choice. If they have to live life with a bag attached to their shitter, that’s just as good as rolling in to a morgue. Arguably, it’s worse.”

She pauses.

“Check would probably be suspicious, wouldn’t it? I don’t have ten-thousand cash on me. How would you like it?”

GM: “Cash,” says the cop. “And I want WAY more than five thousand, if you want ’em dead.”

Victoria: “How much ‘way more’?”

GM: The cop looks at her and thinks.

“Twenty grand per boy.”

Victoria: She puts the checkbook away.

“Officer, what’s your name?”

GM: “Derek Fletcher.”

Victoria: “Derek, people pay exorbitant amounts of money to not get to fuck me. They get off on it. They beg for it. They cry over it. Still, they pay. I’ll give you $12,000 to arrest one for battery with a knife and assaulting an officer, shoot the other, and I’ll sleep with you. The word ‘no’ won’t enter my vocabulary between sundown and sunup, the only caveat not being not leaving a permanent mark.”

GM: “Okay, so that’s…” Derek thinks, “25 thousand. To kill one, and battery the other. And you’re giving me 12 thousand. So that means sleeping with you is worth… 15 thousand.”

Victoria: His math is wrong.

“The list of clients that want and have been declined the opportunity is lengthier than the list of students you want to see in a ditch. Yes, it’s worth 15 thousand.”

GM: He looks her up and down.

“You’re pretty easy on the eyes… but you can get a classy escort for $500.”

“No woman is worth $15,000.”

Victoria: She groans.

“Very well. $10,000 cash for assault and battery with a knife.”

She holds her hand out. It’s not worth arguing the point anymore. Not with Anna about to collapse.

She takes out her phone, drawing up a new contact to Don’s Pizza, and hands it to him to enter his number.

GM: He does so.

“Okay, miss. Those boys’ll be looking at 1-10 years.”

Victoria: “Worth every cent. Have fun.”

She stows her phone, and returns to Anna.

GM: “Right, hold on,” says Derek before she goes. “Normally, these things. The… buyer pays first.”

“Or half up front, half when complete.”

“This needs to happen soon, ‘cause he’s gotta try and stab me resisting arrest.”

“Now, if you don’t got the money now… what’s your name and where do you live?”

Victoria: She pauses, turning back to address him. As she speaks, she pulls out her wallet again, drawing out her license.

“My name is Sylvia Tessa St. George. I was born October 21st, 1989. I live at 1713 Burgundy St, Unit 204 in Marigny. If I don’t come back with your money and you follow through, you know exactly where I live and who to take your revenge on.”

She holds out her ID.

“I’ll be back with your money. I don’t break my word to those I do business with.”

GM: “Read my mind,” smiles Derek.

He takes a picture of her ID with his phone.

“All right, Ms. Sylvia Tessa St. George. You got 24 hours, after I text you, to come up with the money.”

“If you don’t, you are going to have an accident.”

“A very, very bad accident.”

Victoria: “I don’t break my word.”

She has the cash. She’d just rather console Anna first, not rush back out the door to pay them off.

“Text me when you’re ready. I’ll meet you.”

GM: Derek gets her number, after realizing he doesn’t have it.

It’s still something to do without any advance, she supposes.

On the other hand, how much is one black boy’s life worth?

Victoria: It’s not the value of the life taken.

It’s the value of the life that almost was.

Previous, by Narrative: Story Two, George VIII
Next, by Narrative: Story Two, Julien IV

Previous, by Character: Story Two, Victoria III
Next, by Character: Story Two, Victoria V

Story Two, Caroline IV, Emil III

“You speak a foreign language. Things the police in New Orleans rarely say.”
Caroline Malveaux

Sunday afternoon, 30 August 2015

GM: It isn’t long after Emil’s blowjob that he receives a knock against his door. That can’t be one of his nurses. They just walk in.

Emil: He wonders who this visitor is. The thought of his daughter visiting him warms his soul, but his talks with Dr. Brown temper Emil’s expectations.

“Come in,” he calls.

Caroline: She’s tall and pale-skinned—both of which stand out all the more clearly when framed against the white dress that hangs to mid-thigh. Platinum hair frames an attractive face and full red lips currently baring too-white teeth.

“Good afternoon. Detective Kane, right?”

Her legs go on for days. Her smile is blinding.

Emil: Emil regards the woman curiously as he reads her. He sits up as if at a desk and clasps his fingers in his lap. His gaze is pointed, but a resistance holds back its full bore.

“Yes. That’s me. But you wouldn’t be visiting unless you already knew that. Who are you?”

Caroline: “Caroline, Malveaux,” comes a reply complete with a momentarily wider smile. “I’d heard you’d been hurt last night responding to a call with some girls. I thought I’d check in on you while I was here.”

Emil: “I see. Well, I appreciate the care. Do you generally check up on injured NOPD officers, Miss Malveaux?”

Caroline: “When the opportunity presents itself,” she replies, her heeled feet snapping along the tiled floor as she enters the room. “And when they’ find themselves swimming in the deep end unexpectedly.”

Emil: “That’s an interesting turn of phrase, ma’am, what do you mean by it?”

Caroline: “Oh, come now, I suspect you must have some idea of what things have turned into after your injury. Three girls in the hospital, a detective on the run, another in the hospital…” Caroline watches his eyes as she speaks. “You don’t mind if I sit, do you?”

Emil: His eyes are steely, but the corners of his mouth curl up. The rest of his face remains frozen. “What kind of host would I be if I didn’t let a visitor sit? Though I suppose I’m a guest here myself. I don’t intend to stay here too long.”

Caroline: The heiress slides into one of the less than comfortable-looking green chairs in the room and crosses her legs, looking as comfortable as she might on a throne. “You didn’t know him, did you, the one that went insane?”

Emil: “Not well, no. Do you by chance know the girl who arrived here with me? I hear she’s in a coma.” Emil’s lip curls downwards a bit. Perhaps he’s a bit stiff from his surroundings. Perhaps he’s just not very expressive.

Caroline: “I know of her,” Caroline replies easily. “Something of a troubled history, I’m told. How she found her way among a group of upstanding girls is beyond me, but not really an immediate concern next to the health of all parties. They all have long roads to recoveries.”

Emil: “I heard they all met at the McGehee School. So, that’s how.”

Caroline: “Ah, well. Slipping standards,” the blonde remarks back.

Emil: “Well we wouldn’t want that, it’s one of the only decent schools left around here. Did you study there, Miss?”

Caroline: “Of course not,” Caroline replies easily. “I attended St. Joseph’s. More Catholic that way.” There’s some amusement on the back end that fades away as she continues to regard Emil. Something about his statement nags at her.

“Did you?” she asks with another hint of mirth.

Emil: “You’re asking if I studied at the all-girls McGehee School?” the man asks dryly.

Caroline: “Well, as my uncle is fond of observing, it’s a different time. And we already discussed standards.”

Emil: “We sure did, Miss Malveaux.” Emil lets out a short spurt of natural laughter, breaking the tension momentarily. “I was just pulling your leg there.”

Caroline: “I’m glad to see the atmosphere, and the food, hasn’t robbed you of your good spirits, Detective Kane.”

Emil: “Well we are in New Orleans, ma’am, there’s plenty of spirits to go around,” Emil says plainly.

Caroline: “Sadly but perhaps appropriately fewer in the hospital.”

Emil: “Depends which type you mean, I suppose. Though both could be attributed to those lowered standards you were talking about. That’s the trend these days it seems. A pox on all our houses.”

Caroline: “Not mine,” Caroline replies firmly, though not unkindly. “And yours, well, that might yet remain to be seen.”

Emil: Emil smiles at the woman as she casually insults him. “If you have a stone to throw, ma’am, go ahead and throw it. It’d be a sure shot. Fish in a barrel.” His voice is warm and encouraging, but his eyes are cold and straight as they dare her to take the shot.

Caroline: “Oh, Detective Kane, if I were here to take shots at you I could do it from the hall. As you say, fish in a barrel. Or at least police in a hospital bed. There will be others though—plenty of them. As I said, quite a disaster last night. Has anyone clued you into it?”

Emil: “Everyone’s said their bit. But I wouldn’t mind a retelling if that’s what you’re about to do for me.”

Caroline: “I bet you wouldn’t, but I’d hate to step on toes just yet. Things are delicate right now. I will share this much, though.” There’s that dazzling smile again. “It’s probably better for you if you don’t remember what happened. After a head injury no one would be surprised.”

Emil: “That’s your bit. You take everyone’s bits and put them together and suddenly you don’t need to remember.” The lawman smiles earnestly back and continues, “You didn’t come just to tell me about how delicate things are. Won’t hurt to tell me what it is you want. Maybe I can help you out. And if I can’t, well I have a head injury, I’ll forget it. What do you think, Miss Malveaux, a favor for a favor?”

Caroline: Caroline laughs lightly. “Detective Kane, is that it? You’re looking for my angle?”

Emil: “I’m looking to see how I can actually help someone get ahead in this town. That’s my job, you know, fixing the problems in this city. Others might disagree, but that’s what I think. That’s what I want. What do you want, Miss Malveaux?”

Caroline: “Caroline, please. We need not be so formal here, Detective Kane. Your mistake though is in assuming I have need of anything.”

Emil: “Caroline, I didn’t say you need anything. But you’re human. Humans don’t stop wanting until they’re six feet under. Some say even past that. So what do you want?”

Caroline: “I want to minimize the collateral damage here. And perhaps make a friend.”

Emil: “They say the best friendships are based on common interests. Luck has it that I’m also in need of a friend. Someone to trust. Someone to be trusted by in this dirty city. I’ve also seen too many people get hurt since I arrived, so if you want to reduce collateral damage, you have yourself an ally. By the way, my friends call me Emil.”

The lawman gives her a pained smile. She can see a glimmer of something warm, even hopeful, behind the sharpness of his eyes. “What do you think, Caroline?”

Caroline: The blonde smiles that pretty smile again, but it’s not a happy one.

“I think I saw what the last honest detective in the city did last night: he shot two teenage girls in the chest at point blank range in front of a room full of witnesses. I got their blood on my hands as I tried to stuff their insides back where they belonged. One might have brain damage because so much of her blood poured out onto the floor that she couldn’t get enough oxygen to her brain, but they won’t know until she wakes up.”

Emil: “Jesus Christ, that’s horrible. No one told me that, Caroline. You may not trust me when I say this, but I really understand how you feel. My first night in the city, I get a call that a girl is bleeding out. No one’s called the police when I got there and the girl had soaked the ground with her blood, there was more out than in.”

“She was dying. I saw the light go out from her eyes as I tried to fix her. I’m not a religious man by any extent but somehow, by some power, I was able to stabilize her. It’s a miracle she’s alive. But she’s also in a coma. So trust me that I understand the stakes here. I want to stop anything worse from happening. Can you trust me, Caroline?”

Caroline: Caroline shakes her head. “No, Detective Kane, I don’t know that I can.”

“Those girls got shot because someone did call the police. They were in that station because the police arrested them on an array of trumped-up charges because that’s what the NOPD is unfortunately quite good at. They were strip-searched, and questioned, and held, and eventually shot in that very station, and all of their futures went tumbling down a black hole because someone did what they thought was right.”

“I’m glad you managed to save Ms. Savard. I wish her no ill despite the fact that she was entirely responsible for her own injuries, but the pursuit of self righteousness un-moderated by wisdom is a path towards folly.” She sighs sadly.

“Discretion, sometimes, is the better part of valor. But maybe you have to see it for yourself.” She stands and readjusts her dress.

Emil: “Wait! It’s not self-righteousness to save someone from death. I’ve been around long enough to know discretion, and I’ve made many mistakes learning that. But calling the ambulance wasn’t a mistake. If the ambulance hadn’t arrived both her and I would be dead right now. If you decided to chase after the gunman instead of saving those girls, they would be dead right now. Those issues you talked about, the girls’ futures, recovery, trauma, capturing the gunman, they are tragic and difficult but they can be worked on.”

“The one thing that you can’t work on is death. Death is permanent. The universe let those girls live for a reason, and we meet today with shared experience of mortality for a reason. The world is sending you a friend today, Caroline. A flawed one, yes. But the situation is flawed. If you can’t trust me to be your friend, at least take me as an ally, it can’t hurt to have one.” Emil scrawls his phone number on a piece of paper and offers it to the woman.

Caroline: Emil’s words cause the heiress to pause for a moment. She considers him again.

“Emil, why were you there in the first place? How did you find out about what had happened?”

Emil: “My daughter called me. For the first time in twelve years my daughter called me, and what did she say? Her friends needed help, their friend was on the floor almost dead. They were afraid of calling 911, and my daughter wanted me to go save Ms. Savard. That’s why, Caroline. That’s how.” His arm is still outstretched, waiting for her to take the number. It holds there like a statue, rigid and infinitely patient.

Caroline: The woman chews on that for a moment before she makes her way over to take the paper out of Emil’s hand. She idly spins it between her fingers as she replies, “Then calling the police and what happened to the girls is going to blow back on her as well. In ways you’re not going to have any control of.”

“What they’re going to do to you on the force I’m not certain of. I can imagine that some fairly senior people are very unhappy, but exactly what form that unhappiness will take… well, that’s not really my arena. I can imagine much more clearly what might happen to the girl whose father was supposed to fix the problem.”

Emil: “Well, as my friend, and as someone who wants to minimize collateral damage, you’d want to help me limit any blowback to an innocent like my daughter, yes?” Emil’s expression hasn’t changed much, but despite that the heiress can feel his eyes cutting deep, weighing her heart against the feather of the innocent.

Caroline: “That depends on what you’re willing to do,” Caroline replies. “I’m happy to exercise what influence I might have in ensuring the blame for all of this falls away from your daughter. I can’t promise there will be no blowback, but I can certainly help to mitigate it. And so can you.”

Emil: Emil smiles. “It’s my duty to. And naturally, as your friend, I can help you out with the damage you’d like to prevent, and maybe even with the damage already done.” He seems to retreat to his thoughts for a moment before looking back to Caroline.

Caroline: “Are you new to the city, Emil?” Caroline asks rather suddenly.

Emil: “If I was new to this city, I’d be gone by now. Too much hassle. Why do you ask?” he responds frankly.

Caroline: “You speak a foreign language,” the blonde replies sharply. “Things the police in New Orleans rarely say. Duty in place of opportunity, responsibility in place of authority. Those are dirty words to many here. And not only among the police.”

Emil: Emil seems to drift into thought again, looking at nothing as he replies slowly, “There was a time when things were better. There was a time… I was young, but there was a time when justice was the top priority. If my father was still alive you’d see what a good policeman could do. He was a real soldier of the people. But it all went wrong… I’d like to bring it all back some day.”

Emil sighs, his eyes refocusing on the heiress. “In any case, a dream is a dream. Right now we need to make a plan and put it into action. What do you want accomplished, Caroline?”

Caroline: Caroline sighs back, then digs in her purse for a moment. She produces a small paper card with ten digits and no letters and sets it next to his bed side.

“I never close a door, Detective Kane,” she begins, “but I’m afraid you and I may be on different floors.”

“If you find yourself closer to mine, give me a call. In the meantime, I’ll pass on that you recall very little of last night and that your daughter can hardly be held responsible for the father she barely knows making a mess of things.”

“Some friendly advice before I go, actually forget last night ever happened. Don’t talk to anyone. Not in the media or elsewhere. As I told the girls, there’s nothing good that can come of saying anything, and you’d only be closing doors on yourself.”

“I’ll leave you in peace. I’m sure you’re still tired from last night.”

Emil: “I appreciate it, Caroline. You have my gratitude. If you’re ever in need of a friend, or just someone to give you the time of day, I’m only a phone call away. Happy trails.”

Caroline: The snap of heeled feet on the tiled floor are his response as the heiress takes her leave.

She does not look back.

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