[Ariyah – Central District – Pho Bac – BoL – NA]
[Wake Roll: Success | BoL Roll: Fail | Hunger: 1 —> 2]
Ariyah nimbly manoeuvred some Viet noodles and broth onto her spoon and brought the combination to her mouth. The food tasted like warmed-up oil; there was heat, no taste and a slimy texture. She held back a grimace and swallowed the whole mouthful with minimum chewing.
“Well?” Jacob’s brown eyes stared at her, waiting for her judgment.
“It’s just what I’ve been missing.” Ariyah lied, giving the young artist a bright smile. She grabbed a few more strands of rice noodle with her chopsticks and curled them onto her spoon.
Jacob grinned at her before slurping a couple of mouthful of pho himself. “When you mentioned missing the pho in Melbourne, I knew just the place to take you.”
The little Viet Pho joint was packed that night. Bamboo chairs were crammed back-to-back in the small space, and people were huddled around rectangular tables, slurping their pho. The glass windows to the shop were fogged up by all the chattering patrons, and occasionally a strong gust of wind would blow heavy rain against the glass.
Ariyah swirled the meat and noodles in her bowl. To be honest, she wondered whether the pho here did live up to the stuff she grew up eating in Melbourne. It was a little known secret, but Melbourne had fantastic pho, due to a large number of Vietnamese immigrants in the area. But there was no way to tell now; all human food just tastes like nothing (if she was lucky) or like grease and ash (if she was not).
Ariyah put her mind into finishing the meal quickly; she would need to regurgitate it in the bathroom soon.
After they’ve paid for their meal – and Ariyah had gone to the bathroom to throw up the meal she’d just eaten – the two braved the stormy weather and ran to Jacob’s Ford Escape parked outside.
The sky seemed to realise that there were two idiots outdoors without umbrellas, and it dumped an extra bucketload of rain over them as the two ran shrieking to the car.
The two waterlogged artists slammed the door of the red SUV against the lashing rain, and for a moment, the two just sat dripping and panting inside the small confines of the vehicle. The car’s windows fogged up nearly instantly. They eyed each other’s disheveled before bursting into laughter and movement.
[Bloodhound: Resolve + Awareness: 5 successes vs 4 diff | Success | Phlegmatic | 1WP]
“That was ridiculous,” Ariyah exclaimed, unwinding the now drenched scarf from around her neck and taking off her coat. She tasted the smell of Jacob’s blood in the cooped-up air of the car’s interior and had to stop herself from jumping the man in the car; even with the fogged-up window, there was still a risk of a Masquerade breach, “What’s with this weather?”
Jacob twisted the key in the ignition and cranked up the heater before shrugging off his own waterlogged jacket. “Your guess is as good as mine. But we probably should’ve taken an umbrella with us.”
Ariyah spread her coat and scarf in the backseat, hoping maybe the car’s heater could dry them out; she did not like walking around in damp clothes. “But it was such a short walk from the shop to the car, who would have known it would suddenly rain cats and dogs?”
Jacob handed his coat to Ariyah, and the Toreador hung the garment to dry in the backseat as well.
“So we’re still going to the studio?”
“Yup! This storm’s not going to change our plans.” Ariyah nodded before asking, “You said you wanted to learn to paint properly, right?”
And I still need to eat, she thought.
Jacob made a grunt of assent as he put the vehicle in gear and manoeuvred the SUV out of the parking lot.
((Gasworks Gallery in #Fremont))
When they got to the studio, Ariyah directed Jacob to the parking lot behind the building, closer to the warehouse entrance. The rain had stopped, at least for the time being, and the two were able to hustle into the building without getting any wetter.
[Heightened Senses Activated]
The warehouse was quiet, and doors along the hallway were closed. Ariyah pricked up her ears to make sure that the warehouse side of the gallery, at least, was completely devoid of people. Once assured of that, she led Jacob through the door to her studio.
[Heightened Senses Deactivated. Awe Activated]
Ariyah turned on the lights and the heater in her studio, aware of the young man’s eyes on her but choosing not to acknowledge it. She hung up the still-dripping coats and scarf on the coat stand set up next to the heater and turned around to face Jacob.
She caught him staring, but he quickly averted his eyes. Ariyah grinned but didn’t make any comments.
“So what do you think of my studio?” Ariyah asked, gesturing around at the high-ceilinged room.
“It’s…uh…very nice.” The goateed young man stammered, a slight flush rising up his neck.
Ariyah hadn’t realised just how pale his skin was until it was tinged pink with embarrassment, she felt the hunger stir and half-heartedly pushed it down; she’ll eat, but on her terms. She watched as Jacob turned his gaze to study the exposed brick walls around them.
Ariyah had made some changes since signing the rental contract for the studio. She’d sectioned off one side of the area to be her office, furnished with a sit-stand desk, an office chair and a computer. She’d even added a rug on the floor and a sofa-bed by one wall, but until she’s gotten some roller shutters installed over the large windows, she wasn’t planning on sleeping there.
The remaining, more extensive, portion of the studio was kept mainly empty. The plan was to bring in some large moveable walls so Ariyah would have a large canvas to work on. For now, however, there was a canvas and easel set up in the middle of the room, and besides that, a small table laid out with the usual tools of the trade.
Jacob had found his way over to a small stack of canvases leaning against the wall; some of the smaller pieces that Ariyah had painted. He seemed particularly interested in the front-most painting, and Ariyah saw, as she sidled over to stand beside the young man, that it was the one she did at the art jam where she’d met Jacob. A memory of her sire bubbled up at the sight of the autumn scenery, and Ariyah pushed it away; she had a lot of things to do tonight, and she couldn’t be taking so long with just a simple meal.
“So, should we get started?” Ariyah asked, “On your lesson?”
[Scene Queen Hunting Check: Manipulation + Persuasion + Awe: 3 successes vs Diff 4 – 1 Fame | Success | Intense Phlegmatic]
Jacob turned to look at her and Ariyah stepped into his personal space, smiling up at him as she slid one hand up to pull him down for a kiss.
It seemed the young man had been waiting for this moment. He leaned hungrily into Ariyah and slowly backed her up against a wall. Ariyah allowed him to kiss her until they were both panting, then she disengaged their lips, nuzzled his neck, and bit down.
Jacob’s blood tasted of heavy sweetness, like chocolate, and Ariyah felt a languidness fill her veins. At the same time, she felt a curling and stretching in her beast, in her vitae. She had an inkling of what it was about, but she brushed the thought away for later and immersed herself in the Kiss…
[Hunger 2 –> 1]
[Dominate discipline increased 1 –> 2, temporary increase from intense resonance 2 –> 3]
Afterwards, after Ariyah had licked the wound closed, and after Jacob had a little lie down on the couch to recover from a sudden “dizzy spell”, Ariyah tested her theory.
She straddled the seated young man, using the intimate position to put their eyes at even levels.
“You know, you look at little tired. Why don’t we postpone the lesson for another night? You should go home and get some sleep.”
[Activate Mesmerise | Rouse Check, passed]
The Toreador could feel the instructions take root behind Jacob’s gaze, and for a moment, she felt a twinge of guilt at using the man like that.
She quickly dismissed the thought. Her method was pretty humane, all things considered; both parties are consenting – though one may not fully know what they’re consenting to – and both take immense pleasure from the act. And if Jacob loses a couple of pints of blood, she makes up for it by giving him free art lessons – when she has time. Compared to some of the snatch-and-grab methods she’s seen, hers is – by far – the most pleasant and fair.
Ariyah saw Jacob off, making sure he knew to pull the car to the side of the road if he felt dizzy or tired, before making her way back to her studio; technically, she’d only taken a sip, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Ariyah heaved a happy sigh as she locked the studio door from the inside, satisfied with her meal and the unexpected increase in power she felt running through her veins. She sat down at her computer and pulled up Laura Hitchens’s file. She’d scanned the physical documents the night before and had saved the documents in an encrypted server on her NAS at home. Now she reviewed the information again, a plan forming in her mind.
It was time to get to work.