[Ariyah – Downtown – Harris Gallery – BoL – NA]
Master post of interaction between Ariyah and SPC Laura Hitchens – run by @Taggie
((From #Fremont to #Downtown))
Ariyah sat in the Lyft as it sped down the I-5, her finger running down the edge of the binder in her lap.
Last night, she had used Collin’s method to arrange a meeting with Laura, but she’d also used her own contacts to make sure her reputation was known to the other woman – to put in a good word.
Now, she was headed to an address given to her – a quick search online had revealed the place to be an art gallery – for an “interview” with her prospective client.
Maybe it was due to the Tower’s involvement in the project, but Ariyah was feeling a little apprehensive about the upcoming meeting; it’s not something she was used to feeling when meeting a client.
Ariyah felt the presence settle over her like a comforter, and she relaxed a little in her seat. She noticed the driver glancing at her in the rearview mirror, and the Toreador smiled to herself; there’s nothing like a little bit of glamour to act as armour for a social situation.
She felt her phone buzz in her lap, and she flipped it around to see a message from an unknown number.
Scanning the contents of the message, Ariyah remembered William saying he would pass her contacts to another Rose; someone planning on arranging a Toreador meeting. The message was referring to just that.
Ariyah saved the number in her phone as another Kindred contact and typed a response:
To: Tobias Durant Tobias with a silent 'T', so 'Obias? Sorry, just funning with you. :P Thanks for the heads up, William did mention he'd be passing my contacts to a like-minded individual. I would love to attend your party. Just send me the when, where, and the dress code, and I'll be there.
When the car arrived at the location, an upscale art gallery on 1st Ave, it was still raining heavily outside. Ariyah had learnt from her earlier mistake and brought an umbrella this time, and she opened it as she exited the vehicle.
The building was one of those glass-fronted affairs with a recessed doorway to keep the wind and rain out when the door was opened. On the front window was the name “Harris” in a simple font. In Ariyah’s experience, simple means expensive.
The lights at the front of the gallery were dimmed – as if the shop was closed – but Ariyah could see brighter lights in the back, and the figure of a person moving within.
Ariyah squared her shoulder, tucked the binder under her arm and walked up to the gallery’s front door.
Whoever was inside had been waiting for her, as they made it to the front door at the same time as Ariyah and opened the door for her.
“Good evening, you must be Ms Daniels.” The woman, a Caucasian woman in her earlier forties, said as she held the door open. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“And you must be Ms Laura Hitchens,” Ayriah replied as she closed her umbrella and entered the gallery, putting the wet accessory in the holder by the door.
“This way, please.” The brown-haired woman said as by way of a response, leading the way further into the gallery.
Ariyah glanced about her as she followed her new potential client. The gallery was split into different sections, each hosting a different style of art; there was some minimalism, pop art, expressionism. Nearer to the exit, there was impressionism and abstract art. And apart from the two women, it was empty. Either the gallery belonged to Laura, or she had connections that could get them access to the location after it’s opening hours.
There were tufted leather benches scattered throughout the gallery for viewing purposes, and Laura gestured to a pair that was arranged parallel to each other.
Ariyah took a seat, and Laura arranged herself on the opposite bench.
“Very well Ms Daniels,” the Caucasian woman began, “I’ve heard some promising things about you from our mutual friend, and I did some looking into you of our own. You’re well known in certain circles, enough for me to consider you for the job. But I’m not sold… Impress me.”
Ariyah didn’t hesitate; she handed over the black and white binder she had brought with her from her. “This is a portfolio of my work.”
Laura took the folder and started flicking through it. Large prints of various living areas, bedrooms and residences littered the pages of the binder. Some of them showed modern minimalistic designs, others, the more elaborate recreation of historical or fantastical architecture. It was a collection of some of Ariyah’s best work, both for Kine and Kindred – although Ariyah was very careful to omit anything that could break the Masquerade.
“As you can see, I have experience with a wide variety of styles. I work closely with my clients to create the mood they want in their home. My work is not about my ego, or what I think your apartment should look like – although I would certainly offer my opinion and expertise – this is about what you want to come home to every day.”
Ariyah pointed to a print out in the folder just as Laura flicked to it. “That’s a rough timeline for the project; the dates are just estimates, but it has all the steps listed. Initial site inspection, idea development, site measurements… I want my clients to be fully informed on the project, every step of the way.”
[Initial Impression : Charisma + Persuasion + Presence: 4 Successes vs Diff 4 | Success | 1WP]
Laura flipped through the rest of the binder, and Ariyah commented on the various projects and murals that were depicted in the pictures.
Ariyah could see that although Laura was not yet fully convinced, the woman had loosened up somewhat and was even asking her questions about her previous jobs.
“May I know what kind of style or colour theme you’re after for your home?” Ariyah asked after Laura was finished with the binder.
The other woman’s shoulder-length hair swayed as she sat back in her seat, “I want to know what style you think I’d like.” She looked around at the gallery with the paintings on the walls, “Why don’t you try and figure out which of these would suit me?”
Ariyah took her time considering the request; it wasn’t like she wasn’t expecting a test, Collin had mentioned that this woman was cautious by nature and did not trust new faces. However, it wouldn’t do to look too prepared; that would be even more cause for suspicion.
So Ariyah knitted her brows, as if the challenge was unexpected, and said slowly, “Okay, would you mind taking me through the gallery and showing me the pieces?”
Laura nodded, and the two women stood to wander through the gallery’s collection.
[Figuring out Laura’s preference: Wits + Insight + Specialty: 6 Successes vs Diff 3 | Critical Success | 1WP]
As Ariyah was escorted through the gallery, she kept her attention on Laura for any reaction to the pieces they were viewing.
Laura tried to hide her preferences as much as she could, trying to give each painting and artwork the same expression and making sounds here and there to throw Ariyah off by feigning interest where she doesn’t have any. However Ariyah was no stranger to demanding clients, or particular ones, and she noticed there were moments when Laura subconsciously presses her hand into her chin as she observes the artwork or a barely noticeable lean towards the piece.
By the time they’ve made a circuit around the gallery, Ariyah was pretty confident which five pieces Laura was most interested in – two Op Art pieces and three Abstracts – and of those, the two which Laura liked the best.
She didn’t hesitate to point them out.
“…and out of the five, the two Op Art pieces are your favourite.” Ariyah finished.
Laura looked suspicious when Ariyah began pointing out the favourites, but after an evaluating look, she smiled in satisfaction.
“Alright… you’ll do.”
Laura walked over to her bag and pulled out some photos. She handed them to Ariyah who looks through them.
They were photos of a large, airy, two-storey loft with huge windows overlooking the city.
“This is just to give you an idea of what you’ll be working with. I’ll arrange for you to come to my place the following evening to look around and get a feel for it. If you have a plan for it or a piece you’d like me to consider, you can bring it over with you, and I’ll look over it. Once we settle on a plan and budget, you can begin right away.”
Ariyah felt relief at Laura’s words. She never worried about getting a job before; if she and her client didn’t get along, it was a good thing not to get the job as it saved a lot of headache in the long run. But this was different; the Prince wasn’t going to accept “we don’t get along” as an excuse for not passing the interview.
Her concern was for naught, though, as she seemed to have made a good impression on Laura overall.
“Great.” Ariyah put the photos away in her bag and picked up her binder. She could tell from Laura’s tone that the interview was coming to a close. “Would I be able to bring an assistant along when I come to view your place?”
She was pretty sure Sofia would not appreciate being called an “assistant”, but the interior designer would understand not wanting to confuse the client with two “designers” on the team.
Laura hesitated, considering, but nods after a moment, “So long as it’s just one person that should be fine. If you have any information on them so I can look them over ahead of time, it would be appreciated. But… I’ll trust you on this for now. You’ve earned that at least I suppose.”
“No problem. Would a CV suffice? It would list her credential.” Ariyah made a mental note to send Sofia’s CV once she got back home.
Laura nodded, “Yes, that should be sufficient.” She began to lead Ariyah back towards the gallery’s front entrance.
“One last thing,” Ariyah said as she retrieved her umbrella from the stand near the door, “For your apartment, did you have any theme, or colour scheme in mind already, or do you want me to walk you through choosing something?”
Laura gestured at Ariyah’s bag, where the photos of the apartment were, “If you have something that fits the current layout, that would be ideal, but I’m open to negotiations about changing things around to fit your ideas if I like them.”
Ariyah nodded in understanding as she bid the other woman goodbye and exited the gallery. She pulled up the car-sharing app on her phone and called up a car, choosing a location across the street so that she wasn’t waiting in front of the gallery.
The Asian Toreador stood under her umbrella, tapping her foot and mulling over possible design options. She was a little worried; it seems that Laura was one of those “anything-you-choose-would-be-fine-but-it-had-better-be-something-I-like” kind of client. They reveal little but expected you to read their minds, and they were the hardest type of client to deal with.
Ariyah thought back to the two pieces of Op Art that Laura liked from the gallery. Maybe she could start with that, and she should ask Collin what art piece he wanted to be installed in Laura’s apartment so she could incorporate that within the design…
Immersed in her thoughts, Ariyah didn’t even notice the time it took for the Lyft car to arrive. She just got in and told the driver to take her Uwajimaya Village Apartments. She had a lot of work to do.