2020-0807 – Ariyah

[Ariyah – Laura’s Condominium – BoL – NA]

Master post of interaction between Ariyah and SPC Laura Hitchens – run by @Taggie (sorry, this is a bit more “tell” than “show” post; there’s a lot to cover and if I were to write this as a conversation between the characters, it would be a long post)

(What Sofia looks like: https://vtm.sleepyowl.ink/2020/08/retainer-sofia-evans/)

Laura’s apartment building was fancy.
Ariyah and Sofia had walked from their parked car into the metal and glass building when a very well dressed doorman stopped them.
He had asked for their names and driver’s licenses and was checking it against a list on his tablet.
Ariyah watched lobby lights reflect off the bellman’s uniform jacket buttons as the man scrolled through the digital guest list.

“A Ms Ariyah Daniels and Ms Sofia Evans.” The man repeated, finding the correct entry, “Yes, I see. Here to see Ms Hitchens. Please, this way.”

[Looking for security cameras: Wits + Awareness: 4 Successes vs Diff 4 | Success | 1WP]

The man led the two women to a set of unoccupied elevators and, swiping his keycard, pressed a button two-thirds of the way up the panel. He gave the two designers a nod before resuming his post by the door.
Ariyah and Sofia entered the elevator and waited for the metal doors to close.

“A bit much,” Sofia commented once the elevator started to rise.

“Hmm,” Ariyah made an uncommitted sound; she’d seen the security cameras in the elevator and lobby, and wouldn’t put it past building security to have microphones installed as well. She decided it would be prudent to keep a professional front until after they’ve left the building.

Sofia, understanding her boss’s reticence, refrained from commenting further. This was a new dynamic for the two of them; they were used to working as equals, but now that Ariyah has officially hired the other woman, they were trying to find their footing with each other.

The elevator stopped, and the doors opened. Ariyah and Sofia stepped out to find that instead of a hallway leading to multiple apartments, the lifts opened out to a large living area; it seems that the entire floor was one residence.
Having been given the floor plans by Collin, Ariyah was not surprised; however, it was one thing to see it in a 2D drawing, and another to be there in the flesh.

Laura was waiting for them when they arrived, and the woman stood up from the couch when she saw them.
Like last time, Laura was wearing elegant, if simply cut, clothes. However, Ariyah noticed that tonight her white blouse and beige-coloured pants seemed slightly less formal. She was also less guarded than last time, smiling as she greeted her two guests.

“Ms Daniels, Ms Evans, it is good to see you both. Do come in. I’m most curious to see what you have come up with and to hear your opinions on what would do best for my particular setup.”
She shook both their hands and looked at Sofia as she added, “I’ve looked into you as well, Ms Evans, and I’m most excited to see what you could potentially add to the conversation. But first, let me show you the place.”

Laura took them on a tour of the two-storey apartment suite.
It was an extraordinary setup, with large floor-to-ceiling glass windows for the external walls and the upper story only taking up half the footprint of the lower floor, giving the living area on the ground floor a high ceiling with lots of light.
However, Ariyah wasn’t just looking at the stunning architecture; she was looking at how the woman lived. Was the apartment universally lived in, or was there an obvious separation between public and private areas? Were there parts of the apartment that were more for show than for being comfortable in?
She was also tracking what Laura wasn’t saying as much as what she was; Ariyah wanted to know how much change her client was expecting from this renovation; how far she was willing to go.

[Observing Laura’s current lifestyle and what she wants from this renovation while touring her apartment: Resolve + Awareness: 4 Successes | 1WP]

After a quick look around the apartment, it was clear that Laura was a workaholic with evident boundaries in her home as to which areas are personal and which are for public consumption. Although all the very best art pieces were on display in the most prominent areas, such as the living and dining rooms, Ariyah suspected that the paintings found in Laura’s office and bedroom were her client’s favourite.
And during their conversation as they wandered through the rooms, Ariyah could tell that Laura wasn’t particularly attached to the current design of her home; this was about impressing other people, and Ariyah felt that perhaps there was room for this project to be more than just updating the apartment’s art decor.

When the tour was completed, the three sat at the dining room table, and Ariyah brought out her iPad and loaded up the designs she drafted the previous night. She also took out a stack of large glossy photographs of art pieces she thought would work with the plan she had in mind.
First, she showed Laura the designs she’d made, and using the information she had gleaned during the tour of the place, proceeded to sell her client on the ideas she has for the apartment.

[Winning over Laura with regards to her designs: Charisma + Insight + Specialty: 4 Successes vs Diff 3 | Success | 1WP]

Ariyah then handed the stack of photos to Laura. She explained that these were some of the side pieces she wanted to display around the apartment, explaining that they would act as a foil for the main feature walls she would be installing in the prominent areas of Laura’s home.

Laura flipped through the photos, and Ariyah kept her voice neutral when the pictures of the two Camarilla pieces came up.
They didn’t look the same as the other pieces Ariyah had offered, and Laura could see the discrepancy. Ariyah noticed Laura’s hesitancy and was quick to explain; you need some pieces to act as a palette cleanser. It would get boring if everything looked like they were from the same artist.

[Include Collin’s pieces with the other pieces Ariyah is showing to Laura: Charisma + Subterfuge: 2 Successes vs Diff 2 | Success]

Laura seemed to accept Ariyah’s explanation, and on the whole, seemed to be enthusiastic about Ariyah’s plans for her home.
Seeing that the pitch was going so well, Ariyah used the opportunity to expand the project into a full renovation of the apartment, including a complete overhaul of the apartment’s furniture and layout. Here, she had to defer to Sofia’s expertise, and the more experienced interior designer explained to Laura the benefits of having a seamless design aesthetics between wall decoration and furnishings.
From her observations earlier, Ariyah also added that if there were anything from Laura’s current setup that Laura wanted to keep, Ariyah was more than happy to include them in the new design.

[Persuade Laura to go all out with the renovations: Manipulation + Persuasion + Teamwork from Sofia: 3 successes vs Diff 3 | Success]

It took a little persuading, but in the end, Laura was convinced to have a full renovation of her apartment.
Ariyah had to restrain her excitement at the decision. She had initially picked up this project at the behest of the Camarilla and hadn’t expected any more from this than getting out of the Tower’s bad book, but it looked as if she would earn a tidy sum from this job as well. And if Collin’s information about the woman was to be trusted, Laura has a lot of wealthy connections, which would mean a lot of potential clients would see Ariyah’s first foray into interior design. Really, Ariyah couldn’t ask for more.

“Now that we’re thinking of doing a more comprehensive overhaul, I was wondering whether I could take one more look around the apartment?” Ariyah asked, “Sofia could go over some of the nitty-gritty details and paperwork with you while I do so.”

Sofia got the hint and loaded up the letter of engagement onto the iPad.
“I have our templated contract here,” she explained to Laura, “and we can go over the details so you can ask me any questions you might have.”

[Persuade Laura to talk to Sofia alone: Charisma + Persuasion + Teamwork: 3 Successes vs Diff 3 | Success]

Laura hesitated for a moment, uncertain about letting Ariyah go off alone before nodding her head and consenting quietly.
She watches Ariyah for a bit as the other woman wandered through the living area before turning her attention back to Sofia.

“Since we’re doing a full renovation of your apartment,” Sofia began, “Can I ask whether you have alternative lodgings for the duration of the project? It will just be more convenient for both parties if you’re not living here while major works are happening…”

Ariyah let the two women hash out the details as she wandered through the rooms again. It was true that she wanted to see the apartment again – now that they were doing a full overhaul – but it was also true that she wanted to see if she could complete the optional part of Collin’s mission.
Ariyah made sure to go through all the rooms in a leisurely manner, hiding the fact that she was making a beeline to Laura’s office.
Once there, she looks around to see if there were any security cameras (there were none) before glancing at the top of Laura’s desk.

[Take a closer look around Laura’s apartment: Resolve + Awareness + : 3 Successes vs Diff 4 | Fail | 1WP]

Ariyah didn’t want to do anything as crass as rifle through her client’s belongings, so she only took a cursory glance at the table for any documents that had been left out in the open.
Either Laura was a very neat person (and from what Ariyah has seen that is definitely the case) or she was a very cautious one (and Ariyah wouldn’t put it past her either), but there were no documents left out in the open, and her computer screen wasn’t left on with discriminating information on display for all to see.
Finding nothing, Ariyah made sure to take her time wandering through all the other rooms of the apartment before going back to the two in the dining room.

“So where are we with the contract?” Ariyah asked.

“We’ve made a couple of minor notes, but apart from that, it’s all good.” Sofia said, just as Laura finished signing on the tablet with the Apple Pencil.

“Good.” Ariyah went over to put her own signature on the contract.

“Yes, I mentioned to Sofia that I understand you’d want me out of the apartment while all the work is going on, but I’ll be putting up some cameras for insurance reasons and also so I can check on things remotely from time to time.”

Ariyah kept the smile on her face while she scribbled her signature on the tablet. She would have preferred not to be spied on by her clients, even when she wasn’t doing the dodgy for the Camarilla, but knew she had no grounds to complain.

Once all the paperwork was complete, and Sofia sent a copy to Laura, the two designers bid their farewells. They had a big project to get started on, and Sofia had an early client meeting the next day.

In the car ride back to Ariyah’s apartment, the two discussed their next step of action and the separation of labour.
By the time Sofia dropped Ariyah off at her apartment, they had a plan of action; Ariyah would work on the murals for the feature walls, and Sofia had to source the new furniture and drapery.

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