[Jenn – Downtown – Post Ashes Gallery – Bar – BoL – A]
Jenn looked up as someone approached her and Varen, and she clutched her glass in front of her like a shield as the brief fight-or-flight panic reaction rose as it did every time she met a new person. He seemed to know who she was, and he introduced himself – Michael, the other Rose Varen had texted her about. Her eyes widened as she realised who he was and she gave a nervous smile.
“Michael, hi! Great to meet you too! And it’s totally cool, we’ve met now-” His compliment about her appearance cut her off and she was left floundering – It was about as much as she could manage to take casual compliments from someone like Varen, who she already knew, but being complimented on her appearance on a first meeting was unfamiliar to her, and she stammered, on unsure footing, embarrassed and out of her depth. “Uhm, thanks. Uhh… I’m not, not really uh,” she swallowed, the social anxiety crawling up on her at an alarming rate. “I’m uh, not into fashion really, I don’t think I’ve ever worn a dress like this before, like, not even for high school Prom… I just… I got the dress online, and uhh, Annelie did my hair and makeup…” Her voice shrank as she spoke until she just trailed off into a mumble. She blushed and looked awkwardly down into her glass before taking another sip. Well that went well.
She cleared her throat and glanced up at Michael, biting a lip before venturing something else to flog the corpse of the conversation a little further. “Uhh, so did Varen link you my Insta?”
She glanced to Varen and gave him a mildly panicked look, but he was a stable point in this social ocean, so she was happy to cling on if it would keep her head above the waves. She was glad to have a friend here, someone who might be able to navigate these situations in a way she couldn’t. “It’s a shame Lambert’s not here,” Jenn said quietly to him. “He’s family after all. But he didn’t seem comfortable with the idea I guess…”
Jenn saw someone else she recognised; William, making his way towards the bar and she smiled at the older Rose, lifting her fingers off her glass in a little finger-wave at him. “Hey William,” She gave a nervous laugh as he mentioned being beaten to hosting a party. “Yeah, can you imagine? I wanted something like this to happen, but seriously; me?” She smiled awkwardly, clutching her glass again. “I couldn’t organise anything like this, and I’m damn sure I don’t have the money… This dress was expensive enough…” She trailed off again, and sipped her wine once more. She was getting close to the bottom of the glass already; it was nice, and she was hungry after all. She drained what was left in the glass and watched the tiny drop in the bottom roll around as she twisted the stem of the glass in her fingers.
She was just wondering about getting a second glass of wine when another person addressed her; this time someone about her height wearing a surgical mask. “Uhm,” she managed, desperately trying to remember how to respond. “Uhh, yeah, I’m Jenn?” Why do I sound so unsure? Do I expect them to tell me or something? “Hi, yeah. Jenn Milburn, Childe of Huan Alvarado. Pleased to meet you,” She paused, grimacing with the surge of panic that followed every time she mentioned her Sire’s name, and noting that her new friend hadn’t given her a name, but guessing they would if she gave the chance.
All in all she was practically surrounded by people either talking to her or introducing themselves and it felt a bit suffocating. I guess that’s okay though, I don’t have to breathe any more… She picked up a second glass of the curiously opaque wine, and bit her lip nervously, a fang scratching at her immaculate lipstick like a razor poised to cut.