\ 19:02 “Graves at the Graveyard” | unlimitedi.net
Skip to main content
Heather's picture

Alison and Connie emerged from the limousine, both stifling laughter brought on by a lewd joke Connie had been relating. Alison filed it away in the back of her mind as a joke that Lucinda might tell, in the right company. Tonight, with her hair and makeup both done professionally she was already immersing herself in the Lucinda role, adopting a sexy sway to her hips. The stiletto heels helped in that department too, of course. The blue dress she’d chosen draped gracefully around her, the slits revealing tantalising glimpses of her legs when she walked.

Leaning down to speak to the limousine driver through the window, she knew she was giving him one hell of an eyeful of her cleavage. She managed not to blush and considered it a dry run for later that night. “This is the address in East Harlem you need to go to pick up Mr. Sandoval. He’s expecting you.”

As he took the slip of paper from her she smiled. “Thanks.”

“No problem, Miss,” the driver replied. “I’ll have him here by quarter to.”

“Good, the party starts at eight.”

“I still think you should have brought Sven as a date instead,” Connie said with a mock pout. “Think what a lovely couple you’d make. And I still can’t believe you guessed who my mystery guest would be.”

Alison grinned. “It wasn’t too hard to figure out. As soon as you said it was a he, Sven was the obvious choice. Anyway, let’s get inside and meet the hostess, shall we?”

They entered the club. At a little after 7pm and still daylight outside, the club wasn’t yet open for regular business. Upon seeing the doors open, a man crossed the floor to meet them and directed them to a stairway on their left. Reaching the top, Alison smiled at the Victorian décor. “Oh, I can see why you picked this place, Connie. It looks very like the way I described Donatien’s club, even down to the dark leather barstools.”

As they came up stairs, Jasmin was already in the middle of her final arrangements. Yes, the publicity was good, but she'd had to sleep in the office yet again. Someone came up and put a box down on the table in front of her, looking inside at the Blood Energy Drinks. The irony was just too delicious to pass up. “Bar, hang them on the hooks. Make it look like a hospital wing.” And please don't let any actual vampires think it's real.

As she moved around with an eye out for the preparations, she could hear the latex of her skirt crinkle. She stopped another waiter on the way to a table with a small selection of food. “Other side, over by the punch.” The frustration in her voice at all the little things that could and did go wrong shone through. When she finally saw the other two women arriving, she started over to them, putting on her best smile and speaking up once she neared. “Ah, you must Ms. Graves and her agent. I do hope you don't mind the outfit. Someone failed to specify which Goth they wanted, so I decided to give them Industrial-Fetish.”

Alison blinked at the woman’s outfit. While technically it covered everything, the black latex was so skin-tight that it left absolutely nothing to the imagination. It took her a moment to get back into Lucinda mode and let a knowing smile cross her features. Connie, in the meantime, had beaten her to it.

“Oh, that’s an adorable outfit. You know, I wanted to wear something a bit more exotic than this,” she gestured to the black beaded corset that Alison had rejected yesterday, “but I was vetoed.”

With her reactions now under control, Alison turned to her agent and raised an eyebrow. “Oh please, you had no intention of really wearing that thing with the straps. At least, not at the book launch anyway.”

Alison turned back to the hostess and extended her hand. “Charmed to meet you, Ms. Taylor. This is my agent, Connie Webb. She’s the one who did most of the hard work organising this shindig. And I think, if you don’t mind, I might steal that look for a character in my next book.”

Jasmin took Allison's hand extremely briefly. The cold would, if she was fortunate, go unnoticed or be easily brushed off. “Of course not. Steal away, though if you do it for a vampire remember that they don't breathe, so they can probably lace the corset far tighter than mine.”

She looked over Allison's dress quite appreciatively, before turning to Connie with an equally appraising eye. “It is a pleasure to meet you, as well as your agent, who I must say would look adorable in a bunch of straps.”

Alison swore that Connie’s smile turned positively coquettish, before she dropped back into business mode. That was one of the things Alison loved about her agent: she would joke and flirt with anyone and everyone, but when it came to business she was on top of everything and nothing would slip by her.

“I see you’ve got refreshments well in hand,” Connie remarked, indicating the tables laden with food and drink. “Now how about that book display? It needs to be somewhere prominent, but not in anyone’s way. And naturally we’ll want an area for photographs. I have a photographer coming along later tonight. There are some very particular publicity shots I want to have taken.” She smiled broadly at Jasmin. “And of course there’ll be plenty of press here. I’m so glad we were able to hold this in your beautiful club.”

Alison quirked an eyebrow. “And these publicity shots wouldn’t have anything to do with that ‘mystery guest’ you told me about, would they?” She laughed her tinkling Lucinda laugh that had been designed to make men melt, and which she’d been practising in the limousine on the way over. “No wonder you’re disappointed that I’m bringing my own date tonight.”

Jasmin turned towards Connie, fixing her with slow and steady gaze. It was the kind of disapproving look that you gave for only a brief time. “My dear, I am an experienced professional. Trust me when I say that I am well aware of how to arrange these kind of events,” raising an arm with the matching arm warmer on it to point at a book display. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she always resented that. She only had six decades of experience in this. She knew her type. All business, and at least as far as business went, one of them had to establish themselves as the dominant figure. Her smile softened then.

“And I've found an interesting energy drink you might use in them – it's made by some geeky company called Blood Energy Drink. Looks like a packet of blood like you'd see hanging in the hospital for a transfusion....” She trailed off then, looking between the two of them. “And Ms. Graves, believe me, even with your own date, you can still pose for a photo or two.”

Alison ignored the woman’s momentary frostiness towards Connie, knowing that at events such at this feathers were occasionally ruffled when two organiser types first met. She trusted Connie to keep things friendly and not to let Jasmin’s minor display of bitchiness get to her. After all, Connie was an experienced professional as well. Instead she focused on the discussion of photos.

“Well, that depends on my date. This isn’t really his sort of thing, so he may be a bit shy.”

She headed towards the book display to get a better look. Personally she wasn’t sure that the blood packets weren’t perhaps a trifle cheesy, but she supposed it fit with the theme for the evening. She glanced at Connie to see what she thought, and Connie shrugged in her “what the hell, roll with it” manner and conducted a quick visual tour of the rest of the arrangements.

Once she was satisfied that everything was in order, Connie turned to Jasmin. “Superb,” she said. “It looks wonderful. Thank you so much for helping us out with this. Tonight’s going to be a huge success, I’m sure. This club and Lucinda’s books will be the talk of the town tomorrow.”

Like any typical Leo, when the conversation turned to praise, her smile turned more genuinely warm. Dominance established, she decided, speaking more lightly. “Oh, no problem. It's part of my job to try to make sure that events like this go off well. No doubt some of the gossip columns will have fun describing how, once more, I was a secret and epic bitch.” That, she tried to keep very light. Jasmin was well aware of her reputation.

“Give you a trick for your date,” she turned back to Lucinda. “Something that helped me with these things. No, not that cheesy underwear or naked thing. If his nerves get too bad, tell him to just focus on making his breathing rhythmic – trust me, between that and you, he'll be too distracted to be nervous.” It wouldn't help much with dealing with crowds either, she knew, though she did have more than a little curiosity at who, exactly, her date might be.

“Oh, I’m sure he’ll be fine. He just may be reluctant to have any publicity shots taken. I’m sure the papers will get a few candid shots through the night, but he’ll be fine.” Alison grinned. “We’ll just have to behave until the press go away.”

Connie laughed. “Trust me, the press will be too busy taking photos of you with… oh, speak of the devil.”

A man emerged at the top of the stairs. He was tall, blond, and handsome, and anyone who’d ever seen the cover of a Lucinda Graves book would recognise him immediately.

“Sven, darling, over here!” Connie called. “I’d love to introduce you to the creator of Donatien Darque. This lovely creature, my dear, is Lucinda Graves.”

Alison had guessed this was who Connie had invited, but even so Sven Tonnesen was imposing in person. She hadn’t realised just how tall he was. Seeing the man who’d become the face of her vampire hero was a very surreal moment for her. “Hello,” she said eventually, “It’s lovely to meet you in person at last.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” he replied, sweeping up her hand to bestow a kiss upon it.

Alison laughed. “Oh, please tell me Connie put you up to that.” His only reply was a grin.

“And this, Sven darling,” Connie interjected, “is Jasmin Taylor, our gorgeous hostess for the evening.”

Sven nodded to Jasmin, his eyes dropping from her face only momentarily to take in the curves that her outfit accentuated. “Charmed, I’m sure,” he said.

Jasmin squinted her eyes at him when he came in, looking and peering at him more closely. The man seemed familiar, extremely so, but she couldn't quite place him. Not at first. It wasn't until she gave a look at the books on display that exactly who this was actually clicked in her head. Maybe it would have helped if I actually read one of these books before agreeing to this, or at least, read it for more than the humor. “Pleased to meet you, Sven.” Her eyes fixed for a moment on his neck, confirming that there was indeed a pulse there.

She clasped her hands together in front of her, as another person came up to ask her something about the arrangements, staring. “So get some Bailey's from the downstairs stocks. There's always a call for Irish Coffee at these things.” Turning back as he went away, she gestured broadly. “Well, is there anything else that I can do for all of you this evening?”

Connie took the lead. “I think we’re all set for the moment. My photographer should be here any minute, and we’ll get a few publicity stills with Sven and Alison before the guests start arriving. So if you don’t mind us camping out in this corner here for a bit, we’ll leave you to any last-minute details you need to attend to.” She cocked her head slightly. “I do hope I’ll get to spend some time chatting with you properly once the party’s underway.”

Jasmin hung on to the actual name used, filing it in the back of her mind. Alison. She'd need to remember that Lucinda Graves was a pen name. “Not at all. The doors will be open in a bit, and if you all need a drink, might I recommend the Black and Blue? It's extremely tasty. Be seeing you all.” With one final polite smile, she began to move off, making a final set of rounds to be certain that everything was in order. It was going to be a long night.

Facebook Share