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2021-05-17 10:25 "Confronting a Vampire"

Kaarin's picture

Jasmin's Apartment - 151 Wooster

Anne stopped in front of the double doors of Jasmin Taylor’s elegant department building, doubting. As usual, her manager had appointed her for the woman’s runs, but for the first time, Anne wasn’t thrilled.
She remembered the last time she had seen Jasmin, at the Graveyard, dressed with an incredible Goth outfit. Remembering her like that, it was incredible she had been so blind not to notice the vampire in her, but then… it was Jasmin Taylor! Then she thought about the psychos in the party and she shuddered. Anne shook her head, it wasn’t the moment to ramble, she needed to decide what to do. Either she entered the vampire’s lair again, or she didn’t, it was as simple as that.
*Who are you fooling, Annie?* she asked herself, taking a step further and pushing the huge door to enter the building. *There’s no choice and you know it. She’s not gonna eat you… much.*
Jasmin sat in the living, with the stereo on, notebook out next to her and a stack of sealed envelopes. She always wrote her releases by hand - technology made the world easier, but writing statements felt more real that way. Still, the press… the only thought on her mind as she went back to work was how to take advantage of the events at the club. Now that things were open today, it was easy enough. A little "charity" payment here, a carefully worded statement there, and with luck, when they re-opened, people would show up in droves to show their support for the generous owned.
Now, if only that damned bouncer had had the decency to die. Oh well. She'd fire him next month.
At the sound of knocking at the door, she pulled herself up in the darker room, heading over to it with the notebook in hand. She unlocked and opened the door, stepping back from it. A brief glance and a smile to Anne in greeting followed. "Hello. Please, come inside - how are you doing?"
Anne smiled briefly, congratulating herself for her acting skill; she was scared to death, but still she managed to smile.
“Fine, thank you,” she answered and followed Jasmin into the apartment, her eyes watching it as if it were the first time. And in a way it was, she had been blind about it too. Suddenly, she needed to fill the air with conversation. “It’s terrible what happened at the club on Sat, Jasmin. I’m glad you’re all right.”
"Thank you," she replied lightly, letting the door fall shut. A few quick scribbles, and finally, the release was done, the stereo flipping over to a track by Emilie Autumn. Jasmin looked over to her and smiled a bit at some memories. "I was relieved to see that you and your friend weren't on the casualty list. Sorry I didn't get a chance to run into you - playing hostess is busy work."
She trailed off, tearing out the sheet as she moved to pack, and begin label one final envelope. "Be ready for things to go out in a moment here…."
“No problem,” Anne said casually, and prepared to wait. It wasn’t the first time a client had taken his or her time before giving her instructions, but of course, they usually weren’t blood sucking monsters.
She watched Jasmin work, concentrated in the letter she was writing, listening to some ancient music she couldn’t identify… no wonder she liked old music. How old was she? Maybe she had the wisdom of millennia like Queen Akasha? She didn’t think she was a newly risen, they couldn’t stand being so close to a human and not attack, like Jasper Cullen. She was so blond and delicate; one could easily forget she could go game face any moment. Maybe Carmilla? Oh yeah. Think Carmilla meets the Snow Queen.
Then she frowned. What the hell was she doing? This wasn’t a damn book she was reading; this was real. Jasmin was real. She was a not-to-be-taken-lightly fucking vampire. What the hell was she thinking, playing charades like that?
“I know what you are.” she spurted suddenly, before she could stop herself.
Jasmin worked hurridly to finish addressing the evelope, the words penetrating almost distantly. “Yes, I was making out with another woman, and yes, I am gay,” she said flatly, almost disinterestedly. “I work in theater, often musical theater, in New York; I didn't think I had to spell it out.” Everyone always acted so surprised when they realized that about her, even if it had taken her several decades to come to terms with it. Death didn't stop emotions.
She moved to pick up the envelopes, looking over to Anne... and stopped in her tracks. There was something in her stance and pose. She couldn't mean that, could she? That would... no. No jumping to conclusions, as the smile returned to Jasmin's face. She tried to keep her words light and joking. “Didn't think you were like that. Wow, my gaydar must be off.”
Anne was so surprised she couldn't speak for a few seconds; then, as she realized what the other woman had said, laughter erupted from her, like lava out of a volcano.
“Oh, my. You are Carmilla, all right!” she managed to say, after the laughter subdued a little, only to start laughing again, almost hysterically, all the tension of the last few days raging off her system with her laugh.
Realization dawned. Yes, she meant vampire, and now she was... laughing? Not good. People who laughed like that tended to do stupid things, and she really did not, on top of everything else, have to hide the body of a dead courier if that became necessary. “....uh, Anne? Are you alright? I actually have some tea on hand to help the nerves, if you need some.”
Granted, if she knew what she was, that could be an act to throw her off. It wouldn't be the first time some hunter thought playing the easy prey routine lead to an even quicker kill for them. Jasmin wasn't falling for it. Please don't make me kill you. I don't need more paperwork.
The mention of tea received another peal of laughter. The vampire was inviting her to drink tea… how did the nursery book go? ‘Miss Spider's Tea Party’? Oh no, no tea for her, please! However, sanity crept into her slowly, as she fought for control between hiccups and tears. As the laughter died, Anne’s mind got clearer and she realized the danger her impulsiveness had put herself into. It seemed she didn’t do anything right that morning. What the hell was she thinking? She asked herself not for the first time. Evidently, in nothing. Mayhap she would need that tea after all. To help the nerves.
“I know you’re a vampire,” she finally said, her mind strangely calm after her outburst. She couldn’t even say she was scared anymore.
Nope! She couldn't catch a break. For a moment, she considered the usual flat denial. Telling the other woman that was crazy. That usually worked... but she considered where they were. In her home, with blinds blocking out the sun at ten in the morning. “Calm down, my dear. Unless this is the part where you tell me you're a hunter. “
She stopped again, frustration coming to the forefront after everything else for just a moment. So much for finally being in the clear. Jasmin pushed her bitchy urges aside as a scathing remark threatened to come to the surface. “Right. What makes you say that, then? I'm a nightclub owner. Doesn't translate into soulless, evil creature readily, wouldn't you say?” Maybe there was some chance for salvation... maybe she didn't know everything about vampires.
I’m not a hunter, but you’re a vampire.” Anne grinned, adrenalin making her fearless. “And I’ve been running your errands for months with my blood count intact… now, that is strange, isn’t it?”
Jasmin shook her head slowly, circling around as she kept her eyes on the other woman. “Not really. Think about it,” she raised her hands slowly, fixing her with a steady gaze, an almost impish look in her eyes. “Consider this, if you will, from the most selfish angle possible. I could grab and bite you. But then, you're likely to never come back or word will get around. I could kill you, but then, you couldn't deliver my mail for me, could you? And if all the couriers I hire disappear, someone is going to come looking.
“Or,” she trailed off, taking a more relaxed stance, “I could keep you in the dark, plead a late night working at the club, and tip you well enough to not care that I look and act a touch on the eccentric side. You're happy not knowing, I'm happy getting my little jobs taken care of, and your company is happy to collect your fee.”
Rotating slowly to face the vampire at all moments, Anne did consider Jasmin’s words. It was just what she and Cadee had discussed, but still… vampires were soulless, evil creatures. No, she wasn’t buying the Jack Sparrow’s act. Much.
“How do you feed?” she asked. “You don’t kill couriers, your club is clean… how do you feed?”
Jasmin continued to keep an eye on her, studying the reaction as she propped herself against the wall. Waryness, to be expected; but no sign of recognizing that she moved with the careful steps of someone trained to fight. “There's a couple of butchers that I pay well enough to not tell anyone about the blood they give me. Then the fans more than willing to experience the danger of a vampire feeding from them.” Her eyes continued to dance impishly. No, she wouldn't tell her everything, of course. Just enough. Let the poor woman think her not a threat.
Anne nodded. She knew of those fans, addicted to the thrill of nursing vampires. You could recognize them, if you knew where to look; the Graveyard wasn’t one of those places, but it made sense.
She could see Jasmin relaxing at her nodding, and that put her on guard again. Could she trust her? Her explanations made sense, the club was clean, and so was her theatre company or Cadee would have heard of it. In fact, Cadee herself hadn’t considered the vampire an immediate threat. ‘Immediate’ being the key word, but what the hell...
“So, this is the ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ act, but in reverse? I don’t tell on you and you won’t kill me?” she asked at last. But she raised her hand before the vampire could talk, and went on. “Just so you know, I’m not a hunter, but I’m closely related to one. I’m sure that, if I disappear, she’ll come looking here first thing.”
Clever. Very clever. Whether a lie or not... she had assumed that Anne had to have something up her sleeve. One does not confess, generally, to knowing about a vampire without reason. Death had been a consideration if needed. Time to try an approach, more subtle. Bending someone to her will was always much more fun.
“You knew I wasn't going to kill you already, or you wouldn't be here,” she said evenly. “You could have turned down being sent here, or pleaded illness. Could have even said that I was a colossal bitch, and lord knows they would have believed that if they read the gossip columns. And then you not only came... you tipped your hand to me.”
She smiled again, a slightly more predatory, but still restrained look. “You're a smart woman, Anne. So why tell me all this? This the part where I get blackmailed, now? It's not like I don't have the connections to help your career. I've only been involved in entertainment since the 1950s. Looking for parts, or to move into producing?"
“Ohhhhh, so you were Bathory in ‘First Bite’” Anne’s eyes brightened at the thought, her love for all things vampire –fictional at least – overcoming the seriousness of the situation. Besides, she wouldn’t deign discussing those blackmail implications, better let her believe she was daft. “I was sure she looked familiar. Did you work with Jack Arnold? Ever been a vampire in a vampire movie? So, just how old are you?”
“No; no Jack Arnold, though my partner has been in Hollywood long enough to remember the Wild West,” she returned lightly to that, spotting the opening, noticing that she sidestepped the question of blackmail. It also told her that the young would-be actress knew the craft, though not all of the tools involved. Oh dear lord, the enthusiasm.
Times like this was when she was very, very glad that Twilight and the like had softened the mythos, made them invigorated and sexy again. “And think, Anne. No reflection. Most cinema techniques require your actor to have that in order to be imprinted to film, even if you're playing say, Morgana le Fey. Digital recording is a new medium. I'm just old enough to be, quite literally, worth more to you and your hunter friend still mobile.”
Yes, she would bring it back to that. She had to – she knew that the focus on that tended to break down walls. Ironically, the very offer made her harder to exploit from past experience. Humans so wanted to take the moral high ground on the big bag, so to have them suggest the very thing they were considering so casually made them pause. “I'll give you and your friend a free piece of advice – Balthazar Romano. Avoid him and his close associates if you know him, and tell your friend the same. When the vampire tells you someone is bad news, listen to them.”
Anne frowned, she didn’t recognize the name but she would tell Cadee about it. She too was glad the topic had somewhat moved from veiled threats to less personal ground. “Is he another vampire?”
“No. He's a mortal sorcerer,” she said, watching her reaction. “Yes, those are real too, if you didn't know. He's also quite wealthy, connected, and ambitious. If the Special Crimes Unit could pin even half activities to him, the man would be locked up in solitary for the rest of his life.”
“Oh, I know about sorcerers and such. Living with a hunter gives you that kind of knowledge… but I never heard of Romano. I’ll tell her.”
She looked at Jasmin’s attentive face, the vampire was watching her closely, probably seizing her up. She wondered about her thoughts. The morning was coming quite differently of how she had expected; from her spurting her knowledge to them talking movies. It was evident Jasmin wouldn’t harm her; besides, the vampire was right, if she had thought so, she wouldn’t have come. She would have to think about everything that had transpired... Now, how do you leave the beast’s lair?
“Okay… it’s been fun and all, but I have other errands to do.” She looked at her watch casually, “are yours ready?”
She inclined her head slightly, moving over to the stack of envelopes to hold out for her. Jasmin, truth be told, had nearly forgotten about them. “Ah, yes. A different kind of theater – public relations. It's all a pagent,” as she passed the envelopes over. “Releases for a few press contacts, something for the lawyer and police, and a nice legal document pledging to cover the expenses for any injured patrons who were uninsured.”
Then cash appeared, her usual tip for Anne. She paused for a moment to scribble on a piece of paper quickly, slipping it inside the stack of cash.
Anne nodded, checking the addresses; she’d been to most of them. “Piece of cake,” she said with a smile. She walked to the door, but paused a second before leaving; she slipped the bills into her corset as usual, and as she did so, realization that the vampire was gay downed on her. Amazing.
“You should consider producing ‘Carmilla’, you know? A pity such unique perspective put to waste…”
"Already did it - 2015 release, Taylor & Anderson Productions, Showtime original movie, Dark Passion. Not the best work, but it paid relocation expenses."
Then she left.

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