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Dave ST

Chosen 02: The Gala

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The three guests, all strangers, were quite aware that had stepped into a world of high society that was leaps and bounds above what they were used to.  As far as social stratas went, they were no where near having their feet on solid ground.  Manhattan's richest and most affluent individuals were present, from CEOs to Philanthropists to celebrities.  The Gala was taking place at the David Zwirner gallery on 19th street, and for an event like this, unless you had seven digits in your bank account, they wouldn't let you smell the food from the street.

[Casey] Casey and her people had arrived early, and she still wasn't a hundred percent on board with the idea.  Mr. Mourne could talk a good talk, but the dream hadn't left her mind the last several days.  Something was eating away at her, like something out there was stalking her and hunting her joy so it could consume it before it found its way to her.  Still, she pressed on, and was none to surprised to find that Mr. Mourne had elevated her to his 'Plus One' so while her people and one manager she brought with her were catering, she was free to mingle with sycophants and people she had nothing in common with in a dress she really couldn't afford but was to proud to not show up looking her best (well, on a budget best).

Despite it all, she'd yet to see Horatio anywhere but she did catch sight of a few partners from her old law firm.  Including the bastard that cost her a future in Law.

[Maya] Life had been weird for the last several days.  The strange words hadn't stopped, but the doctor she went to see told her there was nothing wrong with her eyes and she was not dyslexic... but that didn't' seem to stop the world from making her see 'things'.  The two beings never came back to her 'dreams' so she was thankful for that, yet a part of her was a bit worried... after all, the way they talked, they seemed to be in danger.  What if the entity they were running from caught up with them?  Then again, they were figments of her addled mind... why should she care?  They knew things though, things no one else could have known.

"Maya," Mrs. Richards, the woman who had invited her to the event, greeted her as she arrived.  Not far from the entrance she and her husband were entertaining a few friends/clients/whatever, shaking hands and smiling.  Everyone here looked so wow.  Mrs. Richards was in a dress that was worth more than Maya made in a year, pushing up a chest and hugging a butt that cost slightly more than the dress.  "Oh, I'm so glad you could make it.  You look amazing."

She wasn't sure if Mrs. Richards was being serious or just in that placating, complementing mode rich people get into when around other rich people, but it was nice to hear, nonetheless.  "Feel free to roam and mingle, Keith and I have to our obligatory 'hellos' and I'll find you and we can catch up."  Her smile seemed genuine, but just as fast as she broke away from her husband she was right back at his side, shaking hands and getting her diamonds kissed.

[Mel]   His finger nails were growing back, that was a plus.  Showered, shaved, and in a suit, Mel had to admit, he didn't look half bad.  Still not quite sure this security life was for him, he couldn't quite argue the money.  Well, he could, but he'd already spent some of it to replace the throw rug he clawed through trying to dig his way to China the other week.  He wasn't packing, unless you counted the taser under his jacket (he didn't).

Brent had given him the details and for the most part the gig was a cake walk.  A few grand to sit here and make sure some idiot doesn't get too drunk?  Too easy.  The Gala was talking place on the first and second floors of the four story building, and they had men positioned all over the place.  Mel was one of a few roamers, security who kept in motion and made sure the guests knew that they were not far off.  Mel didn't expect too much trouble, like Brent had said before, the most they'd dealt with was on disgruntled guy several months back.  Since then it was all rich guys needing to escorted out to a cab.

With a tug at his coat he rolled his shoulders and went back out for a walk around the floor.

Spoiler

So, what do we do?

At this point, just get the flow going.  These are your characters so you tell me their story of what they're doing at this place we'll go from there.  Feel free to create NPCs to talk to (I have no names for the 'Partners' that cost Casey her job, for example), describe some events going on, over hear rumors... just get the ball rolling and the everything else will go from there.  Describe your attire, describe others' attire, what kind of a day did your PC have before they arrived here... all of that is relevant to the story, feel free to put it in.

Casey is pretty sure Horatio is 'last minute-ing' some issues with the Gala (nice of him to text you to let you know, huh?), so he'll be along shortly.  Manage the staff and mingle.

Maya... just be Maya.  Be completely lost and wide eyed and awkward about everything that's going on. :)

Mel, wander about, remind a few people to not touch stuff.  Don't tase unless you have to.  Casey might slip you a fifty to 'accidentally' tase one of her ex-partners... look into that (kidding).

Have fun.

 

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It was simple. Too simple arguably for Mel's tastes, but at least he could walk around. Still, the money was money. Though he wasn't sure if this really applied as 'getting out' in the therapeutic sense Brent intended. Still, he'd agreed to this, and in a sense Brent was still Major Connors in this way, the commanding officer, and Mel had his orders. Patrol, one, two, three. Examine the area.

Security here, nothing to see, moving on. Two, three. Routing past the line of Impressionist or Romantic something paintings, look at the static guards. Meet their eyes, all's well, moving on.

It wasn't until he rounded a sculpture probably worth in the hundred grand zone that something different cropped up. Raised voices, though he couldn't discern the words quite. It brought him to a corner where one tuxedoed man in his fifties and an impressive black mustache was finding his chest jabbed by a woman of similar age, well dressed. Probably his wife. Whatever the precise argument was (though Mel would put money on the man's focus having been on the more slinky ladies in slinky numbers) it was definitely severe, and of sufficient noise to suggest his attention.

He came over and cleared his throat. "Is there a problem?"

The couple quickly shifted to awkwardness at their dirty laundry overheard. "No, no. Just a disagreement. All settled, thank you." The woman primly put. It clearly wasn't, but obviously the bickering had been put on hold for a more private occasion. Mel gave them the pro forma 'just checking' smile and nod and moved on.

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Casey took one more pass around the kitchen making sure everything was ship shape then she went to the door the led from the prep area out into the main floor. She pushed it open just a crack to look thru and still couldn't spot Horatio anywhere then let the door swing shut and turned back toward the kitchen only to find herself face to face with Becky Monroe the co-manager she had brought in after Horatio made her his 'date'.

“You can see a lot more from out there Casey, than back here.” she said with a tilt of her head.

“I know Becky, and I'm not trying to micromanage I swear I just feel so...” Casey said the pleading in her voice but the look on her friend and co-workers face stopped her in mid sentence. Puffing out her cheeks and blowing air she straightened up smoothed her dress and nodded. “You are right. I am being a chicken. You got this I will go face my demons.”

As soon as she said that she regretted it and a small shiver went down her back but she gave Becky a smile and spun and pushed the door open and stepped out into the gala.

It had been a long time since she had been to an affair this posh. It was one thing to come a the caterer but when Horatio had called and said that he was making her his plus one, it had put things in a different dimension. She couldn't just go dressed in work clothes or even in the sort of dress the manager of the caterer would wear no she had to dress the part. Which wasn't easy on her budget. Still as she passed a mirrored column and caught a glimpse of herself, Not too shabby she thought.

Becky was right,Casey thought as she moved through he gather party goers, I can see better out here and still on Mr. Mourn but after passing and old couple who were arguing and some intense looking guy watching them she did spy a group of her former associates. Shit, I really do not want any of them to see me, flashed through her mind as she turned on her heel and found herself face to face with Roger Lampman the asshole who cost her her job.

“Man, Casey Mason, last person I expected to see at an art gala, but still easy on the eyes.” He said not even attempting to hide his leering gaze at her bust.

Resisting the sudden urge to puke and then kick him in the balls Casey Smiled instead “I'm surprised to see you here too, I thought the only art you would be into would be porn.”

Spoiler

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Maya had been to parties before. She had even worn a nice dress to one, when her sister got married. This little shindig, though? It was on a whole other level. Sure, she knew the Richardses were well-off, but this level of glitz and glam was like, Vanity Fair, where she'd been expecting maaaaybe The New Yorker-  or, since it was supposed to be for the work of "mythologically inspired artists," maybe some niche-market mag dealing with the zoomorphic gods of pre-colonial Egypt. She'd imagined chunky dichroic glass jewelry and caftans, not designer ensembles straight from some high-end boutique.

Under normal circumstances, she'd have felt pretty confident. Rather than straightening her hair, she'd just pinned it up, and the long-sleeved maxi dress was both comfortable and what she thought of as "casual sophistication." She was tall enough to get away with wearing ballet flats instead of heels, and she was also one of the very few women not showing skin. It was a look that suited her, but after a quick scan of the room following Colleen's departure, it definitely did not suit the party. Slipping over to grab a glass of rosé from one of the tables, she smiled politely and avoided eye contact as she moved through the partygoers. Everyone just looked so rich, and so beautiful- or at least the kind of beautiful that being rich could buy- that just catching glimpses of faces and suits and dresses in the crowd was almost an art show on its own.

As she sipped her "basic white girl" wine, the knot of anxiety that came from being keenly aware she didn't fit in gradually loosened, and she resigned herself to making the best of things. She knew Mrs. Richards had intended the invitation as a gift, a sort of 'thank you' that she'd thought Maya would enjoy, not as a means to make her feel uncomfortable or out of place. Besides, it wasn't as if she was likely to run into anyone she knew here, so what was the harm in trying to have a good time? Things had been a little weird, lately, and getting out of her comfort zone and into another glass or two of wine might actually help.

It wasn't too difficult to make her way to the outer edges of the thronging glitterati, and into the actual exhibition halls. It was an art gala, and if she was gonna be here all night, she was gonna see some art.

Spoiler

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Roger leered making no attempt to even pretend he wasn't looking at her cleavage. "I do like porn Casey, especially when it come wrapped up in a nice white dress, like the one your wearing."  Casey resisted the urge to scratch his eyes out and instead took a step closer to him and said in a very low voice. "Roger you already won, you got me fired, you got me blacklisted. But you didn't get me disbarred. And if i ever hear of you talking about a woman in the manner in which you talked about me if I see you here tonight talking to your friends about your conquests real or more likely made up, hell if I ever see you again period. I will sue you and I will sue the firm and while I may not win I swear it will cause so much bad publicity that you will be cleaning the toilets in the basement of the firm until you are ninety before they let you off the hook. Do you understand #me too. Good night Roger I think it's time for you to go."

Without a further word or waiting for a reaction Casey turns and marches off pausing to grab another glass off a tray. As she took a long swallow she noticed that the intense looking man who had been watching the old couple argue was  standing on the other side of the server now watching her. She was about to tell him to eff off  thinking that he was creeping on her, when she stopped and took a second look "I know you," she said letting the girl with the drink tray pass by, "Your Black no sugar no cream. I didn't recognize you at first all dressed up. Hi I'm Casey, the manager at The Full Pot." Casey extended her hand to Mel.

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Mel had continued his circuit when a flicker of brown hair caught his eye. He paused to confirm what he saw. Yep, Miss Barista, cleaning up nice in a white dress. Now how did she get into a fancy place like this? Then she picked up on his observation and came over. He shook her hand politely in turn. "Mel Grimson. I'm working security here for the event. How did you get your golden ticket?"

"We're catering." Casey explained.

"I thought the upper crust went more for tiramisu or fancy hors d'oeuvres?" Mel pondered.

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Casey laughs politely, "Me too, but the guy in charge of this shindig, Horatio Mourn, wanted to benefit a local business instead of some big name place, so here I am. I'll be honest as surprised as I was and as out of place as we are, this job is a god send. I just wish he would show up. I'm supposed to be his date which is why I'm out here and not back in the kitchen.." She takes a sip of her drink "Listen to me chatter, I'm sorry. It's nice to meet you Mr. Grimson after all we see each other almost every morning we should at least know each others names.

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"Speak of the Devil, wings, flapping, all that," Horatio stepped up into the conversation, still buttoning his blazer with an exasperated expression that told them both he was done planning Galas for quite some time.  "Casey, I am so sorry.  I've been held up in the back, it's been... quite a night so far."

"The other caterers, champagne, booze, etcetera... haven't been able to get a single thing right and following simple direction is apparently not in their contract," he shrugged, looking confused.  "Who would have thought, right?"  He paused and realized he was interrupting a conversation.  "Oh, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean-"

"It's fine," Casey waved her hand dismissively.  "Relax, the bad people can't get you here."  She tried to muse and when he chuckled her own smile swiftly followed suit.  "Mr. Mourne, this is Mr. Mel Grimson, he comes into the Full Pot pretty regularly.  Turns out he's working security tonight.  Small world."

"Ah!  Well, any friend of Casey's," he turned with the playboy smile of his and extended his hand.

Mel tried to correct him, "We're not really fr-"

"Horatio Mourne, pleasure to meet you," he powered on, Mel's attempt to set the record straight just sorta went on unheard.  Casey just smiled and gave Mel a look and a roll of the eyes that said 'just go with it'.  He seemed born for politics.  "Please, call me Horatio.  I keep asking Miss Mason to do the same, but she is adamant to call me Mr. Mourne.  So until she starts I'm retaliating with 'Miss Mason'."

He motioned to the two of them, "Hey, let's have a look around, shall we?  I promised I'd show Miss Mason around, please, I'd love for you to join us."

"I really should get back," Mel pointed to the gala as a whole, signaling it was time he got back to work.

"Nonsense.  I'm running the show tonight, Mel.  C'mon, five minutes or so, take a break, amuse the guy signing the check that will eventually become a check signed by someone else, that will end up in your pocket."  He smiled and ushered them onward.  "Seriously, I could use a break.  Doing events like this should be one of the main arguments for legalizing pot, I swear.  Hard liquor just isn't helping anymore..."

He escorted them away, through a few of the hallways where the art was being displayed.  He mentioned a few of the artists, but in all honestly none of them were really interesting enough for either of his guests to care all that much about.  He was passionate about his field though, and they did their best to look interested and entertained as he pointed out nuances and depths, and meanings from each of the pieces he showed them.  Mel and Casey, still relative strangers managed to sneak at one another from time to time and offer up an awkward 'I have no idea what he's talking about' shrug.  It wasn't until one of the less trafficked halls then his enthusiasm seemed curbed when his eyes locked on a lone guest.  She was dressed 'casual' by comparison to the others and seemed more out of place than anyone they'd seen all night.  Truth be told, she looked more like someone who had slipped in the back door for free champagne and finger sandwiches.

"Excuse me, miss," he approached her, unsure if really belonged at the event.  "You seem lost," he managed as the most politest way of saying in front of his company 'you don't seem to belong here'.  At least he had Mel handy to throw her out.

"Nonsense," came a seductive voice soon followed by a woman dressed in a black evening gown that looked like it cost more than anyone made in two life times and judging by the plunging neck line her and Casey could have had the same tailor.  Her cheek bones were perfect, her red lipstick was perfect, she was just... you get the idea.  She was easy to hate.  Her pitch black hair was tied up in a tight bun.  "I was just about to ask the little darling what she thought of this piece."

"Ms. D'Sombra, I didn't know you'd be here this evening," Horatio's tone implied that he 'hoped' she wouldn't be here this evening.  "You know her?"

Ms. D'Somba gives the out of place Maya a dismissive once over then chuckled.  "Oh, heavens no.  I know art, however, and I know the look of someone with an eye for it.  I'm simply curious what she sees in it."  Her voice carried with all the charm and warmth of a tiger's growl when suddenly her face seemed to be overlapped by something else, a vague, phantasmal visage of something monstrous or demonic concealed just under the surface of her own flesh... then as swiftly as it appeared, it was gone.

"So," she asked with a twisted grin on her face.  "See anything interesting?"

Spoiler

Horatio didn't seem to notice anything weird with her face.  You three, however, do.  Lately you've been seeing things, hearing things, and your reality just seems to be crumbling... add this to the pot.

 

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Maya had been considering this particular piece for the better part of twenty minutes. and she still hadn't decided whether or not she liked it; the colours worked well together, with the general impression being a bit like a sunrise coming out of a dark night, but something just didn't sit well with her. She had almost nailed down exactly what it was when a man who looked like a department store manager, complete with mid-life crisis ponytail, interrupted her train of thought. Who did this Steven Seagal wannabe think he was?

"Lost?" No more than you are, jerk. Who's your Journey tribute band opening for tonight, hm?

Fifty scathing retorts rushed to the tip of her tongue in response, but before they had a chance to spill out, Maleficent's sister slithered up out of nowhere and intervened. It wasn't exactly on her behalf, but an intervention nonetheless, and she silently thanked whoever was listening that she hadn't had the opportunity to open her mouth. She didn't know who either of these people were, but the fact that Prince Charmless was visibly unhappy with the other woman's presence made her feel just a teensy bit better about essentially being politely accused of sneaking in without an invite. It didn't, however, make her feel any more at ease with the situation: the tension seething between the two made her feel like a very small pawn in a heated, long-running game of chess. 

For a brief moment, the world shifted in front of her eyes, and because she was still looking at the raven-haired woman who'd just spoken, for that fleeting instant she saw not a gorgeous socialite, but the rapacious Beldam of the book she'd so recently read to the children at work, all hunger and malice.

No, no no, not here, this is not happening here, she told herself as she tore her gaze away, directing her attention back to the painting and taking a slow sip of wine to steady her nerves. Not tonight.

"Oh, all sorts of things," Maya replied breezily, only the faint hint of a tremor in her voice betraying the fact that something- either the timing of the woman's question, or the appearance of the trio- had clearly unsettled her. She clasped the stem of her glass in both hands to stop them shaking until she could calm down, and skimmed the abstract shapes of the artwork again; focusing on the here and now always seemed to put things back to the way they should be. Her teeth caught at her lower lip; what exactly was it that bugged her so much about this painting? It was driving her crazy that she couldn't make heads or tails of-

Heads or tails?

That was it! It wasn't positioned correctly. Tilting her head to re-assess the art, much to the mixed amusement, bewilderment, and exasperation of her audience, she felt her pulse quicken as the pieces started to fall into place.

"Here, this looks hopeful, yeah?" she asked them rhetorically, glancing back at them before waving at muted whorls of rose and orange shot through with bright gold, cerulean, and white. "It's lovely and soft, like a spring morning, especially when you contrast it with this part." Here, she pointed at the sharp, angular interjections of muddy grey, violet, and deep black that jutted out in irregular patterns. "So, it looks like an aspirational thing, like looking toward beauty and light as you reach out from the darkness, clinging to the hope that will get you through the worst of times." The more she looked at it, the more sense it started to make, as if she were piecing together the plot of a complicated novel. The warmth of the wine hummed pleasantly through her body as she paused, allowing her audience a moment to draw their own conclusions.

"But it's not!" she exclaimed, shaking her head, the words coming faster, more easily now. "There's no real hope in this at all. Yes, there's the acknowledgement of joy and all that, it exists, but these are things the artist believes they cannot have. They have seen and, and felt transcendence, something celestial, unfathomable, something ah... ah... supernal!" she stated emphatically, taking another drink of wine.  "And now it's utterly gone, shattered, destroyed.  They can still see beauty in the world, but they can't touch it, and every time they try something is irrevocably broken. This painting is all about the incredible longing the artist feels for what's lost, tempered by overwhelming remorse and utter despair, because..." Realizing suddenly that there were now more than four people gathered around, and that she was gesturing animatedly while everyone stared, Maya suddenly felt intensely self-conscious and dropped her free hand, which had come just short of touching the painting.

"Because they know it's their fault," she finished somewhat more quietly. Making a very small, vaguely circular motion with her finger, the tall, grey-eyed 'interloper' added, "and, ah, it's upside-down."

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Casey hadn't really realized how much she had been looking forward to Horatio arriving. It was fun going along and being with a handsome gentleman even if the Art bit was really over her head. She was analytical and not all that creative so she never got the whole art thing. When they came into the part of the gallery where the girl who looked out of place was standing and Horratio started questioning her Something about the woman seemed familiar and then the harpy showed up, Casey only partially paid attention namely because she had just figured out that she had seen the woman at the coffee shop and not just once she was a regular just like Mel. She turned to tell Horatio and mel that she knew the woman and thats when she saw it.

On 12/19/2018 at 5:56 PM, Dave ST said:

Ms. D'Somba gives the out of place Maya a dismissive once over then chuckled.  "Oh, heavens no.  I know art, however, and I know the look of someone with an eye for it.  I'm simply curious what she sees in it."  Her voice carried with all the charm and warmth of a tiger's growl when suddenly her face seemed to be overlapped by something else, a vague, phantasmal visage of something monstrous or demonic concealed just under the surface of her own flesh... then as swiftly as it appeared, it was gone.

"So," she asked with a twisted grin on her face.  "See anything interesting?"

The words froze in Casy's throat and her empty hand went to her back where the scab of her wound was and and then Maya the woman who had been staring at the picture went off the rails.

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The lady in the red dress seemed faintly familiar, though Mel had no idea who she was. Mind you, while she did seem out of place, the same could be said for him or Casey. That said, if Horatio Mourne insisted he send her out - well, Mourne had pointed out he was the client here. Then the black-dressed woman who screamed socialite shark swooped in for the younger woman's defense.

On 12/19/2018 at 6:56 PM, Dave ST said:

Ms. D'Somba gives the out of place Maya a dismissive once over then chuckled.  "Oh, heavens no.  I know art, however, and I know the look of someone with an eye for it.  I'm simply curious what she sees in it."  Her voice carried with all the charm and warmth of a tiger's growl when suddenly her face seemed to be overlapped by something else, a vague, phantasmal visage of something monstrous or demonic concealed just under the surface of her own flesh... then as swiftly as it appeared, it was gone.

"So," she asked with a twisted grin on her face.  "See anything interesting?"

Mel's eyes widened and then snapped shut for a moment. This was Brent's joint offer of a quick job and a therapeutic step into post-Cecilia and civilian life. This was not the Section 8 night all over again. Then he opened them as Maya went into her excited spiel. "I think she's in the right place." Mel offered to Horatio. "Art critic for an art gallery."

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Ms. D'Sombra's laughter was quiet, but nonetheless heard in the rather quiet halls that surrounded them.  "I like this one, Mr. Mourne.  Do get her a column in the newsletter."  With a cock of her head as she and all the others tilted their heads to see the painting in the different perspective, she finally smiled.  "I'm sold.  Do see that it gets to my studio, and... leave it upside down, I always like to be reminded of Mr. Mourne's infallibility.  Or is it, ineptitude?  Hmm?"  The evil quirk of her lips as she glared at Horatio certainly told everyone that there was some unspoken history there.

"I'll see to the transaction and the delivery personally." Horatio replied with a tone of barely contained humility.

"Excellent," she smiled a smile that only the richest bitch in the room could smile.  She pointed to Casey and her eyes took on an almost predatory allure.  "You, a word if you please," she tilted her head off to the side motioning for Casey to joint her.  Mel moved forward to Maya, not sure if he was to toss her out or what at this point, when Ms. D'Sombra intervened on her behalf.  ""Mr. Grimson, she's to be left alone.  If she was not here on anyone's invitation, then she's now here on mine.  She is to be given anything she requests as long as she is within these walls, am I clear?"

"Ma'am," Mel nodded stepped back, offering Maya an apologetic, yet polite nod and a smile.

Horatio looked at his phone, rubbed the bridge of his nose and cursed softly under his breath.  "E-excuse me a moment, I need to handle something.  I'll be back in a moment," he offered an apologetic smile to Casey and left in a hurry.  So far, she had to admit, this wasn't the worse date she'd ever had...

Spoiler

Horatio left the scene for a moment.  He's off to talk on his phone and prying in the conversation is possible.  Maya and Mel are the two prime candidates for the attempt, since Ms. D'Sombra wants a word with Casey.

There's nothing saying you have to do anything.  I'm just giving you options.  Social gatherings in PBPs tend to have to happen in small little chucks of events, especially since the PCs don't really have much to do with each other yet aside from smile awkwardly at one another since they're all pretty much strangers still.

As for Maya and her little awkward self... have fun with being here for twenty minutes and already being elevated to VIP status by one of the wealthiest women in New York and getting a column in the gallery's newsletter.  I'll leave it to you to try to explain that to Coleen.

Casey, make a friend!

Mel, get your ass back to work.  Break time's over.

 

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Mrs. D'Sombra's instructions caused the parade-ground reflex buried in Mel to respond, causing him to defer and step back before he realized: "Ma'am? How do you know my name?" Odd, but not like it was a problem was it? Mel just needed his curiosity settled (or was it paranoia satisfied) and then it was back to patrolling.

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The raven haired socialite paused in attracting Casey's attention for a chat and gazed at Mel, visibly irritated.  He expected no less from a woman as obviously stuck up as her.  "Did Conner's not tell you?  You work for me, Mr. Grimson.  Who do you think set up the capital for Mr. Conner's little security business, hmm?"

An arrogant smirk formed on her lips.  "Oh, he didn't tell you did he?"  She chuckled.  "Hmph, figures."

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"I see. Ma'am." Mel gave her a professional nod and turned around to continue patrolling again. Food for thought, he determined, but then again, it made sense Brent left that out. After all, this was a one time gig, not an extended contract - then again, Brent Connors probably didn't tell her that - Mel only worked for her until the end of the night.

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Casey's head swam. The pressure of the job, the 'date' with Horatio, and now this. The dream came back and the color draine dfrom her face, the wound in her back sent out radiating burning pain, at least she thought it did. She looked at Mrs. D'Sombra's face it was normal but she imagined as she had just seen it, a glimpse of something from hell, or the depths of her own twisted psyche. What the fuck was going on with her?

She drained her glass as Horatio excused himself and stared numbly as Mr Grimson questioned the wealthy benefactor and was promptly put in his place. Then as Mrs. D'Sombra dismissed Mel from her thought and walked away she gestured, rather impatiently, for Casey to follow. Casey looked around fro a place to set her glass down and didn't see anything so she carried it in her left hand and sort of held it behind her out of sight then followed  Mrs. D'Sombra to where she had stopped a little ways off.

"How can I help you Mrs. D'Sombra, I hope nothings wrong with the catering service." She said shoving all her fear and sudden insecurity way down and putting her best litigator foot forward.

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She replied with a dismissive look in her eyes and a curl at the corner of her lips.  "Pff, I care nothing for the catering, but if you must know I have to admit your people are well trained, polite and excel at what they do.  A direct reflection of exemplary leadership, no doubt."  Just as she expected Ms. D'Somba spoke fast, real fast, like a working woman with fifty million things to do and no time to do them all.

"No," she took Casey's flue from her and set it on the tray of a man passing by.  He stopped like a robot the moment he noticed her.  She selected another, full flue and handed it to the buxom barista.  "I did a background check on you, Ms. Mason.  Standard procedure for anyone working one of my functions."

"I thought Mr. Mourne set all this up.  Help me understand, I'm a little confused."  Casey graciously excepted the champagne.  Even if she didn't intend on drinking it, she learned long ago to just pretend like she was infinitely thirsty and functions such as this one.

"That is correct, but only in part."  Ms. D'Sombra went on.  "Mr. Mourne set all this up, yes.  That's his job, but the studio, the artists, the art... all mine.  We often work together to organize these little events, but where he has limits within his job for the state... I," she pressed the tips of her perfectly manicured black polished nails to her exposed neckline.  "Do not.  If Manhattan has a Boss, a C.E.O., a Queen if you feel like being dramatic... it's me."

"But enough of that, you, Ms. Mason... youYou are the city's most over qualified barista.  Promising law career, in your rather short stint in law you were undefeated, brilliant, some said, I should know, I spoke to a lot of people that worked with you.  Then one day, poof.  You walk away from it all," that predatory grin rose in her cheeks once more.  "There is a story in there somewhere.  You're a powerhouse, Ms. Mason, a woman who gets things done.  A woman willing to suffer now for the pay off later and I... I admire that.  We could do a lot, you and I, but first we need to spray away the stray that's following closely on your heels."  She looked down, "Which are marvelous, by the way.  Macy's?  I saw a pair just like that there not to long ago..."

She waved away the distraction she sudden;y just caused for herself and met Casey's gaze once again.  "Neither here nor there, look, ask yourself something: why would a wealthy man, who has never been in your shop before suddenly come in and offer me a ton of money I just happen to need?  Let me guess, he and his son, no... father used to come in there a lot before you came to run the place?"  She nodded.  "Yes, I would have gone with 'father'.  I'll bet also that you didn't see, or hear, or dream things until the day he walked into your life, did you?"

"Well, there's my pitch.  Should give you a lot to think about and before you have a chance to barrage me with questions, I'm going to leave in a hurry like some vague prophet in a poorly written movie, but this is my event and I do have to keep moving.  Were I you, however, I'd start wondering if my friends are precisely who they say they are."  She shot her a fanciful wink and a smile.  "It was a pleasure, dear."  True to her word, Ms. D'Sombra slapped Casey with a bombshell and strolled off in a hurry to meet an greet even more people.

It was starting to look like one more drink wasn't going to be enough.

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