Note for DST Players
This story is out-of-character unless one of the Storytellers tells you otherwise. And if they do, believe that I will go to them for confirmation.

Mattie ordered herself another glass of wine and wondered when the man seated before her would get to the point. He was a handsome enough fellow, in a blonde, cadaverous way, she supposed, but she had plans for the evening, and they didn't include vampires.

Earlier in the day, she had decided to celebrate her recent return to London, and the successful conclusion of a series of Sunday features with a good meal and perhaps a bit of friendly prowling in the classier sort of singles bars (as far as such a thing existed). However, she was accosted by Anthony Johnson, one of the less flamboyant Toreador in the city, in her favorite Italian restaurant, just as her entree arrived.

Now her veal parminagna was cooling and Johnson was dancing around a very obvious point. With her good mood on the verge of collapsing, Mattie decided to get to the point for him.

"As a matter of fact, I don't have a Domitor, Mr. Johnson. I work for myself, and the Prince knows it."

Johnson seemed startled by that - as far as a vampire could show any emotion. A carefully shaped eyebrow was raised and he made a momentary show of brushing invisible lint from his shirt cuff.

"I see." he commented. This was turning out better than he had hoped. "And are you looking for an...employer at the moment?"

"No, Mr. Johnson, I'm not." Mattie answered bluntly, turning her attention to her dinner before it became completely unappetizing.

And better, yet..."Oh, call me Anthony, please. I hope I didn't offend." Johnson smiled, turning on the charm, while peering at her aura for the third time. It simply confirmed what he had already seen - that this woman was a ghoul, and, at the moment, a little irritated.

Mattie realized that being snippy with this vampire - any vampire - was never the wisest move. Especially for a ghoul who lived from paycheck to paycheck. "It's alright, Anthony." she sighed. "If you're looking for help, I'll be available at the end of the month."

Johnson nodded, and continued to pour on the charm. Nights like this, he was so happy he was Toreador. "Well, why don't you let me buy your dinner, and catch you up on court gossip." he offered. "I don't think I've seen you there, so I'm sure there's lots I could tell you."

Mattie's expression softened from peevishness to guarded interest, as Johnson had thought it might. What ghoul would turn down the chance to hear of goings-on at court? She took a sip of her wine and nodded. "Alright. You do that."

An hour later, Anthony and Mattie emerged from the restaurant of their meeting. True to form, the spring weather was being unpredictable and, for once, the sky was clear. Mattie, her head slightly fuzzy from the wine and influx of court gossip - a surprising amount of it potentially bankable - gazed at the seething traffic, trying to spot an empty taxi.

Anthony watched her with a restrained smile. Their talk, once he had gotten past her initial prickliness, had gone quite well, and, like most humans, Mattie seemed quite unaware of how he had steered her state of mind. Now for the tricky part...

"Where are you going?" he asked politely, pretending to also look for a taxi.

"Centro's." Mattie replied. It was the somewhat-classy singles place that she liked to visit from time to time.

Anthony nodded. He knew the place by reputation. It was a popular feeding ground amongst his fellow neonates. He wasn't surprised that Mattie was heading there, as, like many ghouls, they tended to indulge their most human passions with abandon.

"That dive?" he replied lightly. "You don't want to go there." he pronounced.

Mattie glanced at him, suspicious. "I don't? Then where do I want to go, Mr. Johnson?"

"Drat, she's back to formality." he sighed, glancing down the road. The traffic was light, and there were no pedestrians passing by. He smiled at Mattie and unleashed the full force of his Toreador advantages. "Come with me." he told her simply. "I know a much better place."

For the second time that night, he was surprised as Mattie stepped back with a slight shake of her head. "I'm a ghoul, not a blood bag." she told him, the firmness of her words a tad undermined by the slight wobble in her step.

Anthony rolled his eyes in genuine frustration. "I'm not suggesting that." he assured her. "You're a ghoul, yes, so you're far too useful to feed from. I was just going to tell you that I have some more sensitive information for sale, and I didn't want to bring it up in there." he nodded towards the restaurant.

Mattie regarded him speculatively. She knew the wine was fuzzing her perceptions, but there wasn't much she could do about that. She quickly considered the probabilities. This wouldn't be the first time a Toreador had used her to spread rumors about the city, and such bargains didn't offend her, as long as they were equitable. He obviously needed her for something, otherwise he wouldn't have baited the hook so juicily during their dinnertime chat.

As Mattie obviously assessed her options, Anthony chose to push a little harder. "It's something that needs to be circulated rather urgently." he told her, correctly guessing at the best strategy. "It could probably pay your way for the next month or two." he wheedled, trying his best to fully Entrance her.

Something must have finally worked, as Anthony saw the decision in Mattie's eyes before she nodded agreement. "Fine. Business is more important, after all." she admitted.

"Indeed."Anthony agreed, careful to keep his fangs from showing in his smile.

Anthony decided to dress things up a little, and took Mattie to one of his favorite apartments, a luxurious flat overlooking the Thames. The opposite bank, a rather dreary collection of wharfs and boatslips, was mercifully hidden by darkness and, at night, was overpowered by the glittering prettiness of Tower Bridge in the distance.

Mattie had a few moments to refuse another glass of wine before she discovered what a bloody stupid mistake talking to Anthony Johnson had been. At his direction, she had turned to admire the view, and now he had moved close to her, wrapping an arm around her waist.

Bloody hell, Mattie thought, irritated. She turned to scold the Toreador, but he took it as an opportunity to pull her close and breath in her ear.

Mattie ignored the shiver that caused and swore vociferously, trying to break free of the vampire's grasp. "Stop it!" she grunted, trying to push him away.

Anthony would not allow any distance between them. This was where his fun began. "Whatever do you mean?" he asked artlessly, kissing Mattie's neck. "Can't I kiss a pretty girl?"

Mattie tried to twist away and failed again. "You're playing with your food." she corrected him, still squirming. "And I'm not food!"

Anthony's smile did not waver, as he continued touching her. "Mattie, Mattie." he chided her. "I said I wouldn't feed from you." he reassured her, lightly biting her ear.

Despite herself - and as he anticipated - she could not repress a flush of response. "You're lying." she protested. "Vampires only do this-" she gasped as his cool hands slid under her shirt, cupping her breasts. "For one reason." she concluded weakly. Christ, why do they have to be so good at it? she thought angrily.

"Give me some credit, dear." Anthony soothed. "You've been reeking of rut since we met." Mattie blushed at the truth of that. "I just thought I'd give you a little of what you wanted. To make up for your ruined plans." he ran a thumb over her hardening nipples, his smile broadening at her gasp. "After all, us Toreadors will keep mimicking human behavior..." he reminded her, still pushing against her reluctance with more than just physical persuasion.

"Oh, shit." Mattie muttered, finally relaxing into Anthony's arms. "If that's want you want..." she sighed, crumbling against the onslaught.

Anthony's expression was smug, as he wrapped one hand in her hair. "Just about, love." he told her.

He bent to her throat and added casually, "Did you know that kindred blood in a human is like sugar in tea?"

Mattie saw a flash of fang as he had bent to her and she spoke quickly. Anthony caught only a fragment of it, but it was enough to make him pause.

"What?" he pulled back, staring at her expression, now suddenly glazed.

"I belong to Francis Urquhart, Ventrue of London." she replied, her tone dull.

Anthony frowned as Mattie's expression slowly cleared. She could be lying, he thought, but she's someone's ghoul... He realized that he was encountering a programmed response to a threat.

Now Mattie was returning to reality and looking back at him, puzzled. "Anthony?" she asked, confused. She wasn't entirely sure what had just happened, but something had obviously caused him to back off, and just when she was getting interested.

Anthony was annoyed. He had promised himself dinner from a ghoul this evening - the kindred blood within their bodies was indeed a tasty condiment - but if this one belonged to Urquhart... His was a name cited by ancilla to frighten neonates, like mothers warning their children of the boogeyman. But unlike the boogeyman, Urquhart was quite real.

Mattie was now quite aware of her situation, and what Anthony had just tried - if not her response. She took advantage of Johnson's distraction and shoved him away. "You bastard!" she shouted. "Why do I even bother-"

Anthony quickly asserted himself. He grabbed Mattie's arm. "Silence."he ordered. Mattie immediately stopped talking. At least that power hadn't failed him, he thought wryly.

Anthony made a quick decision. He didn't like denying himself the slightest thing, but a compromise was best called for in this case. He wasn't going to go to bed without supper.

So much for savoring the evening, he thought bitterly. Jerking Mattie close, he bit into her throat and drank. Mattie moaned at the pleasure of the Kiss, but she was not given much time to enjoy it as he only took enough to make her light headed and quite dizzy. He brusquely pushed her onto a nearby chair and glared at her. "I was hoping to have a nice time with you." he grumbled. "But now you've gone and ruined it all."

"What?" Mattie asked, eyes unfocused. Between alcohol, frustrated desire and blood loss, comprehension was difficult.

Anthony scowled and took Mattie's chin in his hand, forcing her to regard him. "We came back here, we discussed the possibility of my hiring you, but couldn't agree on a price, and you had a little too much to drink. Nothing else happened." he told her firmly.

Mattie blinked. She realized that he was trying to alter her memory, and simultaneously realized that it wasn't working. Disoriented as she was, she knew that this was not the time to enjoy a victory over a vampire. She nodded, hoping he would believe her.

Anthony stepped back, his expression calmer. "I'm so sorry we couldn't work something out, my dear." he said conversationally, taking his celphone from a pocket.

Mattie nodded again. "Well, these things happen." she replied carefully. She noticed that Anthony was calling a cab. "For me?" she asked. Anthony nodded.

"Thanks." Mattie smiled and sagged back in her chair. Being bitten had been....amazing, just like the rumors said. She could admit that to herself, but the side effects were horrible. She felt like she had been awake for three days straight.

Anthony noticed her semi-conscious state, and picked her up, ready to carry her down to the taxi that he knew would pull up within two minutes. "Thanks." she repeated, muttering into his chest as he easily negotiated stairs and hallway to the outside.

The taxi was already waiting, as Anthony expected. He put her inside, handed the cabbie a twenty Pound note and curtly told him to take her home, wherever that may be, and he quickly re-entered his apartment. Had Anthony remained, he would have been surprised to hear Mattie's next words, spoken in a firmer voice than he would have believed possible.

"House of Commons. West Gate. Now."

The black taxi rumbled off into the night.

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