Among Humans

Takes place the same night as the Prince's meeting.

The invite to the party had come several weeks ago. For weeks Lilly had been planning, planning what to wear, how she would do her hair, what makeup she would use. The planning, however, didn’t stop there. She planned how she would act, what she would respond to questions and who she would speak to the most.

She currently though sat on the end of her bed with Hope; her ghoul’s neck exposed and Lilly drank from her. She needed to feed before heading out and both Lilly and Hope knew that the warm blood which came directly out of the veins of the ghoul was better than drinking blood bags. The feed was large enough to leave Hope slightly weak so Lilly told her to lay down on the bed and gave her one of the blood bags to feed off of.

“You can take it easy for the rest of the night. I need to attend this party alone.” Of course, Lilly, saying alone meant Harold would be in the car waiting for her but the kind of party Lilly was going to was one that not many vampires dared to attend, and no ghouls, as it was far too easy to break the masquerade if one wasn’t careful.

There were still three hours left but Lilly needed to start getting ready; if would take her that long. The woman knew that all the primogens and their seconds were at the meeting with the prince. She was curious about what was going on at that meeting but being she fell into none of the categories to be invited she would just have to wait to see if the new primogen for the Tordeors filled the rest of the clan in on anything or if it just trickled down to others, fortunately for Lilly, she was one of the first to know anything that she needed to.

Besides, she had other things to do tonight. This party would, unofficially, kick off the holiday party season. It was extremely exclusive, only about 50 people or so, and Lilly had spent years working her way into the groups that would allow her access to such parties. Groups of the elite. While the same could be said of the vampires she mostly associated with, this particular party wasn’t of Lilly’s kind. It was, instead, a human party. An elite human party of the top people of New Orleans society; even the mayor was supposed to be there.

Lilly put on enough make to cover the natural pallor that accompanied all vampires’ skin; hers really just made her look very fair, but still, she didn’t want anyone to mistake her for being sick. She put her hair in a swept-up look and then made her way to her dress. By the time, she got to this point, Hope had fed, was feeling fine, and had begun to help Lilly get ready. Lilly got on her black evening dresswith her black pumps and a platinum and diamond jewelry set. She looked like someone with money but not so overstated she’d stand out; well as much as Lilly didn’t stand out anyway. She always thought people paid attention when she entered a room and, for humans anyway, that wasn’t an understatement. It was had been said, in the past, she drew their attention with her beauty, like a rose, which was why she was given the nickname ‘The Rose of The French Quarter’. It was really no wonder that Lilly had a bit of an inflated ego and part of the reason she didn’t particularly like it when others either didn’t see it or didn’t care; like Colette.

It did take her long enough to get ready that by the time she was it was time to go. Lilly got into the car with Harold driving and headed to the party. The party was held, slightly outside of town, in an area with old plantation homes which had all had a lot of money invested into them to restore them but also allow them more modern conveniences. Lilly lived in such a home, in the same general area, so the party wasn’t that far away from her home.

When she arrived there were some cars pulling up, some behind her, and others parked. In other words, she wasn’t the first nor the last partygoer to arrive; which meant her timing was perfect. Harold didn’t need to help her out of the car as there were servants waiting there to do just that. Her door was opened and she exited the car and was escorted into the manor and into a large room where a few dozen people were standing around drinking cocktails and making small talk. She knew it was a small talk by the fact that the engagement level was slight. She could do both of these things and one of the servers came to her and asked her for a drink order to which she quickly glanced around and it seemed the majority were drinking martinis. “An appletini.” That was still a popular drink among this crowd. She then made her way around trying to figure out who she should start a conversation with and found him; Mr. Dwight Leham.
This man was basically the unofficial, head of the city council and if Lilly wanted to meet the mayor for more than a quick greeting she would have to speak to this man.

Fortunately, there was someone she did know also speaking to Mr. Leham. Raphael Denzen, a man that Lilly had charmed on more than one occasion to escort her back to her place. Raphael was the heir to an extreme fortune and one of the richest people in New Orleans.

“Lilly, it’s good to see you,” Raphael said as Lily approached the group of four people who were standing together.

“Yes, Lilly I’m so glad you could come.” The second person that spoke was Maureen Whitaker. The host of tonight’s affair; along with her husband Bruce Whitaker. They were both philanthropists who hosted parties, like this, to raise money for some cause or others. This particular gathering was to raise money for The New Orleans Museum of Art. They both had money from their families but Maureen was an expert at investing and had managed to increase their fortune greatly.

“Thank you for inviting me. Your home is lovely with all the decorations for the holidays” Lilly expressing nothing more than a standard thing to say among polite society.

“Thank you,” Maureen said. “Oh, have you met, Claudia? Claudia this is Lillian Foster. Lillian is a collector of all sorts of artwork and antiques. Lillian this is Claudia Mince. Claudia is the owner of Cresent City Auctions.”

That got Lillian’s attention. Cresent City Auctions was known for getting all kinds of high-end collectible items from everywhere but they specialized in unusual antique pieces from New Orleans, Lillian had been to a few of their auctions and had spent a lot of money with them but there were rumors about secret, more exclusive auctions which were by invitation only. Auctions which were of, perhaps, particular importance to Lilly because of what they might offer. She was pretty sure the auctions existed and now she could work some of her particular skills to get an invite. This might be better than meeting the mayor. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Mince.” She smiled at the woman. “I have spent a great deal of time at Cresent City Auctions.”

Claudia returned the smile. “Ms. Foster. It’s always a pleasure to meet the woman who managed to outbid everyone for The Blue Dancers.”

Some people were unaware of the fact that the artist Edward Degas spent some time in New Orleans. The Blue Dancerswas one of his sought out paintings so when Lilly had seen it at the auction, she snatched it up, no matter the cost.

“Well, it’s always a pleasure to meet the head of the auction house that managed to get The Blue Dancers so they could sell it to me,” Lilly responded. “But please call me Lilly.”

“Well, then Lilly, call me Claudia.”

The two women had made a connection and one that Lilly would seek out more of, a little later in the night. Maureen then said. “I don’t believe you’ve met Dwight. Dwight Leham, Lillian Foster. Lillian Foster, Dwight Leham. Dwight is…”

Lillian politely stopped Maureen from going on. “I believe anyone who has lived in New Orleans long enough should be well aware of who Mr. Lehman is. After all, he is a member of the City Council.”

“Please call me Dwight, Ms. Foster.” He gave her a friendly smile. “ While that might be true not everyone is that into local politics, these days.”

“Oh, call me Lilly. And that is sadly true but I am very interested in local politics. I feel they are very important.” Did Lilly really care about local politics? Not really, but she did care about who the important players in New Orleans were, and that involved knowing who the politicians were and enough about the political climate of the area to talk about it without giving away she didn’t really care.

“Well, good to know.” The conversation carried on from there. Lilly made a connection with Dwight who introduced her to his wife when she came over but even more of a connection was made with Claudia.

Time progressed, more people came in, more people came over to the group that Lilly had been talking with, introduced themselves or Maureen introduced them. Maureen eventually made her way to mingle with other people. It was about 40 minutes into the cocktail hour, which always lasted longer than an hour at these things when in through the doors of the room came two rather large men. They seemed to survey the room and then speak into microphones on their jackets. Everyone got quiet as it was clear what was about to happen and in walked Desiree Cantrell, the mayor of New Orleans along with her husband. Maureen and her husband, Bruce were the first to greet the couple. This took everyone’s attention for about thirty seconds but it was a party of exclusive people who were used to meeting with all kinds of people; so they weren’t crowding around the mayor who began to mingle with various groups.

Lilly asked Claudia if she wanted to meet some other people and the two of them began to make their way around the party. There were a few celebrities that were from the area, many people of wealthy backgrounds, and some politicians. That was mostly the makeup of the night. Lilly spotted the Mayor speaking with Dwight, this was her chance. So, she made her way back to Dwight with Claudia.

“Mrs. Mayor, ma’am. Have you met Lillian Foster and Claudia Mince?” Dwight asked. Introductions were made and the two women spent several minutes speaking with the mayor. Lillian wanted in on the Mayor’s inner circle mostly because if there was any break in the masquerade that would begin to make humans suspicious the mayor and the mayor’s inner circle would be some of the first people to know about that. She just had to figure out a way that didn’t involve her being an actual politician.

She was able to fake sipping her appletini for most of the hour and then the group was escorted into an even larger room with tables set up. It was time for dinner. As luck would have it, Lilly and Claudia were seated next to each other. Dinner is where things would get tricky for most vampires. It wasn’t easy to fake eat dinner and most vampires couldn’t really eat the food. Lilly, however, had discovered long ago she had the ability to eat food. Not digest it but put it in her mouth and swallow it. It was an extremely useful skill when dealing with humans as much as she did.

So, she did just that. Dinner was crab stuffed mushrooms, shrimp creole style, rice, and a few other creole-based foods. Dessert was a variety of pastries from, ironically enough, from Pasticceria which was the bakery owned by the Giovanni. She made it through dinner but then had to excuse herself. Eat not digest meant she had to find some place to throw up all that food where she wouldn’t be found out; she did manage to find such a place. Sneaking her way, outside, she walked a little way into the woods and managed to get rid of all the food. Then rinsed her mouth out with a small bottle of mouthwash she kept in her purse and went back into the party.

By the end of the night, she had made connections with several people, including the Mayor, she’d have to work more on that part of things later. However one person, in particular, chose to go home with her. She pulled Claudia aside and asked her to come home with her. Claudia agreed. Claudia just told her driver to go home and they went back to Lilly’s and Claudia and Hope met and soon enough the three were making their way up to Lilly’s bedroom.

When morning came, Lilly got the invite she wanted to one of Claudia’s exclusive auctions. She also figured that Claudia might warm her bed again, at some point. She got Harold to drive Claudia home but before she did manipulate Claudia into believing what Lilly wanted Claudia to believe about what had happened the previous night.

Things were all falling into place for Lilly’s plans. She would always make sure she got what she wanted.

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