It Was A Dark & Stormy Night...

Deep Ellum

Just a few blocks from Downtown, Deep Ellum acts as the arts and entertainment district of the city. With a myriad of live music venues, theaters, and a few small galleries, it has become the nightlife hot spot for the city. In addition to the usual arts, the area is prone to graffiti art and murals, some of which appear overnight.

Deep Ellum is also becoming known as Vampire Central, thanks to the city's first and only vampire accommodating establishment - the Hotel Carmilla.

The rain has come again to Dallas, and tonight's storm is more about drenching rain than it is about thunder or lightning. There are a few rumbles of thunder now and then, but it's mostly just heavy rain. The lights are on in Desiree's dance studio, and she's grateful for the dark red awning over the front door. Problem is, what she's wanting is in the dumpster around the side of the building. She only needs a small piece of wood in order to shim up a bookshelf, to make it less wobbly. There's wood in the dumpster, cast off from the renovations. Difficulty in acquiring said piece of wood is the fact the dumpster is in the parking lot, and with this rain, she's gonna get wet in a hurry.

"Oh, what the hell, I won't melt," she tells herself, moving to the edge of the awning. A large, sturdy umbrella is opened, and she's stepping out into the deluge. Her feet and legs get wet, but the rest of her stays relatively dry. She makes it to the dumpster, but with a broken arm, it's near impossible to hold the umbrella and open the lid at the same time.

"Well, damn, damn, double damn, triple damn, damn!" she curses. Loudly. It may be muffled by the rainfall, but she's not trying to be discreet here. At any rate, she can easily be seen from the street, if anyone is crazy enough to be out in this rain.


Is it raining? As Darcy walks down the city sidewalks, the man appears to be untouched by the weather. Despite not carrying an umbrella, his suit does not appear wet and his hair remains immaculate rather than soaked by the deluge. He passes the front entrance of Studio 10 and, hearing the cursing expletives, rounds the corner to investigate. A wry, thin smile spreads across his red lips at the sight of Desiree fumbling with the garbage bin.

"I always thought it was the custom that men remove the waste refuse, hm?" Darcy's crisp voice easily carries across the night air, and is unaffected by the inclement weather with its pattering rain drops. "Do forgive the pun, but you most certainly look as if you could use a hand."


Startled by the unexpected voice, Desiree spins around. Well, at least she gives it an honest effort, but there's oil on the asphalt and mixed with water, it's slippery. With one incapacitated arm, the umbrella goes sideways while Desiree tries to regain her footing. Within a moment, she's at least half drenched. Fortunately, the dumpster is within reach and she can grab onto it to prevent a total fall.

"You think— ?" she says, knowing she looks particularly clumsy and decidedly ungraceful. "If you're offering, I'm accepting." She tries to right herself, but she's off balance, getting a face full of cold rain. "There's a cup of hot coffee in it for you," she offers by way of a bribe. Grinning in spite of herself, she's forced to laugh at her predicament. "And a dry towel."


"You seem as if you might benefit from the towel more than I," Darcy answers. Even footsteps take him closer to Desiree, and with a casual movement of his right arm he reaches out and steadies the woman. The other hand lifts up the lid to the garbage bin without any apparent effort. "What is it you are attempting to discard? That umbrella?" No other refuse is nearby.


"Oh, thanks," Desiree says once she's standing on her own again. "I'm not discarding, I was looking for a small piece of wood. I need to shim up a bookcase that's gone wobbly on me. Doesn't need to be huge, just about an inch or so." She demonstrates with her index finger and thumb. "Thought it would be easier than this." She turns toward the dumpster. "If you could just hold the lid open, I won't be but a moment.

True to her word, the dumpster is full of construction waste, and she grabs a small piece of 1" x 3" wood. "Got it. If you're interested in that coffee, c'mon with me." She quickly takes the umbrella, trying to cover both of them as she heads for the awning. Once in the relative dry, she smiles. "Thanks so much." The front door is opened, and she moves inside. No need for him to be invited; it's a public place, after all.

Studio 10

Two of the walls in Studio 10's lobby are painted dark red, and decorated with photographs and posters of past student recitals. The other two walls are large, plate glass windows: one overlooks the street, the other the studio itself. Two comfortable, white leather sofas are set at 90-degree angles, with a large bamboo plant in the corner between them. Hanging baskets of spider plants add more soft green to the lobby. The floor is carpeted in black, with dark red accent rugs. A coffee table in front of one couch is covered with dance-related magazines.

Through a glass door is the dance studio itself. Mirrors line two of the walls, while another is floor to ceiling windows overlooking oak trees. On the mirrored walls are two sets of wooden barres, one set at the perfect height for younger students. The second is more suitable for older dancers. A state of the art sound system sits on glass enclosed shelves, with a myriad of music CDS (classical ballet to salsa). Two separate dressing rooms open off the eastern end of the studio, bracketed by two wooden doors. One is marked "Office," while the second is designated as "Private," and opens onto a set of stairs leading up to the second floor apartment.

Darcy follows Desiree without word or incident. He does not seem bothered by the rain, or even happy to get out of the deluge. "Most kind of you to offer," the vampire answers as he enters the building. "I should say it is a nasty business seeing a woman walking around with a damaged arm. Like a chick with a broken wing, yes? Terribly unfortunate. Do you not have someone to do these things for you, hmm?" He keeps walking alongside her as they move further inside.


"Oh, I usually manage all right by myself," Desiree says, heading into what appears to be a laundry area. "Here," and she brings out a big, fluffy towel for him, and one for herself. "I'm pretty self-sufficient, even with a broken wing. It helps me do the funky chicken," and she flops the casted arm up and down like a bird. At least she thinks it's funny, and chuckles as she's drying her hair and face. "I'm Desiree, by the way."

She moves across the room, kneeling in front of a large, empty bookshelf. Easily shoving it back against the wall, she leaves a small gap under one side. Once the wood's placed beneath it, the bookcase stands sturdy. "There. Now how about that co— ?" She stops short, taking her first good look at the man's pallor. "Maybe I'd better make that a TruBlood…" she says soberly, and just a little nervously. "No offense, of course."


Bemusement plays across Darcy's eyes as he considers Desiree. "Your familiarity with my kind, it seems, makes it quite difficult for us to remain … unnoticed. A pity. I never enjoyed being public about my, ahem, condition, you understand?" The towel is not accepted; it does not appear necessary, for Darcy miraculously appears to be entirely dry. He calmly walks across the lobby floor, and folds his left hand behind his back. "You are not afraid of me? I should presume most humans have a natural fear of the vampire."


Desiree remains stationary for a long moment, then holds her head erect as she moves toward the inner studio. Signs of construction are everywhere, but the parts which are finished are quite stunning. "With good reason, I imagine," she replies. "Some vampires can be daunting in their … inhumanness. It's off-putting, to say the least, if not terrifying." She turns to look at the man, a wry expression on her face. "I volunteer down at the AVL, so you could say I'm familiar with your … kind, yes."

A few more steps takes her to the office door. "It's more comfortable in here. You'll pardon me if I fix myself something hot to drink? I'm freezing." Desiree moves into the office, leaving Darcy to follow or not as he pleases. Once inside, she begins setting up the coffee-maker for herself. "The offer of a TruBlood was genuine." She doesn't indicate why she has TruBlood in her small refrigerator. "To answer your question— is there a reason I should be afraid of you?" she asks, her eyes glancing toward a slender wooden letter opener on her desk.

Studio 10 — Office

The office is neat and decorated in shades of blue and off white. The walls have white oak paneling from the floor to the wainscoting, and are egg-shell above. Autographed photographs of famous dancers decorate one wall, while on the other are certificates and diplomas for the studio instructors. A window has royal blue velvet curtains, and is shaded by one of the few live oaks left in this part of town. An antique desk sits in front of the window, the top covered in a protective layer of glass. A computer and combination phone and fax machine sit on one side of the desk, while the other side has the obligatory "in and out" tray. Two antique chairs sit in front of the desk, the backs and seats upholstered in velvet which matches the drapes.

The floor is carpeted in pale blue that compliments the darker blue accents. Behind the desk are low filing cabinets, with an attractive flower arrangement centered in front of the window. A desk lamp and a small crystal chandelier provide illumination. Next to the door is a table which holds a coffee-maker, stirrers, sugar packets and small containers of cream. Above this is a shelf holding cups and saucers. A waste basket sits underneath. All in all, a very pleasantly appointed office for handling studio business.

Darcy's eyes follow Desiree's to the wooden letter opener on the desk as he follows her inside the Office. "You invite me for a TruBlood, and now you have designs to stake me to death?" Darcy asks. The vampire is clearly amused. He moves with a natural, casual grace and seats himself in one of the antique chairs. "Terrible manners, my dear. I should not attempt it either Desiree. Whilst I am unsure what they taught you at the AVL, I can assure you that our kind are considerably fast." Having settled himself into his seat, Darcy knits his long fingers together and folds his hands in his lap. "My name is William Pemberly, and I should be very happy to accept your offer of a TruBlood. Unless you propose to stake me to death, of course?"


Desiree doesn't bat an eye. "Oh, you can have both, if you'd like," she quips, moving to the fridge. She brings out a bottle of AB+ and offers it wine steward style. "Sorry, it's all I have. I don't keep a large selection on hand." As for the letter opener, she nods. "Well, I might not come at you from the front, you know. We humans have been known to ambush from behind a time or two." Her lips quirk into a smirk. "But, as long as you comport yourself as the gentleman you appear, there's no need to worry." The aroma of fresh coffee fills the office.

"Thank you for the assistance tonight, Mr. Bemberly. It was greatly appreciated." Desiree pours herself a mug of coffee, adds cream and sugar. Lots of cream and sugar. Sitting behind the desk, she takes an appreciative sip. The letter opener is left where it lies. "So, satisfy my curiosity. How is it you're able to be out in the greatest gathering of water since the Flood and not get wet. A thousand supermodels want to know your secret."


"I would have to kill them," Darcy answers with a pleasant smile. "It is not a trick mortals are likely to imitate; not so long as they presume to remain mortal, so to speak." His brown eyes glance at the cold bottle of synthetic blood. "Do you happen to have one of those microwave devices?" he asks, looking disgusted. "It is not really a beverage that can be served cold." The vampire raises his eyes toward Desiree, and silently awaits her reply.


"I do, and I wasn't planning to serve it to you cold," Desiree replies, moving to the small microwave on a shelf near the coffee-maker. "It's only revenge that's served cold— although I would think revenge is best served warm and dripping, but that's just me." She sets the timer for 30 seconds, and removes the bottle then the bell chimes. "Do you prefer the bottle or a glass?" she asks, nodding to a tumbler sitting next to the microwave. "It's clean."

Once William states his preference, Desiree will hand over the TruBlood, then return to her desk and her coffee. "I've not seen you in Bloody Mary's before. Are you new to Dallas?" she inquires politely. "Not that I go there often. I prefer the atmosphere of Absinthe, myself."


Darcy accepts the glass of warm, synthetic blood from Desiree. As the vampire sips the beverage, he tries not to reflect upon the absurdity of this domesticated situation. "Yes, I am newly arrived. I have visited that place before, but I must admit that I do not prefer it to the other nightspots in this city." A dark gleam flashes across Darcy's brown eyes, if only for a moment, before he asks, "What, might I enquire, happened to your arm?"


Desiree lifts her head from her coffee, watching Darcy closely for a long moment. "An unfortunate encounter with…" There she stops. A moment passes, and then she simply shrugs. "…a ladder. As you saw tonight, I can be incredibly clumsy." There's something in her tone which doesn't quite ring true, and she doesn't meet his eyes. In fact, she stares mostly into her coffee mug, as if remembering something else entirely. "Suffice to say, it'll heal." Of course, the bandage on her neck is a dead giveaway that she's not being truthful. "I'd really rather not talk about it. I'm a bit embarrassed, considering I'm a dance instructor. We're paid to be graceful, you know."

Desiree continues to sip her warm coffee, much as Darcy sips his TruBlood. "So how do you find our fair city, then? Is it different than other places you've visited? I assume you're from England originally." A pause, then a soft smile. "From your accent, I'd say Hyde Park, where all the wealthy families live."


"I owned a very respectable house near Kensington Gardens," Darcy answers. "It was not until some time later that Hyde Park became preferable." He has left the discussion of her injuries alone, knowing quite well the truth behind the falsehood. In fact, he is the only one possessing the actual knowledge. Instead of speaking on the matter any further, Darcy takes another sip from the synthetic blood. "Dallas has its purpose, I suppose. An interesting colonial stop, but I should wonder whether it possesses any actual longevity. Bit of rubble and ruin in fifty years, if you ask my opinion. Now San Fransisco or New York? These are cities with a natural place in America. They serve an economic and a cultural purpose. Dallas? We shall see."


There's a flash of something akin to offense in Desiree's eyes at his commentary on Dallas, but other than pressing her lips together, there's no outward expression of it. "Dallas is actually one of the largest cities in America," she says smoothly, setting her empty mug aside. "It's a hub of business, social and cultural interests, not to mention being a center for education, research and history." She stops, realizing there's no use in defending her hometown. "I've been to both New York and San Francisco, and while they're nice places to visit, I'd not want to live in either. New York is simply too big and crime-ridden, and everyone in San Francisco is waiting for the city to slide into the bay. I prefer the earth to not move beneath my feet."

She smiles, shaking her head. "All cities will be rubble someday. They'll be destroyed by Mother Nature or in some insane war, but either way, they'll all end up crumbling ruins with people scrambling through the debris trying not to starve. A rather bleak prospect for mankind's future, but more practical than a utopian society as predicted by Milton, was it?"


"Milton?" Darcy answers. "Never much cared for that old codger in school. Headmasters favorite, you see." He finishes the glass of TruBlood and, putting the empty vessel on the desk, stands from his seat. "Thank you for your hospitality, Desiree. Perhaps we shall have the opportunity to speak again, yes? I hunger for something a bit more … substantial." With these words, Darcy is gone! He has left the building with such speed, he might as well have vanished in a puff of smoke.


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