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  #1  
Unread 23rd of April, 2002, 23:59
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Juliet's Preface (IC)

"Good evening, Ms. Montague, Mr. Hamburg will see you now."

Juliet's breath catches in her throat. Steeling herself up for the interview that could change her life, she arranges her basic black suit, glancing quickly in the reflective surface of a framed print to check her hair.

Be cool, be cool, be cool.

This mantra has saved her sanity uncountable times over the last three harrowing weeks.

Three weeks, seems like less than three days ago.

The art-school dumped her gracefully, of course. They were more interested in her tuition money than harnessing her artistic talent, anyway. The morning they found her passed out in the auditorium, the walls and cathedral ceiling painted completely with a twisted, abstract replica of the Sistine Chapel mural, Juliet knew it was over.

She had been out late that night, and blacked out somewhere between Queens and Manhattan. She woke up the next morning, surrounded by faculty and police officers. All she could do was gaze at her creation. It would have taken any normal person months to accomplish. Yet she had covered the entire auditorium with graphic images of such debauchery that immediate expulsion was the only recourse.

Luckily, or perhaps fatefully, she ran into Gavin. As she was being led out of the auditorium in handcuffs, he was sitting nonchalantly on the marble steps. A few kind words to the officers and faculty, and she was unshackled and riding in his car to a coffeehouse.

They talked for days, Juliet absorbing as much information as she could. When the week was over, he gave her two business cards, 10 hundred dollar bills, and a plane ticket to Mercury, Arizona.

The first card was of a graphic designer in Phoenix, with whom she was staying currently. An old friend of Gavin's, he was kind but distant, and she had no compulsion to stay longer than she needed to. The second card brought her to this office, Mr. Max Hamburg. An avid art collector and photography/art editor for many local magazines and newspapers, Hamburg had requested a formal interview with Juliet after seeing her portfolio.

It did seem odd that the interview was taking place at 8 p.m., but Hamburg's assistant swore it was the earliest convenient time for such a meeting.

Walking into Hamburg's office, Juliet is greeted by a young gentleman, dressed impeccably in a light grey suit. His steel-grey eyes seem to look deep into her soul, and every nuance of his being screams class and power.

"Good evening, Ms. Montague, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Please sit down, may I offer you anything?"
  #2  
Unread 25th of April, 2002, 06:17
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Juliet swallows hard, her throat suddenly extremely dry and clears her throat.

Just keep eye contact and remember to breath. That's all you really have to do. Your art says the rest.

She looks at Mr. Hamburg with a smile.

"No thank you. I don't think my stomach could handle even water right now."

A nervous laugh passes her lips.

Right. Just tell him all of your weaknesses right now. Great first impression.

He gave her a quick grin that didn't quite reach his eyes and then got right to business, in a clear and clipped voice.

"Do you know why you're here, Ms. Montague?"

Because you think I'm an artistic genius?

She smiled to herself.

Just say what you really think. Dancing around questions never helps.

"You saw something you liked in my work. Perhaps true artistic ability. Or maybe just potential. Whatever it was, something about my portfolio struck a chord with you."

She tried hard to keep all uncertainty out of her voice. She couldn't afford to blow this interview. Money wasn't tight yet but she wanted her own place and what Gavin had given her would not last forever. It was already dwindling fast.

Last edited by Malfunctionk; 25th of April, 2002 at 06:21.
  #3  
Unread 25th of April, 2002, 23:47
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"Yes, you are a most talented artist, but, you are so much more than that..."

Hamburg's gaze penetrates Juliet to her core. She feels a lone bead of perspiration form on her forehead. Hamburg breaks the stare, thumbing through an open folder, which contains reproductions of her best work.

"Tell me, do you have the original of this one?" he holds up a photo of the piece Juliet is most proud of, "the photo is wonderful, but I'd like to see the details in person."

Rummaging nervously through her faux leather portfolio case gives Juliet a moment to turn away from Hamburg. Thankful for the respite from his charm, she takes in three deep breaths before emerging with the painting. Hamburg fixes her with his eyes as she rises, and it seems all the cool she'd built up boils away.

His eyes are deep chocolate-brown, with gold flecks that dance in strange patterns.
  #4  
Unread 26th of April, 2002, 01:09
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Juliet takes a shaky step forward, her eyes never leaving his. The entire room seems to drop away, as she extends her arm out toward him, the painting in her hand. She watches transfixed as the gold flecks move slowly, not noticing when he stands.

What did he say? Before ... it was odd ... I'm a talented artist but-

Mr. Hamburg takes the photo, his hand touching hers briefly. Juliet lets out a small laugh and blushes, losing her train of thought.

What the hell is wrong with me? Control, Juliet. It's called self-control.

She shakes her head a little, breaking off from his stare and sits back down. She takes a sudden interest in the rest of the room, ignoring Hamburg as he studies her painting. His eyes are still burned into her mind and she sees nothing in her search around the office. She tries, once again, to think back to what he had said.

He spoke, interrupting her muddles thoughts again, in that same silky, low voice.

"It's extraordinary, Juliet. The picture doesn't do it ... or you ... justice."

She turns to him, surprised by the use of her first name.

Those eyes ...

"Th-thank you. I ... It's my favorite."

He doesn't care. Say something intelligent.

She finally remembers what it was that had struck her as strange.

"Before ... you said I'm so much more than that ..."

Juliet feels the thought slipping away from her and gets lost in his eyes again, struggling to regain it.

"Than an artist ... or ... I don't know. It's just ... what did you mean?"

What kind of interview is this?
  #5  
Unread 27th of April, 2002, 05:41
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"Yes, while I admire your artistic ability immensely, I am also intrigued by your... gifts. Let me be as straightforward and open as possible," he leans in closer, his exquisitely expensive cologne hits Juliet's nostrils like a bomb of sexual energy.

"I know what you are and what you're capable of, better than you yourself do. I can help you, and you can help me."
  #6  
Unread 30th of April, 2002, 04:35
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Juliet breathes in his scent, her heart beating faster. She hears his last words but it takes a while for them to register.

What I am? I'm just an artist. Like every other struggling one out there. Well, except for ... No, he can't possibly mean that. He couldn't know.

Juliet tries hard to contain herself, leaning back a bit to get away from his smell, the intensity of his eyes.

"I'm sorry Mr. Hamburg, but I don't understand you. I am just a struggling, traveling artist, trying to get some money or maybe even a steady job. Nothing more. If there has been confusion or if you're expecting something else of me, maybe I should leave."
  #7  
Unread 30th of April, 2002, 22:31
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"Please, Ms. Montague, relax. I am not here to make advances on your moral character, nor am I interested in exploiting your various talents. I am proposing a joint venture between two, shall we say, "specially gifted" individuals. Or, did your friend Gavin never mention my unique gifts? Surely you had some idea that he wouldn't send you off to an unknown, dangerous city with no one to help you?"

Juliet, her heartrate decreasing slightly, takes a moment to allow the confessions of Hamburg to sink in. As she concentrates a moment on simply studying his aura, rather than his handsome, exotic features, she notices that he, indeed, has a great deal of magic about him. Not true Magick, but some mystical ability and force inside his stunning frame.

"Ms. Montague?"

Her concentration wavers, and, remembering that this is an interview, after all, she returns to the conversation.
  #8  
Unread 1st of May, 2002, 22:11
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Juliet silently shakes her head at herself.

Can you be a bigger idiot? Or more paranoid?

"Of course that makes sense. Gavin wouldn't send me off without making sure I'm safe. And he sent me here, to you. Of course. I'm sorry, I've only been like ... this ... for a few weeks. My mind is still on overload."

Juliet grins apologetically.

"Of course Ms. Montague. That's understandable."

"Thank you. Now, you said that we could help each other. What is your proposal, exactly?"
  #9  
Unread 1st of May, 2002, 23:23
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"Please do not apologize, dear, for I remember what it was like. Young, fresh, brimming with newfound powers that were, at the same time, uncontrollable and utterly stupefying. I did not have the luxury of friends to guide me and help me. Ever since, I have vowed to help those young souls who have no one else."

Again, those smoldering eyes focus on Juliet, and she feels all her defenses go down. The interplay of the golden flecks on the deep brown mesmerizes and enchants. Her gaze moves to his perfectly shaped lips. As he speaks, she watches the motions of his pearl teeth against those lips. The voice produced by those lips is both calming and commanding, a reassuring voice that, at any moment, could be loving, fatherly, or cruel.

"What I offer is nothing much, really. I offer companionship, access to vast stores of knowledge, and an outlet for your creativity. And all that I ask is that you allow us to learn as much about you and your power as we teach in return. While my 'organization', if you could call it that, has been around for years, we still lack a great deal of information about your kind. I have attempted, in the past, to build connections with others, like Gavin, and yourself, to more fully understand the nature of your abilities."

He flips a few more pages through the portfolio, allowing the silence to build up in the room.
  #10  
Unread 4th of May, 2002, 02:29
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Juliet relaxes and watches Mr. Hamburg as he flips through her portfolio.

"Well, it seems like you can offer me quite a bit. But this agreement seems lopsided. I can't really tell you anything very helpful about what I am. I'm still extremely confused about it myself. The awakening itself is just a jumbled, colorful memory. And since then, I've done nothing but speak with Gavin and travel here. Although, I suppose just watching my progression on this path will be information enough, no?"

"Well, I guess I shouldn't worry about your side of the bargain. You look like someone who knows what he's doing. So, I'll worry about mine. What are these vast stores of knowledge and where does my painting come into this. What will you give me in reference to my art. And most importantly, does it involve buying or selling at all? I still need a job and money and I need to know if I'm going to get that here.

Juliet smiles, glad to be regaining her composure.

The second he looks up, you'll lose it again Juliet. What is it about those eyes?

"I'm being as straightforward as possible at this point. This interview has taken a turn I didn't expect. I was taken off guard a bit."
  #11  
Unread 4th of May, 2002, 04:25
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Still looking through the pages, Hamburg sighs, "Beautiful work, simply beautiful." He lifts the two covers of the portfolio together, so that they slap together in front of his face. The slight distraction is perfectly timed to coincide with his resumed eye contact. Although still mesmerized, Juliet feels more at ease, now that all her cards are on the table.

"Straight and to the point, excellent. I pride myself on those exact qualities, and I require openness and honesty from all my employees, as well as friends."

"Yes, it is true that, while you may have no practical experience with your newfound abilities, you will grow into them. All I ask is that we meet once in a while to discuss your growth. In return for that favor, I openly offer access to my private Library. I have been collecting now for nearly two hundred years, and have a wide variety of texts and references. Others of your kind have found it an invaluable resource, including Gavin."

"On a more mundane, necessary level, I am willing to offer you two opportunities. One, I would like to display several of your works at a small art studio downtown, and several more in an exhibit for local artists at our city's Museum for Modern Art. Two, I offer you a position as an assistant to my buyer. The duties will be simple, and mostly clerical to begin with. You may be required to travel some, but the majority of the work can be done out of your own home office. We do have weekly meetings, every Monday at 9 p.m., which you would be required to attend."
  #12  
Unread 4th of May, 2002, 12:47
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Nearly 200 years? Hmmm ... looks good for his age. I'll have to remember that. Like Gavin said, people aren't usually what they seem and when you've lived almost 2 centuries and look like that, you're probably not just some average Joe.

"On a more mundane, necessary level, I am willing to offer you two opportunities. One, I would like to display several of your works at a small art studio downtown, and several more in an exhibit for local artists at our city's Museum for Modern Art."

This statement knocks any thoughts of Mr. Hamburg's personal life out of Juliet's mind. At least for the moment.

A small art studio and an exhibit at Mercury's Museum for Modern Art. Not too bad for my first week in Mercury.

Juliet tries to suppress the giddy smile at this information as Mr. Hamburg goes on.

"Two, I offer you a position as an assistant to my buyer. The duties will be simple, and mostly clerical to begin with. You may be required to travel some, but the majority of the work can be done out of your own home office. We do have weekly meetings, every Monday at 9 p.m., which you would be required to attend."

A look of doubt covers Juliet's face as she thinks about this offer.

God, I really need this job. But clerical work....

"Your first point sounds excellent to me. I have no problem with you showing my works in either setting. Your second point offers some complications. I've never done clerical work before. Typing, filing, answering phones, whatever that job requires of me. The traveling and weekly meetings offer no problems for me though. And I would be willing to do whatever it takes to learn the skills necessary for this job. But I can also understand if training me isn't worth your time."

Last edited by Malfunctionk; 6th of May, 2002 at 12:18.
  #13  
Unread 6th of May, 2002, 22:28
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"You hold yourself well under pressure, you have a strong personality, the rest will fall in place as you become more accustomed to the work. Besides, my buyer, Scott, is well-prepared and organized. In all reality, I don't see you having to do much in terms of scheduling or bookkeeping. More than likely, you'll be watching him, adding in your own opinions concerning acquisitions and the like.

Know this, I do not work with yes-men, or even yes-women. You will voice your opinion, and your opinion will be given the same weight as anyone else's. I offer you this position based on your artistic talent and vision. The fact that you are Magus is a serendipitous bonus."
  #14  
Unread 7th of May, 2002, 03:29
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"The job you just outlined sounds wonderful. It's better then anything I could have hoped for. Especially so soon in a new city."

Juliet can't quite keep the giddy grin from her face.

After so much struggling in another city, it's amazing that this one has so much to offer me, in so little time. Gavin gets a huge thanks for this one.

"I don't want to sound too eager or excited but if everything is settled and this offer is on the table, I gladly accept it."

"Oh and before I leave here today, I would love to take a quick look at this extensive library you've been telling me about. 200 years is quite a long time, exceptionally long for any normal person, and I'm curious about the things you have collected thus far."
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Unread 7th of May, 2002, 22:44
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"I'm very pleased. I look forward to a long friendship, as well as a prosperous business relationship. We must have a toast..."

He ducks behind the large cherry desk momentarily, and returns with two crystal goblets and a very expensive looking dark red bottle. Pouring two glasses of a deep, rich, red wine, he seems lost in contemplation of the liquid's path into the glass.

He passes a goblet to Juliet, and silently holds his in the air.
  #16  
Unread 8th of May, 2002, 22:34
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Juliet stares at his cup in the air, her own being held gingerly by her small hand.

I don't drink.

Right, I'll just tell him that, set the glass down and be on my way. Great plan. Besides, if I can smoke pot, I can take a small sip of wine to insure my position with him. It's just wine after all.

She gives him a small smile and raises her glass as well.
  #17  
Unread 9th of May, 2002, 00:46
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"To new beginnings, health, life, and art."

He drains the goblet.
  #18  
Unread 9th of May, 2002, 03:44
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Juliet stares at Mr. Hamburg as he drinks his wine and then quickly puts her own to her lips.

Just get it over with.

She tilts her head back and follows suit, draining her entire glass. She tries not to grimace.

God, I hate wine.

"Nice toast."

She gives him a smile.

"And the wine was ... well it was the best I've ever had."

This might have been a bad idea. I never drink alcohol and it's going to go straight to my head. I'm probably going to end this meeting drunk ... off of one glass of wine. Great first impressions.
  #19  
Unread 9th of May, 2002, 05:37
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"Now, dear, that simply isn't true. I told you the truth before when I said I didn't want any yes-people around. The wine was terrible, and you hated it. It's been very expensive vinegar for three years now."

His smile never fades, though, and he collects her used goblet, storing it and the bottle back under his desk. From a small refrigerator behind him, he produces two small bottles of French mineral water. Unscrewing them both, he hands one across the table. The well-manicured hand looks so soft and unmarred, and Juliet briefly imagines its caress against her skin.

"The interview is over, Juliet, you're an advisor now, and, hopefully, a friend. Don't for a moment believe you need to supplicate me or tell me what you think I want to hear. That, again, is not how you earn your living, or how you should live your life. Agreed?"
  #20  
Unread 9th of May, 2002, 08:54
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"Of course. But I must tell you, it wasn't a lie. I don't like alcohol very much but it was in fact the best wine I've had. That might show you how often I drink it."

She grins and then grows serious.

"I do understand what you mean and I will do my best to live by those rules. Hopefully this partnership will benefit both of us, each on our separate quests for knowledge."

She stands now, extending her hand.

"Now, if the interview is over, I should really be on my way. I've got a couple more things I'd like to accomplish today."
  #21  
Unread 9th of May, 2002, 22:56
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"Certainly, I myself have other affairs tonight as well. Say, would you be available for dinner at my house tomorrow night? Scott will be in town, and since the two of you will be working together, you really should meet as soon as possible. And you'll be able to peruse the library we spoke of earlier..."

Hamburg stops mid-sentence as Juliet hears a voice outside the office, talking to the personal assistant.

"I need to see him."

"Mr. Hamburg is in with someone right now."

"I don't care if Ghandi's in there, look at my fucking arm!"

A stunned gasp, followed by a moment of silence.

"Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz", the intercom at Hamburg's side sounds.

Knowing that the other has heard everything by their faces, Juliet and Hamburg share an uncomfortable stare. Hamburg pokes at the intercom, "I assume that is Mr. Trumboldt, Ms. Smith. Please tell him to calm down and meet me in the conference roo-"

"Max, Max goddammit, I will not sit and wait like some peon! I need-"

Raising his ever-charming voice, Hamburg sounds cold and cruel instantly, as he slowly responds, "What I need, Mr. Trumboldt, is for you to wait in the conference room down the hall. I'm with someone very important, and you already owe her an apology for this interruption."

As frantic and harried as the voice sounded before, it's now calmer, more sedate, "Yes, sir, please hurry, sir."

Turning away from the intercom without further answer, Hamburg's nervousness fades as he meets Juliet's gaze once again.

"Dear, I must apologize in advance for Mr. Trumboldt. My financial advisor. Very excitable. Please, I'll have my assistant set up everything for tomorrow night, if that's acceptable?"
  #22  
Unread 10th of May, 2002, 08:21
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"Dear, I must apologize in advance for Mr. Trumboldt. My financial advisor. Very excitable. Please, I'll have my assistant set up everything for tomorrow night, if that's acceptable?"

Juliet stares at the intercom, almost expecting the shrill, urgent voice to erupt out of it again.

"Uh ... yeah, of course. That's fine. I'll, uh, see you then."

She gives him a small smile, shaking his hand again and then steps out of the office. She heaves a sigh of relief and looks inquiringly at the assistant.

"That sounded serious..."

The woman makes a noncommital noise, never looking up from her work.

"Right then. Um, he wanted me to set up something for tomorrow night. Dinner with himself and Scott at his home."

Juliet recieves all the information she needs for tomorrow night, thanks Ms. Smith and walks out of the building.

God, I need a smoke.

She pulls out one of her cigarettes, lights it and takes a long drag.

"Much better."
  #23  
Unread 10th of May, 2002, 09:46
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Even in the still night air, the pervasive heat cuts through Juliet, making the first drag both heavenly and breath-stealingly scorching. As she stands outside the multi-story office building, collecting her thoughts and finishing the cigarette, a long black car pulls up to the curb. The pitch black passenger window lowers, and a dark-skinned driver calls Juliet over.

"Dr. Hamburg asked that I be at your disposal for the night. Is there anywhere I can drive you?"

<ooc: the discrepancy between Dr. and Mr. Hamburg is intentional, and Juliet catches it immediately.>
  #24  
Unread 10th of May, 2002, 19:38
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Juliet notices the sleek car as it pulls up to the curb a couple feet away from her.

Nice car.

She watches, surprised, as the window rolls down and a dark skinned man looks at her, calling her over.

"Dr. Hamburg asked that I be at your disposal for the night. Is there anywhere I can drive you?"

Dr. Hamburg? Doctor? Since when was he a doctor?

She looks at the car again and then back at the driver, the word doctor resonating through her brain.

"Uh, thanks for the offer, but the fresh air feels nice and I feel like a good walk. You know, to stretch out my legs and explore a new city a bit."
  #25  
Unread 10th of May, 2002, 22:23
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"As long as you're sure, ma'am. Dr. Hamburg wanted me to give you this."

He reaches across the seat, holding a white envelope out to her. After she takes it, he tips his hat, closes the window, and drives off. Inside the envelope, which is marked only with her name written in beautiful calligraphy, is a check for $10,000.
 

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