Sylvan Station Suites

The address Marian and Tajana received would take them outside the apartments, but they couldn't go straight up even if they wanted. Neither the GNA nor the mission provider had given coordinates any further than the address for the apartment complex. The apartment building was four stories and looked relatively upscale, bustling with college students that looked like they could afford it. The wives would want to use a visitor parking spot if they were driving. On the other hand, if they were biking for whatever reason, there were plenty of spots in the racks in front of the building. The structure itself was an inviting pastel shade, its several floors having small balconies from sliding doors.

While everyone else seemed to have a place to be, one young lady was sitting on a green pipe park bench, blowing bubble gum and scanning the lot periodically with her eyes before putting them on her faded pink PET again. The girl had straight red hair and freckles, a bright pink tee and trendy blue jeans. Her legs were crossed, her leg tapping, and on further inspection, she had a thin pair of earbuds connected to a jack on her device. She didn't have any book with her, and she wouldn't recognize Tajana or her wife as they approached... this, in spite of the fact that Tajana was likely to stand out, and she should be aware two women were responding to her request.
Marian's car, a four door SUV in a dim gold color, was always a little funny to see Tajana step out of, on the rare occasion that the writer stepped out. Her appearance, clad all in black with a high-necked, button-up dress and some frilled white garment underneath, poking out at the neck and wrists, made her look exceptionally out of place, as it always did. She wore shades, which one might suspect was to help keep ordinary steps out the house from turning into signing sessions, but they were actually due to her sensitivity to sunlight. In many situations she'd also have a parasol, but Marian had insisted that was a bit too much. As she climbed out of the car, she ceased her argument for a minute, not wanting to raise her voice, then went back to whining as she came closer to her partner. "I'm just saying... when you say 'I'm thirty' and then 'Tajana is older than that'... Was there really any reason to tell our age in that post? She's probably wondering how old I am now... She might have even looked it up...!" she protested quietly.

"Uh, if she's such a big super-fan, she probably already knows the whole thing where people joke you're a vampire cause you look ten years younger than you are," Marian pointed out, giggling at her partner's worries. Before she'd gone out the house, she'd changed into a sleeveless orange top, blue jeans, and a white, short-cropped jacket. If she took off the jacket, she might just fit in with the kids... maybe.

"... It's just ten years now?" Tajana asked, her eyebrows lowering with worry behind her sunglasses.

"Gee, what's the matter? Can't handle being thirty?" Marian snapped, rolling her eyes. "Anyway, loosen up. Age is just a number! Plenty of hot actresses are forty, you know?" She probably shouldn't be talking about hot celebrities in front of her partner, but it just sort of slipped out. "Well, moving on... Uh... Thinking about it, did we get any instructions about where to meet Nora other than outside the apartment? I don't even really know what she looks like."

Tajana smiled now, pressing one finger to her temple. "Hm hm... I doubt it will be as difficult to spot her as you're imagining. People who are waiting for an acquaintance have certain mannerisms. We just have to find such a person..." she spoke confidently, then scanned the crowd. Sure enough, there was a girl who fit that description perfectly. Tajana smiled for a moment, her eyes flickering to Marian behind her shades, before she finally cleared her throat. "Sh-She's wearing earbuds... We probably shouldn't disturb her."

"Nooope," Marian scoffed, walking forward with her arms crossed. In her mind, it was a little rude anyway for the person to request for a celebrity to come visit her personally and then not even stay on the lookout for said celebrity. With that in mind, Marian waved her hand in front of the girl's face, her eyebrows tilted up as if she was slightly bemused. "Sorry to interrupt! Are you waiting for somebody?" she asked, clearly intending for the girl to see Tajana standing slightly behind her. "We're here for the 'mission'!" Maria winked, clearly thinking it was probably just going to be something like an autograph signing or a handshake session.
The girl's pale green eyes instantly traveled up to Marian as the woman finally got her attention. She removed her earbuds in a practiced motion, chewing on her bubblegum as she listened. "Woah, are you hitting on me?" she said, cracking an awkward smile. "Oh, no. Sorry, you must be Tajana!" She smiled and extended her hand, leaving it there for a moment or shaking it if Marian extended hers, despite the fact that the name was wrong. "No... whoops. You must be Tajana!" she corrected herself, extending the same hand to the writer she'd just spotted hanging around in the background. "Yep, you have that whole 'vampire novelist' look to you, for sure. How about that? Thanks so much for meeting me. I'm Nora. And that makes you Marian," she said, still smiling as she turned to the other mother. "Cool."

The student continued chewing her bubble gum and glancing at her PET occasionally even as she talked. She didn't seem to have a sense of wonder for meeting the famous novelist, and many might see it as a rude habit to begin with, but it didn't seem intentionally confrontational, either. "So, I'd planned for you guys to surprise my roommate Taylor, and she'd freak out and go crazy, right? But when I saw you guys wanted battlechips, I had to bring her in to help, uh, foot the bill. So, now she knows you're coming. Anyway, plan is the same, I want you to go hang with her for a bit and entertain her hobbies. That's all you have to do to get her cut of the payment."

Nora paused, casting her eyes to Tajana curiously. "But about her hobbies... Taylor's way into, like, magic. And I don't mean like Gupta fake magic tricks, you know? I mean fake-fake like fairies and wizards and spells. And, vampires? I guess? Obviously. She makes good grades and she's got a good personality, but, wow. I don't think she's ever going to find a guy with this hobby. I mean, she writes spells. And then she tries to practice them... and I asked her, like, if they're real why doesn't she use them to make gold for herself or something? And she said she has to conserve her magic for when it's really important. Well... I suspected as much, but when I told her you were coming, it apparently qualifies as 'really important' and she's gonna try to show you some."

Here, for whatever reason, she cast her eyes back to Marian, smiling. "So, for my half of the payment, I'm gonna need you to make her think her spells are, like, really working. i know that sounds crazy, but hear me out: she's always telling me she can't do stuff like turn people into frogs, probably cause she knows if she tried to do that, it'd fail and she'd have to admit it's fake. So whatever she tries, it probably won't be too crazy. And, obviously, she's super gullible when it comes to magic. So I don't think it'd be too hard to go along with it. Also, she keeps a big old journal that has all her spells in it... sooo, if you could sneak a peek at it, you could learn some of her spells. Or you could probably even just ask her! She's friendly. If you manage to convince her the magic worked, I'll also send more payment to the GNA. And I'll know, because she'll definitely talk to me about it, like crazy. How's that work for you? She's super excited to meet you, Tajana! Ah, I'm such a great roomie..." Nora smiled to herself and flicked her finger across the PET screen some more, blowing a bubble as she waited for their response. "Let me know if you're good and I'll lead you on up."
It took Nora a pretty good while to sort out Marian's identity, but Marian and Tajana both waited as patiently as they could. "You got it," Marian laughed awkwardly; Tajana did the same, nodding slightly. "Uh, you planned for me to surprise your roommate too? I kind of doubt she'd have any reason to care about me, unless she just happens to read my blog," the non-famous of the pair continued, rubbing the side of her arm self-consciously. Hopefully that'd be the only place the roommate would notice her from... she certainly didn't want to run into anyone who recognized her from her cosplay days.

Tajana was addressed directly next, so she advanced forward slightly to speak with Nora quietly. "Magic? I suppose there is magic in some of my stories... well, 'glamors' and the like. I try not to use the word magic too much, hm hm... When you start using the word 'magic' people start thinking elves and gnomes, and when that happens, you start to sound like high fantasy. I try to operate in a medium-ground," she explained, smiling peacefully and raising one finger as though educating a child. "O-Oh, I'm sorry... I got carried away. You weren't asking about all that."

"Heh... I guess she doesn't sound like a bad girl," Marian added, although she did sound like a nerd alright. Her attempts to escape nerd-dom were, once again, veering off-course... but if it was for Tajana's sake, it ought to be alright. Unfortunately... there were also certain parallels that could be drawn between the delusional employer and her own delusional navi. Like an unwelcome sunrise during a comfortable dark morning, Daybreak seemed to peer back into the conversation. She covered her navi's looming face up, mentally, with a few fluffy, pleasant clouds, then refocused her attention. "That sounds fun! You don't see a lot of magic these days." She was trying to be polite; it sounded like they might not see any magic still, regardless, if the other girl's talents were as fake as was implied.

Marian realized that Nora was looking at her again and raised an eyebrow, her smile ticking upward slightly. "She does realize I'm not Tajana, right?" she asked herself again. "She's just focusing on me because I'm the talkative one, I guess." At any rate, this really did sound like an embarrassing type of thing she was going to have to do... almost back in the realm of cosplay. "It's for Tajana, though..." she reminded herself. And it's not like a little nerdiness was going to hurt... Tajana would never judge her on that regardless, and as long as she remained responsible for her son, Alexandru, and the stability of her married life, everything was okay. But was she going to have to act, anyway? This ought to all be Tajana's task, right?

On that note, Tajana spoke back up, affirming their acceptance. "Yes, that sounds agreeable. I'm interested to meet Taylor," she agreed, her dark-painted lips smiling politely and her thin hands resting at her lap. "Please, let us know how to reach her."
"Well, yeah, both of you would have been a surprise! Taylor... talks about you sometimes, too," Nora said to Marian before suddenly clamming up on the topic with an evasive smile. She turned her attention back to Tajana, waving a hand lazily. "Oops! Sorry if I offended you with the magic comments, I have no idea at all what kinda vampires you write about." With an apology perhaps more offensive than the original comment, the girl went back to absently swiping her fingers on her PET. "Sooo... I'll lead you two up. We probably oughta check in and get you two visitor passes, but you're gonna be with me on the way up and won't be going any place but our pad, right? And if you get caught on your way out, well, what'll they do, throw you out? Sounds like a time saver to me," she joked absently, beginning to blow another bubble as she turned from the two and lead the way.

As the student walked on, the two mothers might be surprised to see her walk past the building's elevators and on to the staircase, her face still buried in her screen. The group turned heads as people passed them on the stairs: it wasn't clear if the conspiratorially whispering students were gossiping about such an interesting looking couple, the coincidence of running into an author, or something else entirely. Regardless, nobody stopped to bug them for an autograph: it might be the case that being led by the lackadaisical Nora cast a veil around whatever celebrity mystique Tajana might ordinarily carry among the students. Luckily, the building wasn't very tall so far as apartment buildings went, and she ended up at the first floor, turning out of the stairwell.

"Hope it's not awkward, but I'm gonna slip away after I get you to the door. Got classes, things to do, places to be, you know..." Considering Nora was in no rush and seemed as though she'd been waiting on them with no particular timetable, it was hard to believe she was in a hurry for any particular responsibility. "Not like you'll need me to break the ice anyway, you three will have lots to talk about, I'm sure. And, honestly, I haven't really cleaned up well to have the two of us and two guests... But I'm sure you'll find a place to sit."

"Tada!" Nora finally reached her apartment number, 309, and stopped at the correct (?) door without raising her eyes from her PET. "Enjoy yourselves! Hope you have a 'magical' time." The girl put air scare quotes around her word and then grinned. "Good meeting you, Tajana, Marian! Thanks again." Hopefully, neither of them had any other questions, because Nora was already scooting on at a fast pace... interestingly, she was rounding the corner of the hallway rather than coming back the way they came.

There wouldn't be much to do at that point other than knock on the door or walk right on in. The door to the apartment had a markerboard bearing the names of the two occupants, showcasing their artistic talents (and providing evidence at least Nora hadn't led them to the wrong apartment). Nora's name had been done in various marker colors on the white board, a smiley face drawn into her "O"; Taylor's had her name stenciled out in white revealed against a black-markered background, the "SCARY" colored in orange.

If the ladies knocked on the door, a second would pass before they heard footsteps running for the door. If they walked on in, they'd get to see Taylor as she approached in the short, narrow entry hall instead, appearing around a corner and scampering breathlessly to meet them. The young woman who appeared before them was doubled over, a flush across her dark skin as she peered up with notably large, deep brown eyes. Her hair hung around in a way that first seemed messy, but later seemed probably to be styled that way, black with streaks of white that were brought to mind Halloween or spider webs. She was dressed in a lightweight black hoodie with long sleeves over a grey sleeveless tee bearing a design Tajana would probably recognize from one of her book covers drawn in white. She also wore dark skinny jeans which looked intentionally weathered, as well as black sneakers with white soles. Interestingly, if Tajana was aware of her own merchandise, she might note the shirt wasn't an off-the-shelf product. Overall, the woman was average height and of average build, a little thin, but not too thin. She probably wouldn't stand out much if not for her eccentric hair dye and her wide eyes.

The apartment beyond, what the two ladies could see of it so far, looked like a lot of things crammed in a small space. There was clearly a low table in the middle of the apartment on a red rug. A couple of floor cushions and a beanbag chair were set up around it. Beds, desks, and bookcases were set up beyond. The right half of the room was clearly decorated in merchandise from media, including movies, TV series, and (of course) novels: it looked like a "Halloween Every Day" theme, with furniture decorated in spider web patterns, almost universally dark colors. The other half was a mess, with the only token acknowledgement that a famous author and her wife might be visiting being a clear line where someone had pushed the mess out of the middle space and towards the left bed. Otherwise, it was a much more typical university dorm room, if a little heavy on bubblegum pink.

"Oooooh!" The girl yelped, seemingly unable to regulate her voice in her excitement, bright white teeth flashing in a helpless grin. "Oooh! Tajana Vukanovic! I mean, Ms. Vukanovic! Mrs. Vukanovic! ...Tajana? And Mrs. Simeon... Hoo... Oh my gosh, er, my Words, what do you go by? Oh my gosh oh my gosh! I'm Taylor." The girl finally offered her hand, her eyes shining. Her eye also kept darting to the extended hand, and if either of them grabbed it, they'd soon learn why: the girl would quickly retract her arm, leaving the shaking hand in the clutches of the one who grabbed it, her dangling sleeve making it look as though she was now missing one. Taylor would look at the two with a cheesy smile on her face, obviously pausing to see what their reaction would be.
Some people might be happy to be just as well known as their celebrity author partner, but Marian was not one of those people; she wanted her past dead and buried, and knowing that her blog was only successful enough to be worth her free time, she felt wary that Nora's roommate should know her at all. She and Tajana shared an awkward exchanged glance, although not for the same reasons. Marian's implication was that the roommate's knowledge of her ought to be a warning flag, but Tajana was only thinking that she was a little embarrassed for having gone off track with her description of how she handled magic in her vampire novels. The black-haired lady smiled politely; it was as graceful an expression as ever, but her eyes had a slight worried tilt. "If you don't think it will be a problem, then we'll follow your lead," she agreed, dismissing worries over the visitor passes.

The women followed behind Nora, both worrying about people's whispers for different reasons. "I wonder..." Tajana whispered to Marian, before blushing slightly and cupping her hand to one side of her mouth. "I wonder if we look like a couple?"

It was a pretty amusing thing for a married woman to say about herself and her partner, Marian thought, but she smiled and rolled her eyes. "It's funny, but if you think about it, they probably don't think we look like a couple at all. Unless they saw our rings, that is. Makes me wonder what they are whispering about though. Well, we're whispering ourselves," she pointed out, feeling silly about doing so.

Soon enough, they reached the floor that Nora had intended to bring them to. "It's quite alright, don't let us keep you..." Tajana encouraged Nora, though she noted that Nora's pace certainly didn't seem like that of somebody who had anywhere to be.

Marian wondered, more skeptically, if Nora simply didn't want to be around a bunch of nerds, which was certainly what all three of the other girls were. She nodded and gave Nora a quick thanks, then turned to Tajana. "Well, that was fun. I wonder if Nora and her roommate are similar? Seems like their hobbies are pretty different, though," she mused, looking to the nameplates again. "Haha... They kind of remind me of somebody," she joked, laughing as she realized that the dynamic of one bright girl that wants to look cool and one dark girl who is more introverted. Well, she assumed Taylor was introverted, at least, given that she hadn't come down to meet them and also had such a... unique nameplate.

If Tajana had been leading the way, she probably would have knocked, but she wasn't, and thus Marian went on in. "Marian..." she sighed, thinking it was very impolite to just barge in.

"Oops, I guess I wasn't thinking about it since Nora just led us here," Marian laughed, adjusting her braid over her shoulder with an unapologetic grin. Soon enough, they met their employer, who was quite a distinct character herself. Marian though to herself that Taylor reminded her a lot of people who used to attend the same conventions as her. Tajana thought that Taylor reminded her a lot of people who attended her book signings. Both probably weren't too far off the mark.

While both girls found Taylor's introduction charming, Marian's brow was twitching as she noticed a small oversight. "She ended up on Tajana and I ended up on Mrs. Simeon?" she thought to herself, squeezing her braid in one hand irritably. "Please, call me Marian," she quickly corrected, making a grin that was only slightly intimidating.

"Tajana is fine," the author added, smiling pleasantly. "It's very good to meet you, Taylor," she added, shuffling slightly to reach out and grab their employer's hand. As she straightened up her back and returned to full height, the fake hand came with her. She looked down at it with the same smile on her face, then tilted her head slightly. "Oh dear," she remarked quietly, her face a mask of disappointing non-reaction. Marian knew firsthand how hard it was to land a joke with her partner, whose supernatural aura extended to otherworldy ability to ruin the careers of would-be comedians. "I didn't see that coming at all," she added, though it almost seemed like she had somehow.

Marian was still a little shocked, but Taylor's eyes probably weren't on her. She recovered quickly, then laughed awkwardly, remembering that she was supposed to be reacting as though this was legitimate magic. "I-It's magic!" she reacted supportively, clapping Tajana on the shoulder with one hand, hoping to remind her of their mission.

"Oh! I've never seen something like that before," Tajana continued, her mouth forming a surprised "O" as she covered it with one hand, but her pale, steel-colored eyes revealing that she was unfortunately unaffected.
"Sure! Marian and Tajana," Taylor replied, still grinning expectantly as Tajana reached for... and finally received the handshake. Even in light of Tajana's non-response, her grin remained the same, a snort and a giggle finally escaping as she finished getting what reaction she could. "Magic? Oh, I get it! I bet Nora told you I practiced magic, didn't she?! Well, it's just silly tricks like this of course. Only a kind of ice breaker! But thanks for humoring me, you two! Gosh, Tajana Vukanovic and her wife Marian here, humoring my silly joke in my little apartment. Truly the Words are opaque today!"

Still smiling and giggling, the girl let her real hand slide out of her long sleeve and took Tajana's guiding her into the apartment (and presumably expecting Marian to follow). "Please, Tajana, have a seat right here," she offered, gesturing to the sole fancy-looking beanbag chair that was set up around the table. The best seat in the house was quite eye-catching as far as casual furniture went, a shining lilac-colored material with a number of completely indecipherable runic characters and a black chain patterned around its circumference. "At the table, I think you'll find this more comfortable than our crummy desk chairs. Best seat in the house! I don't mean to brag, but this was a custom project I did, hand-stuffed with crow feathers to ensure-" she started, her smile widening before her eyes suddenly shot open at the end. "... Comfort! To ensure comfort. Eheh, try it and see!" If Tajana did so, she'd find it was surprisingly nice.

That would leave Marian and Taylor each one of the cushions on the floor. These truly were cushions rather than proper seats, but they were the appropriate height for the table, and more comfortable than they looked. That said, Taylor didn't seem to be blowing smoke when she called her custom beanbag the best seat in the house.

If the two wives did sit, they'd find themselves sitting alone, Taylor still standing and wringing her hands. "Oh my gosh... Oh yeah! First things first. Since you're here, I'm sorry to impose, but I gotta get your autograph, Tajana. Sorry, sorry, know that's such a fangirl thing, but gotta have it. Here," she said, handing Tajana two items to sign: first, a first-print copy of her first novel, hardback, opened to the inside cover; second... a scrap of paper, seemingly torn from a loose-leaf sheet, with no room for anything but the reasonably signed name itself. Taylor handed over a pen, then remained with her eyes shut and her mouth smiling in a frozen, expecting plea that couldn't be denied.

Assuming Tajana did as she was bidden, Taylor would take both at once, thanking her profusely. "Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh... The Words are translucent! Thank yooou.~" It would take a particularly keen eye, but if the ladies were watching carefully, either of them might notice her quickly pocket the scrap of paper while replacing the book on her shelf. "All right, you two, what will you have to drink? I put on a pot of tea, since I had a funny feeling that might suit your fancy, Tajana... but I've also got water... Oh, Nora told me I could swipe a beer for you if you wanted. Marian, you too, what can I get you?" Taylor had already walked on into the kitchen: from the angle sitting at the table, the wives could now see the front face of the room, which couldn't be seen from the door, had two doors. One was closed, but the other was half-open, revealing what looked like a very small, messy, well-stocked kitchen.

While Taylor was gone, there was one thing in the room that might catch the attention of the women. On the table was a thick tome covered in arcane runic markings, bearing no name on the cover or the spine. It had a few colored bookmark tabs sticking out. If they found themselves especially curious, there might be time to take a peek... then again, it wasn't clear if that was supposed to be private or not.

"So, Tajana, I'll ask you a question, then if you wanna know anything about me, I'll be happy to talk: when's the next book?!" Taylor's voice spoke up from the kitchen among the shuffling of dishes as she seemed to be preparing. "I don't wanna press you, but as your biggest fan I'd be letting all the other fans around the world down if I didn't ask. Do you have, uh, a date?"
Marian gave a confused, half-tilted smile in response to Taylor's tittery reassurance. She was initially happy at hearing she wasn't going to have to play along with the magic act, but the phrase 'truly the Words are opaque today" sounded like something straight out of her own navi's playbook. She could almost imagine her navi saying it... Shuddering, she turned her attention to the far less eerie disembodied hand prop, her eyebrow raised quizzically as she followed her wife and Taylor over to the spot the younger girl had indicated.

Fancy and decorated or not, there was something extremely wrong about Tajana sitting on a beanbag; wrong and funny, Marian thought, covering her mouth to hide a snicker. The prim and proper continued to sit up straight and rest her hand upon her cheek, looking utterly Victorian in a setting that didn't fit it at all. "That's very kind of you, Taylor," Tajana thanked their host, while arranging the long skirt of her dress beneath herself. "Crow feathers? That's pretty unusual."

Taking her seat on the next cushion over with much less of the graceful slowness that her wife demonstrated, Marian plopped down and looked up at Taylor, still feeling pretty silly. It wasn't so long ago that she had a messy apartment quite a lot like this one, though her beanbag chairs had been worn out to the point where they'd become lumpy rather than comfy. "Ha ha, don't be so nervous! It's normal to associate her with the books and that makes her a little intimidating, but trust me, once you've lived with her for a while, you realize she's a big softie," Marian giggled; Tajana shot her a disapproving frown that would look very cold to most, but Marian recognized as pouting.

As it turned out, Taylor wasn't too nervous, as she had the presence of mind to ask for an autograph. Tajana's handwriting was a blessing itself, something straight out of a fantasy book, and Marian had been pretty thrilled the first time she'd gotten it. It was pretty bizarre to see it written next to hers on certain papers these days. The black-haired one smiled, accepting the novel with a tender touch, as she was used to doing from similar signings in the past. "That's quite a sight... first-print," Tajana remarked as she expertly penned her name onto the open page in medium size, beneath her printed name. Taylor might have been wanting a personalized message too, but she probably also recognized Tajana was too introverted to write one.

"Ha ha! Got you thinking about your age again?" Marian teased, earning what seemed like an even colder glare from her wife. Her smile faded just slightly, but not for that reason. She realized that it was definitely, undeniably suspicious for Taylor to be presenting a blank scrap of paper to be signed... Being a worry wart, she began to reach across the table and protest, but with surprising quickness, Tajana took the paper and signed it. "E-Eh? I've never seen you move that quick before," she laughed, but she didn't have a good feeling about it. There was a reason she handled paying all of the bills: Tajana wasn't the world-wise type who ought to be signing something before inspecting it thoroughly.

Seeing Taylor happy made Tajana happy; she gave an overly charming, otherworldly smile. "No, thank you for being a fan," she responded gracefully. "Tea would be lovely. Such hospitality... I feel a little guilty, doing something like this while others are working so hard for the GNA," she noted quietly.

Marian reeeeally wanted a beer, but decided against it for now; she was probably going to miss some slight of hand if she got too tipsy. "Uh, tea is good, since you went through all the trouble," she replied after a moment's hesitation. For a moment, she pondered offering to help bring stuff to the table, but she soon realized that with Taylor out of the room, this was a prime opportunity to snoop a peek at Taylor's magic book like she'd been informed she should. Once Taylor was out of the room, she gave a grin to her wife and wiggled her eyebrows, placing a hand upon the book on the desk.

Tajana's eyebrows were set into a worried expression as she shook her head, indicating they ought to leave it alone. Instead of protesting verbally, however, she refocused her attention on answering their employer. The question was one she was asked often by both her fans and, more pressingly, her publisher. "It's quite alright to ask, and I wish I had a good answer for you. Part of my getting 'out and about' is actually to try to chip away at my writer's block, by meeting interesting people such as yourself, Taylor. There's a good bit of it written, but I'm concerned about... well, you know that I've been in a bit of a rut with the last few entries. I want to turn it all around and really breath new life into a dead series, if you'll forgive the too-obvious reference to my own material," she answered slowly. Marian had opened up the book on the table and, assuming it was just a book, tried thumbing a few pages. She nearly slammed it shut, however, as Tajana continued talking. "Do you have any suggestions? I'd love to hear the direction a fan such as yourself has considered the series ought to be taken. In fact, one of my very close friends was a fan story writer," she chuckled, looking to Marian with a mischievous smile before realizing her wife was shaking her head hard, sending her braid flapping.

"You dodo, what are you thinking?" she hissed in a whisper. "You can't ask a fan for input! If they say something good you can't use it and if they say something bad then you feel bad for not using it! It's a lose-lose!"

Tajana bit her lower lip, then added, "I'm sorry, that's a lot of pressure to put on you all of a sudden. Please, forget I asked." Marian, in the mean time, shut the book and withdrew her hands into her lap, sitting uncharacteristically still as she waited for Taylor to return. Her mood would probably depend a bit on what she'd read, if she'd managed to glean some of the contents...
Taylor had a difficult time responding to Marian's teasing of Tajana: she seemed to realize it was happening, but wasn't prepared to join in with laughs at her favorite author's expense. She smiled along, though, before disappearing into the kitchen to prepare tea. Her voice continued to emanate from the other room. "Think nothing of it! Nora and I may be paying separately, but this is just basic hospitality. I guess I should add Nora totally didn't expect you two to answer that mission personally, but when she saw you did and of course when she brought me in, we couldn't say no. Sorry if it's weird!"

As Tajana and Taylor had some friendly chat about their favorite book series, Marian got a chance to peek inside the thick tome on the table. Page after page of Taylor's handwritten notes and hand-drawn illustrations detailed a number of different spells, ranging from the mundane (talking to the dead) to the more creative (manipulating odds in games of luck, causing light bulbs to burn out, etc.). The style of both the writing and the drawings varied in clear divisions as one flipped through, probably varying with mood or whim at the time they were transcribed. There was quite a lot to take in. With no special focus, Marian's attention might be called to the bookmarked pages.

"A rut? Well, I might be in the minority opinion here, but I honestly thought the change in direction for them was interesting. Now, I don't want you to think I'm starstruck and just sucking up-"

The first green-bookmarked pages detailed two pages: on the left sheet, a very detailed explanation including very specific rules for what appeared to be mesmeric control using a swinging coin, which would cause the target to fall asleep and become suggestible to programming; on the right, a spell which could cause a "familiar" (essentially a toy animal on a string held by the caster) to gain a life of its own and attack a target.

"You know, I hear the common complaint is that the subject matter or the tone changed. I didn't mind that at all, you know, I liked the experiment and I trusted that the author was carrying the characters and the story in a direction with a plan. I think, and again, please forgive the criticism, was perhaps a lack of focus in the narrative: I don't fault the intention or ambition, but felt perhaps the macro-picture, the overall weaving, suffered-"

At the pink tab was a 2-page fold of a web for a spell that can influence a person's mood or behavior through a supplement created from blended compounds, mostly common seasonings. The outcomes were all over the board based on small variations in the recipe, causing the target to become violent, passive, submissive, relaxed, morose, or more.

"But unfortunately, I'm sorry to say I haven't come up with concrete suggestions for how to fix the story. Sorry, I mean improve! The story's not broken, of course. And I could never directly influence the story, I wanna be reading it unspoiled! But I would love to talk more about your ideas..."

The last orange-bookmarked page Marian would get a look at showed, on the left, a "binding spell" that involved crow feathers and a particular pattern like a dark-sketched chain. Marian wouldn't get a chance to look at this in detail, but she would see enough to know the purpose was to make a person unable to leave a particular location. The right showed a spell to make a target forget a period of time by creating a talisman using a possession of the target, then removing the possession to erase the memories. These both seemed to be recent entries, being near the back of the book. There were a number of blank pages at the back of the book, confirming the tome was a work in progress.

Marian had time to slip her hands back to herself before Taylor re-emerged carrying a tray with china (presumably, this meant Taylor was a tea-drinker herself). Her tray had three cups and saucers. She set it on the table, allowing a sweet, unusual aroma to permeate. "All right, here we go. This is my special blend. I apologize for the bitterness, I'm afraid I don't have any sugar stocked at the moment... Sorry, so sorry!" she began, grabbing a particularly cloudy cup and handing it to Tajana. From Marian's angle, if she was looking carefully, she might note a piece of tape on the bottom of the cup... After giving Tajana her cup, she didn't make any effort to get one for herself or Marian, allowing Marian to take the one she wanted for herself. Taylor would take the remaining one, or the one closest to herself if Marian hesitated.

If the two mothers drank, they'd come away with very different experiences: the cup given to Marian would be as bitter as advertised, though Taylor seemed to be drinking it willingly enough; the cup given to Tajana, however, was quite sweet, and made it difficult to believe Taylor was telling the truth about missing sugar. "So, Marian! This is a weird aside, but I thought of a better trick to show you two? How do you feel about helping me out?" The girl reached into her jacket pockets and quickly produced a string, attached to a small object grasped tightly in her palm. She gave Marian a moment to respond, grinning hopefully (and perhaps a bit more intensely than her guests had yet seen).
Marian had a few thoughts as she thumbed through the spellbook. Most upsetting, she realized that the contents of the book were the kinds of junk that Daybreak would just eat up; it even included a page dedicated to familiars, which brought to mind Daybreak's pet eyeball. Marian had no desire to think about either her navi or that familiar of hers. She was barely listening as the other two continued to talk about the Dawnbreaker series. At any rate, at least one of the spells appeared to already be in play: the beanbag was supposed to be a "binding spell." That meant that perhaps Taylor was as hardcore about magic as her roommate had implied she'd be and the original arm gag was just to throw them off. At any rate, it was unfortunate that she'd seen the instructions and not her wife... there was now no easy way to tell her how to follow said instructions, given that Taylor was returning to the room.

Her protective instinct kicked in once she saw the contents of Tajana's cup... she did want to play along with Taylor, since as much as she hated encouraging Taylor in acting like her navi, she wanted to get paid and also thought it'd be a super buzzkill to just shut it down here. On the other hand, allowing her partner to get "drugged", even if it was fake, was a bit much. Still... imagining that Tajana was actually going to be slipped a mickey was a little ridiculous and it wasn't as though she herself would actually be taken out of commission. She'd still be in a good position to help Tajana out if anything weird happened. "Gosh, my navi's got me paranoid... I'm probably jumping at shadows," she chastised herself mentally. "It's a little weird but we really should just play along, since we were hired to."

Tajana had no idea she was supposed to feel an affect from drinking the tea, so she accepted the tea happily and began drinking it before Marian could even put into motion a plan to take it in her stead. Taylor hadn't made that easier, given that she'd rushed to give the cup over to Tajana right away. Of course, even if Marian had been able to get the message across, neither one of them would have known what Taylor intended for Tajana to feel when she drank it... The black-haired girl smiled over the lip of the cup, then set it back down. "No need to worry. I take both my tea and my coffee black," she reassured Tajana. However, she wondered if there was any need... It tasted pretty sweet regardless.

On the other hand, Marian shuddered a bit and had to fight back a frown. She was the type for whom sugar was half the point of either tea or coffee. She noticed the string come out, knowing it was time for another page of the spell-book to come into play... she was surprised, however, to learn she'd be the subject. In this case, it'd work to their advantage; she knew what was supposed to happen and her wife didn't. Though, it didn't seem like these would be tough ones to figure out either way. Although, the string could be either the incoming hypnosis or the familiar... she really hoped Taylor wasn't bringing out anything that was going to jump out and attack her. Or worse, sit there in Taylor's palm and she'd have to play-act being attacked. She'd rather actually be hypnotized than have that happen. "Hey, whatever you say! I'd love to see a trick," Marian agreed, trying to seem enthusiastic. "And Tajana, you just keep sitting right where you are," she spoke with a wink, hoping her wife would get it when she enunciated her words a little funny.

... Her wife's graceful but blank smile in response, the eyebrow's slightly upturned as if pitying, made it clear Tajana didn't get it. Marian's smile twitched at the sides a bit, as she cursed her partner's occasional density. "Alright, Taylor. Let it rip," she insisted, turning her head again to face Taylor's smile. "Hoo boy... haven't played pretend in a while. Let's hope I've still got it," she psyched herself up internally.
Taylor smiled widely, watching Tajana drink her tea with enthusiasm that could be mistaken for interest in her favorite author's opinion of her tea-making skills if Marian didn't know otherwise. Afterwards, Taylor had spoken to Marian, grinning when she heard her target's willingness. "Perfect! One awesome trick, coming up. Words give me clarity and focus," she muttered under her breath as she prepared her prop.

Marian would soon learn that she'd at least lucked out in avoiding the familiar: the object was old currency, an antique zenny coin, suspended from a string. It didn't appear to be a replica: of course, this was a fact that would only be apparent and/or of interest to a person well-versed in antiques. The string was long, but she carefully wound it between her knuckles in a deliberate pattern, then moved close to Marian, kneeling down and facing her with a tight smile. The expression showed she was trying to keep an air of casual friendliness, but was in fact bundled with excitement and intensity. "Now Marian. I want you to watch the coin I swing here and repeat the Words after me. Don't worry, it's perfectly safe. I'll bring you out of it as soon as I show you it works. Repeat: Bereri Shella Pa Papudepepe." The girl spoke the words slowly and deliberately so they could be absorbed, watching the coin to indicate Marian should do the same, rather than meeting her gaze.

"Redeelala La Sheeshalala Pa Papudepepe. Marian Simeon. Hear my Words! Fall into slumber. Go deep, deep into sleep, Redeelala La Sheeshalala!"

If Marian was especially susceptible to suggestion, she might find herself actually growing tired as Taylor spoke to her in a soft, rhythmic chant; more likely, her nerves and embarrassment would be keeping her wide awake, as it became increasingly clear Taylor's magic was not any sort of genuine spell. Taylor would continue lowering her voice, indicating that Marian was probably supposed to be drifting off and finding it difficult to keep up. Should Marian fail to drift off, Taylor would continue with determination unless she was made to stop. If Marian did "drift off," she would finally stop, smiling ear to ear with a twinkle in her wide eyes as she pocketed the coin. In either case, whether she was still swinging the coin or not, she would ask Tajana a question, while still facing Marian intently. "Tajana, how did you say your tea was? Good? I didn't accidentally mess it up? You seem like a bit of a tea buff, so I might ask if you tasted any special ingredient...?"
Taylor wasn't the only one hoping for clarity and focus, as Marian committed herself to the silly task before her. She was weirdly thankful to see she was about to be hypnotized by conventional means. If the object had been some kind of eye-shaped amulet or sun-shaped charm or something, she probably would have assumed this whole experience was some kind of Daybreak-related conspiracy, for how much it was conveniently running up against the kinds of things her navi would like. That said, it did still look like a particular kind of coin, the type that'd only be held on to by someone who really cared for it as a collector's item or an accessory to some kind of fictional character. She imagined Taylor's intent was more towards the latter.

"Oh God- uh, I mean, oh, good," Marian responded, not at all looking forward to repeating Taylor's Words, capital W or otherwise. She closed her eyes hard, making a pinched face a bit like she was swallowing gross medicine. "Bereri Pa Papudepepe..." she followed expertly, being used to speaking total nonsense for the sake of a character but not relishing it. "Redeelala La Sheeshalala Pa Papudepepe Mariansimeon Hearmai..." she continued repeating, then gulped, realizing partway in that she wasn't supposed to be saying those parts.

Tajana watched with interest, though she had to stifle a chuckle. "It sounds like it's working. She's definitely getting sleepy," the author encouraged her fan.

Marian wasn't getting sleepy; her eyes wanted to roll, but not because she was getting drowsy. Still, a mission was a mission and a kindness a kindness, so she did her best to appear to be losing her consciousness. Her head began to slump down slightly and her arms hugged her belly more loosely, until she was doing her best approximation of being asleep sitting up. This wasn't a typical scenario one ran into, even in cosplay, so she had to hope her off-the-cuff performance was good enough.

The other lady was surprised to hear herself being addressed again, while Taylor's attention focused on Marian. She had to admit to herself that she was enjoying watching her wife play along and was interested in learning where Taylor would take it enough. "Well, I was surprised. There's a flavor to it similar to how Marian takes hers, that is, rich with cream and sugar. Do you tend to add anything special to it?" she asked, tilting her head slightly and leaning one thin shoulder up subtly.
"Just relax," Taylor told her captive, mistaking Marian's distaste for a misguided attempt at concentration. "Good, good..." She smiled even as Marian tripped over the part that wasn't meant for repeating. She might be taking that as a sign her target was losing the ability to focus. The sat up as she saw Marian was knocked out, turning to face Tajana. "Perfect. She's completely unconscious... the spell worked perfectly! I've never had such an unqualified success... Ah, I'm blessed! And now, all of the fans of the series will be as well... I'll explain more in a second, but first..."

Taylor's smile turned into a mischievous grin as Tajana did her best to diagnose the tea. She spoke to the Tajana with excitement, just shy of interrupting her. "That's right, salt! But why would I put salt in your tea you might buh... Wait a second, back up. Did you say sugar? But I didn't... I don't have..." The girl's face went pale as she snatched the book off the desk, flipping through the pages until she reached the bookmark she wanted (Marian would remember it opening to the web of recipe outcomes). The girl let out a low moan of panic, her face growing red as she glanced rapidly between the page and Tajana. "No! Am I cursed?! This can't-"

Taylor made an effort to calm down and straighten her face into a smile again, failing to hide the nervous energy in her eyes as she tried and failed to force them shut. "W-well that's funny! You know, uh, of course I know you wouldn't take your tea with sugar! I'll just have to-" she started, swiping the tea and saucer back in a swift, guilty gesture. "Fix you a new one! Um, don't worry, I can handle this... So!" Taylor gingerly set the book back on the table, leaving it open to the page. "Forget what I was babbling on about before. I'm sure you're feeling normal, uh... no elevated heart rate or strange thoughts... Oh! And Marian, uh, the spell just made her fall asleep. You can't, like, give her commands or make her do your bidding or program triggers into her or anything like you might be thinking... hypnosis... normally... does. Words!"

Sweating bullets by this point, Taylor continued facing Tajana as she shuffled back to the kitchen. "S-so, you just wait right there! I'll fix you a new tea and uh get some biscuits or something and you just wait right there and stay calm! I'll fix this mess and maybe even come up with a hex to curse my roommate who plays pranks on me while I'm meeting Tajana Vukanovic..."

Taylor disappeared in the kitchen, leaving Marian and Tajana alone with two cups of black tea and her book. Preparing their tea earlier had been a relatively silent process; her current work in the kitchen was a different affair, the sounds of clanging dishes and slamming cupboards coming from within. Every now and then, the sounds would give way to careful footsteps that would stop at the door. It might be reasonable to expect Taylor was checking in to make sure she wasn't hearing anything strange.

Since the book was open on the table, it might be hard to resist taking a peek. If anyone did so, and had the concentration to follow the clues of Taylor's tea recipe web, they would find only one recipe ended in a branching path of salt or sugar. The salt recipe was intended to inspire talkativeness, creativity, and frankness. The sugar recipe, on the other hand, would remove inhibitions and restraint while amplifying the sex drive...
In Tajana's mind, an unmitigated success of hypnotization would require Marian to follow some commands, not just fall asleep, but she supposed she could see why Taylor would already be excited. "Well, I only stated it tasted like there might be sugar in it," Tajana responded in reassurance, leaving out her worry about how nasty the tea would have tasted if salt actually had been added as a secret ingredient. It looked to her like Taylor was worried about more than just being a bad server. The graceful smile on her face was good in this case, because it hid the fact that she really had no idea what sort of expression she ought to have. "Don't worry, I'll wait here. No need for any hexes..."

This time, once Taylor had left the room, Tajana was the one to take a look inside the spell-book; Marian wasn't sure she could risk it, seeing as she still needed to pretend to be asleep. This time around, they couldn't do much private talking, as it sounded like Taylor was listening for something. Soon enough, she figured out exactly what Taylor was afraid of: according to the book, she was supposedly hit by some sort of spell to amplify her horniness, instead of the intended one, which was likely intended to force her into coming up with the next Dawnbreaker installment. Tajana's face grew a bit uncharacteristically red... not only was she naturally shy, but she was also a married woman, and Taylor was half her age. Doing anything scandalous with the two of them would be pretty embarrassing, but she'd have to if she wanted to keep the mission going. For that matter, Taylor could be just the person to help her get over her writer's block, but she'd likely be in no mood to continue if Tajana started upon a path of disproving the effectiveness of her magic.

It was also worth noting that Taylor had, after all, included a spell in her book to make people aroused. She wouldn't have designed something like that without some interest in using it... but on who? It didn't seem like it was intended for this meeting.

At any rate, Tajana figured Marian surely knew that she was supposed to be susceptible to suggestion now and Tajana knew that she was supposed to be horny now, so it'd be weird if she didn't take advantage of the situation in a lecherous way. She was the creative type, but not the acting type... hopefully, one of two would be enough. "Marian, my wife..." she whispered quietly, placing one thin hand upon Marian's head for added effect. "When you drink the tea Taylor has prepared, you will want to do naughty things and will hear Taylor and myself request them, even if we speak normally," she suggested to start. She felt Marian jump a bit beneath the hand, obviously wondering why things had gotten straight to sexiness, but unable to speak yet.

Tajana closed her eyes and thought further, then added more to her wishlist. "Also, if you hear anyone say the word 'Words,' you will be compelled to take some of your clothes off," she added, which caused Marian to shake her head in protest. Tajana stroked it comfortingly and smiled, then added again. "Oh, and when Taylor re-enters the room, you will be compelled to tell me honestly what you thought about the part in my latest chapter 3 write-up where Stella and Diane make love in the abandoned bunker while the Constantine Corporation is searching for them above ground," Tajana finished, giving a mischievous smile. Marian opened one eye to shoot her a glare. She figured that ought to be enough for now... it would be interesting to see if Taylor had heard her issuing commands and, further, what Taylor would do. Presumably, Marian would also only cooperate so far...

For Marian's part, she had actually been wanting to spend some intimate time with Tajana... the opportunity was so rare that she found herself surprisingly complacent with the ideas so far. She also enjoyed a good prank or two, so long as it didn't interfere in her duties. Adding another young-ish girl to the mix was pretty weird, though, and Taylor was a super-nerd at that. Tajana and Marian had never really done role-playing or threesomes, so this was sort of a double venture into the unknown. Furthermore, Taylor didn't really even seem like she'd meant for things to go in this direction. At this point, Marian figured she'd just test the waters... If she played along and Taylor seemed like she was liking it, then, well, what could it hurt? If Taylor seemed as uncomfortable as Marian figured they all might should be in this awkward situation, however, then it was not outside the realm of possibility that she could fight out of the mind control, so to speak, without breaking the illusion of magic required by the mission.
Taylor was making too much noise in the kitchen to hear Tajana's already quiet voice keyed down to a whisper. As such, Tajana's peep at the tome went unseen, and her words to Marian unheard. Shortly after, however, Taylor suddenly re-emerged from the kitchen with another teacup and a saucer with cream. "All right, fixed you a new cup and ooooh oh oh! Haha, um, looks like I'm interrupting an, um, intimate moment here? Um, what is- what are- oh... Well! Nothing strange about that. You are wives and all, after all, just a little P.D.A? I'll just..."

Taylor scooted up to the table (carefully positioning herself across from Marian and Tajana), making a point to put Tajana's new tea back in the spot she'd previously occupied. "I brought some cream in case Marian wants something to make it a bit sweeter, when she wakes up. There's nothing strange about it! I mean, not that there would be... so on that note, I guess I should ask... are you feeling okay?" The girl's wide eyes focused on Tajana with nervous excitement. "You looked like you were maybe a little under the weather, so I started preparing medicine... but it isn't ready yet. We can wake Marian up from her nap any time if either of us snap our fingers, but, uh, I thought maybe it'd be better if she slept a bit longer until I can get the medicine... Well, um, she looked a little tired, you know?" That was a funny line to use after inducing a state of hypnosis in someone, and Taylor acknowledged it with an awkward laugh. "And I figured maybe sleep would help, and if it didn't, the medicine would be there when she woke up!"

Taylor squirmed in her seat, watching Tajana curiously and grinning more sheepishly, wringing her hands in her lap. "Just to be sure, y-you didn't say anything to Marian while I was away, did you? Cause if you tried to tell her to do stuff... um, not that you could make her do anything, but just thought I'd ask, out of curiosity... but if, hypothetically, I could, I'd really need you to tell me. You know, just for fun! And then I could pretend to undo them, as one would if they didn't want anything unexpected to happen when Marian woke up."
Tajana politely returned her attention to Taylor as the girl re-entered the room, although her hand was still upon Marian's head and her eyes flashed back towards her wife expectantly. As Marian continued to stay quiet as though sleeping, Tajana remembered that until Marian was "reactivated" there was, presumably, no reason Marian would keep the command she'd been given to spill the beans on that one contentious part of her writings. Luckily, her face masked her disappointment. She smiled disarmingly and stroked Marian's hair, her actions thankfully not betraying her annoyance with her wife. "Hm hm... Yes... She just looked so cute sleeping, didn't she?" Tajana spoke playfully, running her slender hand down the length of Marian's silky French braid.

The still-awake wife took Taylor's words at face value regarding the cream, given that she hadn't seen any particular spell associated with that one in the open pages of Taylor's book. "I'm feeling quite nice, in the company of my lovely wife and our charming employer," she flirted with Taylor, although she was unsure what the response would be. Taylor might feel flattered, she might be upset to see that her tea mix-up had indeed had unintended consequences, or she might just feel creeped out that a lady nearly twice her age was hitting on her. She raised one eyebrow quizzically at Taylor's insistence that she looked sick and her wife looked tired when they entered... hypnosis wasn't the only kind of brainwashing being attempted here, it was also revisionist history. "If you say so," she shrugged with a happy chuckle. "Though I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't keep my wife in her slumber too long. My dear Marian is cute when she sleeps, but there are some times a married couple must eschew sleep." In spite of herself, her face became a little red when she said that, and on her pale face, that was hard to keep hidden.

Her smile widened as she rested the back of one hand lightly at her chin, tilting her head ever so slightly in what looked like a practiced expression of charming, impenetrable poise. "Oh, well, it seemed like it could be fun to try some more of they hypnosis bit myself, so I took the time to whisper a thing or two in her ear," Tajana responded, brushing Marian's hair over and away from her ear and briefly pantomiming putting her lips close. "A glamor, that's what vampires call it," she smiled, her eyelids half shut in a bemused expression, like she found talking about her books secondary to the other things she had to discuss. "I must admit, I was really looking forward to seeing her act out some mischief when she woke up. So you're saying if I did snap my fingers right now, she'd awaken and be forced to do those things I whispered to her to do?" With no hesitance and cruel efficiency, she removed her hand from Marian's head, raised her fingers, and gave a snap that seemed to reverberate through the room.

At this, Marian slowly awakened, as she supposedly needed to do. She gave a slight yawn to sell it and rubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand. "Hmmm... Where am I? Taylor's place? I thought I was back in college for a moment," she joked, looking around the room while acting as though she were in a sleepy daze. "I had the strangest dream," the younger wife added, rearranging her braid and smoothing it with both hands while she talked. At least for the moment, nothing seemed overtly strange about Marian, so it was conceivable that Tajana had just been playing a trick on her. She began adding cream to her tea while turning her eyes to Taylor; she was curious to see how their hostess was coping with this seemingly unforeseen turn of events.
Taylor didn't have any apparent reaction other than a smile to Tajana's initial flirting, keeping her same nervous energy and watching her carefully. Her eyes widened a bit and she gulped as she seemed to slowly process Tajana's innuendo, wringing her hands in her lap. Her smile fell as well as Tajana admitted she had, in fact, experimented with ordering commands. "A glamor, right, I should have used the right terminology!" she moaned, forgetting the more important trouble momentarily. "But, um, Tajana! Mischief, you understand, is exactly what I'm trying to-"

Taylor started to speak before Tajana interrupted her with a quick snap of her fingers, causing Taylor to let out a small yelp, her saucer-like eyes turning to Marian. "A dream... that's... Okay, no, I probably ought to tell you all the truth now. Tajana," she addressed her guest, turning to her and swallowing hard. She'd continue spitting out the truth without interruption, unless someone physically stopped her. "Um, the truth is, you're my favorite author, and you hadn't written a book for a while... I thought of a couple reasons why, so I thought... I could use my spells to help, when I heard I'd be meeting you. So I collected some spells... one is a totem in the chair to keep you from leaving here, and the other is a potion in the tea you drank. Only, the potion I intended to make would just make you open to discussing your writing frankly, since I figured you might have trouble with me otherwise, a person you never met before today. But Nora put sugar in my salt shaker... I don't think she knew about this specific spell, just a random prank... anyway, when sugar is substituted for salt in that potion recipe, it, uh, causes your hormones to, er, go crazy, and it removes inhibitions... so that's probably why you're feeling, um, affectionate right now! With Marian, I mean."

Taylor cleared her throat, obviously feeling that now that she'd told the truth, everything was going to be on track to righting itself. "I'm fixing an antidote for it now, but it requires me to boil, and the preparation will take time... so, in the meantime, so nothing ends up happening that you'll regret, I strongly advise that you try calm meditation to relax yourself and remain still. Oh, but before that, tell me what you told Marian while-" she started, before gulping again and turning to Marian, smiling shyly. "Oh, uh, because of the potion, Tajana apparently put some weird thoughts in your head while I had you under my power of hypnosis. But don't worry! As soon as she tells me what they were, I can undo them..."

The hostess smiled and laughed awkwardly, putting a hand to her chin. "The Words are uncommonly favorable today, but also fickle... I've never had such success with my spells, especially not consecutively! I don't know if I should be happy or sad... wait a second. Nora!" Taylor suddenly bolted upright, nearly bumping her knee on the table. "She put that sugar in the shaker... she must have seen in my book and planned for you to come and play along with her joke! That's too convenient of a mixup... and the effect of my hormone spell would have been well underway by now. I bet it wasn't ever working at all," she posited, the disappointment evident in her voice. "But then, I've never tested that specific variation, so maybe I just wouldn't know... Can I prove it somehow...?" Taylor's former restless excitement had turned into a pensive desperation, her brow furrowing as she bit her lip. "Uh... Tajana, I don't suppose you'd be willing to prove it to me, one way or the other...? Either by telling me 'What a big dummy you are, of course it was a prank!' or by doing something you'd... you know... ordinarily never do in your right mind...?" Taylor's face had gone very red, likely from a mixture of understanding what she was asking and of embarrassment that she might have been making a fool of herself.
Tajana kept a pleasant smile on her face as Taylor talked; Marian imitated it with eerie similarity, calmly drinking her tea despite the revelation that her wife's had effectively been magically drugged. Truthfully, Tajana felt like she was left with a difficult choice... on one hand, she'd been asked to play along with the magic game by Nora and Taylor seemed heavily invested in the illusion of magic. In that sense, it was nice to play along. On the other hand, teasing Taylor was beginning to feel mean; Taylor had apparently been wanting to talk seriously about her book, and instead, she was just being roped up in a big tease by Nora. She resolved she'd make it up to Taylor later by discussing the next book with her once they were done.

Though, there was still the question of why Taylor had made a simple potion designed to basically drug people to begin with... Marian figured that deserved some scrutiny, but Tajana wasn't thinking about it so much.

"I respect what you're trying to do, but I must admit, a large part of my stepping out today was to experience new things and help inspire myself. There's only so much that I can learn discussing my stories with others... I need to stimulate myself in other ways too. So you see, as much as I love discussing my books and as 'affectionate' as I am towards my wife... this trip out was about experiencing new things and getting myself stimulated... with other people!" she emphasized again, biting one gloved finger in an overly sexy way and tilted her chin down. Her curled, black hair was falling down over her forehead a bit more than usual and she wasn't making her usual effort to flick it away.

Marian didn't know how she felt about that particular development, but she was going to try to keep playing along. "Never let it be said that I'm a quitter! Unless it's about writing doujins... or cosplay... or-" she began listing things off, then refocused her attention on the task at hand. She feigned surprise for a moment and covered her mouth "You want to undo them?! But I'm not wearing my side-tie panties today..." she gasped, squirming upon her beanbag in a way that seemed cartoonishly aroused. "Oh God," she thought to herself, mentally rolling her eyes as she tried to remember the last time she wore a bottom with side-ties...

Her wife chuckled (genuinely), then leaned her head forward on one fist. "I'll give you a hint: Marian here isn't hearing the same things that you or I are hearing. But don't worry... I may have stolen your opportunity to imprint upon her, but I think you'll still find she's quite willing to go along with whatever you might ask of her..." she cooed, narrowing her eyes into happy half-moons. Marian nodded along dumbly, not quite matching the level of sexiness despite her years pretending to be sexy fictional characters. "As for what else I told her, I've given her a codeword that will trigger some much more concrete example of the kind of imprinting I've done... That codeword, however, will remain a secret. But then again, you've got your own magic words, don't you?" she giggled, trying to coax more uses of the word, or words, as it were, out of their hostess. There was no need to mention the third command she'd given her wife, as it didn't seem like that was likely to become relevant.

Things escalated quickly after that: no sooner had Tajana said that than Taylor tripped the codeword. Marian, only realizing the trigger had been hit a moment after it had been, jumped in her seat and began removing the braid in her hair as an appetizer. It was a low key action that might look normal to most people, but Tajana would find noteworthy, given Marian always wore her hair that way these days and also given the knowledge of how long it took Marian to get her hair into that French braid. The action was so discrete, however, that Taylor might not have even noticed it.

More importantly, Taylor seemed to be wavering in her confidence and was showing the girls proof positive that if she thought Nora was making fun of her, it'd make her depressed and ruin the mission for both herself and probably Nora. Tajana had been hoping she'd get by hoisting the majority of the sexy stuff onto Marian, but it sounded to her like Taylor wasn't going to believe it unless she acted not just sexy, but out of character. That was hard, because truth be told, she'd never acted a character; weird as she was, the character she portrayed was really her. She put on her best smile and prepared herself, mentally.

"Well, if you're a fan of mine- thank you, by the way- then you know two things about me... The first is that I am, of course, married," she began, running one hand through her wife's hair lovingly and then caressing the back of her hand down her wife's cheek. "And you also know, of course, that I act like a bit of a hermit. I don't do a lot of signings or autographs... I don't make many public appearances... I mostly stay at home," the vampire-like author explained, rising up to her feet and walking around the table. Apparently, this was okay, as long as she didn't actually leave the room, based on what Taylor had said. "If you know that much about me... then I think you'll be rather surprised when I do this." Having announced her intention, she dropped down to her knees beside Taylor, placed one hand upon the table and the other upon the girl's shoulder, and leaned in for a saucy kiss...

... That was instead just a peck on the cheek. She'd been too embarrassed to go through with it, in the end. "You should have more confidence in your spells and in yourself," Tajana spoke, her voice betraying none of the nervousness she felt at her own instinctive half-measure. Wanting to apologize and also to prove herself, she stayed in position, her arms framing Taylor on both sides in a way that'd make it hard for her to move. "Just ask me to do anything... I'll prove that I'm every bit as under a spell as my lovely wife is," she insisted. It seemed like Taylor had a blank check to get away with making Tajana (or her wife) do anything, whether it was for the sake of proving it to herself or whyever else she might want.

... That was so convenient that Marian suddenly found herself wondering if it was possible they were being played by both Nora and Taylor. Could it be that Taylor was putting on an act, and Nora's real gift to her roommate was the chance to make fools out of famous people? Or a famous person and her not-so famous wife, rather...
Taylor started as Tajana mentioned "other people," seeming to come to a new realization and gulping once again. She continued glancing nervously between her two guests as Tajana continued taking the reigns and leading the conversation. "W-whatever imprint you gave Marian, you really outta tell me..." She didn't seem to be forming any ideas as she noted Marian undoing her braid, giving her a small smile.

Tajana kept things moving by approaching Taylor, causing her to brace back against the floor with her hands behind her, keeping her eyes rooted on Tajana. "Hold on. Good Words!" she shouted, before the author got what she came for...

As Tajana drew back from her unexpectedly chaste gesture, she'd find Taylor had shut her eyes and pursed her lips a bit, the expression of someone expecting a kiss and not used to giving or getting them. She opened her eyes after getting it on the cheek, though, a flush spreading across her face. "Um..." she paused, trying to collect her thoughts as she kept her wide eyes focused on the close face of her favorite author. "Uh... Y-you know, Tajana, um, the potion shouldn't make you want to, uh, kiss whoever. You could just kiss Marian, unless... oh. Oh, so you weren't kidding about doing things with other people!" Taylor seemed to be thinking hard about this, probably drawing some conclusions in her head. "I need to consult the Words," she said, closing her eyes and probably just looking for a way to give herself a moment.

Finally, Taylor ducked beneath Tajana's arms before she could be stopped and moved to the door with purpose. It might be reasonable to think she was trying to escape. As she reached the door, however, she quickly manipulated the locks, then turned to press her back against the door. "All right," she said, stepping forward carefully, doing her best to try on a confident smile. "Then, um, I'll tell you even more of the truth! I always thought you were not just a great writer, but also... you know, beautiful! Um... captivating, spell-binding. And when you married Marian, I always thought that was a good choice and it must be nice for you because she seemed, uh, nice and cool and, you know, kinda sexy, although I guess that doesn't mean much coming from me... But, to be honest, I also thought that maybe some change in your... er... your marital life... might have something to do with the change in your output. S-so, if you're telling me to help, then sure! The Words are telling me this is an opportunity and we should get closer to each other... Maybe you'll get a new idea for your writing... Although, I kinda hope you don't..."

The fan made her way over to her bed (surely the web-print sheeted one was hers) and took a seat on the edge with a sheepish, expectant grin. "Maybe you two would be more comfortable... getting to know each me... over here? Do whatever the Words inspire you to! ... Er, at least until that medicine is ready. Is there anything else I could do to make you more comfortable? Would you like those biscuits?" In spite of what she seemed to have in mind, Taylor was apparently having a hard time changing hats.
As Marian's wife went in for a kiss on another woman, Marian herself raised an eyebrow; she wasn't offended necessarily... after all, she'd made her living writing some pretty weird stuff for a while. On the other hand, she'd never really imagined Tajana would go for it. She wasn't sure if she'd call this devotion to the craft on her wife's part or just the lack of common sense she privately knew Tajana was possessed of. If anything, she imagined the other girl was just as surprised as she was. She was so momentarily mystified that she nearly missed Taylor's utterance of her catch phrase, "Words," once again. It felt a little annoying to do anything while she was 99% certain nobody was going to be paying any attention to her, but obediently, she reached down and removed one of her short boots, revealing one of her tan stockings. She figured this pacing was okay... Taylor wasn't really throwing the word around like she had been earlier, and besides, her mouth may be full in a moment anyways...

She supposed she shouldn't have been surprised that Tajana went in half-cocked; it was hard to coax much intimacy out of Tajana, even for her wife. It seemed like Taylor had gotten the point, though, and it seemed like she was going to run with it. Also, she'd said the word again. Marian grumbled internally, realizing that she was still a third wheel here, and took off her other boot, setting it neatly beside the other.

Tajana chuckled, leaning her head forward and resting her chin upon the back of her hand, with a captivating, unblinking gaze. "Hm hm hm... You silly... However your magic works, it's not as though I'd even need a potion to want to kiss you," she suggested, glad that the aborted kiss didn't seem to have dampened Taylor's enthusiasm, even if it had left her momentarily conflicted. It was also good to see that Taylor was, indeed, "into that," as otherwise, this prank would be more at Taylor's expense than to her benefit. For a moment, things looked bad again, as she was worried Taylor was going to run away... instead, the girl was just running up to lock the door. Taylor probably didn't want her roommate walking in on all this, as she'd probably never hear the end of it.

Next came some Words that weren't exactly uncommon for Tajana to hear, but were pretty flattering, especially coming from a girl half her age. Marian felt a little vindicated as well, hearing confirmation that she was nice, cool, and kinda sexy. Her theory, however, left a thought hanging that both of them had to chew on. Marian had always had that worry as well, and Tajana had recently expressed the same, that a pleasant married life had taken some of the edge out of her stories.

At the same time, Marian heard the word again and began to worry... they were running through her reserve of clothes pretty quick all of a sudden, and now, another sock had to come off. At this point, Taylor would probably notice; taking one's shoes off as a guest might be common, but socks, less so. Taylor gave the two of them a sexy invitation, seeming confident enough that she was helping Tajana to dismiss whatever worry she might have of what might happen tangling with the dangerously altered minds of two mature women. She also said the codeword again, which led to Marian taking off her other sock; by this point, if Taylor was really paying attention, she might start to get clued in to what was triggering the behavior, but it was just as possible that it still seemed like a random occurrence.

The two ladies walked over to meet Taylor. Tajana's movements were slow, graceful, with steps so light that it almost seemed as though she was floating. Marian, on the other hand, adopted a catwalk strut with more practiced seduction technique, as she'd learned back in the same kinds of 'con shows that Taylor had likely watched but never participated in. She'd been silent for a long time and spoke again now, as she slid up onto the bed, pressing her own arm against Taylor's left. "Are you sure? Your Words are compelling me to do some pretty crazy things..." she spoke in a quiet voice, placing one hand suggestively upon the younger girl's leg, while marveling at the strange situation she found herself in.

On the other side, Tajana sat just as close, smiling coquettishly as she brushed away Taylor's hair from her cheek and stroked it with the back of one hand. "Don't worry... I'm very comfortable already. You needn't worry about the biscuits, though... I don't want any distractions..." the black-haired lady continued in a breathy sigh, with a smile that was likely a little more genuinely hypnotic than the tea or coin from earlier had been. Provided Taylor wasn't having second thoughts, or at least not enough to run away, she closed her eyes and gave Taylor another kiss, still on the cheek, but this time more fully. She placed her left arm around Taylor's thin shoulder to hold her, then crossed her right arm past her lap and atop Taylor's hand on the bed. If Taylor was interested, kissing Tajana for real at this point would probably be as simple as turning her head to accept it.

Marian, for her part, rubbed the upper-part of their host's thigh suggestively, then moved in closer to kiss at the girl's neck. Her mouth moved in a more practiced, hungry way than Tajana's would, as her libido had always been a little stronger and her acting ability a little greater. Next, she experimentally, moved one hand to grasp the opening of Taylor's hoodie near the neck, and she tried to pull it aside slightly, but she wouldn't be able to get further than that unless the girl shrugged out of it herself. A part of her mind was wondering what the end game here was, but another part of it didn't really mind regardless... after all, she'd woken up today wanting to use Alexandru's day at camp as an excuse for some intimate time with her wife. She couldn't balk at the opportunity now that it had come, and even if Taylor was a nerd, she wasn't the least cute girl to have a threesome with. Thin and bookish was basically her type, after all.

On the other side, Tajana's eyes opened discretely and she found herself watching Marian's hand. It was all fine and good if Taylor and Marian wanted to take this further... "But am I really going to strip and do... 'this-and-that' with one of my fans?" she asked, her eyes looking a little troubled and her face more red. It gave her a needy look that was perhaps counter-intuitive to the moment of rest she needed to decide how she felt about this. "Do I want my audience to think that I'm... like that?" she thought to herself. Though, given the kinds of scenes she sometimes wrote into her books, fans probably already thought she was a good bit more of a sexual free-spirit than she actually was. "Remember that your words have power over both of us... There's plenty you can do to inspire me... and plenty you can do to inspire my wife as well," she urged Taylor, between soft kisses.