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Girls' Night (Manifesto)
Manifesto boasted impressive security, though she was not without her own. None of it was so gauche as to be on obvious display of course. In the ethereality of Block 1, Sofia sat alone in a private booth overlooking the floor below. One slender leg hooked over the other. She was dressed in pristine white, with designer gold circling wrists and neck. Clean lines hugged the temptation of curves but there was little flawless skin on show. Just enough to tease. She ignored the servers as they arranged the iced bottle and poured her glass.

Uncle Sulteev had neither time nor inclination to entertain the American heiress sniffing around for his attention, but the Moreau family was too important to snub entirely. When her father asked her to step in, she’d only agreed sweetly and kissed his cheek.

For now she watched the world below like a queen, haughty-eyed. An e-cig pressed and pulled from her perfect lips. The smoke wreathed electric pink.

[[Colette, for whenever you’re ready. No rush. This thread is open]]
Colette was already pretty annoyed that she had a glimpse of Moscow’s social elite but was still on the outskirts of the party. She’d sent her name out to multiple contacts, informing them she was in the city, but still lacked a successful invitation to any of their worlds. She knew it was because she was American, and even if the Moreaus were a powerhouse of wealth and influence, they were still foreign. So she waited… and waited.

Until finally, Evelyn came through. Colette didn’t know how the congresswoman did it, but she leveraged a response from the Privilege’s office. It wasn’t a government meeting, nothing official or anything like that, but still, it was something. Anything social was a great sign.

She bought a new dress for the occasion. It was called for to attend Manifesto, and she wanted to be in on the most current Moscow trends. It was hand-beaded and form-fitting with an array of purples the color of sunset. Diamond drops hung from her lobes and she wore an amethyst ring set with white gold. Her hair was loose but for one side pinned back with a diamond and pearl comb that let the curls cascade elegantly back, and her makeup was flawless. When she was shown to Sofia’s table, she paused to let the other woman acknowledge her.

Sofia was as much a goddess as the internet claimed she would be, but so was Colette. More to the point, one of them was the daughter of class and refinement, the other the daughter of a casino. “Ms. Vasileva?” She confirmed as much as she sat opposite her. “Colette Moreau, a pleasure to meet you,” and she offered to shake hands.
Sofia watched the woman approach with no real attempt at hiding her scrutiny. A small gesture eased Colette’s passage through the security surreptitiously spaced around the table, though of course they knew exactly who was expected. The signal was more for the benefit of her guest than her people; a negligent flex of power wielded. The woman was pleasingly beautiful, and the dress was divine. Both points that went in her favour as she took her seat in Sofia’s current kingdom. She smiled a gracious welcome, and shook the hand offered, though she found it formal.

“Sofia,” she said, dispensing the ceremony. Whether Colette chose to perceive a rival or an ally was entirely up to her, but for Sofia’s part there was no coldness. Colette was beautiful and alone. The men of Moscow would eat her alive, take everything she was willing (or unwilling) to give, and spit her right back out to New York. Unless she chose her friends here carefully.

“Uncle Valentin sends his apologies.” Which, of course, he really didn’t, but Colette would know that. She paused her attention to imperiously gesture a server return, either to pour Colette a glass from the bottle chilling on ice on the table, or to take her order; whichever she preferred. “How are you finding Moscow?”
“Sofia, of course,” she gave the offered hand a gentle squeeze, mindful of the exquisite design of her nails. Sofia’s intent scrutiny wasn’t lost on Colette. Sofia’s every word and motion exuded confidence, even the warm undertone to the Russian woman’s accent. Dismantling of formalities and exposing a hint of familiarity, Colette balanced the camaraderie flawlessly. She politely accepted the chilled bottle and its implied offer, a deliberate move in the unspoken back and forth between the two women.

The mention of Uncle Valentin, the subtle lean back, and the unspoken permission to embrace hospitality spoke volumes about her hostess. The corners of her mouth curved with a slight smile, the kind of dewy motion that men usually found irresistible and women found infuriating.  “When stranded at sea, one learns to wait for the boat,” she said with a hint of a smile as she took a sip of the marvelous drink. There was no other choice when stranded at sea - float or die. Colette could float. 

She admired the glass after her sampling, nodding her approval. “Thank you for the boat ride. So what is it like to have a Privilege as an uncle?” 
It was clear Colette was used to being at the apex of her social scene. She accepted the drink choice and service, and conducted herself with grace and refinement.

But Sofia didn’t like being compared to a boat.

It suggested a brevity of importance, like Sofia’s magnanimity was no more than a stepping stone to higher powers. She took a delicate draw on the ecig, and after a long moment exhaled the sweet-smelling smoke. The question was ignored, given it was a presumptive enquiry into the ways Sofia’s ties might be of use. But she wasn’t the petitioner here.

“I have a vested interest in seeing you don’t sink,” she said. “But you’ll need more than a pretty smile and good manners.” Her head tilted a little, blonde hair brushing the side of a perfect jawline. When she smiled it wasn’t unkind. “What do you plan to accomplish in Moscow?”
There was a real possibility that when a woman like Colette smiled and fawned, it was mere posturing; however, when Colette beamed, there wasn’t an ounce of insincerity. Yet there was no joviality of a simpleton; there was an intelligence behind her expressions.

She hadn’t expected the conversation to shift so swiftly to business, assuming it would take a long dalliance of softening each other up before things turned serious. However, she didn’t know if Sofia’s question really was straight to the point or if it was a casual sort of question. Colette opted to take the middle ground with her answer.

“I hope to be of service, really. My family has influence in New York and my friend, Congresswoman Avalon, suggested that I may be able to help bridge some of that influence between Moscow and the States, especially if things progress between the two nations as many believe it will. I’m particularly passionate about channeler policy. I had a cousin who fell to the Sickness.”

Just right.
Colette wasn’t an airhead at least, and she spoke all the right words with confidence and charm. She was both beautiful and erudite, and if she was perhaps a touch too naive in truth, she certainly had enough about her that Sofia suspected she was almost always underestimated by those around her. That alone was enough to capture attention. Heiresses were usually vapid, but as the evening unfolded Sofia continued to warm to this new diamond of the social scene. She enjoyed being the conduit through which Colette would find her feet in Moscow, and made certain in turn that the powerful circles Sofia traversed and directed were very well witnessed by the other woman. By the end of the evening she was curious to witness whether Colette could truly attain and manipulate the great heights to which she intended to reach for. By the morning, gossip already circulated that Sofia Vasilieva had taken the new American under wing. The two were seen together at a prestigious spa at Sofia’s invitation (the night had been rife with alcohol, of course; a true Moscovite welcome). A few days later, when the guest list for the Vasiliev anniversary celebration was finalised, an envelope was delivered to Colette’s suite at the Radiance hotel.

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