Blood Dance in the Dust Bowl
Vanessa is the childe of Scott Lazlo and his mortal niece. She was Embraced only a few years ago and isn’t taking it well. She almost never leaves Gina’s, Scott’s nocturnal restaurant, but she rarely socializes. When she isn’t moping in a back room, she is painting fantastic murals on one of the walls or partitions. Her art has enough raw talent to make any Toreador weep blood — but the subject matter always has dark trappings of death, sickness and loss.
Speculation holds that Scott just about has to force her to eat. Her despair is profound enough that few Kindred believe she will survive an instant if anything happens to Scott.
Vanessa never met her Uncle Scott. His wife died and he became a recluse before she was even born. No one in the family has seen him for years, and rarely even hear from him — but the trails he blazed in establishing the family’s restaurant brand have served them well.
Vanessa didn’t want to go into the food business, though she worked faithfully as a hostess and waitress all through high school. Her artistry manifested differently: with paint and flat surfaces. She loved huge canvases and murals, and eventually her dad saw she was better put to use in decorating the restaurants than in working them.
She started feeling ill while she was in college for her art degree, but she and everyone else brushed it off. The mood swings? Part of her artistic persona. The headaches? From inhaling paint fumes too much. The dizziness and fainting spells? College diet.
She ignored the symptoms for years, until she was on the cusp of graduating and got into a car wreck when she passed out at the wheel. Her injuries were minor, but the hospital found the brain tumor that had been slowly killing her.
The talk about chemo and operations started, and Vanessa couldn’t take it. Refusing to listen to a reality where a 21 year old girl could have cancer, Vanessa ran away to Phoenix on a week-long bender, figuring if she had to die, it might as well be on her terms. Near the end, a handsome fellow picked her up. She figured they’d go to his place, but he drove her back to Tucson instead. She was too wasted to argue. He didn’t take her home — she met her Uncle Scott instead.
He told her he could save her life: no chemo, no surgery. But she wouldn’t see their family again, and she’d be changed in a way that might make death preferable. Vanessa didn’t think anything could be worse than dying young. She was wrong.