Meet Me At St Louis
Handsome, charming New York Businessman.
One of the new breed of Ventrue who have embraced the Jazz age and the opportunities it offers.
Rather like the trains and steamers on which he has made his fortune Ben is constantly moving seeking the next deal.
Newly arrived in St Louis he seems to be busy making connections in the area guided by fellow Ventrue Giles Driscoll
Ben’s daytime affairs are handled by his personal secretary Maggie O’Neill
Ben Templeton wasn’t the greatest cavalryman in the history of the regiment in fact he was one of the worse yet somehow everybody liked him; he pulled the most outrageous stunts to get out of anything resembling hard work, always seemed to know who to talk to and where to get whatever they wanted, he was a consummate actor and had the charm of the devil.
Ben had never wanted to join the cavalry, his father Randolf Templeton the railway baron had bought him a commission to try and keep him out of trouble, it didn’t work.
One day Ben received word that his father was dying and he request leave to go to New York. It was no surprise to everyone when the commanding officer received a letter from Ben saying that his father had passed away and enclosing a cheque to pay off his commission.
New York 1922.
Ben left the hospital pulling up his collar against the rain, his mother having died some years ago along with his brother Ben was now the only Templeton left and therefore sole owner of Templeton Railroad, yes he was rich but he didn’t want to sit in a boardroom for the rest of the life like his father, watching every dollar mount up, that was his father’s greatest pleasure but what Ben really enjoyed was the thrill of the chase, why sit back and let things trickle in?
Lost in thought Ben didn’t notice the car pull up beside him until he walked into the man who had got out and was now holding the door open, ‘May I offer you a ride Mr Templeton?’, the voice of the woman from inside the car was quite beguiling, Ben looked inside to see one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen, she motioned to him to sit beside her and he suddenly seemed unable to resist , one he had sat down the man who had been holding the door open got in and the car pulled away.
Ben turned to the woman, ‘Hey thanks for the lift, do I know you?’, ‘Not yet though you may have heard of me, my name is Julia Wintour’, Ben had heard of her she was well known on the New York social circuit and very, very rich. ‘Miss Wintour, I have indeed heard of you, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company? I’m sure you don’t make a habit of cruising the streets and giving lifts to strange men’, Julia laughed, ‘even if they’re as attractive as you?’ Ben smiled; it was the sort of line he would use in the same situation. Julia continued, ‘Pleasurable as I’m sure an evening with you is I actually have a business proposition of a sort’, Ben’s eyes lit up, ‘you want to buy the railway?, ‘No Mr Templeton I wish to invest in it, we’ll see what you can truly do’, ‘I’m not sure what you mean?’, ‘Suppose I told you that Templeton Rail could be even more successful?’ ‘Well that’s nice but as I mentioned before I’m really looking to sell it, boardrooms aren’t really my thing’, “Ah, but I think you would be able to improve on the already considerable growth your father has left and therefore I offer you a wager,” Ben’s interest increased at her words but at the same time he didn’t want to let this woman know that. ‘Sorry you’re losing me’, “Really? Hmm, how about if within a year you double Templeton Railwayroad’s profit but only with a third increase in expenses then I will buy the business from you and also provide you with contacts for any field you wish to expand a business into.” Miss Wintour sat back and watched him whilst gently tapping the ash from her cigarette, “Well? Do I have your interest?” “If I achieve the growth sooner, you will pull forward the agreement?” “If the growth sustainable, not boom and bust then yes, but my purchase price will be capped at the double rate for the current business.” Ben frowned slightly at her words, "Ouch, how about we save negotiations for eight months when I bring you the business? I’m sure that discussion could be held somewhere more comfortable…" He flashed his most charming smile and offered his hand; “Deal?”
A few days later
Following his wager Ben decided it was about time he actually took a look at the Templeton Railroad and Steamer Company, rather than stroll in and announce himself he decided he’d visit one evening, there was unlikely to be anyone beyond the janitor there at this time, he could slip in, have a look round, get a feel for the place, have a look at the books, that sort of thing.
As he approached the building coming through the doors were two girls a blonde and a redhead whose Irish-American accent cut through the air, ‘so I kicked him really hard on the shin, and told him if he ever touches me again the next kick will be higher…’, Ben momentarily forgot why he was there and stared at the Redhead who suddenly stared back at him, ‘hey pretty boy what do you think you’re doing?‘, Ben hadn’t been expecting this, ‘well right now I’m looking at you and in five minutes I’ll be buying you a drink’, ‘is that right?’, ‘yep, ’you’re pretty sure of yourself’, ‘yep’, the Redhead, turned to the Blonde, ’I’ll see you tomorrow Susie, don’t worry I can look after myself’, the Blonde left leaving Ben and the Redhead alone, ‘so do you often offer to buy strange women a drink?’, ‘sometimes’, ‘do they often say yes?, Ben smiled, ’sometimes, so are you?’ The Redhead smiled back, ‘I guess I am, I could do with a drink after today’
Ben guided the Redhead towards the speakeasy and into a booth, ‘so…?’, ‘Maggie’, ‘so Maggie, bad day?, ’you don’t wanna hear about my problems’, ‘try me, do you work at Templeton Rail?, ’Obviously! Well at the moment!’, ‘The moment?, ’Yes, Mr Templeton died, he has a son but he’s a bit of a waster, rumour has it he’s going to sell the company and we’ll all be out of a job, I look after the typists and they’re all really worried, anyway why am I telling you this, I don’t even know your name’, ‘Ben’, ‘Look Ben, thanks for the drink, but I really should be going’, ‘husband to be getting back to?’, ‘that Mr is none of your business!’, Maggie snapped at him grabbing her coat, Ben laughed,‘Redhaired women and Chestnut mares! At least take my card’, Ben slid a card across the table, Maggie glanced at the card and sank back into her seat, holding her head in her hands before peering up at Ben a sad look on her face, ‘Oh God, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…Mother always said my mouth would get me into trouble, so I guess you’re not selling the company?‘, ’Nope’, Ben shook his head, ‘so the only person getting fired is me?’, ’Well you will be leaving the typing pool…
A seven and a half months later.
Ben poured a glass of champagne for Miss Wintour, “To toast the sale of Templeton Railways and Steamer.” Taking the glass she replied “Mmm, a tad overzealous maybe? We still have the price to discuss…” “Indeed, I haven’t haggled with a woman over a business before I am hoping you wouldn’t be falling back on tears.” A shared smile before negotiations started in earnest. Three hours later Ben sat back after double checking the paperwork, signing, and then sighed. “Well, you certainly got your blood from this deal but worth it not to have your vulture turning up every night to check though what I was doing.” A clink of glass as Julia set a tumbler of whisky down in front of him, “I’m sure Zettor will be just as pleased.” She tapped her glass, “So your plans for the future?” Ben talked about his ideas including a subtle hint about the promised contacts, he hadn’t felt this good since he got his decommission and he didn’t even start as he realised Julia was sitting next to him… Strange he hadn’t seen or heard her move but that was forgotten when he felt her nuzzle his neck and then a sharp pain, strange pleasure and then darkness.
Ben slipped into his new role as a Ventrue with ease, his sire showing him the ropes to the machinations of the clan and honing his skills.
He still owned the railroad, Julia having given him the papers after his embrace, but at least he had Maggie to explain his absences and to place herself between him any anyone who wanted to waste his time
He wasn’t unduly surprised when Julia requested he travel to St Louis, she explained it was arranged for the next stage of his training that he was to be protégéd to another Ventrue. To rise in the clan it would not do to petrify, Ben couldn’t agree more, new city, new challenges but more importantly new opportunity.