In the crisp foyer, a study in minimalism and notably devoid of any company insignia, she has the appeal of a luxury item. She's got a suave, self possessed swagger that draws him in. She purses her lips and pointedly ignores the two men. Her actions speak louder than any words. Al stands his ground, enjoying the lingering, heavily erotic scent of her, long after she has left the foyer for the street. Graham eyes his partner. He gives a low whistle as they wait for the elevator.
“Well. That was all woman”.
Graham attempts to rid his features of a tell-tale smile. Al blushes beet red in the silence. No point denying his reaction. Graham presses his upper hand.
“Not built like my wife, that one. My wife is tiny.”
As they ride upwards in the steel compartment, Graham shifts the cuff of his expensive suit to cover his Rolex.
“More fool, you. I like a woman with curves.”
“You sure as hell liked that one.”
Al slaps his shoulder. The doors part, Al and Graham are met by an older colleague, a well-groomed man in his mid-fifties. As they walk, Al tries in vain to elicit an exchange of pleasantries with their escort. In a conference room the senior agent hands them envelopes pertaining to their next detail. He tells the men they will meet with their new operations supervisor in 3 days time. They are to work in shifts alongside the super and to use the time to update their surveillance skills. Al reads the documentation supplied and thinks the whole thing smacks of a glorified stake-out. He keeps his opinion to himself.
At home that night in his apartment, eating gourmet, home-style cooking and feeding the remains to his cat, Al wonders if there's more to life. He scratches his stubble. He's had his once-upon-a-time and met a fine woman. Together they'd planned a future. Alice had been in the special forces too. She'd understood his job and his frequent silences. She'd also died on duty, four years ago. Was that all there was?
Across town, Lulu pours her gorgeous flesh into a figure-hugging, maroon, 40's-inspired evening dress. Her sister wolf-whistles and Lulu smiles broadly, her eyes shining. She allows Rosie to gather her thick, silky locks into a knot at her nape, style that might have look severe on a less voluptuous woman but on Lulu it serves as a nod in the direction of propriety. A curl or two bounces free, framing her high cheekbones and enviable, ivory features. She oozes leashed enthusiasm.
Under the approving eyes of a woman who has know her all her life, Lulu smiles a smile to light the world. She glows. On route to her engagement, Lulu's features will assume an indifferent mask, at odds with her femme fatale frame. As the Jessica Rabbit of the special forces, Lulu prides herself on her cool demeanour. Nobody crosses her, nothing gets past her. She is damn good agent. Tonight, she will be wined and dined along with a select few, as 'thank you' from the upper echelons of the organisation. Their mission has been a success, neatly executed, well planned and best of all, completed without carnage.
Lulu's winning smile marks the end of her preparations. One last look in the full-length mirror and a kiss from Rosie sees her make her way down to the foyer, to await a limousine. Rosie thinks her sister is dressed carefully for a date. The idea makes Lulu laugh. The only thing Lulu courts is career advancement. At six years her junior and naive as to the real nature of Lulu's employ, Rosie's innocent enthusiasm remains the perfect cover. In a life purposefully devoid of intimate friendships, Rosie's presence is welcomed. Lulu feels no such comfort in the company of her peers.
The car arrives on time and she is ushered into the snug interior without preamble. At a revolving restaurant stories above the city, Lulu enjoys her deluxe dinner down to the truffle-oil infused potatoes. She is oblivious to the gaping mouths of the gentlemen surrounding her. They drool discretely into their napkins, avoiding her eyes. When she gets up to excuse herself 6 pairs of eyes follow the seductive sway of her steps. The other women at the table, Helen, a senior executive older than fifty and Suzette, a pleasant, plain woman in her late thirties, ignore her attempts at conversation and the evening elongates to become a strain on her good manners.
On the balcony, accepting the rare treat of a cigarette from a senior department chief, Lulu is aware of the height of the building and the effective architecture, charmingly obliterating the wind. Keith's smile is not paternal. His whitish-grey hair benefits from the lack wind-chill.
“You're in the wrong business, Kid.”
Lulu doesn't meet his eyes. If she had, she would have seen a bemused mix of concern and admiration. Instead Lulu leans back, propping her elbows on the cement of the balcony, exhaling smoke above their heads. It makes her creamy cleavage press against the material of her dress. Keith nearly bites off the filter of his cigarette trying to look away.