I know that I am dressed to kill. Of course that isn’t my intent, although I never know from night to night, mission to mission.
My co-workers stand outside the building in the dimly lit parking lot finalizing the course of action. The escape plans, if need be, are laid out for all of us. Kari and Allen are to get the intelligence from the host of the party held at the old warehouse. There are two levels of activity where we will be working and my job is to distract the man who may get in the way. He is the second-in-charge and an unknown factor who may or may not degrade the mission. He won’t if I have anything to do with it.
I don’t always like my career choice, but nights like this are the easy ones. The purpose of the mission is covert, but I know that the company I work for is just. The necessary choices in contracts are always for the greater good, and I trust Kari’s judgement. I am simply a tool for these missions, but Kari and Allen are more like family. They always watch out for my best interest yet all of us understand the danger involved.
Tonight, for example, has some dark organizations on the guest list and I could find myself in a tight spot pretty quick. But I’m prepared. As everyone on this mission has, I’ve been preparing for years. The purpose for needing intelligence doesn’t matter at this point. I have already accepted the challenge and now focus on what needs to be done.
Allen doles out the objectives for each of us one more time and we walk to the front door. It’s a heavy metal door with a simple handle that he scrapes open to escort us in. The loud music and smoky, dark air soon adjusts our eyes and personalities into work mode.
As soon as Allen and Kari enter, they feign any recognition of me. I won’t see them until the next day if everything goes as we had planned. I walk up the stairs on the right, my little black dress hugging my frame with each step. I adjust my feet in the black stilettos that are surprisingly easy to maneuver. That took preparation as well, but it hasn’t always been for work. I was recruited because I could blend in if needed, or stand out for everyone to take notice. I check my phone one last time and notice Kari’s message; one last prayer for our safety and success. I text back, “See you tomorrow. Love, April”. I delete both messages and return it to my black clutch I chose for the night.
As I enter the next floor at the party, I see my target immediately. His persona isn’t one of a graceful host, but instead he makes sure everyone knew his importance to that section of the building. He has one of those personalities that on the surface looks confident and interesting, but any discerning woman can see his need for reassurance. That is my angle. A beautiful woman in the right place and the right time could easily stoke his ego just enough to ensnare his attention. But I have to be careful. Men like that can be dangerous, and given the reputation of his boss, he would prove to be difficult to shake at the end of the mission.
I move into the next room, waiting to take off and hang up my dressy black jacket for him to enter that room. As I see movement in the corner of my eye, I execute the first plan and know immediately that it’s successful. Instead of turning to meet his gaze, I turn the other way to fetch a cocktail. I won’t be drinking a lot, not at work, but I have to sell the idea that I am there upon invitation. As I easily chat with the bartender, I feel his presence behind me and then the warmth of his hand upon my waist. He didn’t wait very long. The hook is set.
“Let me get that for you,” Darren said. I know his name, his car, his college degrees, his criminal record, everything. However, I act pleasantly surprised to this invitation of a free drink from a handsome gentleman. We chat, introducing ourselves and playing the game. Each of us brush lightly past the true lives we lived, him oblivious to my deception. I give him my best bedroom eyes, a look of interest. Soon enough, I would change that look to impartiality. That will entice him so he won’t be too far from me later in the evening. I need two hours for Kari and Allen to finish their assignment.
I excuse myself after a while and walk to a table to visit with others. I need him to see that he will have to work at keeping my attention. That will keep him too busy to wander down stairs and see someone else finessing his boss out of information. He is crude enough to recognize that situation from across the room. Too bad for him he can’t see it up close.
No matter where my attention is that night, I always keep tabs on Darren. I methodically know where he is and true to plan, he’s never more than a room away from me. I revisit him from time to time, whether it is with a smoldering look, a quick conversation, or completely ignoring him. I know I have him wrapped around my finger. His demeanor melts as I see the drinks he keeps in his hand steadily replaced with more.
I can’t lie, I enjoy that kind of power. My hidden agenda was flawless. Some may criticize my use of femininity to seduce and manipulate someone, but I know that he is not a good man. In real life, I am not like this at all. I am able to put my tools away after work and pick them right up again when it’s time to clock back in.
I see the transformation completing with 20 minutes left until the end of the mission. I decide to end it with a solicitous invitation for an exclusive date, apart from the rowdy music and flashing lights of the night’s function. This is the tricky part. I have no intention of leaving with him. That would be too dangerous and my duties never require me to go beyond this stage.
I don’t expect the sheer excitement that lights up his face, though. He leaves me standing there, confused. I can hear him calling loudly for someone in the other room to let them know he was leaving and that they need to “take care of business here.”
I see him run into someone. The ruse soon falls apart. The look of recognition shows plainly in his eyes, and his brows furrow. A quick glance across the room towards me confirms my fears. I am in trouble. Well, this is one way to ditch him. He hurriedly turns away and rushes down the stairs.
I can barely evaluate my next move when a man grabs my arm and turns me towards him. “You have to get the hell out of here,” he fiercely whispers. “Now.” I didn’t know anyone else was involved in the contract, but suddenly I am glad they are.
“I have to get my stuff. It’s in the other room,” I reply. I hurry to grab my coat and my purse. No way will I let him have any clues as to where he can find me later. I rush out the fire escape door, throw on my coat, and clamor down the stairs, heels and all.
The building is elevated from the rest of the landscape, and below is a wide alley that borders a river a little ways off. It’s so dark, but I stumble through the dirt and sand to reach a ridge I will have to climb. To hell with my black stockings and perfectly fixed hair. I am running for my life.
As I dismiss my appearance, noises from above me proves I am right to scurry in the shadows. The fire escape door bangs open and I can hear him muttering that I was dead. Instead of following me, though, he disappears back into the party. The noise on that floor dims. Apparently he has a gun and isn’t hiding it from anyone. The lower level, though, is ignorant of what is going on.
I had to call Kari. Not only was the success of the mission in jeopardy, but their lives as well. I pull my phone out of my coat pocket as I run to the next ridge to call them, but I get no answer. I turn down the volume to silent so I can hide better in the dark parking lot. If I can make it there. I pull myself up the ridge and face a row of cars parked slightly above me.
The metal door slams open and I see him under the light right before I duck under a white car. It was parked haphazardly over the broken-down curb. Someone had obviously been tuned up when they parked. The thought flashes through my mind as I consider if it is enough cover so he can’t see me. I pull up my legs and sit precariously on the last ridge under the car parked facing the river. He is somewhere in front of me in the parking lot.
I see glimpses of his flashlight, arcs circling, searching for me. He keeps talking as if he’s speaking calmly to me. I know he was out of control. He had been played, both as a man and professionally. His boss will be angry and the men below him will question his judgement now.
I quickly check my phone one more time before I shove it in my pocket. Nothing. Besides, Kari and Allen had to know their time is over and were probably long gone. I don’t want my phone’s back light to give away my hiding spot, either.
Moments pass. I try to control my breathing as I hear Darren walk by the white car. He jumps down the ridge and I see his shaking flashlight beam sweep the area. I can’t help myself as I whisper, “Noooo” and quickly pull my legs in tighter and hold on to the front axle of the car.
He doesn’t see me, but I can see him over my shoulder. He’s holding a .38 special in his right hand, finger on the trigger. I know that if he shoots that thing, he won’t be able to hear me as well if I have to sneak away. But it is definitely a deadly weapon, and I know he has a deadly aim.
Thankfully, he stomps out of my view and out of my hearing. I don’t move. What was my next move? Do I wait under the car? He will be back with help, however badly he doesn’t want to share his mistakes with someone.
Should I sneak across the parking lot and move into the city a block away? The crowded night life would provide some cover but I would stick out with my dirt-caked stilettos and unkempt hair. Should I go back into the building? He could be long gone somewhere else looking for me. That would give me more time to plan my escape.
Kari and Allen would meet me in the morning at the rendezvous point a dozen blocks away. I decide to back track down the alley and stay away from the lit parking lot. I am weaponless and venturing down a dark alley alone. I prefer that to the alternative. The beating Darren and his men would give me would not be pleasant.
I carefully duck out from the car and climb down the ridge, hugging the shadows and skulking past the fire escape I had scrambled down 20 minutes before. Finally my stilettos hit solid ground instead of digging into the soft dirt and I quicken my pace.
Reaching my destination, I almost let down my guard. I see someone near the door and instantly recognize Allen on the look out. It’s not over yet. I watch him for a few minutes and decide it is safe. I make just enough noise for Allen to look in my direction and Kari emerges from the shadows. After approaching them, I finally see his expression. The mission was completed.
We would celebrate with four days of recovery time before we do this all over again.