Seriously alienating Taylor by suggesting she needs a makeover, Jason makes his plans anyway. She and the team have to be refined before they will fit into the society he has sought so long to be part of.
Jason gave him a long, withering, patient look and flipped open his phone. He spoke in Italian for several minutes, nodding and gesturing wildly, raising his voice to overcome apparent protests. He waited in silence for a few moments. Tim tried to say something, but Jason held up a finger for silence. Irritated, the FBI man started to go red in the face, opening his mouth once more. Jason clamped his lips shut with his fingers, glaring mutely at the man.
“Grazie. Buono. Ciao.” He pointed at Tim with his phone, frowning. Taking a deep breath, he exhaled slowly through his nose. “Don’t. Not a word. You don’t know what I had to promise to accomplish the impossible for the three of you. You’re going in for fittings tomorrow. You’ve no idea what this is costing me.”
“We can pay for the suits,” Alex said.
Greg, who was fluent in Italian smiled, shaking his head. “Dude, not suits like these. These are worth more than we make in a year.”
“Don’t ruin them,” Jason said. “Don’t eat, don’t even sweat. There will also be shoes, because there’s no way you’ll be taken as anything but feds in those bloody awful clodhoppers you wear. And you, love,” he turned politely to Taylor. Celeste will see to kitting you out with the right attire. If you can’t wear six inch heels, we’ll work with four—though I prefer the others.”
“You want me to be able to walk on my own, I can’t wear them. I’ll fall down and break an ankle.”
“Then you’ll practice—a lot.”
She started to protest, but he held up a hand. “This is my world, love. I know what I’m talking about. Do I try to tell you your job?”
“You don’t know beans about my job.”
“Ditto.” He patted her on the cheek. “You lot are stuck with me, let me do what I do best. Meanwhile, something to eat. I’m starved. I hardly ate in jail. The food was atrocious. I’m not a very finicky man, but that wouldn’t suit a buzzard.”
He set about making a light afternoon snack. When it was ready, they sat down to enjoy it while they waited for Henri and Celeste. Rather than trusting rookies to the task, Tim and Alex decided to go themselves. Jason gave them a whispered code word to use so the couple would know who they were, and they set off in one of the black SUV’s.
“They’ll be all right, just the two of them?” Jason gazed out a slit in the drapes, watching the SUV drive off.
“That bit about not telling us how to do our jobs—remember that?”
“Yeah,” he continued to stare after the vehicle, although it was out of sight.
“That would apply,” she said, snapping the drapes shut. “Away from the window, Jason. With the right equipment, a sniper can pick you off.”
He blanched, backing rapidly away.
Henri and Celeste arrived at the house about half an hour later. They pulled into the garage and were ushered upstairs without going through the mass of agents in the living room. Jason didn’t want them to know this was part of something official. It was better that they not know or even suspect that. He met them in the sitting room, introducing them to Taylor.
They spoke rapidly in French as Jason described what he wanted done. He and Henri got into an argument over something about her hair, but Jason finally relented, admitting that Henri was, of course, the expert.
Celeste was a stunning woman in her late fifties. Her blonde hair was beautifully coiffed and looked completely natural in color, until she admitted to Taylor that it was dyed. She spoke with Taylor about her skincare routine and laid out products for her to use, demonstrating and describing them to her.
Eying the younger woman appraisingly, she tilted her head to one side. “You are a size four?”
“Yes.” Taylor blushed slightly, embarrassed by the scrutiny.
“You are very fit. Not much up top. We shall have to compensate. I am surprised. Cher Jason usually prefers a woman with more cleavage.”
Taylor blushed, eyes downcast. “He hasn’t seemed to mind yet,” she said, some of her courage returning. “In fact, he told me my breasts are beautiful.”
Blue fire leaped from her eyes and Celeste smiled.
“Now I see why he admires you. You have spirit. He loves a woman with fire. I do not mean to be insulting, cherie. Of all his women, you are the best. She’s magnificent,” she said over her shoulder. “You did well for yourself this time, my lad. Do you intend to keep her?”
“I’m thinking about it, Celeste. Why?”
“Because you finally struck upon perfection. A bit rough, as you say, but oh, the potential…. She will be our finest work. Now, my dear, let’s talk about your makeup.”
She brought out a case of samples and showed Taylor so many colors, she couldn’t keep track of them all. Keeping some out, discarding others, she finally chose what she thought would work best.
“The dress we will choose later. I have several in mind. We shall go shopping, you and I. Do we have a budget, cherie?” She asked Jason.
© Dellani Oakes
To Purchase Dellani’s Books:
Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm