Friday, May 25, 2018
Before there was Claire Baxter there was her
mentor, Sharon Sharpe.
‘I know you’re disappointed to say the least, but there is reluctance within certain quadrants to you,’ Catherine Wycliffe, the newly appointed Head of Women’s Operations at COIL said.
‘You mean with an agent my size,’ Sharon Sharpe, newly minted agent replied then added. ‘Which begs the question of why I was ever recruited in the first place!’
‘To put it bluntly yes. You’re an unknown,’ Catherine responded.
‘To you anyway, DOOM certainly knows how to use an agent of size,’ Sharon added with a sharp barb to the tone.
Catherine ignored the tone, that course would lead nowhere, she was more interested in pursuing productive use of the new agent, even if she had to play the game with her superiors for a while to prove the worth of the agent across from her desk. The Head of Women’s ops had been the big booster of using Plus Agents, she had in fact been the only one in COIL to be so despite the evidence, as Sharon had pointed out of DOOM using them with fantastic success. When finally, a spot was available in the training session, Catherine had gotten permission to recruit one candidate. She had personally selected Sharon a few years ago while on a recruiting session at NYU. Simple interviews of graduating students mixed with testing yielded the qualified candidates without their knowledge, from there more refined methods were used. It was during a break in sessions, Catherine had grabbed a tea and a seat in the cafeteria, lost in her own thoughts on how dismal a day this had turned out.
Usually you found one girl, so far nothing and the afternoon sessions promised even less.
‘You’re too caught up in the what you see, not what you could see,’ he said.
‘Yeah, I see a fat girl, isn’t that what you see?’ other voice said derisively.
‘No, I don’t!’ the first voice said and then continued.
At this point Catherine shifted her herself just slightly and caught the two males out of the corner of her eye and the object lesson of the conversation.
‘Look at that hair, the insane chestnut coloured hair, the way the light plays off of it, right there, when she turned her head, the light aspects of it interplay perfectly with the darker brown segments.’
‘Probably colours it for some reason,’ the other added.
‘No way, my mums a hairstylist and no way that’s coloured, it’s natural. Does she need to lose weight, sure, who doesn't, I could, you could,’ the first added.
‘More than just a little in her case,’ the second chimed back.
‘Wow, you’re that nasty. Anyway, look at how she shifts, its graceful, not humping about. Her lips are perfect, man you just want to feel them. That, is a very beautiful and more importantly a very smart girl. She’ll have her MBA done by summer and just turn 20.’
‘How do you know that?’ the second asked.
‘She was filling out some paperwork in the Bursars’ Office and I happened to be the lucky co-op student who took her application for processing. Her names Sharon Sharpe, Degree in Management Science from Alfred here on an accelerated MBA, two years in one.’
‘Does she know your stalking her?’ the second quipped.
‘Not the case at all, merely admiring what others can’t or won’t,’ he shot back a bit defensive in tone.
‘Hey, no complaints from me if you are and I think I can safely speak for all the other males on campus, she’s all yours. Got to go, come over later, we’re having a party with real girls I think you need to meet,’ the second said getting up and giving him a pat on the back.
Catherine had stolen a look at Sharon Sharpe, the girl in question, the first was correct about her in everything he had said, he was also aware now that their conversation may have been a bit too loud as he looked over at Catherine, who smiled and got up to leave, she had all the Intel she needed, perhaps the afternoon would not be a total waste.
‘You know there’s only one way to find out. Go over there and ask her to go to the party with you.
That’s is if you truly think of her as you do,’ Catherine said as she pasted by the young man depositing her cup in the garbage and kept walking.
The afternoon went as she had predicted, Catherine feigned interest while she gathered all she could on this girl Sharon Sharpe, mostly her academic transcripts. She did however garner an email and wasted no time firing off one to her about interviewing for a position with a front company that COIL used. She didn’t get an answer till the morning, which told her a lot about the night before.
Catherine smiled as she issued the formal invite. Since this was her project she saw no need to involve doubters, so she made the invitation for tea at a small café she knew. ‘Let’s see if you’re as graceful as the young man thinks you are?’ she mused.
Catherine watched Sharon arrive, she was 5 minutes early, but did not look flustered or hurried in her arrival, the sign of good time management and decorum. She carried a small leather portfolio and a small clutch as was, again the sign of a well prepared young lady, nothing overly bulky or cumbersome to carry around like an over the shoulder bag. The spy was also impressed although not at all inspired by her choice of clothes, a woman’s business suit with a jacket. She had on stem earrings of real pearls, older than her, most likely a gift, Catherine guessed passed down from within the family, nice broach, on most girls her age it would appear old and out of style, but on Sharon it worked perfectly. Back to the suit, it was cut well, pleasant colours, bright, but too much so, cut well, but cut to hid the form underneath, which as the young man from the cafeteria had pointed out, did need to shed some weight. She capped it off with black suede low heled pumps, again functional but lacking flare. Catherine could surmise the reason for them. One, she couldn’t manage a higher heel, many new recruits couldn’t and had to be taught or she didn’t think she was worth the effort, the pants were the giveaway about the legs and the shoes just confirmed it, she didn’t think she had good legs, so better to hide them.
‘Miss Wycliffe,’ Sharon said extending her hand for a firm but ladylike exchange.
Miss Sharpe,’ Catherine reciprocated, then watched.
Sharon waited for the server to pull her chair out. She flowed into it in a most graceful fashion.
‘Again, the lad was right,’ Catherine mused and ticked another box.
She also noted that Sharon had waited for the chair to be pulled out for her, the sign of a lady and what she expects from an establishment of this kinds. ‘She has confidence in herself, another box checked,’ Catherine added.
‘I brought along my resume, both academic and work for your review,’ Sharon said reaching down into her portfolio and pulling out an envelope that she passed across the table.
Catherine noted she did the entire action without breaking eye contact, the sign of a well organised individual. See looked over the documents, including letters of praise from her summer employers.
It was clear from the transcripts and the aforementioned letters that Sharon Sharpe was an achiever in everything she put her hand to except one and this is where she decided to go. She’d been a spy long enough that she could size people up very quickly and this girl before her was no exception.
‘I don’t conduct interview, if that is what you want call this, I prefer to just get to know a person, if they fir they fit, the rest are just soft skills that anyone can learn. I hope that is alright with you was some of my questions may be a bit pointed. You can of course not answer if you wish, I promise I won’t be offended,’ Catherine explained.
‘But you will make notes, mental or otherwise. That does not offend me, a non-answer can be either positive or negative depending on the question or the situation or both I suppose,’ Sharon answered with a thoughtful smile and adjusted herself elegantly in her chair.
‘How did your date go last night?’ Catherine asked and waited for Sharon to react in one of many ways possible.
Sharon looked at her for a second, her face giving nothing away, again another excellent sign.
‘I see I get to meet the woman who gave Sam the verbal push, at least that’s how he put it. Since you mentioned to me in your email that you were on campus doing recruiting and Sam related the story to me, well one and one make two,’ Sharon smiled. ‘As for the date, well awkward and uncomfortable to start and embarrassing to end would be the words I would use, Sam might use others,’ she added.
The blunt level of assessment did not shock Catherine, rather it pleased her, Sharon was a hold nothing back person. She decided to test it fully.
‘Funny he seemed like such a nice young man and from the way he talked very much infatuated with you and if you’ll allow me for very astute reasons.
‘I thought he was playing some kind of joke on me. I’ve had that happen before, but he seemed so sincere that I accepted. Anyway, we went to this friend’s place for the party, he went to get me something to drink and then it started, the looks from both sexes that said, “what’s she doing here, is that the best he can do, Sam’s really slipping, try not to stare, etc.” When he came back it stopped but he could see something had happened. He tried to make it better, I could tell, he stayed close, we left after a couple of hours,’ she finished.
‘Sounds like he was the perfect gentleman, I suspected as much. How about you how did you feel about that situation? Didn’t you want to leave?’ Catherine inquired.
‘I don’t run away from things, it’s not my nature to do so,’ Sharon answered.
‘So, we come to the embarrassing part,’ Catherine said as she took a sip of her tea.
For the first time Sharon looked a little uncertain, so Catherine jumped in.
‘First time for everything, sometimes it works, most times it requires a second chance. I take it you did not opt for the latter.’
‘First time for everything with respect to this matter and I panicked. Timing of course could not have been worse, poor Sam, I still think he thinks it’s all his fault. He even said he was sorry for pushing me. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and left, at least I didn’t screw that up. Maybe it was for the best anyway, I’m the sort of person who looks better in clothes than out of them,’ Sharon said resigned.
‘So, the kiss, or more accurately, the attempted kiss did not go so well. I’ve had my share of awkward moments as well. As for the second part of your statement, that is something I want to explore further,’ Catherine probed seeing where it would go.
‘I’m sorry if this offends, but what does this have to do with a potential employment position,’ Sharon asked.
‘Another point,’ Catherine told herself.
‘Depends on the position being offered, doesn’t it?’ Catherine shot back.
‘Yes, and since you brought it up, what is the position?’ came Sharon’s reply.
‘Before I answer that I need to ask you couple of very hard questions,’ Catherine said and then seeing she had the go ahead continued. ‘Why are you a success in everything else except your weight. I ask this because Sam was right, you could stand to lose a fair bit, but Sam was also correct that you are a very beautiful young woman.’
Sharon rally looked surprised, for the first time she did not have a ready, she had not expected the question and her mind was turning over what to say while trying to discern what kind of a job, she assumed within her field depended on her looks and weight. She mulled all these things and really not wanting to answer the question decided to play the Socratic Method and ask another question.
‘Why does my weight having anything to do with a position within my field of expertise?’
‘You didn’t answer my question, you don’t get a pass, its question answer, question answer. But to be charitable, who says the position I’m offering is related to your educational background. I have a Masters in English from Oxford, but I don’t use it much in my present situation.’ Catherine smiled.
This further set Sharon back on her heel, but she set that aside and decided to answer the question. Partly because this meeting intrigued her and she wanted to get to the crux of the matter.
‘Its never really been that important to me, while that’s not true, its starting to become more important, but I have other things I need to do first, finish school, find a job and then,’ she said.
‘And then something else will turn up and then something else and then you’ll watch that pretty but incompetent thing gets the promotion you should have got. For such a smart girl you’re very silly, maybe naïve is the better word. This world is largely built on looks and charisma, call it style over substance, unfair of course, but that’s how are society and to a large extend the world and especially the world you’re going to inhabitant as a working person works. Why I asked you to this interview is because you have all three of those qualities, only you are hiding the best one, because it’s the hardest to obtain. Grades come easy to you, your professors all say so, your brighter and more creative and more outside the box than anyone else in your class. You have the charm and the charisma, its so evident, there are people who pay to learn what you have naturally. If you added that one extra element, looks and by that I mostly mean weight, the window dressing, clothes, make-up, that just happens, you’d be unstoppable. I suspect your kiss last night or more accurately, attempted kiss, was a failure because it was your first time and that is a same. My first time I found the boys nose, then his chin, cheek, until finally his mouth,’ Catherine smiled taking some of the harshness out of her speech.
After they enjoyed a very nice dinner, Sharon thinking. ‘If the position she’s offering me can lead to this someday then I’m accepting.’
‘That was very pleasant, why don’t we sit in the living room and I’ll finally come to the point, I am sure your curiosity has been peaked,’ Catherine smiled.
Sharon said nothing she came over and elegantly sat next to Catherine on the sofa.
‘I’ve had a marvelous day with you Sharon, whichever way this goes, I want you to know that, but now I and you need to get serious. I’m sure you’ve been aware that I’ve been sizing you up all day, seeing what your potential could be, looking for ways to round off or indeed sharpen a few corners to fit what your organisation needs. Without you knowing it, you’re the template I’ve always been looking for. You have more natural talent and more raw potential then any recruit I’ve ever seen,’ Catherine said a she looked into Sharon’s eyes a very serious expression forming on her face as she continued. ‘I work for an agency call COIL.’
‘Is this some kind of modelling offer, because if it is, you sure have the wrong person,’ Sharon started to laugh but soon saw that Catherine was not going along with her.
‘No, my dear, COIL stands for Counter Operations Intelligence League, in other words spies,’ Catherine said.
Sharon’s chest heaved once then twice until finally she burst out in total laughter, throwing her hands up and her head back, tears coming to her eyes. ‘Well in that case,’ Sharon said between fitful stops in her laughter to trying to catch her breath. ‘You REALLY have the wrong person!’ then she stopped laughing and became serious. ‘Excuse me I don’t know why I was laughing it’s actually a big joke on me, isn’t it, a BIG FAT joke,’ she said emphasising the two words as she got up to leave, this time the tears for real.
‘Thanks for the meal and the company, I hope whoever paid for all that got their monies worth and my expense,’ she said reaching for the door handle before Catherine seized it gently and softly.
Sharon thought about wrenching it away but there was something in the woman’s touch, a concern almost, that stopped her and made her turnabout.
‘Even in distress you just have it, that flip of the head, that fantastic hair, even the way you walked across this room to leave, its beyond eye chancing. Here let me show you I’m serious,’ Catherine said releasing her hold, taking a chair from beside the door and sitting down. For the first time Sharon Sharpe took notice. Catherine gracefully folded into the chair and crossed her very sexy legs, the hem pulling just slightly about the knees as she did so before reaching down and removing her black pump.
‘A simple woman’s pump, makes the calves look better, draws the eye and has its own certain sex appeal, in that it is a feminine weapon already, but only if employed by a skilled user. But when you add modifications it becomes so much more,’ Catherine smiled as her finger touched lightly at the top of the heel where it meets the platform and she pulled a small thin long and to Sharon eyes very sharp steel blade from the heel of the shoe. ‘An excellent means of defense or a surprise attack, especially during a kiss. It’s also gotten me out of several confining situations,’ Catherine offered with a sly smile before she put it back. ‘That in and of itself is something, but I like my fashion accessories to mix and match, gives me choices. We stole this from Thunderball,’ Catherine offered as she reached inside the shoe and a needle popped out of the tip. ‘Normally activated with pressure from a toe. And finally, this,’ she offered using the floor to retract the needle before swinging back the heel point of the shoe. ‘There are far too many variations to go into at this time, that comes later, during training, if you choose to accept. In this case I have a spare lipstick in here.’
‘Let me guess, poison lipstick,’ Sharon said somewhat bemused but for the life of her she couldn’t understand why.
‘No this one’s a muscle relaxant variant, care to try, I have the antidote,’ Catherine smiled.
Sharon did not know what to do, was she telling the truth, was this all a game to drug her and then do something really horrible to her, something else maybe, her head was swimming and then she felt Catherine’s lips on hers, a pleasant caressing light touch with a few wonderful motions then the woman slowly lowering her to the carpet, Sharon’s body relaxing more as she descended.
‘All this talk about not being a good kisser, you just need practice, that was very pleasant, now to bring you out of it,’ Catherine said as Sharon felt very light and useless, her body fine but unable to move, kind of like she was in a half awake half asleep state and couldn’t decide on which one, then she felt a light prick on the side of her neck and next she was being helped to her feet and over to the sofa again.
‘You came out of that very quickly, another good sign, I should be surprised but with you I’m not,’ Catherine smiled as she handed Sharon a drink.
‘I don’t know what to say, I guess it really is true, as bizarre as it seems, a kiss doesn’t lie,’ Sharon said touching her head, then she started to laugh again, this time for real. ‘Even if I had any or all of those fantastic devices I would never be able to get close enough let along attract anyone close enough to me to us them,’ she offered and spread her arms in an outward gesture to indicate her body.
‘I have a way to show you how wrong you are, but it requires courage. How much do you have?’ Catherine asked, her voice steady and serious.
‘Was our kiss really not that bad?’ Sharon asked and Catherine had her answer.
Several days later Sharon was right on time again. Catherine greeted her with a hug and then they disappeared inside a not descript midtown office building taking the elevator to the 11th floor, neither saying anything.
‘This way, straight down the hall and into the office, we have an appointment,’ Catherine in a happy voice.
The name plate on the door simply read ‘HGT Investments.
’Hello Miss Wycliffe and this must be Miss Sharpe,’ a woman in a lab coat said with a smile as she extended her hand and shook both in turn.
‘Good Morning Eva. Sharon this is Dr. Eva Sabol, she’ll be walking you through the test and then helping us interpret the results,’ Catherine said. ‘Not to worry you’re in excellent hands,’ she added.
‘This way Miss Sharpe,’ Eva said as she opened a door and the two disappeared inside.
‘First, I just want to take your height, weight and blood pressure and get some background on you,’ she said escorting her into a small examination room. ‘I’ll give you a few seconds to undress. We don’t use hospital gowns here, hence the warmer temp and the reason for that is because of the testing we do. Are you ok with that?’
Sharon looked a little sheepish, but nodded just slightly anyway.
When Eva came back she got all the data she needed and put Sharon at ease in the process.
‘Now we come to the fun part!’ she smiled. ‘Come with me please.’
Sharon was led down the hall and through another door and into a room that had one machine in the very centre. Eva led her buy the hand onto a small pad that had the outline of two feet on it, Sharon did not need instructions on this part.
‘Now I need you to hold your arms straight out from your body, excellent, you need to remain still while we do the scan. This camera,’ Eva said touching an object about the size and shape of a football, Sharon couldn’t help but notice its resemblance to the male organ. ‘Is going to rotate around you up and down. When completed we will have a complete body map of you on multiple levels, skeletal structure, bone size and density among others. At the end the sensor will touch you, not to worry it will be a light touch as it has the contour of your body from the previous scan. This will take other readings, collagen, fat cell, elasticity,’ she smiled and walked over to the sensor. ‘Ready, arms up and here we go.’
The machine started to hum at low frequency as it turned around her on its track in the ceiling. Slow descending revolutions flowed by ascending ones. Sharon soon lost consciousness of being nude, in fact she seemed not to find, she merely closed her eyes and listened to the humming, it helping her concentrate on her school work and a paper she was working on.
Her eyes popped open after an indeterminate time as the sensation from the sensor against her skin stimulated her instantly. Dr. Sabol was correct the touch was barely there, but that’s what made it all the more sensual. For a second Sharon panicked. ‘What if I orgasm?’ Then she regained control, closed her eyes and concentrated harder on other matters.
‘It’s incredible,’ Eva said from the control room where she was monitoring the results and Catherine had come to join her. ‘She spiked here,’ she said pointing to a line on the screen, that a few seconds later, she controls herself and pushes it back down to here, near normal. I’ve seen veteran agents not be able to do that and actually climax from the sensors touch.’
‘You designed it to do that, right from its look to the touch it provides, kind of a test within a test, if I remember correctly,’ Catherine smiled recalling when she had tried it.
‘Retesting is always available,’ Eva smiled at her then continued. ‘I’m going to say she’s a virgin, not much if any sexual partnership so far in her life, just from the information I took and her uncomfortable feeling with her body. So, to have that kind of control, rather than experience something that you can feel is going to be so wonderful is incredible. ‘I can’t wait to see what happens when the sensor works on her more personal areas?’ Dr. Sabol said in medical and scientific fascination.
Sharon was well aware of what was coming and she prepared as best she could, but having no intimate encounters in her life up to this point to act as a yardstick she was caught by surprise on several occasions.
‘No surprise, back of the neck, ear, breast and vaginal areas. What is a surprise is how well she controls it? Hard fast rise in the line, then it’s pushed back, very impressive. She likes toes, ankles and calves as well as her upper thighs and bum,’ Eva commented. ‘It’s just about over I’m going to go get her, the computer will start to compile the data and then you and I can talk before we explain it all to her,’ Eva added and left the room as did Catherine via another door.
‘There not so bad,’ Eva said smiling as she handed Sharon a robe. ‘The computer is chewing on the data right now, we’ll have a report in half an hour, long enough for you to change and have a drink. Come with me and you can change and meet up with Catherine,’ she smiled and led Sharon out the door and back into the examination room. ‘Just turn to the left and my office is the first door on the left, just in well be waiting for you. You did really well Sharon,’ she added.
‘Well at what? Sharon Sharpe asked.
‘All will be explained, I promise,’ Eva smiled a warm friendly grin and left.
‘I’m almost inclined to run the test again. These results are almost too good to be believed,’ Eva said and as she and Sharon looked over the results on the screen when they heard a knock on the door.
Eva shut down the projector as Sharon entered and took a seat between Catherine and Eva on the sofa that they gestured her to.
There was pot of tea and saucers on the table in front of them and Sharon gratefully accepted when Catherine offered.
‘What we’re going to show you is cutting edge technology. Its primary purpose was to identify soldiers with potential to become super soldiers because of certain physical traits. We took this technology and expanded it to look for women who may have hidden traits that would make them very good spies. We kept some of the physical, but thanks to Dr. Sabol we added more feminine genetic aspects to the search criteria as well as our own projections. Ask any questions you want along the way, interrupt, stop ask for further explanations, we have all time it takes,’ Catherine explained and looked at Eva to begin.
‘This is what you look like at present. The computer makes a 3d map of you,’ Dr. Sabol said as she used a hand held remote to rotate the crystal-clear image of Sharon about.
Catherine slipped her hand into Sharon’s sensing her discomfort with her appearance.
‘And this I what the computer projects you could look like with physical routine programmed to your specific genetic make-up.
There was a silence in the room, Sharon’s had slipped from Catherine’s as she starred at the screen across the room.
‘This is you in a negligee, a cocktail dress, an evening gown, professional dress and finally, just a simple shirt and heels, white pumps,’ Eva smiled as she advanced pictures on the screen until they came back to the picture that started the silence.
‘Can I see that for minute,’ Sharon said asking for the controller.
Eva offered it as Sharon stood up and stepped forward a few paces before she slowly went through the pictures again before coming back to the present Sharon picture.
‘That’s not me,’ she said.
‘You’re right that’s not you. That only comes with a total commitment, endless tears, bruises and a body that at times you’ll think is broken and can’t carry on. In my experience, if you are committed you actually exceed this picture. And I want you to keep that in mind,’ Catherine said getting up and slipping her arms around Sharon’s waist from behind, a feeling Sharon found welcoming as her hands closed over Catherine’s around her waist.
‘I want you to remember this is not with any training. You add make-up and certain facial expressions and well I’m searching for the word that would best describe you. I think dynamic is the word I want, it fulfills so many aspects of you. Now before you get carried away we need to have a very serious talk, just you and me about what I’m offering you,’ Catherine said as she hugged Sharon.
Catherine explained the very long odds of survival. You have a less that 40% chance of surviving your first year not great odds and they get worse as you go along. You become a target and you especially if you make it that far will be a great prize simply because of your size. My agents feel that way about their opposite number plus size opponents so why would it be different when reversed. We’ll give you every advantage we can, weapons, training and Intel but you’ll be solo most times on missions and isolated.’
She explained who COIL was, who they fought against, COIL’s philosophy. Sharon took it all in, she asked questions, important ones, but Catherine could tell she was a true believer from the start. She wanted in.
‘We have a series of tests for you to take, they evaluate your decision making, thinking processes, personality traits and other things. It doesn’t matter how great you look, how naturally smart you are or physical gifts you may have, you have to score well on these to be accepted as an trainee. If you don’t you’re out, if you pass we can begin and your beginning will be different from all the other trainees as will your actual training. You’ll be the only plus trainee agent, you’ll be physically different from the others and that may play into how your treated at first, you’ll have to adjust and not let that hamper you. But before any of that you need to lose a great deal of weight and tone up.
Eva’s program specifies 55 pounds, you may be do more, depending on how well exercise and diet work for you. I won’t lie to you, it will be brutal and hard, you’ll be pushed and pushed by one of our trainers and you can never stumble or your out. Physical fitness is just as important as mental, endurance can and will save your life.’
They talked for a long time, hours and hours, but Sharon was not swayed or daunted by what lay ahead, she wanted it. They arranged for her to do the test tomorrow at another location. If she passed she would be contacted and her weight training would begin. They said their goodbyes, Sharon went home and Catherine back to see Eva.
‘These numbers are insane, her estrogen levels and her secondary sex characteristics, what makes her attractive are the highest I’ve ever seen. Her collagen levels are hyper, if she lives she could be an agent for a long time, she’d look great well into her 50’s maybe 60’s. You couple that with this,’ Eva said as she showed an MRI of Sharon’s skeleton. I’ve never seen this in any agent. Her skeleton is perfect, her bones density incredible as is her ligature yet she seems to have the a very flexible frame. It’s a complete paradox, she should have one or the other but not both. You add in her muscle mass and well she’s as near a perfect agent as you could wish for.’
“I agree and I don’t think those pictures even came close to doing her justice. The finished product will be irresistible. I know that and you do as well, its just a matter of getting her into the program and then convincing others to use her to her full potential,’ Catherine stated.
‘You’re assuming she passes the tests,’ Eva countered.
‘Do you have any doubts, I have none, she’s as smart as anything, Catherine said.
Sharon showed up the next day to take the tests. Another non-descript building only this time the offices were in the basement and she immediately thought she was in the wrong place.
‘I’m sorry I think I’m in the wrong place,’ she said to the lady administrator, trying to hand back a test paper.
‘Sharon Sharpe here at the invitation of Catherine Wycliffe, no you’re in the correct place now take your seat please or do you wish to terminate the application now,’ the Adm. Asked more of a question than a statement.
She turned around the returned to her seat, 20 sets of eyes, all belonging to willowy, sexy young women watching and wondering what she was doing here, Sharon as well. She looked down all the way and took her seat, not looking up or around waiting for the verbal cue to begin. Once the test began, Sharon was locked into her world, question and answer.
She knew some were simple personality determination questions while others used case studies to see if you truly followed what you said in those questions while others made you work through a complex problem or scenario. Still others made you assess other people’s motives, behaviours and tactics and adjust to them to get the best outcome for your organisation.
The testing took 8 hours, no breaks. It was long, intense, mentally and physically draining and Sharon enjoyed every moment of it, she felt energised when she left and supremely confident in her answers, she even noticed the sets of eyes still watching her and she didn’t care.
‘Normally I just forward the results, but these I had to bring over personally. I have never in my 20 years as an agent or my 5 doing this seen scores like this or in fact read such perfectly outlined answers as hers. Can I see what you have I need to put the two together. Eva and Catherine showed her the after pictures they had of Sharon. Iris Yellen, the test Adm. just flipped picture after picture, put down the controller, patted the file and smiled. ‘Those pictures aren’t going to do her justice and neither are these answers. How can I help?’
‘Do you know a good trainer?’ Catherine asked.
‘What’s wrong with the COIL ones?’ Iris asked slyly.
‘They are used to a type, I’m sure Sharon drew looks in the test room. She’ll do the same in a class.
As good as they are they have no experience with her type,’ Catherine responded.
‘They won’t know what to do with her and in fact may ruin her,’ Eva added.
‘So, you want to bring her to the program in shape and do it away from COIL eye’s. I can see your point but you must know this is just going to stretch the trust between you and others Catherine,’ Iris said.
‘I don’t care, they can have the so called normal girls, they know what to do with them, this is something else, something they don’t support totally and are in my opinion just paying lip service to. I don’t owe them anything except to prove them wrong, but to do that I have to give her the start she needs,’ Catherine stated.
‘I know a person, she’s ex military, hard as nails, but very good and progressive. She runs a gym over on 9th. I can arrange private lessons,’ Iris said.
‘Tell her to go hard as she can on her. Can you make them for 6 weeks from now? I want Sharon to finish her MBA. I’ll get her started on the diet, I’m seeing her tonight at her place,’ Catherine smiled.
Sharon lived at 12th and Avenue C, a six-story walk-up that had seen better days. It was not dirty or falling apart, nevertheless Catherine chose her path carefully up to the 3rd floor. A rap on the door was answered promptly a smile greeting her.
‘This reminds me of my place when I was a student at Oxford, small and needing repairs, but yours is most definitely neater,’ she said as Sharon pulled a chair from her desk so both could sit at her little kitchen table.
‘It’s small, but its clean and its cheap and not too far from school and it suits me, it’s all I need and I don’t have to share, helps me concentrate and get things done,’ Sharon offered.
Catherine’s swept the place, a bachelor, maybe 300 square feet. The bed was made, clothes all away or in the laundry hamper, her one dresser had a 2x4 piece in place of one leg and each drawer kind of closed almost the whole way. A desk sat against the opposite, school and reference books stacked neatly on a makeshift shelf of milk cartons and wooden planks of various sizes. A radio placed on top was the only source of entertainment, no TV. The kitchen was pretty standard, sink, cupboards, four below and 4 above and 4 on the opposite wall. Fridge and small apartment stove and just enough room for a small rectangular table to be wedged in a corner. No food was visible.
‘I see you have the same taste in artwork as I had at your age,’ Catherine said glancing about the posters that had obviously be purloined from various bulletin boards about the University.
‘They were all past the date of application when I took them, I swear,’ Sharon smiled.
‘Once again, Miss Sharpe, you astound people. The test administrator came personally to Eva and me to show us your scores. If you can take those scores, couple them with the look Eva showed you and apply the training we’ll give you, plus what you pick up on your own, you’ll be exceptional. We have found a personal trainer for you, but you do not start until you have finished you MBA, is that clear,’ Catherine stated.
‘Yes Ma’am,’ Sharon answered.
‘Good, education is very important in this career path. It opens doors, makes undercover work easier and trains the mind to think. I great many trainees, both male and female think it’s all about the body. That’s certainly true, but the brain controls the body, not the other way around and mental fitness and having a willpower has saved me many times in my career. Now speaking of that, we need to get you started on the path, you have the brains, now you need the body,’ Catherine smiled as she opened the first cupboard.
‘To be blunt the weight has to start coming off of you, the sooner the better and certain foods need to be purged from your diet and others added,’ Catherine stated as she began riling through the various cans, packages and boxes, pulling out all the ones that needed to go, putting them on counter. ‘If you could put those in bags, they all need to go. You can donate all this to a shelter,’ she said finishing the last cupboard.
‘There’s nothing left, maybe 6 things. I don’t eat those because I like them I eat it because it’s cheap and what I can afford,’ Sharon said.
‘Nonsense! You eat them because you like them, they make you feel good, but make you look bad.
If you want keep eating them, don’t let me stop you, I’ll move on and you can go back to being safe,’ the Head of Women’s Operations told her and she could see it hurt Sharon.
‘I realise what I’m offering you isn’t exactly a secure career move or most likely a long-term career, but it does have the attraction of not being safe or unchallenging, mundane. It has the opportunity to make a difference in the wold. You know what you are right now, do you want know what you can be?
Sharon wiped a small tear from one eye, opened a cupboard and pulled out some bags and began packing up, Catherine helped her.
‘I know that was hard and it’s going to get harder, much harder. You’re going to have to change your entire lifestyle and it starts here at the hardest part, food and exercise, but I’m here to help as is Eva and then all of COIL once training commences. This is a list of foods Eva wants you to eat, it’s quite varied, she’s even created a meal plan, times and rotation,’ Catherine said producing a list from her portfolio.
‘Ok,’ Sharon said in a hesitant voice as she scanned the list.
‘This is to take away any worries,’ Catherine said hold a credit card.
‘Pay for it with this, not to worry the balance will always be zero. Buy food and some exercise clothes with it. This is the name of the lady who will be your personal trainer and her address she’s expecting you after examinations are over. Now, Sharon,’ Catherine said taking her hands in hers.
There are days you are going to cry with pain, not think you are able to move, be depressed because you don’t see a fast-enough change in your body and above all want to quit. Don’t do it, push through, you have the chance to be game changer, maybe the best agent I’m ever met, but you have to be able to get past this hurdle and this is the highest and hardest one you’ll ever face, your own self-doubt, master it and you will be unstoppable.’
They talked a little more, Sharon asking a few more questions about things that had come to mind before Catherine made her departure.
‘These are my numbers, call me for anything, advice, encouragement, to complain or just to talk,’ she said and embraced Sharon then gave her a kiss on the cheek.
Sharon watched her do from the top of the stairs then disappeared back into her apartment to study.
The alarm went off and bleary Sharon pulled herself out of bed and into her baggy exercise clothes. A trudge to the kitchen and her quick prescribed then out the door and down the stairs to the street. Even down the stairs at a faster than normal pace Sharon could feel her legs starting to burn a little.
‘He we go,’ she said to herself and broke into a jog that quickly became a waddle. Sweat starting to form on her face and her breath got short as she made her way along the sidewalk. When she turned the corner on Avenue B she was already struggling, she pushed on, her body telling her to stop but her brain not hearing or refusing to hear it. She struggled down 13th St and stopped at the corner of C and 13th doubled over, red, out of breath and sweaty. She struggled home in a walk/run and lumbered up the stairs, depressed, angry and nearly defeated. She was at it again 2 hours later, then two hours after that and again and again until she crawled up the stairs that night tears coming easily and collapsed on floor just inside the door and fell asleep. Next day she was at it again, mixing study, classes and exercise.
One push up and one sit up mixed with tears of despair eventually led to 2 of each and three of each. It was slow progress and she was unhappy and in a great deal of pain all the time as she pushed herself, but the weight did start to go. She never bought a scale, the results vis a vis the work effort she put in would always be depressing in her mind, so she preferred ignorance and hard work to reality and depression. It went on for 4 months, school, fitness, repeat and then final examines. No one noticed her weight reduction, primarily because she wore very baggy clothes all the time to conceal her body, her confidence still not there.
‘How did you get here?’ Maria Tavares half asked barked as she came into the studio.
‘I ran here,’ Sharon answered.
‘You ran 4 miles in that outfit?’ she said referring to Sharon’s grey sweats the hung from her like two bags.
‘Yes, and up the stairs.’
Maria led her into the private workout room and closed the door behind them.
‘First thing you do is strip off those bags your wearing so I can get a good look at you. Go on, don’t be nervous or shy or whatever. If you’re going to be working for COIL you better get used to being in the buff and comfortable with it,’ she said.
Sharon peeled of her sweats and somewhat self-consciously stepped on the scale while Maria opened her file.
‘You’ve lost 34 pounds and from the before pictures in your file you’ve toned up quite a bit. Now comes the really hard part,’ he smiled.
It was 10 hours a day in the gym and Sharon did an extra three hours by herself, running, sit ups, push ups, stretching and weights to sculpt and tone. Maria pummelled her in the gym every minute of every day, 7 days a week for 10 weeks. She was merciless, pushing the trainee harder than she should have. Sharon’s mid-section was battered with the medicine ball for hours until she would collapse in pain curled up and crying, but always got up for more after a bit, tears still in her eyes. She went home black and blue some days, barely able to move, so sore she pulled herself across the floor to the bathroom and into the tub where she lay for hours in the hot water, but every day she came back and took everything Maria gave her.
‘Exercise is great, but there is one thing you need to do that will really make you what they think you can become, yoga. Don’t make a that face, this is not debutant or after work Marini Bar yoga, this is hard core, just as hard, maybe harder than anything you’ve done in here. It is mind and body together; no separation and it will change you completely. Yoga will lean out your muscles and form just a touch, give your form a sinuous shape and a flow that will work in your favour in many ways. I know a little, but not enough, but I do know a few people that know a lot more than I do, some of it quite exotic, if you are interested,’ Maria said one night after workout.
‘Do you work for COIL,’ Sharon asked off handily.
Maria hesitated for a few moments and she saw Sharon pick up on this. She smiled at it then spoke.
‘I did a few things for them, once in a while, as a favour between agencies,’ Maria smiled and knew Sharon would pick up the meaning. ‘I’m retired, well semi-retired. I have my gym, my passion is this place, but my love, well, it’s still, someplace else, but I knew my limits and my fears and well, both got the better of me for the good after a time. You don’t have that, limits or fears,’ Maria said looking right into Sharon. ‘You’re something special, unique, that’s what Catherine saw, it’s what the others saw and it’s what I see. You lost 30 pounds on your own and another 28 under me. I pushed you hard for several reasons, to see if you’d quit, that was my instructions from COIL, to identify weakness, that was also from them and to see where you’d end up at, weight and size. I came from that world, well parts of it, so if I’m going to send someone else into it, I need to make sure they have what it takes. I hit you with that Medicine Ball harder than I’ve ever hit anyone, man or woman and you took it, again and again and came back for more. There were days I didn’t think you could walk across that floor, let alone make it home, but you came back the next day. You cried, but you stopped, you collapsed in agony, but you got up,’ she said. ‘You’ve come as far with me as I can take you, stick to the plan we worked out and you’ll be great, but you need more now. This training is different, it’s softer, more elegant, more poised and subtle yet as the same time more demanding a discipline. It will also finish the product. ‘You’re never going to a 5 or 6 size. You’re a 12, but there are 12’s and there are 12’s. You need to take advantage of your height more, yoga will lean you out even more, not it terms of weight, you’re done, your frame, skeletal structure will not support any more weight loss, but you can stretch that 5’10” inches of yours into something truly amazing. This is the woman’s name and her address, I told her to expect you tomorrow at 9am,’ Maria finished.
‘I really don’t know what to say to you. Thanks, seems small and meaningless for this,’ Sharon said.
‘Don’t thank me yet, you have a long way to go, you may end up cursing me before that. One final piece of advice as you move on. Never, ever confuse corporate loyalty with friendship, they are not the same. You can call me anytime, my door is always open to my best student, but it’s just always between you and me, understand.’
Sharon acknowledged that she did and gave Maria a long hug and kiss on the cheek and left.
‘You hold the Garudasana until I tell you not to,’ Gita Singh said as she went to check on the tea.
Gita Singh lived in a three-story brownstone in Prospect Heights at the corner of Carlton and Park. She owned the building, renting the street level as a shop and lived above it on the remaining two floors, the top floor containing her private studio.
Sharon was finding yoga more of a challenge than she had expected. Getting into shape was extremely hard, but this was proving even more difficult. She was struggling with all the factors, balance, breathing, posture, mental attendance and listening. She had been so used to pushing her body and not listening, this new skill set was illusive to her.
‘Let your body flow, transfer the energy from the areas not being used to those that are, but do it smoothly and gracefully, flow is the key to balance and harmony,’ Gita said for more times than Sharon could remember.
‘Ok now transition into the Vrksasana and do it gracefully, let me see you move like a snake not an elephant, water in a river, the gentle wave upon the beach, good, much better. Now hold that until I say not to.’
It had been like this for weeks now, gruelling 10-hour days of basic poses and listening then sessions of stretching that left Sharon sore in places she didn’t think possible. The frustration was only mitigated by the fact her body was indeed changing. She had leaned out, as Maria had said. There was a flow to her that had not been there before. She was starting to look sculpted, but not hard, even though she was. The eye flowed over her form well, it was, she had noticed, pleasing to look at.
After each session Sharon would shower and run home, she craved the fitness routine, now and never missed, even in the rain and cold, she was out there, pushing herself and she liked it. But, still the yoga bothered her, so she worked on it constantly at home endless hour after endless hour until slowly, instead of trying to make her body do it, she made her mind do it and the body followed. Sharon quickly picked up the power yoga poses including; Eka Hasta Vrksasana, Sirsa Padasana, Taraksvasana.
‘Excellent my dear, you’ve mastered all the power positions as I expected. It’s a good first step, a small and obvious one for a woman like you, now you need to add to that and this will be the challenge, adding the finesse with the power, very few can do it, but I suspect I’m looking at one who can. Shall we begin?’ Gita smiled her approval.
Again, Sharon was back at square one as she now had to marry the strength of her power yoga with the suppleness of as Gita called it, the more feminine aspects of the art.
‘You’re going to have to learn to unlock those muscles and ligaments and use them in one sinuous combination of flowing femininity, much like your smaller sisters only they can’t and won’t be able to do what you can, use your power. The two elements in harmony with each other create a woman of unparalleled skills and alluring form,’ she told Sharon as she pushed the trainee in stretching and bending exercises.
The hard work, both mental and physical began to pay off, Sharon started to advance quickly, her mind controlling her body and thus what she could do. After a while there seemed no limit to what she could do. Her breathing slowed to a point even Gita marvelled at and her body control was outstanding.
‘You are beyond anything I can teach you now,” Gita said. ‘Remember, every chance you get do yoga. Your body was excellent before, but now, it’s unstoppable, in so many ways, but always seek out and learn more, study texts, look for teachers, explore,’ and with that she reached in and gave her a kiss on the cheek while pushing a small piece of paper into her hand, a twinkle in her eye letting her know to say nothing.
Sharon looked at the piece of paper on the subway ride home. Bishpa Aswani, there was an address, but it was in India, Mumbai, to be exact and that was all there was. She pondered it for a second before slipping it into a seam on the sole of her sneakers where it had separated from the body of the shoe.
‘Just enough to make sure no one knows it’s there,’ she smiled.
‘I’m very angry and even more disappointed in you Sharon!’ came the voice from her small kitchen as she opened the door and jumped about three feet from the shock.
‘I’m sorry Miss Wycliffe. What did I do or not do?’ Sharon asked catching her breath.
‘It’s Catherine, you know that. You can explain to me why this credit bill still has a balance of zero although by looking at you I can tell why. What are you doing running around in those frumpy clothes, if you can call them that, you look like a Hausfrau, and a really bad one at that. There’s been nothing on this card ever, no food, no rent and most importantly no clothes. My god dear you look horrible!’ Catherine said her voice very emotional, but in a strange concerned way.
‘I, I didn’t want to spend money I couldn’t pay back if this whole thing didn’t work out. I thought it the safer choice for all concerned,’ Sharon answered.
‘I’ve kept updated on your progress, if you hadn’t heard from me you know everything is fine. When you’re on a mission you can’t just phone in for advice, you have to think on your feet. Better to seek forgiveness than consent. I need you to be as smart as I know you are, in all things. Do you have garbage bags around here?’
Sharon nodded and pointed to under the sink. Catherine retrieved them and handed them too her.
'Everything and I mean everything you own in terms of clothes, shoes, jewellery, except family things, goes in these, we’ll donate it. Keep one thing to wear for tomorrow and be prepared to have that tossed when we get the first deceit thing for you to wear. I’m going to have my recruit look not stunning when she goes into training. I will see you tomorrow morning at 9am,' she said giving Sharon a glancing kiss as she left.
Catherine arrived wearing as usual a stunning outfit. She preferred classic cuts and styles but with modern flare and sense of the times that suited her. Today she had on a charcoal skirt cut just a shade above the knee, black stockings and classic pumps, a classic white blouse and matching charcoal jacket finished the ensemble. Catherine, Sharon noticed had her timeless pearl earrings and matching necklace on again, it seemed to be a favourite. That could not be said of Sharon who as per instructions had bagged up everything she had owned and arranged them in a line in near the door and was wearing scuffled grey flats, badly fitting jeans, and a rumpled pullover that said NYU. Catherine took a look at her.
‘While at least you combed your hair,’ she said.
‘And brushed my teeth,’ Sharon shot back with a smile and Catherine smiled back liking the sassy nature, it showed confidence, even if hidden under her choice of clothes.
‘Come along then, lots to do,’ Catherine said heading for the stairs.
As the emerged into the street from the non-descript door to the apartment Catherine steeped toward a limo, not huge but not small, more of a Town car size. The driver nodded and held open the door.
The spy paused and spoke to him and he nodded.
‘Come on dear, get in,’ she said to Sharon over her shoulder and disappeared inside, the trainee slipping in as well. The door closed and they waited.
‘I asked the driver to go upstairs and get your bags, we’ll drop them off on the way to a donation centre.
‘But he doesn’t have the key,’ Sharon said looking in her pockets for it.
‘He’ll use the same one I used last night. Really dear, more observation.’
In no time they were headed into Manhattan and streets Sharon had never been on, as she had no use or in fact reason to be on them. Everything was far too expensive and well out of her size range.
‘If you could drop of those bags and meet use back here at about 9pm that would be excellent,’ she said to the driver with a smile.
‘That’s a long day,’ Sharon said as the car pulled away leaving them on the street.
‘We have a great deal to accomplish,’ she said looking at Sharon who tried not to make a face.
‘Clothes make the man it’s said, but clothes define the woman and that’s especially so in this business. You need to stand out while not being too obvious. These are just to tide you over until training starts then everything will be tailor made for you along with certain items other items you can’t buy retail,’ Catherine said with a wry smile then continued. ‘Now I want you to observe what happens for the next little while and be prepared,’ Catherine said as they went into the first shop.
‘How can I help you Madam?’ a smartly dressed woman in her mid-thirties asked.
‘I’d like to see a three-inch heel, tapered and classic thin, in a white, black, cream, green, coral pink and a few colours you would recommend,’ Catherine said.
‘Certainly Madam,’ the sales clerk said as she motioned them over to very comfortable seats.
Sharon glanced at a few shoes as they passed, but mostly at the prices, she tried to look too shocked.
‘I’ll just take some measurement to ensure the exact fit,’ the clerk said slipping a shoe off of Catherine and placing the Bannock Device under her foot.
‘Oh, my apologies, I meant for my colleague,’ Catherine said glancing at Sharon who looked a little sheepish as she removed her shoe.
‘And the sock as well dear, I’m sure they have a nylon you can use,’ Catherine said trying not to sound too embarrassed.
‘The clerk took the measurement, Sharon noting some surprise on her face at the results.
‘I’m not good in heels, buy that I mean, can’t walk,’ Sharon said.
‘Nonsense, there’s no such word as can’t. There is do and you will do it, maybe not at first but with practice,’ Catherine answered.
The woman came back with eight boxes and another two helpers brought 8 more each. Catherine seemed unfazed by the deluge, Sharon was stunned.
Catherine sat back as a fuss was made around Sharon she only asked what she thought of the style and colour.
‘In between fittings Sharon said. ‘I like this heel and this one, but not this one, is that ok?’
‘You’re the one how has to wear them but tell me your reasoning if you can?’ Catherine leaned in as she spoke.
‘I think the tapered and the thin draw the eye up and well I feel special in them, if a little wobbly,’ Sharon answered.
‘Practice and I agree with your assessment. You see you do have a style sense.’
‘Those,’ Catherine said, motioning towards Sharon’s shoes and socks, get tossed out if you please,’ a sales helper picked them up and took them away.
They, Catherine bought 12 pairs, took two with them, the white and the black and had the rest shipped to Sharon’s address, she wore the black pumps.
They made their way along the street a little then through the door that had a brass name plate as its only identifier, Sharon did not catch it but soon found herself inside a small shop with intimate apparel.
‘You’d be shocked how many women wear the wrong size bra. This place will correct that. Ladies I leave her in your excellent hands, she needs everything. How long to you need?’
Catherine left promising to return in several hours which she did.
You know even under that garment I can see a difference. Now it’s time to make you sparkle.’
‘Get used to them Sharon, they’ll soon become standard wear in the circles you’ll move in,’
Catherine stated as she offered her arm to the unsteady young woman as they left the store. ‘Now to find you some clothes to go with those heels.’ ‘This is where I will offer some advice,’ Catherine said as they walked about the store Sharon already getting her footwork down.
‘I was hoping you’d say that, thank you,’ Sharon gratefully answered.
‘First of no dresses unless they are wrap around with some spandex in it to show off your form, skirts and blouse, what’s available will have to do until custom are made, but there is an excellent choice here. No pleats, they are never flattering, on any figure. You need straight and tapered, but not too much tapper and just enough unpinning to show that derriere of yours off. Solid colours are best, but you could pull of a houndstooth really well I think,’ Catherine said as she looked.
A sales person came to greet them, Catherine was first again, Sharon took notice. Explanations completed Sharon was off to the change room with an outfit and sales clerks bringing more.
Sharon stepped out, a little timid in her pose and her motions to a vast inhale of air, blank faces and a side step from a sales rep as she regained her balance and a protected stunned silence.
‘My word,’ Catherine finally said as she walked Sharon over to the mirror. ‘I do not have the words for this. This is even past what I thought it would be,’ she said as she played with Sharon’s hair to fix it up.
‘I think I want the skirt to come right to here, no more,’ Catherine said as she turned her thoughts away from the young woman and to the task at hand.
‘I agree, a terrible shame to hide those legs,’ the head seamstress said as she placed a pin then went to the back excusing herself to Sharon as she touched the material and pulled it in. ‘And that, for the underpinning,’ she asked and this time Sharon nodded much to Catherine’s delight.
‘One final touch,’ Catherine said as she undid her pearl necklace and put in on Sharon. ‘Go for a walk, I want to see you move in this outfit.’
All hearts skipped a beat as Sharon moved about. All the grace, the flow, everything she had before her transformation, all that innate ability and style was magnified and fired about the room at light speed. She glided and sashayed around them and it was all entirely natural then she took a seat in the chair, her body in one fluent unbroken motion lowering into and crossing her legs as she went, the entire event like watching a serpent curl into a ball before you.
They did the same for the remaining clothes, keeping most, discarding some, the effect was always the same, electric, the eye naturally drew to her and even without knowing it or being taught extra skills, skills she would soon acquire, she was the focal point. The seamstress got one outfit ready and promised the others by the end of business next day. They left in an outfit that she just popped in, black skirt and hose and heels, white silk blouse and a stylish new jacket.
‘Next stop the jewellery store, I want my pearls back,’ Catherine teased.
This time it was a different store, the clerk approached Sharon, who with just a slight hesitation took the lead and was off while Catherine looked about. These were now going to be Sharon’s choices and the beginning of her style.
‘I love this single and the double strand. Do you have matching earrings and a bracelet,’ she asked the lady helping her.
‘You have an eye for style and quality Miss, the best in the store and we can pair them up with your request if you’ll follow me please,’ the lady said.
Sharon walked along then stopped and looked in a case.
‘I’ve always had a thing for brooches, I know there old fashioned but I can’t resist them. These two would go wonderfully with several outfits I have on order.’
The sales rep needed no further hints, she went behind the counter and brought out the two and a third that Sharon loved as well.
‘One more stop and I think we’ll be finished, but it’s the one that’s going to pull all this together,’ Catherine said as they walked along until she pointed at a salon.
‘I agree, I don’t want too touch it either, it just needs the slightest of trims,’ Catherine said to the stylist who then turned to Sharon.
‘Your hair is so sexy, so perfectly curly and such natural hi-lights I have never seen. Honestly, I don’t want to touch it for fear of ruining it, but Catherine is right, just a very small tidying and whatever you are using for hair products, please keep using it,’ he said.
‘Once we’re done here, make-up will be our last stop, then a late lunch, we’ve earned it,’ Catherine smiled.
Make-up took a long time. First, they did Sharon’s colours to find out what worked with her skin tone.
‘Not to fret my dear COIL will do this all again, more sophisticated, but this will get you going for now,’ Catherine explained as Sharon was being tested and looking a little agitated.
Sharon was given a colour pallet to chose from. She showed a strong preference for pinks and oranges in her lipsticks and they looked incredible on her. She leaned towards the same for her nail polish but also included, frost whites, a few yellow’s. She liked either an Almond, Oval or Round as a nail shapes, but not too long, she went with Almond this time and a colour called Winter Frost. The basic foundations were kept simple, her skin was near flawless and didn’t need much.
The final purchase was toiletries, perfume, powder and skin care. They spent the most time on perfume.
‘It’s a woman’s trademark,’ Catherine said. ‘Take your time, buy more than a few, changing your scent is as important as changing your look.’
In the end Sharon choose 4 distinct scents, all divine and heavenly on her, the one she chose to wear, particularly so Catherine thought to herself.
‘You spent a great deal of money on me,’ Sharon said as they walked along the sidewalk.
‘Money well spent, call it an investment. If you look the part, you’ll act the part. Confidence is everything in this game and confidence is sexy. Besides, I want you to match up with the other trainee’s and making a good first impression gives you an edge. Remember, this is new territory for COIL, you’re the trailblazer and your going to get a lot of looks from the other trainee’s when you meet them. They’ll be anything from a 5 to 8 in dress size, so you at a 12 will be more than twice the dress size of the majority of them, that in itself can be intimidating, don’t let it be,’ Catherine explained.
‘Going to be hard not to be,’ Sharon responded.
‘You’re not doing what I told you to do, observe. In the time we’ve been walking along I’ve watch 17 men give you a glance, 15 of those giving you a complete scan and with just the slightest turn of my head to talk to you 12 of those take a look as we walked away.’
‘They could have been looking at you?’ Sharon offered.
‘I just counted the ones looking at you, if you want me to give you my totals I can, but I don’t see how that helps you,’ Catherine shot back.
‘What’s great about you, is you have that it factor in spades and you don’t know it or if you do you’re unaware of it, which is wonderful. Don’t ever loose that, it’s a tremendous weapon for a woman.
When we get to the restaurant I want you to pick where we’re going to sit and where you’re going to sit. Think of this as a kind of test. Pretend you’re on a mission and you need to catch the eye of a certain person. This experiment will see if you can.’
‘How will you know if the right person does?’ Sharon asked and Catherine laughed.
‘Because me dear I’ve done this before.’
They arrived at the Bistro and Sharon did as requested. She took the lead and control picking a spot at the far end of the room just where it turned a 90-degree corner and the isle continued on. She took the outside chair that intersected the corner. Catherine watched her elegantly recline then instead of crossing her legs as she went as happened before when shopping she crossed them after she sat slipping her legs sideways just enough for both of them to be displayed perfectly.
‘What poise, what natural allure,’ Catherine thought as she set down her clutch on the table next to Sharon’s, the motion allowing her to take a glance about. Forks at mid point between mouth and plate, glasses held too long against the lips, straight stares, heads being jerked back to reality, shifting of bodies in their seats were just some of the reactions she saw.
‘Your face tells me you saw what I saw. All for you my dear, you’re the focus of attention, now you need to narrow that focus,’ Catherine explained softly.
They worked through the meal, Sharon very conscious of what she ordered and ate. Her manners were perfect and delicate, grace of movement and style coming easy. Catherine watch her gracefully adjust her body several times, doing so when she was sure someone was watching. They had just finished when it happened, he approached. Catherine knew this was the real test for Sharon, the interaction.
‘Good afternoon ladies,’ a young man maybe 24 as Catherine surmised spoke.
Catherine watched Sharon look up slowly and smile, her head just turning ever so slightly, cause both her lunch partner and the young man’s heart to skip a beat.
‘Good afternoon,’ Sharon responded in a warm perfect tone that put the young man at ease, Catherine smiled and nodded and picked up the cheque to peruse it.
‘Sorry to be so forward, but I couldn’t my eyes off you, from the moment you walked in. I hope you understand and take that in the way its meant, as a compliment.
‘Of course, thank you so much,’ she said letting her hand rest on the table a little closer to the edge and closer to him.
‘Ross Barrett, a nice to me meet you,’ he said a little nervous.
‘Sharon Sharpe,’ came the answer as her hand slipped into his. Catherine could see him slightly jolt at the contact. ‘A pleasure to meet you.’
‘I was wondering if you work nearby as I haven’t seen you here before.’
‘No just doing some shopping today, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be coming back,’ Sharon said letting the words play out.
‘When you come back I would love to have lunch or dinner with you if that would be alright.
‘The pleasure would be all mine,’ Sharon answered giving him a look that Catherine could tell made his pants tighten up.
‘Ross got out a card and handed it to Sharon writing his home number on the back.
‘And this is mine,’ Sharon answered writing her number underneath his and handing it back. Please call,’ she smiled.
He left with a slight skip in his step and Sharon turned to Catherine and smiled.
‘I got a date!’ she triumphed with a girlish giggle.
‘The first of many if that performance was any indication,’ Catherine smiled.
The reality of what was about to happen had been playing in the back of Sharon’s mind for the last week and it finally came to the fore the night before her flight and the start of her new life.
‘Which could be a very short one according to Catherine,’ she mused while lying in bed unable to sleep.
The transformation she’d undergone was incredible, but that transformation was for a specific purpose, the end product to be used to someone else’s ends. She knew she could go get any position within her educational skill set right now, her looks would open the door and her mind would do the rest. Before her mind opened nothing and her looks got dismissive attention. It was a paradox she was not entirely happy or comfortable with, style over substance.
‘But then again, there’s no reason you couldn’t have both, one just as the other, only needs to be brought out, trained, if you will and that’s what I did. What I am now is just what was inside me before.’
She started to play off the pros and cons in her mind. She could simply mess up in training that certainly was a possibility, wash out and come back to a safe secure good life verses a life that could be over before it really got going.
‘That certainly is the smarter choice, but is it the right one for you Sharon. You’ve never been one to quit once you put your hand to something. This offer would certainly make a difference in the world and it would be exciting, dangerous, sexy, glamourous, things you’ve come a love recently. This is all a bit like Pascal’s Wager only the loss is not finite for believing, it’s me, but not trying always leaves the person wondering, what if?’ I don’t want to be a ‘what if’, in life,’ she said answering her own question. She rolled over and went to sleep.
Her flight or to be precise flights, the next day was not what she expected. She was the only passenger on the small jet, the windows were covered.
‘Even if you fail, they don’t want you blabbing about the secret training base, makes sense,’ she told herself and asked nothing of the flight attendant/minder that was her only company, instead she read her book, did stretching and yoga in the isle to make the time pass and noted things about her area to keep her mind and body active. The plane stopped four times, she timed the landings and each panned out to about one hour. The whole flight was 18 hours, long by anyone’s standard, she slept a little, ordered foods she knew would give her a boost and otherwise just waited, there was nothing else she could do.
‘The adventure truly has begun,’ she told herself as the door to the cabin opened and light blazed in.
Sharon go up slipped on a stylish pair of sunglasses and made for the exit, having spruced up in the bathroom she looked fantastic as she exited the plane taking the steps down to the tarmac in graceful stride.
‘Miss Sharpe, welcome. I’m Karen Gillespie, Head of Female Agent Training.’
Sharon shook the woman’s hand, she was stylish and sexy. A plunging crossed backed plum coloured halter that showed just a wisp of her toned stomach. Her well tailored white Capri pants left no doubt as to her figure.
‘She comes as advertised,’ Hiroko Yuzawa leaned over to say to Karen.
‘Looks are not everything,’ Karen responded.
‘This will be your room,’ the young woman said. ‘It was mine when I was in first year training,’ the young woman named Michele Dumont said with a French accent. Unpack what you brought, other clothes will be provide as training requires. Your classes schedule is here,’ she said pointing to the desk. The map of the complex is on the back. It can get confusing when you’re in a hurry. Don’t worry all of this will be covered in orientation tomorrow. Welcome to COIL,’ she added and one final thing, don’t be intimidated.’
Sharon walked over and looked at her schedule, after orientation she had evaluation. She wasn’t worried, she was in excellent shape and thinking of that she put away what clothes she had and began working out.
Fitness and self defense were paramount in the first year. The benefits were many, some obvious, others subtler. Girls who thought they were fit soon got a very unpleasant surprise. The running and obstacle course pummelled many, collapses and throwing up were common for a while. The yoga and stretching brought some to tears while others needed help getting to the next class, their bodies so drained and sore they could barely walk. Self Defense turned all black and blue, but through it all the trainees learned to hide it and always look good.
‘You don’t get a day off on mission’s ladies, no matter how hard the previous day or days were. You need to look your best no matter how you feel,’ their instructors told them ad nauseum.
Slowly each of them found who they were, strengths became stronger and weaknesses diminished.
Sharon surprised the others, she could run, climb, stretch, do yoga none of them could, had great speed and reflexes in fighting class and drew looks by her style which thanks to Catherine’s early help was developed before she got there while her fellow trainees had to find there’s along the way.
Clothing makes the man, but they define the female spy, Sharon no exception. Her trademark pink lipstick, her use of only classic pumps, white her preference, but other colours as needed, the heel always 3 inches. Her silk tops, clingy and seductive, her pearls and her skirts, no pleats, always smooth with just a hint of underpinning. While others needed the help of the couturier’s COIL employed Sharon seemed not to need them. She listened, tried things, added and subtracted but she preferred the classic looks.
‘Hope you enjoyed your orientation Miss Sharpe. I’m Dr. Fiona Haynes. What we’ll be doing her is some written testing, session work and role play. Its all designed to determine what kind of agent you will be, how versatile. If you’re anywhere near as clever as I and your formal education scores indicate, you’ll see the path as we go along. Don’t let that affect your answers, there are no wrong answers, just variations on yes or no. Any questions?’
Sharon indicated she had none.
‘Excellent. Here is the first set of tests, I will leave you to them, should take you about an hour. Just push this button when you’re done and I’ll be right back,’ she said pointing to a button on her desk. She left Sharon alone and she sitting behind the doctor’s desk got right to it. She finished in under 40 minutes and the doctor rejoined her and used a template to score the results, made notes then looked at the written answers.
With Sharon seated now opposite the desk and the doctor behind it they began.
‘You had sex 8 times. Over what time period, the space between, days weeks, if you can recall.
‘Between 7pm and 3am,’ Sharon said and saw the doctor look at her so she expanded her answer.
‘Catherine asked me to attract a man in the restaurant we were having lunch in after she and I went shopping. I chose this man and he approached after lunch, we exchanged numbers, he called that night and he was attractive and seeing I was coming here a figured a little practical experience wouldn’t go amiss.’
‘And did it?’ Fiona asked.
‘First time was not very good, I was so nervous, my first time, I think he knew that and he helped me through it and made me feel good about myself. Every time was better and better, especially when I decided to be on top,’ she said with a smile.
‘You understand I have to ask very personal and private questions,’ Fiona said.
‘Of course, ask whatever you want.
‘At what point did you have to stimulate him and how did you do it?’
He was struggling during the 4th time, I could tell,’ Sharon said and anticipated the next question. ‘He was only semi hard, insertion was not happening. He had been so patient with me, so wonderful, it was now my turn. Gently was possible I pulled him down to me, stopped my rocking to work him in and just kissed him. Maybe it was selfish as well, but I was using this as a training exercise. Not being at all familiar with intimacy, I needed all the practice I could get. It was clear he was a better kisser and more experienced in other areas as well and I wanted to catch up. This was my chance to try things and see what worked and what didn’t while we waited for him to recover.
‘For instance?’ Fiona inquired.
‘Oh yes, details, sorry. Well I worked on French kissing, I was fun, but did nothing to bring him along. It’s funny looking back now like I planned the thing in hindsight, but it was just instinctual as I think back. I began by playing my tongue about his lips, light short kisses, just touches, then I went for his neck and ear working one side to the other. I could feel him swelling, it was working then and for some reason I just rolled us over and pulled close, my hips swivelling and churning as my mouth worked about his face until he pushed fully extended inside me. We stayed close until we orgasmed. We were not separated after that. He was hard the remaining times and each session just got better and better, I had more confidence as did he, we explored and discovered, I think I more than him. We collapsed in each others arms. I could feel myself pushing him out, he offered no resistance, it was clear he was done.’
‘But you weren’t?’
‘No, but I did not tell him. He went to the bathroom to shower and after I heard the water running and a few minutes had passed I decided to join him.
‘But he was done, spent, you said,’ the therapist questioned.
‘I don’t know, I was filled with confidence and doubt at the same time. I mean here I was, the before girl, totally undesirable, the blank in the crowd and then I was this woman, this siren who he couldn’t he couldn’t get enough of. It sounds cruel, but I wanted to see how much more power I had.’
‘Understandable, the confusion and the questioning, what was your plan then,’ Fiona asked.
‘I didn’t have one, didn’t think I needed one, we’re young, he’d recover fast, or so I thought. When he didn’t I kind of felt a little rejected, especially with him pulling away as I touched him, then. I don’t know why, but I concluded he was upset at himself for not getting excited, transferring his weakness onto me in the form of anger. It was then I realised that it was how I reacted to that that would set the tone,’ Sharon explained waiting for the inevitable and from Fiona. She wasn’t disappointed then continued.
‘I understood that I was in control, I dominated, I could make him do anything I wanted as long as I made it seem like I was letting him lead or that I played the submissive roll this time whereas when we had started, me being the aggressor was fine. So, I took my time, just let us embrace and see what happened. When he started to soft me and caress the bubbles about I knew I had it figured out correctly, now I wanted to see how far I could stretch it before he had to have me, in other words, lose control,’ Sharon explained.
‘He lasted passed padding me dry with a towel and just about to the end of powdering my body. It was the last trailing down my left leg with the puff and the soft shimming of my ass against his cheek that released the flood gates,’ she added.
Dr. Haynes and several of her colleagues solicited opinions from a cross section of male trainee’s and current agents to gage their appraisal and opinion of Sharon as training have moved into simple simulations of various scenario’s.
‘Smart, confident, resourceful then you and in the visual element and you have a total package.’
‘She can do anything you ask her to do and things you didn’t think anyone could.’
‘She just has it, that look, you want to be near her. She smells terrific, is always made up perfectly, dresses incredibly well. Its impossible to resist her, she moves so gracefully and naturally yet all wrapped up in total sexiness and seduction. She’s the beauty of the bunch, the total package and then there’s her skills as an agent. In a mixed assignment, she’d be my first choice.’
‘If you can survive a kiss in her arms without getting weak in the knee’s your better than me. When you feel her body against yours its such a paradox, firm and hard yet so soft and yielding. And when she doesn’t kiss, she moves, but so natural, against you, she has you in her spell instantly.’
‘These couch visits are all very interesting and I will admit sometimes helpful, but I think for the sake of honestly or what could reasonably pass as honesty we need to come clean with each other,’ Sharon stated.
‘This is certainly a new tone. Have you found your voice Miss Sharpe?’
‘My path, more to the point,’ she answered.
‘Forgive me for saying this, but your path is not important at this point it’s the path COIL wants you to take that determines your journey and the betterment for all concerned. That is what you agreed to when you signed up. Do you not understand that?’ the therapist questioned her voice neutral and non-threatening.
‘It is when they merge as in this case,’ Sharon smiled. She did not need an acknowledgement to continue, the body language of the counselor told her all she needed to know, intrigue.
‘I score excellently in everything, and I’ve worked hard to do so and most people would think that would be enough to get them through, so focused on the end they fail to see what is going on about them. You’ve been testing us all, oh not with what we can measure but that which only you can measure because you’re looking for something that a test, written or oral would never reveal or could be concealed by a cleaver person, and there are plenty of those women here, so you need other ways,’ Sharon explained.
‘And what are we looking for? You’ve been here a short time that is not a long sample time to reach a conclusion.’
‘A year is long enough,’ Sharon retorted and continued.
If you know what to look for you don’t even need that amount of time,’ Sharon answered. ‘You want a two-way agent, preferably more than just one,’ Sharon said.
‘For the sake of argument and well scientific curiosity, can you explain how you came to this conclusion?’ she asked.
Sharon knew she was right, but she kept that to herself while she began listing the reasons she had reached this answer.
‘One, make up class. There’s something slightly alluring about watching a woman apply makeup, especially lipstick, the eye wonders, catch enough of those and you have a clue as to thinking. Two, Fitness Classes, especially yoga. No need to do them naked, you know that, I do, but when you make it Hot Yoga, on the pretense of loosening up the body, you introduce the seduction factor. An alluring toned nude, hot and burnished female form engaged in displaying itself to the best of its ability, well the eye can stray about. Three, combat. Close in contact, every girls favourite, the longer you linger the more you enjoy the feel of the other person. I suspect this will become more prevalent as the training in this area becomes more intimate,’ Sharon suggested.
‘Interesting conclusions Miss Sharpe. You support your hypothesis well, except for the last point. Care to expand.
‘The library is most illuminating if you know where to look,’ Sharon said.
‘Those sections are off limits to novice trainees such as yourself, you know that,’ came the terse reply.
‘What can I say I’m a mould and rule breaker rolled into one,’ Sharon offered.
‘I quite frankly have never seen anyone like her. The grace of a cat, strength of an elephant, movement of a snake. That’s not counting her looks, smarts, intuition and determination. She’s the entire package and more and now we have this, a two-way agent,’ the therapist said to the assembled staff.
‘She refused to identify the others she suspects as well, what was the reasoning she gave?’ Hiroko Yuzawa asked.
‘It would be unfair for her to ‘out them’, they need to come forward on their own or for us to approach them with care pointing out that we highly value it and it’s not a detriment. Her other reason was that the longer this goes the more likely that others could find their thinking changed and we could have even more trainee’s coming forward. I would say that would put us on a more even footing with DOOM et el on that matter.’ Fiona added.
‘So far she’s more than we ever could have hoped for, but 2nd year is always the most interesting.’ Karen Gillespie added.