Madeline Spruce, CIA-certified seductress and assassin, risks her life to infiltrate and terminate the most dangerous enemies to national security. Her erotic techniques place her exotic, intelligent and extremely dangerous targets at a distinct disadvantage.
She uses her body to maximize intel and assure target elimination in the US and abroad. Caught between her desire for advancement at work and her desire to please her long-term lover, an agent of the NSA, she constantly balances her cool, analytical sexuality on the job against her need for sexual fulfillment in a relationship threatened on all sides by webs of intrigue.
Nigel Spence wasn’t his real name, and Madeline Spruce knew it. His file indicated that he was a deep penetration agent of a foreign power. She chuckled at the wording and wondered how well his cover would stand up to her techniques. Spence had been warned by an Agency flyer to beware of a honey trap. What did that mean? Not falling for some eighteen year old waif lurking in the shadows of a bar? Not responding to whispered offers on the street after dark?
These days it might mean not being angled by a handsome valet or delivery boy. Who knew? Madeline had seen or heard all of the permutations. She’d been told Nigel Spence was heterosexual and healthy, which was just as well, particularly the healthy part. But how did the Agency know these things? She was a professional and she was Agency, so it hardly mattered anyway.
Orders were orders.
So when Mr. Spence showed up at the post office, Madeline moved in line right behind him. She wore a light perfume, and she invaded his space from the rear, moving right up to the window with him and then dropping her open purse so everything fell on the marble floor. After that followed recriminations, apologies, an offer to help pick up, coupled with an offer of coffee.
A piece of cake, Madeline thought, as she went through the motions. From the time Nigel Spence had turned to see who made the mess and commotion, it was clear he’d been enthralled by the woman he’d seen scrabbling for her belongings.
Madeline worked hard to make an excellent first impression. She knew her beauty was uncharacteristic. Her Agency handlers called it a striking beauty, and not only because she was a certified assassin. One glance and the male of the species had to take another glance, and then another, her long, curly, perfectly styled to look as if she’d just gotten out of bed always an additional draw. Her twin set was expensive but cut so absolutely normally that she might have been a mid-level executive doing almost anything.
What caught the men’s fancy, though, were her penetrating brown eyes. They were soulful and soul-searching, large with a chemically induced enlargement of the pupils. And when eye contact occurred, the combination of her hair, eyes and body ensured that men were fascinated. It was the combination of her eyes and her peaches and cream skin highlighted with tiny golden hairs that assured her success.
Nigel Spence didn’t have a chance.
Over skinny lattes with a double shot at a nearby Starbucks, Madeline set the hook. She gushed about what she had been going through with the man she’d recently been seeing. Meanwhile, she observed Nigel’s expression and varied her cadence and emphasis accordingly. The Agency had spent many months teaching her to change expression by the second, from clueless to self-pitying to outrage to resigned. She asked Nigel how he felt about her story at every pause in her account.
She could tell he was happy to feast on her eyes and facial features while he went through the vocabulary of obsequiousness and humility that, to Madeline’s practiced eye, meant subservience.
“I think it’s time for lunch. Will you join me at my club?” Nigel asked.
“Why, I’d be delighted, but I’ll treat because you were the perfect gentleman at the post office. Really. And to think I had been a dizzy dame right out of the comics or the soaps!”
He shook his head.
“Not at all? That was most kind of you. Now what did you say you did for a living?”
Madeline had counted on the fact that every Thursday Nigel Spence went to the post office promptly at 11 AM, then to Starbucks for a coffee, as a prelude to having lunch in his nearby club. His life ran by the clock except on some Thursdays, like today, when he could be somewhat whimsical. In other words, almost anything might happen after lunch, which was exactly what Madeline counted on.
So the pair walked slowly to the club. Nigel summoned the sommelier to fetch a wine list. Since Madeline was paying for the meal, Nigel insisted on paying for the wine.
They sat at the table by the window overlooking the square and he placed Madeline where she would have the best view. Madeline, in turn, made sure he would have the best view of her, the sunlight highlighting her auburn curls and her light eyes. She posed, checked her perfect nails, looked thankfully into his eyes, then blushed and looked away again. She was a shameless flirt, and she wasn’t afraid to use what she had.
Nigel ordered a grand cru Bordeaux, which he asked be left to breathe while they consulted the menu’s beef dishes.
“I rarely have such a grand lunch,” Madeline said. “But since I’m buying, you should indulge yourself. It’s the least I can do for having caused you so much trouble and embarrassment.”
Nigel told her he was doing boring government work in a stuffy office. He worked alone unless he was asked to join teams to solve problems because, he thought, he was a good problem solver. His superiors must have thought so too because they often consulted him on important matters.
Madeline knew how to appear impressed. She brushed his hand with her nails to show how pleased she was. Predictably, Nigel grasped Madeline’s hand and raised it to his lips. So the lunch went well, even better than Madeline had expected.
Before their dessert arrived, Nigel confessed. “I have nothing important to do this afternoon. Would you like to take a walk through the park after lunch, just to chat? The autumn colors are glorious and the crowds are fun to watch.”
“I’d be delighted,” she responded.
Nigel and Madeline left the club and walked to the park, joking and confiding, Nigel taking every opportunity to admire Madeline. He seemed to particularly like the way she caught his eyes and then looked down and away across the greensward. She took his arm. They might have been two lovers the way they dallied without any obvious direction.
Madeline knew the Agency watch teams would have a hard time looking natural as they watched and their directional microphones would be hard to aim at the moving targets she and Nigel presented. The Agency women with headphones in their secret caves would giggle and tap their feet, the old biddies wishing they too worked in the open air. Yet the open air was just the start for Nigel and Madeline, and everyone except for Nigel knew it.
Clouds moved over the sun, and rain threatened. Nigel turned asked, “Would you like to come to my flat to look over my etchings?”
When she balked, he said he was kidding her.
“Do you perhaps want to get out of the coming rain? We just might, “he said, “get to his flat in time to miss the rain, perhaps listen to some Mahler and have some home-brewed coffee?”
“I’d like that,” she replied.
So they walked the three blocks to Nigel’s flat in a nice gated neighborhood with plantings and vines running up the brick walls. The inside of his flat was professionally decorated, but it felt masculine in its colors and dark, polished woods. Everything felt tidy and comfortable. As Nigel put the music on, Madeline noticed the expensive Bose speaker system. The sound was heavenly, as the apartment was composed for sonorous echoes like a music box. Nigel made coffee and served it with real cream and raw sugar just as she would at home.
Nigel’s tastes conformed to hers, and she told him so. As the rainstorm burst outside, the pair sat on a sofa before a fireplace. The next move was Nigel’s. As if on cue, he offered to make them a roaring fire. Would she like that? She said she would like that very much. So he piled up the paper and kindling and then the logs and set them all alight. Soon the dark and moist of the outside was counterpoised against the warmth and light of Nigel’s cozy living room.
Madeline asked, “Are you in a relationship?”
“No,” he said shyly, and then asked, “Do you have a steady man?”
She joked, saying, “I’ve never met a steady man.”
When he seemed affronted by her witticism, she revised what she said, saying, “Until now.” She reached for Nigel’s hand.
“It’s very lonely living a bachelor’s life. I often wish it were otherwise. Government work is demanding and I feel exhausted at the end of every day. I think I’d be awful company for a woman of taste and refinement, energy and joy.”
Madeline commiserated with him. “My life as a single woman,” she said, “is also lonely.” She squeezed his hand and gazed into the fire.
Nigel said they should get closer to the fire by sitting right on his Persian rug. He slid down, and she did too, sitting together with their backs against the sofa. The crackling and spitting of the fire and the syncopated pattering of the rain took over after the Mahler symphony had run its course.
He did not offer to play more music. He did offer to get some coffee, but she said perhaps they didn’t need coffee just now. She said it in a way that offered a kiss, and he took it greedily. The two were in another’s arms on the rug almost immediately.
Coming up for air, he laughed and then she laughed as if to say, “Just look at poor us. We are so desperate for love that we get right to it, on the living room floor.”