The Mission

“James, I need your help…”

“Of course. What’s the problem?”

Richard told me everything. Though he was a little disjointed, I was left in no doubt that my old housemate from university days was smitten. In fact, he was besotted, describing down to the tiniest detail just how amazing this woman he’d met at the awards after-party was…and what she wore. He didn’t just speak of the figure-flattering flowing gown she’d worn, but also her understated and classic chic back in the days he had dismissed her as just another-good-looking-city-slicker type.

His request to follow and find out about her was a turn up for the books. He was even offering to pay me for the work. In hindsight, I’m glad I offered to do this as a favour and keep it separate from what others pay me for. As soon as he’d left, I made a couple of phone calls and made my way to a coffee shop she was likely to pass.

We’re all creatures of habit and lucky for me, she was no exception. I followed her as she pounded the pavement, if one can call it that in those skyscraper heels of hers.

Sure enough she headed into her coffee shop. I followed. Inside, I shoved a ten pound note at a waiter and continued my surveillance, only to see her sit at a different table on the terrace to the one she was supposed to. I found myself a table where I could watch her surreptitiously.

She eased herself out of her coat, opened her bag and took out her phone. Not only did she have great legs, but they also held up an enticingly voluptuous body. I
studied her whilst tapping disingenuously at my phone – not entirely an act as I was really annoyed with it of late; perhaps it was time for a new one.

It was clear to me why she was such a phenomenon to my friend as she sat there in deep red and black taffeta adorned with her jewels and gemstones. She alluringly
took off her shades to check her phone. As I caught sight of those deep, dark,beautiful eyes, I let out a breath as my own eyes dropped to her perfectly painted bow-lipped mouth.

All the scents around me drifted in and out of my senses - the scented candles, someone’s Hugo Boss aftershave, the Coco Chanel from the woman at the table next to mine, the freshly-baked pastries at the counter, cigar smoke, Cabernet Sauvignon. I swear I went into olfactory over-drive. Richard had said he’d wondered about her perfume…and so did I…

I decided I would abandon my plan to just observe and gather remote intelligence on ‘my subject’, put my phone away, stood up and walked towards her. I knew from my
sources that she was technically single and somewhat approachable so I had nothing to lose.

“Excuse me. Would you mind if I joined you? I make it a habit to never lunch alone if I can help it.”

She studied me, then perhaps against her better judgement motioned me to the chair opposite her. I sat with my back to the hubbub. Perfect. She smelt of Alchimie Rochas, my preferred perfume for a woman. The sun seemed all the brighter around her. Now I would certainly need all my propriety and restraint. I decided that I would be honest about why I was approaching her, seemingly out of the blue. There was no need to spook her.

“A friend of mine has spoken about you.”

She raised her eyebrows slightly and waited for me to go on.

“I understand why,” I said. “My name is James Roach.” I held out my hand to shake hers. In truth, I wondered if it was just some pathetic excuse to touch her…

“I hoped that I might perhaps pass some time with you this beautiful day.”

A waiter who had been buzzing about tables arrived to take an order. Her luxurious lashes covered her eyes as she glanced at the menu.

“Pinot Grigiot please,” purred this remarkably stunning woman. Her soft and slightly searching gaze stirred my soul.

“Yes, I’ll have the same, thank you,” I chimed in, feeling as if I was being set some unspoken challenge. I now wondered if I’d made a mistake in being this bold. Where would this already heady day end and what would I tell Richard about what had until now been his mission? I took a deep breath.

“I love Alchimie Rochas. It is Alchimie Rochas right?” Was it my imagination or did those pupils widen in those eyes?
“Yes,” she replied and excused herself as she replaced her sunglasses. “Just perfect for days such as this.”
I dug my forefinger into my thigh to remind me why I was really here…
In for a penny, in for a treasure trove I thought to myself.





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