Gabrielle fidgeted with her hair as she watched herself in the mirror. It had been a long time coming, but maybe she was almost there.
She had squandered a lot of her past. She had gone to the local university on a track scholarship. She took the lightest load possible in order to meet her coach's demanding training schedule. She was a junior when the Olympics came up and her coach just didn't feel she was at her peak at nineteen years old. She had gone through high school in three years, which may have been a mistake career wise in sports. Her coach asked her to keep training after she graduated. They let her have a job as a graduate assistant in the accounting department. That helped some, but she still had to supplement her college master's program by being a waitress.
That was so many years ago. Now, at the age of forty, she was looking for her first job. She had sat out many years from the work force to have a child. Now Dakota was fourteen and soon to be in high school. Technically in Kansas, they can drive to school at that age, so Gabrielle felt she now had time to supplement their family income and save for her daughter's college years.
Gabrielle had married an older man. She had been almost twenty five when she married a man about fifteen years older than her. They seemed like the Odd Couple. Gabrielle had been a late bloomer. She was still a little knock-kneed, scrawny, small titted girl when she married. Nobody had been much interested in her while she was in school.
Once she quit competitive running, her period came back. Her breasts blossomed; not huge; but pleasant medium sized melons with no sag. Her legs were still magnificently toned. Her abs looked like Sarah Jessica Parker. She sat at her make-up dresser trying to fix her hair. This was a job interview and she wanted to look good. Her daughter Dakota came in and sensed her mom was nervous. She kissed her on the neck and helped with her hair. Her naturally reddish brown hair had been dyed to an orange-red. It was a bit outrageous, but what the hell. She had been so conservative for so many years, she was about to scream. Dakota started her hair out in a French braid at the very top; gathering additional hair as she went back with it. When she got to the top of her neck, she tied off that section with a rubber band. From there she combed out the curly red main and let it fall to her waist showing her naturally curly hair.
Dakota told her mom to get rid of the granny bra and panties. She came back from her room with a quarter cup bra and some nude lace panties. The bra was a joke. It was flesh colored lace that hid nothing. The tops did not do much more than cover the tops of her nipples. It would keep her super long-stemmed pink nipples from pushing the soft fabric of her dress out far enough to telegraph them.
Her nude-colored lace panties were obscene. They were her daughter's but they fit like a glove. They came up over her hip bone on the front and back. The back was a full panel with the slimmest of elastic connecting the front to the back. Dakota came back again from her own closed with several dresses. Dakota picked an emerald green silk button-front dress to match her mother's eyes.
Gabrielle was shocked at the length of it. It only came to mid thigh and the first button had been cut off. Dakota had done it on purpose because of school rules. The rules were that all buttons had to be buttoned. Dakota was an extreme extrovert. She had been the one to dye her mother's hair the outrageous color. Gabrielle stood uncertainly in her daughter's high-heeled suede boots. The gray boots zipped up the sides and stopped just below her knees. It would be very hard to tell that Gabrielle was forty years old unless the interviewer made her account for everything she had done. To look at her and her daughter, many thought they were sisters.
Gabrielle needed this job to supplement her husband's. He was an O.K. financial consultant; which is a code word for salesman. Basically one person goes around to different offices to get the 401K accounts. The broker gets .0075% of the account annually win or lose. They in turn hire a bean counter company to manage the stocks with computers. They in turn get .0075% of the account.
While Gabrielle was at home taking care of her daughter, she was also managing her husband's accounts. While he was out trying to broker new deals, she was at home trying to keep track of what the computer firms were doing to the accounts.
This would be her first chance to work for the same company doing the same thing her husband was doing. She looked apprehensively in the mirror as she picked up her purse and keys. "Not bad with the hair." She thought. She tried not to focus on the length of her dress. She tried not to focus on the fit of the dress around her breasts. The dress fit like a glove, and her little pokies struggled in her bra, fighting to get out. If she hunched her shoulders together, maybe nobody could tell.
Gabrielle was a certified financial planner now and with her looks was probably a "can't miss' candidate for hire. She skated through the interview. Her boss knew she was hired as soon as she stepped through the door. When she sat down and crossed her legs that pretty much did it for him. She came back the next day and was given business cards and a cubicle of her own. She was taken around the office and introduced to everybody.
When she got home, she gave the good news to Joe, her husband. He took it as good news. There had been some accounts that he was aware of but wasn't able to land. Now, maybe he had a chance.
"I have some people I would like to introduce you to tomorrow, honey." He said. "O.K. dear." She replied.
The next morning, Dakota took her mom's jeep to school because Gabrielle was going to ride with her husband. They had some men to meet and couldn't meet them until about eleven. They took a leisurely breakfast and got ready for work.
Joe's conversation with her on the way to the meeting was no surprise to her, because she had been watching his accounts. "I've got some concerns over my accounts and could really use your help, honey. The bad economy has made lots of people pull their accounts. Employers are not providing matching funds anymore. In fact, many have stopped putting funds into the 401K's and Roth IRA's. It has cut our commissions by more than half. I will have a hard time making the mortgage in a few months. I am hoping we can nail some of these accounts."
This was not news to Gabrielle. She was wondering how long it would take for him to let her know. "We'll get through this, honey. Don't worry" she said forcing a faint smile she did not have.
When they got close to their destination, Joe's voice was nervous as he spoke. "Gabby, honey, there are a few things about this account that I haven't been up front about. The man we are going to see is Marcus Moore. He is an ex-pro football player. He has a number of questionable business associates. Nobody can seem to trip him up, but the Federal Investigators have been watching him from time to time. He made quite a bit of money as a player and a lot of questionable people have begun associating with him.
He has his own consulting business with a very high amount of income. Some think he is laundering money from Columbia. All I care about is trying to get his account. His account alone would quadruple our income.
Gabrielle's cheeks flushed and her pulse throbbed. She had never been around any questionable people before. What would they look like? Would they have fangs so she could tell? Lots of ridiculous thoughts raced through her mind as she sat in silence, not wanting to get there.
"Moulin Rouge" was in the Garment District. The city had rehabbed the streets with pavers and new lights. The developers had taken huge clothing manufacturing buildings and refurbished them. Moulin Rouge was on the ground floor. The center nine bays of columns, beams and oak flooring had been removed so that above the retail spaces on the first floor were offices with an eight story atrium and glass skylights at the top.
Moulin Rouge was a bar on the first floor that spilled out into the open atrium area. The large honed limestone floor stones were set in sand. A huge limestone block; about twenty four feet square and three feet high was used for a stage.
Joe gave their name to the hostess and said they had a reservation in fifteen minutes. They sat in the bar waiting for Marcus. Soon a very large black man appeared. He must have been six feet six inches tall. Gabrielle recognized him. He had been in the newspapers continuously for years. He had disappeared for a while after he retired. He seemed bigger in person. He looked like he could still play. He had a dark grey pinstripe suit and vest with a purple shirt and lighter purple tie.
He had a couple of other men with him. They looked like they were South American; Columbians maybe? Joe got up and walked over to shake hands. He brought them back to meet Gabriella just as their table was called. They were ushered over to the center of the atrium. They were seated at a large glass topped oval table. Gabrielle tried to sit on the side, but Marcus closed in quickly and pulled out the seat on the end for her.
There was something ominous about Marcus and his friends. They were well dressed enough; had excellent manners and excellent diction. All were physically fit. Still, there was something in their eyes; their penetrating gaze. "Marcus wants to fuck me." She thought. She didn't just think it she knew it in his eyes. Most women instinctively know the look.
This was a business lunch. Gabriella forced a pleasant smile she did not feel. She asked very polite question about his life after football; questions about his family and many other nonsensical topics.
After they were done eating, Joe folded his napkin and slanted his conversation to business. Marcus you know I have been meeting you and going over your portfolio for a long time. You know that I want your business very much. What will it take to get your business?
Marcus pulled out his cell phone and hit some buttons to pull up the internet. He went over files of Joes personal accounts. He pulled up the yearly averages for Joe's company. He studied them. He handed the cell phone to Gabriella. He reviewed the numbers with her and ignored Joe.
Gabriella didn't want any part of this deal. She wanted Joe to do all the talking.
"Here's my account with this other firm. Here is their profit last year. Here is your husband's office profit history. Here is your husband's profit and loss over the last ten years. What would you do differently?" Gabriella's mind screamed to get her out of this. She had nowhere to run. There was no diplomatic way out. Her husband needed her help. Marcus wanted an answer. She stammered, not wanting to talk.
'Well, if you read the USA Today, they have a financial section. It is not the same as the Wall Street Journal. I think that the Wall Street Journal is too close to the situation. They can't see the forest for the trees. Everybody wants to make money today. There are huge swings in the market every day.
I feel if you follow the USA Today analysis, they are making long term projections rather than daily. Gabriella outlined the way she felt the European situation; the Political situation and the Deficit seemed to affect spending. I think a long term strategy will get you more profit if you just pick the right stocks and forget about them. For now, the long term outlook is not good. I would just put everything in CD's and bonds, but no European bonds.
Marcus said something in Spanish to the other two. They grinned. Marcus put his hand on Gabriella's and leaned over to whisper in her ear. Gabby turned red so quick it was obvious to her husband it was something nasty. He didn't dare say anything to confront his guests. He could see there was some slight connection between his wife and Marcus. His wife had a look of shock on her face she was trying to mask. She looked over at her husband, trying to read his thoughts. He had none because he had no idea what the conversation was about.
Gabriella sat there stoically without moving or speaking. She was obviously weighing some kind of options. Were there tears forming in her eyes? Her hands were trembling as she removed the napkin from her lap and set it on the table.
"You'll have to excuse me. I have to go to the women's room." Joe could tell that she was under some kind of stress as she stood. She seemed to wobble on her high heels a little as she headed for the restroom.
Gabriella's pulse was throbbing. Her arms had turned to lead as she struggled to stand. She walked like a zombie to the restroom, which seemed like ten miles away. When she got there, she waited for a while trying to summon the courage to fulfill Marcus' orders.
He had offered her a deal. There were things she had to do if she wanted his account. He had showed her his balances on the cell phone. He was obviously laundering money for the two Columbians who he had brought to the meeting. Her husband needed the money. If she turned him down, they could easily be penniless in a few months. If she followed his orders, she might be out on the street. She seemed like she was in a now win situation as she pulled her dress up and removed her panties. She put them in her purse. She unbuttoned her shirt dress to the waist and removed her bra. She put the dress back together and left the top buttons open to the bottom of her breasts. The dress was snug and would hang o.k. but from the side she knew her nipples would show either from the front or side because she had no sleeves.
Jenny picked up the hem and unbuttoned the remaining buttons at the bottom so that it hung open almost to the crotch. It was already short enough that her thighs were showing, so it was only a button or two. She folded the two garments and put them in her purse.
When she came out, something had changed. Most of the men in the restaurant recognized it. Like a shark in the water a mile from a dying or injured fish, it will know. There was nothing obvious about her dress, but the men knew. The restaurant hushed when she came out. "What's going on?' Joe asked himself as most of the men turned when his wife appeared out of the restroom.
She did not look in their direction. She stopped at the end of the hall she had come out of. She paused for a moment and turned for the bar. Gabrielle headed to the bar. The seats were high for her. She may have thought she could scoot up onto the bar stool un observed, but she was wrong.
The crowd was quiet as Gabriella raised one leg up onto the bar stool. The act of rising up on one high heel and raising the other leg high enough to sit on it opened her dress to her crotch. It was just a millisecond, but the men saw it. They may not have noticed that exact second, but after it was over, they replayed and slowed down the events in their mind like on sports re-run. What they had all seen was that Gabriella had bared her shaven cleft when she tried to mount the high bar stool. She sensed it too and was humiliated that they had seen it.
Gabriella was numb to what she told the bartender. Obviously she had ordered a couple drinks for a couple of men at the table. It didn't matter what she ordered. She had been instructed to perform a certain set of events that were designed to expose her.
When the drinks came, Gabby paid for them with cash from her purse. She stuck the purse under her arm, held one drink in each hand in front of her and turned. As she swung her left leg down to touch the floor, her other leg was still balanced up on the stool. As she turned to dismount, there it was again; only this time everybody was waiting. The dress parted the little nubby tip of her clitoris seemed to jump out at everybody as she stepped down. To her added humiliation, she realized several cell phone flashes went off. She had been caught on camera for eternity. Her entire left leg was exposed to her waist. Those sweet luscious, delectable folds would be the talk of the area for years to come. Nobody knew her, but nobody would forget her.
With her face red as her hair, this goddess from nowhere seemed to glide across the room back to her table. Their eyes locked briefly as she returned. Joe detected tears of humiliation and a look of anger and embarrassment. What did this mean? Had she made some deal with Marcus? Her demeanor had changed. This was a woman he did not know. She must have made some kind of agreement with him to behave like this he thought.
Joe paid for the lunch, not sure who the winners and losers were. "Let's go up to my office where we can discuss the terms and amounts more. "He said as he clasped Gabrielle's hand. Gabby wasn't sure how to behave. It was uncomfortable being on the arm of a huge black man with her husband trailing along behind the others like a measly lap dog.
Marcus walked a little beside and behind her as they went over to the elevator corridor. The bank of elevators were in an alcove; two on each side. The men stood aside to let Gabrielle enter first. "Take your dress off". Marcus whispered as he entered the elevator. The men stood behind and beside her and waited. Marcus held the open button to keep it from going up. Gabrielle was thunderstruck. The command hit her and almost knocked her over. Never in her life had she ever heard anybody ask something like that. "What?" she started to scream; then checked herself.
"If you want this account, you better do what you're told." She said to herself. Gabrielle could not see what she was doing as she bent her head and reached for the hem of her dress. Her tears were falling on the elevator floor as she unbuttoned the dress starting at the bottom. When she got to the top, the elevator stopped. Was somebody getting on or was this their floor? Somebody must have hit the down button and got on another elevator because there was nobody there. The elevator continued. Gabrielle didn't have the strength to remove the dress. She felt hands on the back of her dress. She arched her back and shoulder to help get it off. She stood there, naked, with the elevator slowing down.