* * *
Everything about Candice was fake. The blunt nose she sported when she was younger had been tweaked to look the same as a popular actress. She had other augmentation so she would fill out the Escada Goldny Gown correctly. That is, if the Escada wasn’t also a fake. The nude tulle and silk lining perfectly elongated her figure. The slightest train was stunning, but sadly it was the wrong color. The Gianvito Rossi Rose embellished Court was a fine skyscraper stiletto, and the crystals glittered in the low light, but the heel tip was the wrong color. The Wallace Crocodile was a perfect match for the rest of the outfit, but Nancy Gonzalez would’ve voluntarily exiled herself if the stitching on the strap had come from her own line.
Even the lethargic swagger Candice adopted was purchased from the internet. She played the drunk Aristocrat, but she had been nursing the same daiquiri for the last four hours. She flipped her dyed, permed hair as she laughed at a presumably funny comment. She slapped her paramour’s shoulder. The lingering contact and Botox smile were straight out of a romantic comedy. Even the person inside the body wasn’t real.
The only thing real about Candice was her purpose for attending the party. Teresa made eye contact with Candice about an hour ago, but there was no recognition in her eyes. Teresa was only supposed to observe and report back, but she hadn’t seen or heard from Colonel Lance Bishop for more than a week. Teresa was resolute in her desire to ‘take down’ Candice, but she wasn’t authorized to do so. Only the Colonel held any authority in their organization.
“You’ve been busy since we last met Teresa.”
Teresa spun and saw a man in a suit and tie. There wasn’t anything special or even noteworthy about the man other than a lapel pin shaped like a chess piece. Teresa paused for a minute to recall the name of the piece and to ascertain if she new the man. “I’m sorry,” she replied, “I don’t recognize you.”
The man smiled. “Oh, I wasn’t wearing this body when we first met.”
Teresa’s heart skipped a beat when the realization struck her: This man was a member of the group that rose up with the collapse of Doctor Mann’s organization. Teresa looked around for an escape route. She wasn’t banking on needing a quick escape.
“Don’t worry, Teresa, I’m not here to hurt you.”
Teresa feigned the confidence she thought she was supposed to possess. “No, you’re just here to, what? Help Candice fleece more money from horny bankers?”
The man looked over at Candice. “She’s a piece of work, huh?”
Teresa squinted her eyes and set her jaw. “We will take you down.”
“That’s entirely possible.” The man fiddled with his cufflinks. “When you see Colonel Bishop, deliver him a message for me.”
Teresa furrowed her brow.
“Tell him, ‘Mister Knight wants his tie pin back.” The man smiled and leaned forward to whisper in her ear. “I wore your body better.” He looked Teresa up and down, sneered lecherously and disappeared into the crowd.