Lila – *fiction based on a real person, for whom I’ve drawn up a personal profile* (Artemis-type)
Lila Banks is an under cover F.B.I. agent with financial training and a mission to get under Andrey Jones’ skin, a high profile stock broker suspected of foul play. She first tails him with the cap pulled over her face from the car, coffee-to-go and a camera. She watches him for a few days, then goes at the same gym as he. Tall and young, athletic and jovial, she finds him attractive against her best wishes. In another few days she infiltrates his gym-friends, and gets recommended for a job at his company. This scene depicts their pivotal moment, their first interview revealing that the mystery of Andrey Jones goes deeper than she’d expected.
Andrey Jones looks incredible in his designer suit. I know he’s a dish under it, I’ve seen him work out at the gym and, yes, I’ve slobbered.
“Miss Lila Banks,” he walks to me, hand outstretched. “Nice to meet you in proper clothes.”
I straighten up and fight back the flush. He beams a perfect smile at me, and I stick up even more. That beautiful masculine face and those dark eyes have an effect I haven’t been forced to endure since my teens. I was never good with crushes. My face burns – the flush sure won the battle.
“Have a seat,” he motions to the sofa. I pull stiffly at my skirt and cross my ankles like the lady I’m not. I’m sitting sideward to the glass door I entered through, quite close to it, and glance at my reflection. Enough to make sure the blond-white bun is in place, no loosened strands, electric blue eyes sober and opaque.
Andrey Jones takes a broad chair across from me, the impressive skyline behind him. It enhances his impressive persona.
“I’ve read your CV,” he begins, making himself comfortable. “Which I wouldn’t have done without Tom’s recommendation.”
I’ve flirted a bit with his best friend at the gym to win his favors, which Andrey Jones subliminally scorns me for. At the gym he’d only accepted I submitted a CV drying his sinewy arms with a towel, barely looking at me and addressing only Tom. I try on a reserved smile. “And which I deeply appreciate. I know you’re a very busy man.”
Smart-ass. I clear my throat.
He speeds over the pleasantries. “I want to talk about your financial tracking experience. You mention it, but don’t go in depth. It’s a pretty general term.”
I shrug. “Define in-depth.”
He smiles that charming smile of his again, which I now begin to understand – it glosses over his impatience. There’s something sly in his expression as he leans forward and pours us both a cup of hot coffee from the pot his middle-aged secretary had brought in. I admire him for the choice, honestly.
“Lila,” he says, “I may call you Lila, yes?”
I keep my back straight and invite him with a reserved nod. “Andrey.”
He grins. “I see. Tell me Lila, do you believe having me sweat for details serves your purpose? It’s you who applied for the job, not me who tendered.”
“Tom said you needed a good financial analyst. I’m a great financial analyst.”
“A bold statement. Then how come you’re in need of a job?”
“I’m not,” I reply automatically and switch on the back-story set in place with Chief Schwarz. “I’m currently working for Jinx Enterprises, Assistant Head Analyst, but I hit a dead-end. Pay won’t go up no matter what I do, and the glass ceiling hardened. It’s impenetrable from this point on. Your enterprise is smaller, chances higher. I mean, I’m now negotiating directly with you, the owner. I analyzed your ascent, and I’m confident you’ll be huge in five years max. And when that happens, I want to be well seated at a big desk.”
He stares hard at me. He’s not used to women sounding like this, I guess. Indeed, he confirms, but in a way that strikes me dumb. “Well, there’s a blonde, young and hot as hell, talking like a veritable Wall Street jackal.”
“Now, now,” I suppress a shocked smile only with difficulty. I put up my palms in virtual protection. “No need to go sexist on me. Just tell me you don’t need my services, and I sprint out the door.”
“Oh, I need your services Agent Lila Banks,” he slurs and leans forward with elbows on his knees, looking mighty sexy as his eyes lock on mine and make my heart drum in both attraction and anxiety.
“Yes, I know who you are, Lila, and why you’re here. I know you followed me for days, and I know the F.B.I. suspect I haven’t hit the jackpot regularly on Wall Street only ‘cause I’m damned good. I know you’re not wired now, nobody expected that I’d open up from the first, and that’s why I’m only gonna say this here and now – indeed, it’s not luck and it’s not my special talents. I’m an agent too, only not for the F.B.I. I’m bigger. Much bigger. I need a financial tracker, yes, because I need to know who the Jinx are paying for pharmaceutical developments that bug people’s DNA in ways that you wouldn’t believe if you don’t see with your own eyes.”
“Try me,” is all I can say. My words come out as a mere whisper. How he knows all this doesn’t matter. The only fact of importance is that he knows.
“Everything at its time. Here’s the plan Agent Lila Banks – you go back to your people, and you tell them you failed. I know that’s hard, they’re not used to you failing. Tell them I didn’t hire you. Tell them I want you to go out with me and give me insights from your work with the Jinx before I make a decision – yes, I’m aware you’re the best tracker I’ll ever get. That will force them to infiltrate you with Jinx for real. Which, at its turn, will give you access to their files for real. I call you one Friday evening and we meet for wine, a cozy fireplace and good conversation about your findings.”
He pauses, dark stare intense on my face. My blood races through my veins.
“Why the wine and all?” I mutter. “We could just have that conversation, then you hire me.”
“You’ll go out with me,” he decrees, low and luring.
“Why?” I insist. He inspects me for moments that feel like an eternity, drilling through my otherwise icy surface right to the Vulcan at the core.
“Because you’re a very special woman, Lila Banks.”
UPDATE – Lila’s whole story has been published in the Christmas Story Book for Adults.