The Terrorist’s Game
“What if it’s boring - or if it’s not boring, it might be too revealing, or worse, it might be too revealing and still be boring.”
Cameron Walker looked in the mirror before leaving for his evening with the most impossible woman in the world, and he barely recognized himself. Gone was the scraggly unkempt hair and untrimmed beard. In was the short mid high cut with an anchor goatee. Cameron didn’t know what all of that meant, but he had gone from looking like he recently left Woodstock in 1969 to looking a bit like Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man.” The terminology was used by Emily, and she thought that the look was perfect for him. The idea of highlights had been tossed around, but Emily said that real men didn’t bother with highlights. She said that it was primarily a male fashionista move and was only good for the LGBTQ+ community and maybe Metrosexuals. He deferred to her expertise, because he definitely wanted to appear as a real man for his evening out with Talia. She was intimidating, and she enjoyed it, and he wanted to show her that he could handle himself.
Cameron’s brown hair with its new style went famously with his Ralph Lauren Herringbone suit jacket, cashmere v-neck sweater, and button down shirt underneath. He skipped the tie, but wore a Versace scarf and jeans to complete his stylish look. He didn’t know what Talia had in mind for dinner, so Emily helped him walk a line between over and under dressed. It was a fine line, especially when dealing with Ms. Anderson, but doable. Once Emily was satisfied with his look, right down to his Prada sneakers, which was as fancy as he could go as a manly man, he felt confident in his appearance and was ready to spend an evening trying to impress the unimpressable Talia.
“Ms. Anderson, you will truly be impressed,” he thought as he observed himself in the mirror. “No more geek. Prom king. Bond, James Bond. No. Prom King.”
“Excuse me,” Cameron said to Rudolf who was still at the desk when he stepped out of the elevator.
Rudolf turned to Cameron, jaw dropping in shock at his new look. The geek who had wandered in off the streets days before had metamorphosed into a runway model butterfly. The new clothes and hair suited his fairly British features. He walked different, stood different and looked like a different person almost entirely. Had he not spoken, he may not have recognized him at all.
“Yes, Mr. Walker,” Rudolf said, smiling. “What can I do for you?”
“My date for the evening is coming to pick me up,” Cameron crowed. He wondered if that sounded as cool to the concierge as it did to him. “Would you tell her that I’ll be in the lounge?”
“Certainly, sir,” he said.
Rudolf wondered what woman had caused such a radical change in Cameron Walker. He certainly wanted to meet the woman in question. He thought he might even shake her hand. Rarely had he seen such a “Pretty Woman” styled transformation, and he knew it had to be prompted by a woman.
“Thanks, Rudy.” Cameron smiled and walked away.
“I wish he would stop calling me Rudy,” he thought.
Rudolf waited until Cameron was safely out of the main desk area, then he called Chip over from the door. He wasn’t a gossip, but he needed to know who the mystery woman was that was coming to retrieve Cameron Walker. Mr. Walker’s transformation was one such as he had never seen in a man, and he needed to know whom was responsible immediately.
“Yes Mr. Camponelli?” Chip said as he approached the desk.
“Chip, do you know who Mr. Walker is meeting for dinner?” he asked. “I’m not normally so curious about things that are none of my business, but he’s a completely different man from earlier today.”
“Sorry, sir,” Chip replied. “Mr. Walked didn’t elaborate on his date. All I know is that a chauffeur dropped him off earlier in an Escalade.”
“Thank you,” Rudolf said. “As you were. Return to the door. You know how the guests are if they have to open their own doors. They…” his voice trailed off as his eyes locked on the front doors. “Oh no.”
She entered the lobby with a swagger of confidence and a toss of her wild red hair. Talia was always dressed appropriately for whatever the occasion was. It was a casual evening she had planned, so she wore Versace from head to toe. A pink themed tie dyed jean jacket with a signature tee underneath, tapered jeans, Barocco Pumps, and a Virtus Belt Bag in white. The white Baroccos sported four inch heels, because she felt short around the somewhat taller Cameron Walker. She hated to feel inferior, even if it was simply a matter of height. She would allow him no advantage during this supposedly social interaction. She needed to keep the upper hand, so she could gather the information she wanted.
Chip followed Rudolf’s gaze. He wasn’t sure what to do. Every service person in town knew who Talia Anderson was. She held the reputation of being a legendary evil ice princess. People he knew told him that she had never said a kind word in her life and that she treated everyone who was there to serve her as thought they were slaves. Legend had it that her eyes glowed like a demon’s in the dark. There were people that he knew who had left the hospitality business and New York after a series of interactions with the most impossible woman in all of New York City.
Chip took a deep breath, pushed down his feelings of terror, and approached her. “Ms. Anderson, you look lovely this evening. How may I help you?”
She almost bit the young bellboy’s head off for not meeting her with the door held open, but she thought better of it. She didn’t wish to create a scene with a door man that looked like he should have still been in high school. She didn’t want to cause him to soil himself while on the job and make herself look horrid. She didn’t wish for Mr. Walker to take that away from the early part of their evening. Instead, she wanted to save wrathful language for later and apply it where she saw fit. Talia planned on putting Cameron directly in his place within her world immediately after she intimidated out of him the information that she wished to obtain about his activities and before she sent him on his way permanently. By the end of the evening, she should be able to reduce him to cattle fodder.
“Thank you.” She paused to look at Chip’s name badge. “Chip. I’m here to meet one of your patrons for an appointment.”
“Certainly, Ms. Anderson,” Rudolf said. “Whom can we retrieve for you this evening?”
She never tired of the way people; men in particular, jumped to attention to serve her. She felt selfish and maybe even mean, but it was fun to watch men in positions of servitude squirm. It was an art to make them feel that way. The royal treatment and nervousness that met celebrities in public had upset her mother to no end. She never understood the notorious Clarissa Anderson’s disdain of being fawned over, but that was none of her business. She rather enjoyed her own reputation as a demon ice princess, especially in New York where everyone knew her and a lot of people were more than a bit frightened of her. Power was a great feeling to Talia Anderson, and what drove her success. It compensated for the feelings of insecurity that she hid from everyone in her life, but that was her private business and had no place in her evening’s plans. She tried never to think of her personal insecurities, because they were of no use to her in her present world. The world needed to see her as the confident bitch she wanted it to see. There was no substitute for being a bitch in personal security.
“Retrieve, I like that.” She smiled at Rudolf. “I’ve come to retrieve an annoying man by the name of Cameron Walker. What floor might I retrieve him from or did he run home to Washington?”
Rudolf and Chip shot each other a look.
“Um…” Rudolf stammered. “Mr. Walker?”
“So this is what metamorphosed him,” he thought.
Chip swallowed hard. “He’s not in his room.”
“He’s not?” she asked.
“He’d better not have blown me off,” she thought. “The weasel.”
“He’s in the lounge,” Chip said, gesturing to the lounge.
She let out a quick breath. “Thank you.”
Cameron knew he was in trouble. He felt Talia’s presence even before he turned and saw her walking toward him. She was the kind of woman that songs were written about. She had an air about her that exuded perfection. She was drop dead gorgeous with her bright red hair and royal blue eyes. Her skin was pale, and he could see the freckles on her cheeks as she didn’t need make up. He understood why she had a reputation for getting whatever she wanted from anyone. She had all the tools to knock most men off balance, and he hoped that he could stand his ground around her. Her Versace casual outfit said that she didn’t care what anyone thought and that everyone should envy her. Talia Anderson was nothing but trouble, and he couldn’t wait to get into another round of intellectual banter with her. She challenged him in a way no woman ever had before and that intrigued him. He only had this one chance to earn a spot in her inner circle. It was the one thing in life he truly wanted at that moment.
She couldn’t believe her eyes as she approached him at the bar. She wasn’t sure at first glance that it was even him. He looked so different with a new hair style and new clothes. Her heart skipped a beat which really aggravated her. She had no interest in any man. What was it about this one? Cameron Walker made her angry. He got to her, and typically she hated anyone who did that. She wouldn’t let her guard down for one second with him. He didn’t deserve to see any of the real Talia. That could ruin her reputation and inhibit her business and her position at the U.N. How could she be the coldest bitch in town if she let some random guy charm her right out of her Versace?
Michael had told her that Cameron insisted on paying for all of his clothes, which made her curious about his financial situation. He must have been a better computer geek than she gave him credit for. She had told everyone that she did a background check on Cameron, and at that moment, she wished that she actually had. Seeing him in expensive clothes at an expensive hotel: she felt that maybe she should have been better prepared to handle him. What was she missing?
She nervously twisted the ring on her right hand—one of her nervous habits—as she approached him. Who was this man? What did he really want from her?
Cameron broke the silence, as they stood and stared at each other. “Good evening.”
“Good evening.” She was angry. Her heart had skipped a beat when he spoke. “You clean up pretty well.”
“Thank you,” he replied. “You look amazing, as always and you make it look effortless.”
He could tell he was making her nervous. He watched her fidget with the ring. “It only took an entire afternoon with a personal shopper and a style artist.”
She smiled. He was just a man, with little in the way of social skills. “Thanks. Are you ready?”
“Sure.” He stood and stopped to look at her. “Versace? Nice.”
“Yes, thank you,” she replied. How did he know the designer?
He gestured to her to walk through the door first. “I just need to know one thing.”
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Are we taking a pink limousine tonight?” he asked, as he followed her through the door.