Gripping her phone with both hands, the best Pauley could do was strangle Butch in effigy. Smacking the screen against her open palm, she lamented the lack of a landline handset that she could slam down with righteous indignation.
She stood in the bathroom doorway, feet shoulder-width apart, one foot in front of the other. Her body was turned slightly, knees flexed into a shooter’s stance. It was natural for her, an unconscious mannerism. Millicent caught Pauley’s reflection in the bedroom mirror. She needed to break her of that habit. It was a tell she couldn’t afford to have.
“I need a shower, if that’s okay with you,” Pauley said through gritted teeth.
“Good idea, then I can show you how to style your hair to best accent the dress.” Millicent turned to face her, holding up the silver hoops. “These will be perfect with your coloring.”
Pauley rolled her eyes, then slammed the door behind her.
Stripping off her clothes, Pauley realized she smelled of dry sweat, and death. A long, hot shower was going to feel great. Turning the water on full blast, and scalding hot, Pauley stepped gingerly under the spray, easing into the heat.
Pink and freshly scrubbed, Pauley wrapped one towel around her wet hair and another around her body. Grabbing the dress she left the bathroom, and went to face Millicent with her fashion accessories and hair dryer.
Out of her mannish slacks and button-up shirt, Pauley’s figure was obviously female. The oversized clothing hid curves and swells that even Millicent could appreciate.
“Why Pauley, you are a girl,” she walked around the scantily clad woman, picking up strands of wet hair that had escaped her towel. “In the right clothes, you’ll be stunning.”
Pulling away from Millicent’s touch, “I dress for my job. I’m not going to lie face down on a roof top, or hide in a dirty alley, in designer clothes.”
“Well on this job you’ll be in my milieu… that means…” MIllicent guided Pauley to sit in a chair facing the bedroom mirror.
“I know what it means,” Pauley interrupted. She sat down, still clutching the towel around her.
“As I was saying, you’ll be in my environment, and you’ll have to look the part.” Combing out Pauley’s hair, Millicent studied the younger woman in the mirror.
Over the next hour, Millicent styled Pauley’s hair into a sophisticated up-do that accentuated the V back neckline of her dress. Fitting as if tailor-made for her, Pauley was transformed from an ugly duckling, into a beautiful swan.
Shaking her head at Pauley’s heavy-handed application of makeup, Millicent stepped in front of her, taking over the final touches to the younger woman’s new look. Removing most of the layers of rouge and eyeshadow, Millicent expertly brought out Pauley’s high cheek bones and emerald eyes.
“Didn’t your mother ever teach you how to apply make-up?” Millicent asked, amused by Pauley’s awkward attempts to use mascara.
“My mother died when I was ten.” Pauley’s statement was devoid of emotion, said like she was giving a drink order at the bar.
Millicent cocked her head to one side, frowning slightly at the words. Then smiled faintly. A flash of a knowing smirk, when the truth was more delicious than the lie. She knew the lie, and tucked it away for future use.
Moving aside so Pauley could see her reflection, Millicent tugged her out of the chair. Looking at herself in the mirror, Pauley turned this way and that, her face a mask of confusion.
“That’s amazing,” she whispered. “I wouldn’t even recognize myself.”