Clothes make the woman

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.”

The continuing episodes of Dead Money, featuring the girl-next-door hit man Pauley, and the Cinnamon Girl poisoner, Millicent. Read Lance’s installment this week over at “Divine Thing.”

Part 1 – Let it go to voice mail
Part 2 – Remedy 
Part 3 – Dressed to Kill
Part 4 – She’s in Fashion
Part 5 – Keep your enemies closer
Part 6 – Hustle and Cuss

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

7 thoughts on “Clothes make the woman

  1. The duo are an interesting match, their differences so much it’s like a weird “Odd Couple” episode 🙂

    One thing: where Millicent is doing Pauley’s make-up she shakes her head at the over application…didn’t Pauly just get out of the shower? She doesn’t strike me as a woman who does make up anyway, so I can’t imagine her doing it with wet hair before she comes out of the bathroom.

    It’s a small time-line thing. You need to clarify when Pauley did all this makeup or fix this line: “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.”


    1. The Pauley put on the makeup after Millicent was finished styling her hair. I’ll take a look at the wording and see if I can make that more obvious.


  2. lol @ jes…great idea

    I like how we’re using their histories and weaknesses to expand their characters. Pauley has a lot of layers to peel. She’s great.


  3. This is SO MUCH FUN. You and Lance have GOT to keep this going. I want to see this book in print under the pen name T. L. Burson-Roberts. (See what I did there? Lance is T Lance B, your first initial is T, and I’ve got both your last names in there.)


  4. well you know I love love love this story and when you add the makeovers, well it doesn’t even feel like Monday 😉 I like the way these two women are around each other, the dance they are doing to see who is more powerful, who is deadlier. they make for a HOT summer. it’s a really great installment Tara!


  5. I really like how you had Pauley standing naturally in a shooter’s pose. It’s like a very deadly game of Poker. Nicely done!


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