From her perfect porch, decorated in perfect cottage chic furniture, sipping her perfectly mixed Arnold Palmer, Eileen looked out over her perfectly manicured lawn at her perfectly mundane neighborhood.
Don’t all little girls dream of having their happily ever after carried away by a white knight to a beautiful cottage encircled by a white picket fence. Growing up, the fences weren’t constructed with custom-hewn wooden slats, they were mildew-grayed plastic borders that separated this yard from that one.
There wasn’t a well-kept park – an HOA perk – that provided French château-inspired pavilions for picnics and a double-wide boat launch for weekend cruising. Instead, there were bird-crap stained concrete benches and tables laid out carelessly in the washed-out space at the end of the overgrown cul-de-sac.
Brushing a nonexistent stray hair away from her face, tucking nothing behind her diamond stud adorned ear, Eileen wondered for the umpteenth time if she should have been more careful what she wished for.
Eileen’s next door neighbor, Marla, strolled by, her impeccably coiffed Löwchen leading the way on the end of a pink jeweled Cartier collar and leash. Waving, Marla’s matching pink fingernails flashed in the sun. She smiled at Eileen, careful to not crack her lavish makeup. Her toy dog kept trotting, his nose high in the air.
A slight lift of her head and a raise of her glass were the only acknowledgments Eileen offered. Marla’s duck-faced smirk said she regarded Eileen as a fraud who didn’t belong with the rest of them.
“Why do you let her get to you?” Eileen’s co-operative, Milo, said. “She’s not the target and she’ll only make you break cover.”
“I know, she just pushes every last button” Eileen gulped the last of her drink. “I’ll get it together.”
“You better or the mission’s blown and you could end up dead, or I could.” Milo pulled her into a faux embrace, whispering his warning in her ear. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll let you kill her first.”