Clothes Maketh The Man – Part 69.

– Find Part 1 here – Chapter list here –

“So, wait a minute,” I said. “Are you telling me we’re the good guys?”

“Of course we’re the good guys. Well, girls,” Annabel corrected herself. “Gino here works for FDA. They’re our client.”

My head was spinning.  I was trying to reconcile the words I was hearing with the things that had been happening to me for the past few months.

Annabel continued, “We work for several government agencies. But right now we should be moving along. I can take you through the full organisational flow chart some time, but now may not be the moment. We need to get out of here quickly.”

“I’d better take care of sleeping beauty back there,” said Gino. “It might buy us some time.”

He turned to leave, the .44 in his hand.

“’Take care of him?’,” I said.  “You’re going to kill him?”

“No, but I’m going to make sure he isn’t going anywhere. And I’m going to make sure he can’t rouse anyone for a while. There’s some duct tape in there and I can leave him in a closet.” He pushed the 44 into his pants. “We don’t just go around killing people, you know. What kind of people do you think we are?”

“You’d better hurry it up, we don’t have a lot of time,” said Annabel.

“I guess we’re not swimming today after all,” I said. “I’d better change into something more suitable.”

Annabel and I hurried back to my room and as I changed I felt Annabel come up beside me and she placed her arm around my shoulders.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “We’ll get out of this.”

She pressed herself to me and in the flimsy swimsuit I felt her body strong and muscled against mine. I felt that rush of excitement that I always did as she wrapped me in her embrace. How was it she could make me feel safe, even now, when everything seemed like it was going wrong.

I could feel a tear welling up and caught my breath.

“I’m going to make sure you’re ok,” she said. And with that she kissed me and suddenly I felt I could handle anything. Was this what it felt like to be a woman? To feel the protection of the strong? To acquiesce to that tactile safety of another’s arms, and to just trust in their strength? Maybe. Or something. Something not quite masculine. I’d not felt like this before.

We waited for Gino, and Annabel anxiously looked out of the window at the pool area. There were two or three men lounging about, cold drinks beside them. It seemed the picture of desert holiday elegance.

“You know each one of these men would kill you as soon as look at you,” said Annabel casually. “All we need to do is make sure that’s not what they want to do. And besides,” she said smiling, “you look like you’d be a lot more fun alive than dead.”

“That’s very comforting,” I replied, but I thought to myself, ‘yes, but for how long?’

Feeling a little petulant I commented, “You might have told me we’re working for the government. I feel like a complete fool.”

“We can talk about it later.  We have other things to worry about right now.” Annabel was suddenly all business.

“So, you’ve done this sort of thing before?” I asked.

“Sure,” she replied. “This is not exactly my first rodeo.”

The door opened and Gino stepped into the room and then said “He won’t be going anywhere for a while. You really clocked him.”

“Yeah, I don’t feel very good about that. Will he be alright?” I replied.

“He’ll be better than I would have been if he’d pulled that trigger when he was pushing his gun down my throat,” said Gino. “I think he’s going to have the mother of all headaches, but other than that I think he’ll be ok.”

I sat on the bed and turned to Annabel and asked, “So, what’s the plan?”

That was when I learned just how much trouble we were in.


“We were just supposed to come down here to see what had happened to Gino,” said Annabel. “After he didn’t report in for a few days we got told to come down here and infiltrate the place to find him. It turned out the boys here like to party and when they decided they wanted some company for their little group some bright spark in the FDA decided it would be good cover for us.  Something you did very quickly, if accidentally, and as luck would have it you did exactly the right thing.”

“And does anyone know how the three of us get out of here,” I said a little nervously, now realising the seriousness of my predicament.

“We were supposed to play it by ear,” said Annabel.

“That doesn’t sound good,” I replied. “In fact, it sounds like we have no plan at all.”

At this point Gino cut in, “How did you get here?”

“We’ve got a hire car. They met us by the road.  I think I remember the way,” said Annabel.

“And they’re just going to let us drive out across the desert? You don’t think they may be pissed that ‘the entertainment’ is leaving early? I’m just guessing, but some of these guys look like they might not want to let us do that,” I said feeling decidedly uncomfortable.

“If we make a break for it we may be able to get to the road and make a head to town,” said Gino a little skeptically and he exchanged glances with Annabel. I could read the body language and recognised the look of doubt on Annabel’s face.

“I’m not getting the feeling that either of you believe that’s a good idea,” I said.

“You got anything better?” asked Gino. “We’re going to have to do something soon. Our friend next door is sure to be missed before long. I know there’s going to be someone coming tonight, someone important. That’s what I was sent in to find out about.”

“How did they figure out you were FDA,” asked Annabel.

“They didn’t,” replied Gino. “If they thought I was FDA they would have put a bullet in my head hours ago. They think I’m working for another cartel. As far as they are concerned this is part of their on-going turf war. I’m pretty sure they were going to dump me somewhere out in that desert tonight after they’d worked me over. But for now, at least, I’m still standing.”

“Well, we won’t be for much longer if someone comes looking for your guy. We have to get out of here,” said Annabel.

By this time I was beginning to figure out that I was in the middle of some sort of government operation that had gone horrendously wrong. Even Annabel was looking doubtful. As I took the nicest of the blouses in the wardrobe and put it on, I reflected upon the inescapable truth that if you really want to screw something up, get the government involved.

“Wait a minute,” said Gino staring out of the window. “What’s that? Do you hear it?”

“I don’t hear anything,” said Annabel.

“Listen,” said Gino.

A moment later I heard the staccato sound of a helicopter and gradually it grew in intensity.

“I think we may have a way out of here,” said Gino.


We made our way back through the house to the foyer, and could see the group of men that had welcomed us were walking toward an area by the swimming pool where a helicopter was landing. All eyes were on the arriving helicopter and the car, a couple of bikes and a Jeep were all parked out front.

“Can you ride that?” said Annabel gesturing toward a trail bike.

“Sure I can,” I said.

“The keys are in them.  This might be the best chance we’ve got.”

I looked at Gino, and said, “Two up? That’s not going to be very quick. And where the hell are we going to go?”

“Maybe if I go for it.  They have no idea about you two,” said Gino. “Maybe you just play it through and leave in the morning.”

“And when sleeping beauty wakes up?” said Annabel.

Gino thought about this for a moment.

“OK. I’ve got it.  You two go out and join the welcome party. You can leave tomorrow.  I’m getting out now. And I’m taking that lump of lard with me. I just have to get him out to your hire car, shove him in the trunk, and go like hell for the road. He could use a doctor.”

“Oh yeah,” said Annabel skeptically.  “I can hardly see that failing.”

“If we’re going to do this we better do it now,” I said.  The blades of the helicopter were slowing and a door was opening.


Annabel and I walked slowly out of the front of the hotel and sauntered as naturally as we could toward the helicopter. No one paid us the slightest attention until we neared the group.

A couple of people turned and looked at us, but gave us no more than a casual glance.

Annabel put on a bright smile and we mingled into the group of arrivals. There were four men and two smartly dressed women. These new arrivals were all well dressed and looked all business.

I couldn’t help thinking these people looked more like bankers than anyone involved in a drug cartel.

Whispered as much to Annabel.

“Just because they’re cartel, don’t think that stops them being bankers,” she turned away from me and with a smile took the arm of one of the men chatting to the pilot.

“It’s so exciting,” she said. “I’ve never seen a helicopter up this close before,” she said in a simpering manner to the man she was beside.  He smiled at her and was perfectly amiable.

I glanced back toward the house.  In the distance I could see the dust trail of the hire car hanging in the air. At least Gino was away. Good for Gino. The small group around the helicopter were through with greetings and Manuel and another helper were unloading the baggage and preparing to walk back to the house.  They had a small trolley, and looked like they’d done this same exercise a few times.

Shortly the group began to move back toward the house. No one noticed the fading dust trail.

“We’ll have food ready in an hour,” one of the men was saying to Annabel. I gathered his name was Mark, and he seemed to be the leader of the group that had welcomed us. “Perhaps you lovely ladies will wait for us at the pool while my guests freshen up. We’ll be joining you shortly.”

Annabel beamed at him. “What a good idea,” she said. Good grief, I thought. If they gave out Oscars for over acting, Annabel would be picking hers up imminently. I fell in beside her and smiled modestly at Mark. I tried to look as demure as possible.

“Oh,” said Annabel, practically jumping up and down with excitement. “I love a pool party! Let’s go and change, Andrea.”

With that she took me by the arm and started back toward the house, practically skipping as she went.

“Jeez, Annabel,” I said as we hurried back to our rooms. “Aren’t you overdoing it a little?”

“Yeah,” she replied quietly. “I’d rather these boys think I’m coked up out of my skull, than that we might be who we are.”

The party was moving slowly back to the house as we hurried to our rooms to change back into pool wear. The air was warm, the sun sinking lower and it was turning into a beautiful Texas evening.

As I pulled on the swimsuit and redid my make up I rubbed a little oil into my shoulders, and over my breasts. Looking at myself in the mirror I felt satisfied that I looked pretty good.  Pretty desirable. All I had to do, after all, was make it through a party and then leave in the morning. Surely I could do that.

As I slipped into some heels, and walked out of my room elegantly toward the pool I was the picture of dignity. My swimsuit revealed the curves of my body, the cage barely noticeably disturbing the lines of my attire. As I walked across the pool area to a reclining sun chair the few men gathered there already moved their gaze toward me.

You really wouldn’t think that I could end up face down in a shallow grave at any moment.


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