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Chapter 1

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Epigraph

"Upon the heath.

There to meet with Macbeth.

I come, graymalkin!

Paddock calls.

Anon!

Fair is foul, and foul is fair:

Hover through the fog and filthy air."

- Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 1

The line "fair is foul and foul is fair" is from the play "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, and it means that what appears to be beautiful is actually ugly, and vice versa. The play centers around themes of deception.

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On an intellectual level, I was sure I'd long understood the meaning of the phrase, drop dead gorgeous. But when my office door opened that Monday morning and she walked in, I gained some real practical insight into the true meaning of the phrase. She was someone who was so stunning at first glance that it was hard to look away. Looking at her for the first time made my heart skip a beat and then beat faster. Time seemed to grind to a halt.

She said, "Mr. Malone?"

I tried to think of a witty reply but failed miserably. My mind had turned temporarily to mush. Instead, I flashed her a goofy grin and said, "Yes. I'm Malone."

Her golden blond hair contrasted perfectly with her cornflower blue eyes and porcelain skin. She was tall, very trim, and carried herself with an air of sophistication. She had on a short dark gray pencil skirt, black stockings, a white sleeveless silk blouse, unbuttoned to display just the right amount of cleavage. She wore black ankle strap heels. Her ears were adorned with small gold hoop earrings and around her neck was an impressive gold statement necklace that looked like it had probably cost three or four times what I'd paid for my car.

I stood up, gestured towards one of the client chairs positioned in from of my desk, and invited her to sit down. She had an elegant heel-to-toe walk that brought to mind a fashion model on a runway. She sat down gracefully in the chair and crossed her legs at the knee. She modestly tugged at the hem of her impressively too short skirt, but the effort didn't quite manage to conceal the darker colored top of the silk stocking covering her right leg. I liked the skirt. I liked it a lot. The skirt and the stockings emphasized her long, shapely legs.

I sat back down in my desk chair, almost missing the seat. I could tell she was giving me the once over, sizing me up. Probably mentally undressing me. I had that effect on women. She looked me over a little more before speaking.

"You're quite tall and muscular," she said. "Physically you appear quite capable."

"You betcha," I said. "Care to see me do a one-arm push-up?"

With a frown, she looked me directly in the eye and shook her head slightly from side to side. I felt a little relieved since I hadn't tried to do a one-arm push-up in quite a long while.

"Are you good at what you do?" she said.

"I am," I said.

"If I share a problem with you can I rely on you to be completely discreet?" she said.

"Of course," I said. "In fact, discreet is my middle name."

She looked dubious. To add emphasis to my claim, I touched my thumb and index finger to my lips and twisted as if turning a key to indicate my lips were sealed. She pursed her lips and raised an eyebrow, suggesting she wasn't impressed with the pantomime.

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