Bright sunshine flooded through the tall windows, touching each surface with its dazzling light. Every corner of the room was bathed in a soft yellow glow, and its elegant proportions were displayed to their best advantage. It was a disaster. The one thing she hadn’t allowed for was a sunny day.
Maximum impact - that’s what she was striving for. The clothes, the hair, the jewellery; her attention to detail had been impeccable, and any false note would influence his perception of her credibility. But instead of completing the illusion by creating subtle lighting and atmospheric shadows, the room was more akin to a floodlit stage. It was the end of October in London. It was supposed to be raining.
She didn’t know what to do. Should she close the curtains? No. That would never work. Too obvious by far, and he wouldn’t like it. But time was running out, and she had to think fast. She adjusted everything quickly until she was sure it was as perfect as it could be, angling a wingback leather armchair so that it almost faced the door, sufficient that she could see his face without turning her head. But not straight on. That would give her nowhere to hide. And the light from the window had to be behind her, of course, throwing her face into enough shadow to disguise anything that her eyes might inadvertently reveal.
Her preparations were complete. All she could do now was wait, and think of the inevitability of what was about to happen. Every muscle in her body was taut, and her shoulders were rigid. She forced herself to relax. She heard the sound of a taxi drawing to a halt and a car door slamming. She quickly glanced in the mirror to check that everything was perfect, and was alarmed to see the inner turmoil betrayed in her eyes. She breathed deeply and suppressed the thoughts and images that were crowding her mind, fighting to compose herself.
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