Kirill had awoken on that Tuesday morning earlier than anticipated. He had managed to eat a few meagre pieces of cold buttered toast with the piping hot fresh black coffee before heading for the rooftop to enjoy a few cigarettes. He then had descended from the depressing gloom to meet Hugo and Natasha in the meeting rooms and although they had covered every aspect of the conference the day before, they would go over them one more time, because they could not afford any mistakes.
08:30am. The final checks had been made in meeting room 1 and he walked through the connecting door past the two close protection officers into meeting room 2 where the delegates would assemble before the conference. Both meeting rooms were very spacious and could accommodate 50 persons quite comfortably, however the demands on both the IT equipment and the catering requirements meant losing a considerable amount of space. This was carefully planned to give him a psychological advantage in both rooms. A separate area had been cordoned off to the left with a glass screen behind which the accompanying associates could wait if they so wished.
Under normal circumstances there would have been a conference table in meeting room 2 where the delegates would meet before moving into the conference area. He wanted to have an edge and had insisted on three tall tables being arranged in the center with hostess tables to the side. There was a selection of hot and cold drinks and delicate snacks for comfort eating which was also a deliberate ploy to deflect concentration away from himself. Although the delegates were advised to be in the meeting room from 09:00am for an 09:30am start he knew the games would start before that and he was ready. The furnishings were delicate shades of apricots and rich dark plum exuding a warmth and comfort in stark contrast to the cold misery outside the building. Kirill stood waiting beside the tables with an empty coffee cup as he wanted to maintain personal control and that meant maintaining a low level of liquids in the stomach and the bladder to prevent the need for any unscheduled bathroom visits.
Kirill was almost certain of the order in which the delegates would arrive, he would offer the necessary pleasantries while he studied their appearances, compared them in his mind them with the notes which were also meticulously prepared by his associates before and during their arrivals.
He would be the sole male amongst some of the most intelligent, wealthy and powerful women on planet earth, but they had their weaknesses and he would use them to his advantage. They had all entered middle age and their appearances were demanding more and more attention increasing the spite, nastiness and vitriol that only a cauldron of bitches could produce.
Kirill controlled his delight in the fact that each delegate had been provided with the most enormous breakfast buffet that would not have shamed the Russian Tsars of the past. He knew that all or most of them would not be able to resist picking at the buffets and eating just a little bit more, which would at some stage during morning impact on their appearance and comfort.
This was not going to be the most pleasant of days, he had a job to do and a report to produce.
08:50am. Zhen Li (Chinese Delegation)
Zhen Li was always the first to arrive. She entered and walked gracefully past the security personnel as her associates moved to the left and behind the screen. Then a few more steps and she stopped, before bowing and offering her greetings to Kirill. Her heels and tailored trousers and slim jacket made her appear much taller than he could remember. He continued to study her features as she was served by a very plain hostess, dressed in the dullest of uniforms that would guarantee almost oblivion from the senses of the delegates. Zhen Li had no idea that Kirill knew her innermost secrets and that being a lesbian could potentially be used to his advantage.
08:55am. Victoria Stafford (English Delegation)
Victoria had to be early for one very good reason, she wanted to “piss off” Suzu and knew that she would have planned to arrive exactly 5 minutes before 09:00am in her inimitable Japanese way. She had just made it to the first floor with time to spare before the elevator ascended to collect the Japanese delegation. Then she stood, faffing around while pretending to look for something in her purse, before walking towards the meeting room just as the bell pinged to announce their arrival. She stopped again, before casually moving towards Kirill and the usual pleasantries, knowing that, behind her Suzu had to wait in uncomfortable silence and henceforth lateness by Japanese standards. She smiled on the outside and smirked inwardly as she greeted Zhen Li, then asked for coffee and moved across to one of the high tables.
She had taken her time and enjoyed the full English breakfast with toast and marmalade but felt slightly bloated as the basque was pinching her slightly and her backside was feeling tight in the pleated skirt. Kirill had wondered how someone so wealthy, could after so much effort, look so dull and ordinary. Was there something his advisors had not told him?
09:00am. Suzu (Japanese Delegation)
Suzu did not look happy, almost as though she had just missed a train by a mere second or two. Kirill had unintentionally noticed the three undone buttons of her cotton shirt as he greeted her and could not understand why she was also wearing a pleated skirt like the dull Englishwoman. However, the skirt hugged her curves nicely and together with the high heels she had the grace and style which her fellow delegate had not. He thought her outward appearance and wondered what accessories she would be wearing underneath. He had to snap himself awake and not lose his composure, but somehow, he knew that she had caught him out. It had been intentional, and he was not too sure, what advantage if any had been gained out of it.
The hostess poured a glass of still water and the gloved hand appeared to shake as it placed the glass on the table for Suzu to then take and mingle with Zhen Li and Victoria. She chose the third table just as Kirill thought, they all sought an advantage no matter how small by dictating the game and forcing the remaining delegates to make choices. It really was pathetic, but as usual he let it ride. He told himself to keep focussed and concentrate, because small talk had never been one of his strengths.
09:10am. Tamara Krause (German Delegation)
The elevator door opened, Tamara marched across the lobby and had to be rude and abrupt to the close protection team who had a duty to perform. They scanned each delegate and their associates for any counter surveillance devices and other electronic devices which had not be agreed upon in the terms and conditions of attendance to the conference. They did not flinch from their duties as Kirill approached in a casual but agitated manner. “Good morning Tamara, let me consider this to be a minor blemish on your character and make the bold assumption that this will not be the manner in which you will conduct yourself for the next few hours, you are reminded that the conference is recorded for posterity and insurance.”
The well starched Bavarian shirt with frilly collar and cuffs visually stiffened along with the tailored lines of the Saville Row suit which gave her an air of power and authority blended with a sheet of Siberian ice. The high heels should have been jackboots thought Kirill, because in another life he would have taken her immediately outside and shot her between the eyes in recognition for what her ancestors had done to millions of his fellow countrymen. That may happen one day in the not too distant future but not today unfortunately, Eva Braun she maybe but Marlene Dietrich she definitely was not. The x-ray equipment had identified metal caps in the front of her heeled shoes, “looks very much like the myths are reality” he thought as he led her into the meeting room to greet her fellow delegates. When the hair rises from your skin it is usually a sign that you are in the company of the devil and of that he had always been certain.
09:15am. Susanna Bancroft (American Delegation)
The protection team could have been forgiven had they stopped Susanna on the assumption that she was in fact a CIA agent. Kirill looked at Susanna with a deep sense of abject pity, in that any woman with such wealth and intelligence could have such a lack of any sensuality and appeal to both men and women alike. He knew very well the reasons why she was single and entering middle age both lonely and afraid.
Today Susanna had dressed daringly well by her standards, but being tall, skinny, shapeless with short hair did not alter the facts that she was dull with zero sex appeal. She could however drive a car like a Formula 1 racer and ski like the famous Franz Klammer on a good day. Kirill had read the files on her dress habits and remembered the very words written by the informant and how very accurate they had been. He also knew how very much she was despised by the other “ghouls” in the conference room.
09:30am. Taya Morozov (Russian Delegation)
“Good morning Tamara, may I enquire as to why today we have been truly blessed with your punctual arrival, this must surely be a first?” She was taken aback, caught off guard and pretended innocence. Inside she was absolutely furious. The other delegates avoided her eyes but were silently smirking. Kirill had requested that the staff adjust the clocks in her suite by 10 minutes and subsequently she arrived precisely on time. Her enormous breakfast was compounding her discomfort as her breasts struggled inside the tight fitting supports.
Taya was losing composure and tried to look unconcerned, but almost fell over as the stilettoes struggled with the heavy embroidered rug that had been positioned very carefully in her path between the hostess and three high cocktail tables. Kirill knew that the surveillance would detect the movement of the rug and with almost absolute certainty he knew that no questions would be asked. His planning had been meticulous and with only one more delegate the morning had started well and he was happy with the small but significant personal victories so far.
09:40am. Sabrina Belluci (Italian Delegation)
Sabrina the curvaceous but aging Italian beauty with a medium sized bottom and large matronly sized breasts exited the elevator with a mobile phone in hand and close to her left ear pretending to speak to a fictitious caller. She was wearing a dark green tailored suit and looked absolutely stunning. Kirill knew what she would be wearing underneath and almost smiled, because she was a fun lady, he could not deny that, but she was as dangerous as hell on a bad day!
Her arrival was accompanied by several “ciao babies” as was her way, together with a double espresso and several hugs and kisses, which she knew only too well would upset all but one of the delegates.
The waving arms and long curly brunette hair with the intended strands falling over her face, did indeed give her the magnetic film star aura, but that aura, together with the best features in the room were beginning to fade and Kirill could sense the aging fear from not only Sabrina but the other lonely hearts in that room. He, however, did not feel any sense of compassion for these women, for they had sold their souls a long time ago for their chance to be in a position of wealth and power. In so doing, they had also sold their rights to other worldly dreams such as passion, love, family, friends and so much more. They had been lost in their moments of greed and self-importance. “Fuck the lot of you, for what you are and what you represent”. He knew that even Sabrina who was wearing the beautiful soft and luxurious French knickers with soft lace around the legs could not entice any man to share her impending doom, no matter how hard she tried.
Kirill knew that his own personal story was another matter and a few minutes later ushered the delegates into the adjoining room where he would present an update of the corporate financial position together with an update of the Zodiac Program.