I watch from the sidelines as they turn the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen into an absolute goddess. The pictures I’ve seen of Poppy Jones online don’t even come close to capturing the stunning beauty I have my eyes locked on right now. There is something about her that goes beyond the physical. She has an innocent air about her. A sweetness that shines through. I haven’t spoken to her yet, but I know my preconceived notions about Poppy Jones are all wrong. She isn’t the spoiled, pampered princess I imagined her to be. That much is clear just from watching her interact with the people around her. She is polite, gracious, and friendly. She almost seems uncomfortable with the fact that everyone in the room is focused solely on her.
She doesn’t know I’m here. We have a meeting set up for later this afternoon. Today she is in a closed studio doing a photo shoot for one of the many lingerie companies that are clamoring for her attention. I don’t need to be here, but I wanted to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the woman everyone is talking about. Sometimes just observing a person when they don’t know you are there can tell you a lot more about them than a face-to-face meeting. I’ve certainly learned that throughout my years with MI6.
Drew Copeland filled me in on Poppy Jones’ background as soon as I returned to London a few weeks ago. Hers is an interesting story, for sure, but I need to talk to her myself. There are a lot of holes that need to be filled in. She will be able to fill in some of the blanks, but she won’t have the answers to the real questions that need to be answered. Questions I have been hired to find answers to. Questions like… who is the guy who took her when she was twelve years old? Why did he take her, and why did he let her go unharmed after less than forty-eight hours? The biggest question, though, is why—ten years later, after getting away with her abduction—is he back? I doubt Poppy Jones can shed light on any of those questions, but I still need to talk to her. I need to get to know her since I’m going to be spending a lot of time with her. We will start that process as soon as she is done with this shoot.
I originally thought this was going to be a babysitting assignment; I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m now taking this job very fucking seriously and I already know I won’t be passing it off to anyone else.
Hours go by and I watch in fascination as Poppy goes through the motions, doing everything the photographer and shoot director ask of her. She doesn’t complain that the lights are too bright or too hot. She doesn’t complain when they put her into backbreaking positions that no normal person should be able to get into. She doesn’t complain when the only sustenance that is offered are a few small sips of water. Instead, she smiles and flirts, keeping the mood light as hours tick by. It is apparent, even from my short observation, that everyone loves working with her.
By the time they are wrapping up, I have a much greater appreciation for the life these models endure. Sure, they get fame and all the money that goes along with it, but the work isn’t as glamorous as people might think. Not to mention all the other, less appealing issues that can arise, hence the need for my services.
“What do you think?” Drew Copeland asks as he steps up beside me and points his chin at the woman on the bed across the room.
“Beautiful,” comes out before I can catch myself.