Peyman made her enter the neon-light flooded white rooms of the agency through a door in the subway station that said 'APO'. In hindsight, that could have been a clue. But Barbara wasn't that suspicious. Those weeks on the show had taught her that these model and fashion types were eccentric.
The man behind the desk looked vigilant and sagacious. While dressed elegantly he wasn't at all what she had expected. He introduced himself as Arvin Sloane, and the dangerous gleam in his eyes betrayed his jovial amicability.
"Barbara, my dear!" he said, putting her folded hands in his. “We wanted to have Janina here to help you settle in, but unfortunately some business came up. She is out in the field with Marshall, testing bioweapons.“
Barbara, a confused look on her face, laughed nervously, "I don't understand."
Was this one of these hidden camera shows?
“Fiona, would you join us for a moment?“ he waved in the curly-haired brunette.
Or Germany’s Next Topmodel, the re-match?
Reminded of her days on the show, Barbara instantly decided to be professional about this and hide her insecurity. Maybe it was best to act now and think later. Everything happened so fast! A brief hug with Fiona like a good colleague. There wasn’t really time to catch up.
"You know what I hate?“ Arvin Sloane challenged.
Barbara hesitated shortly before she answered, “Global warming causing sea levels to rise and salt in the ground water slowly transforming Bangladesh's breadbasket into a vast shrimp farm, leaving families homeless, poor and starving?“
“Bikini wax?“ Fiona suggested, all perky.
“Oh yeah... those are awful,“ he pondered. “But no. Terrorists, ladies! Amish terrorists, to be specific. Which is where you come in: We will send you on an undercover mission to rid the world of evil-doers as a (pretend-) lesbian spy couple.“
"And we want you to be professional about it. Go out there, apply what you learnt, give us the best performance you’ve got!" Peyman added.
"Okay..." Barbara said slowly.
At least the task wouldn’t include getting cozy with a male model and an elephant while pissing off her boyfriend. In the past she had never really warmed up to Fiona but maybe things would be a bit more relaxed now that they were a team. So she tried to concentrate on this strange challenge.
"Amish. That means look 'young virgin' and commercial posing, no?"
"Excellent!" Arvin Sloane applauded.
There was no time to bask in the glory.
"Let’s get to work, girls!" Peyman rushed them without mercy. "You have fifteen minutes for hair, make-up, choosing an outfit and kissing practice! Go! Go! Go!"