Breach of Confidentiality Ch. 01byChrystalWynd©
"All right, do you understand your assignment, Michelle?"
Michelle looked at the Projects Coordinator and offered a saucy wink. "Yes, fearless leader Archie, I understand. Go to Blonde Concepts and let them know I'm from Chrystal Heights MarketTech, their new marketing agency. Do a wonderful job. Acquire kudos. Win awards."
"I'm glad you have a timeline prepared," said Archie. "They're really big on security there and you're going to have to jump through hoops where that's involved. I know you'll think it's silly, but just do what they tell you to without your usual running commentary, okay?"
"Sure, no problem, boss," said Michelle. She offered Archie a winsome look. "Don't you trust me?"
"I *know* you," said Archie.
Michelle fluttered her eyelashes. "You say the sweetest things."
Michelle used the drive through downtown Chrystal Heights to mentally review her information.
She had heard of Blonde Concepts, of course. Everybody had. They were a relatively new cosmetics company, but they really were about much more than just makeup. They produced their own game show- Bimbomania- and they used the game show to showcase their technological advances in the field of beautification and cosmetic improvement; even transformation. They were cutting-edge leaders in the field, rivaling Sleek Curvosity out of Darkview and sometimes even mentioned in the same breath as Bimbo Tech. They offered a wide range of products and their Research and Development team worked relentlessly to provide a constant stream of fresh, contemporary concepts.
Michelle presented her I.D. to the gate guard and the fence began to slide open. Security was a top priority with these cosmetic companies, because industrial espionage was very common. Michelle understood the need for it, but it made her job very difficult. Getting the information necessary to conduct a proper marketing campaign was much like giving birth to a baby elephant, as layers of security were in place specifically to keep one person from knowing too much about several aspects of the company. It was ironic, as the information required to put the campaign together was actually fairly superficial- a magazine advertisement certainly wasn't going to list the components used to make the various perfumes or whatnot- but because of their access to all aspects of the company, the marketing personnel actually required higher clearances than many of the employees.
Michelle blew a kiss at the security guard and chuckled at the resulting squirm. She then drove until she found a parking spot. She exited her vehicle, making sure she had her chic yet fashionable pink portfolio with her. Being pink, it had seemed a reasonable choice to work with at Blonde Concepts.
She made her way up the steps and walked through the automatic doors into the lobby. Bright, cheerful colors and tasteful pastels seemed to be everywhere, and she was prepared to swear that she could hear birds chirping. Michelle took a moment to take in the lobby, trying to figure an angle to perhaps work it in somewhere. She filed it away mentally and walked to the receptionist desk.
A cheerful blonde with big hair and even bigger breasts-which appeared to be attempting to escape their confinement- greeted Michelle.
"Hi! Welcome to Blonde Concepts! Can I help you?" said the blonde. Her badge identified her as Bibi.
Michelle offered a bright smile. "Hi, Bibi. I'm Michelle. I'm here to see Kelly."
Bibi blinked twice. Then she said, "Oh! Oh, you mean *Kelly*! Sure, wait just one minute, okay?" She nodded very earnestly.
Michelle snickered to herself. She had played bimbo herself often enough to appreciate the real thing, and Bibi was the real thing. Big, blonde hair down to her belly button, thick red lips, long red acrylic nails and an adorably confused expression as she was no doubt trying to wrap her tiny brain around whatever Kelly was telling her on the phone. Ironically enough, the desk appeared very organized and efficient. Bibi appeared to be a very organized bimbo.
Bibi finally set the receiver down and took a deep breath. "Kelly says to wait *right here* and don't go *anywhere*, 'kay? She's coming now to see you, honest!"
Michelle laughed. "Thanks, Bibi," she said. Then she leaned forward and grinned impishly. "You were really helpful, and I hope I see you again soon." Then Michelle let her eyes drop from Bibi's face to her cleavage.
Bibi blushed a rosy red and she dropped her eyes, but her hips twitched in response. Michelle wasn't going to pursue it...yet...but she had to admit that Bibi was quite fetching, if not a ball of fire in the brains department. Maybe after a couple of drinks...
"Michelle! I'm glad you made it so quickly."
Michelle turned at the voice. A dark-haired woman was approaching with her hand extended. Michelle took the offered hand. "Glad to be here. You're Kelly, I presume?"
The woman nodded. "I am. I'm in charge of Public Relations for Blonde Concepts, so I'm going to give you the run-down on what we're expecting. First, however, we've got to take care of your security clearance. Red tape, but I'm sure you understand."
Michelle nodded, her smile locked in place. Kelly appeared to be rather no-nonsense, so it didn't seem to be a good time for one of Michelle's colorful observations.
Kelly nodded at Bibi and the door buzzed to allow them entrance. "Most companies rely on the traditional five year agreement with employees to ensure confidentiality," said Kelly as they strolled through the door into the hallway. "However, we both know that doesn't prevent ex-employees or even disgruntled employees from revealing information you don't want passed to competitors. Yes, it gives one strong legal grounds, but that can't fix the damage. The best way to fix the damage is to make sure it doesn't happen in the first place. Step into this room, please."
Kelly and Michelle entered a room dominated by electronic equipment. A man in a white lab coat was flicking a needle. Another man stood nearby and looked at Kelly and Michelle with what seemed to be disdain.
Kelly nodded at the arrogant-seeming gentleman. "Good morning, sir. This is Michelle. She's the new girl from the marketing agency." Kelly turned to Michelle. "Michelle, this is Dr. Street," she said. "Dr. Street is the founder and Director of Blonde Concepts."
Michelle looked at the man with a new respect. The big man himself. She gave her best professional smile. "Good morning, Dr. Street. I appreciate this opportunity to work with you, and I think you'll be happy with the results."
The man gave Michelle what appeared to be a disapproving look-over, then turned to Kelly. "She's brunette," he said, in much the same tone of voice he might have said, "She's growing a second head."
Kelly nodded. "Yes, sir. Apparently they didn't have anything lighter available."
Dr. Street shook his head. "I already have a dark-haired girl in my PR department. I don't need another."
"I understand, sir," said Kelly, "but I haven't had a chance to discuss that with her yet."
Michelle kept her voice deceptively casual. "If you don't mind my asking," she said, "am I understanding correctly that there's a problem with my, ah, hair color?"
Kelly held up her hand. "Please, Michelle, don't misunderstand. Dr. Street is well aware that hair color has no bearing on ability. However, this *is* Blonde Concepts, and it would hardly be appropriate to have our marketing and PR department heads uniformly non-blonde. In point of fact, we actually requested a light-haired female person, if available."
Michelle shook her head. "That explains it," she said. "I was the only female available for this assignment. Also, the receptionist who takes the calls has a sweet phone voice, but she's a pretty hard-core feminist. She may have conveniently forgotten to pass on that part of the message."
Kelly sighed. "It's no reflection on your ability, you understand," she said, "but you see our problem?"
Michelle was quiet for several heartbeats. Then she finally said, "Oh, what the hell. Why not? Alright, I'll go blonde for a little while, at least until the account is up and running. Will that be acceptable?"
Kelly nodded. "Indubitably so, Michelle. And thank you. You'll be pleased to know that it won't cost you a cent to do so, either. We have a salon on-site and it is staffed by some of the finest hair technicians in Chrystal Heights."
Michelle nodded. "That will be fine," she said.
Kelly glanced at Dr. Street, who nodded his apparent acceptance of the solution. "Excellent," said Kelly. "Now, we continue. The next step may seem a tad excessive and perhaps a bit intimidating, Michelle, but I assure it's harmless."
"I'm glad to hear that," said Michelle, glancing at the array of computer equipment.
A nurse with a professional bearing came forward, syringe in hand. She paused in front of Michelle and said, "Bare your hip."
Michelle's eyebrows rose. "I beg your pardon?" she said.
Kelly interjected smoothly, "It's just an activator, Michelle. It's completely harmless. Well, assuming you don't attempt to sell our secrets, anyway. It's more of a chemical catalyst than anything, and it has no direct effect on you, so you can relax. It was mentioned in the paperwork you signed, remember?"
Michelle did remember, although she hadn't understood the significance of that paperwork at the time. Still, assuming they were telling the truth, the chemical was harmless. She still felt a bit leery, but she kept her face straight as she slid the waist of her skirt down, baring her hip to the nurse.
"That's fine," said Michelle. "Do what you have to do."
The nurse wiped Michelle's hip. Michelle looked away and jumped only slightly when the needle slid into her hip. Then it was over.
"Very good," said Kelly. "Now, Michelle, if you would please come here and sit down."
Michelle walked to the indicated machine and sat down. She was sitting directly between two complex machines that appeared to be industrial computers of some sort. The two machines were connected by a myriad of wires that connected to a visored helmet.
Kelly stepped forward and handed Michelle the helmet. "Put this on, Michelle," said Kelly. "I'm also attaching these Velcro strips to your wrists. You're going to feel a rush once the program starts. Don't worry, that's normal. This can't hurt you. This is simply an advanced hypnosis program of sorts."
Michelle's eyebrows rose. "Hypnosis?" she said.
Kelly nodded. "Yes. Don't worry, you're not going to start clucking like a chicken or stripping in the lobby. This is strictly business-related and it will only interfere with you attempting to intentionally leak extensive information about our agency. We can't make you kill somebody or anything like that."
Michelle nodded. "I understand. I'm just surprised you feel that, ah, hypnotism is dependable enough to ensure security."
"Well, it's a bit more complex than that," said Kelly, "but not much more. And it's worked so far. Are you ready?"
Michelle nodded and then slid the helmet carefully onto her head. She saw the technician fiddling with the buttons and suddenly the inside of the helmet inflated. Michelle could feel various metal ends pressing against her scalp. Then she felt an odd buzzing through her head. It was quite distracting. It felt like each individual hair follicle was vibrating. Very strange. In fact, she was...
"All finished! How do you feel?" said Kelly.
"Huh?" said Michelle. "I mean, I'm fine. Sorry. Just a bit out of it there."
"That's common after a session in this machine," said Kelly. Kelly then turned to Dr. Street. "With your permission, sir, I'll continue with Michelle's introduction tour now."
"Yes, yes, of course," said the professor. "Nice to have met you, Michelle."
The salon wasn't large, but it was quite well-equipped and modern-looking. The silver surfaces gleamed and the manner in which the technicians comported themselves suggested they were competent and knew their business. Business appeared to be fairly brisk as a redheaded woman with an employee badge was leaving and two other non-employee customers were waiting. One of the customers was even male.
This was the final stop of a busy day for Michelle. She had toured the various departments and even a few of the laboratories, and she had to admit they had a pretty complex operation going. There was a positive buzz in the air and a good deal of hustle and bustle as the company prepared for their Fall lineup. Apparently this was where Michelle would focus her initial efforts. Blonde Concepts was launching a wave of new Autumn-themed scents and cosmetics and expectations were high.
It had been a long day and Michelle enjoyed V.I.P. treatment as the salon technicians- probably responding to Kelly's presence- scrambled to ensure Michelle's every comfort. Soon she was lying back in a comfortably reclining salon chair, a bottle of spring water in her hand.
"This is a fairly new process, but it's becoming very popular, despite its expense," said Kelly. "Rather than simply change your hair color, they are going to treat each individual follicle. I don't fully understand the science, but the end result is simply that your hair will actually be permanently blonde now. Until you have the process reversed, your hair is going to grow in blonde, so you won't have to return monthly to get your roots done."
"Really?" said Michelle. "That sounds, ah, expensive."
"It is," said Kelly, "but don't worry...we're picking up the tab for this one. We'll even tip the stylist."
"Thank you," said Michelle. "Keeping one's stylist happy is rather important, you know."
"Of course," said Kelly. "It's my business to know that."
The process was lengthy but relatively pain-free. The color was stripped from Michelle's hair, and then an analysis performed to determine the perfect shade of blonde for her features and hair type. Then a helmet was lowered onto her head and she felt the pressure of many tiny needles pressed against her scalp. The helmet was finally lifted and the stylist went back to work on her hair. When she finished, Michelle could scarcely believe her eyes.
"It actually looks...good!" she said. "I'm surprised. Blonde has traditionally been a disaster for me."
"We appreciate your sacrifice," said Kelly. "I'm sure we're going to do great things together."
A week later, Michelle was sitting in the Electric Raven Coffee and Juice Bar for a late drink. She was alone.
The Electric Raven resembled a tavern more than a cafe. It was set off the main street, a short way down a darkened alley. Steps led down to a dimly lit door. Inside was somewhat better lit, but there were a host of darkened corners and nooks to sit unobserved. Various small tables were placed haphazardly with no particular order to them. Old couches were placed here and there, along with the occasional loveseat. Various quotes and artistic images covered the walls. In a corner was a small slightly raised stage- more of a deck, really- with a single dim spotlight shining on a microphone stand with a stool next to it, in place for the weekly poetry open-mike nights. Track lighting left some areas better lit than others. Everybody was welcome at the Electric Raven and questions weren't asked.
The clientele represented an interesting cross-section of Chrystal Heights. Several mohawked punks lounged on a couch sipping cappuccinos and Shakespeare in equal doses. A bespectacled accountant in a suit-and-tie read "Tax Laws and Dungeons" while holding a leash attached to the spiked leather collar of a six-foot lingerie model dressed in a skin-tight leather catsuit and licking cream from a bowl. A musician with a local hard-rock band drank cucumber chasers and whispered sweet nothings into the ear of a girl dressed in the regalia of Queen Victoria. A pair of nuns sipped chilled Jagermeister and chatted amicably about Emily Dickinson with two cheerleaders who had sweet smiles and evil eyes.
Michelle was sitting at the bar. She was bored. She idly tossed pretzels to the live gremlin sitting next to the cash register as she thought about her job.
It had been a busy week. Blonde Concepts was getting ready to kick off the fall campaign, and they wanted the marketing plans in place immediately. Michelle had been racing from department to department, getting a feel for the products, and it was going well, but the security issues were interfering time and again. She'd also had to sit through the helmet and injection treatment two more times. The management didn't trust *anybody*, and she was getting tired of being treated like a spy.
And that was when the striking redhead sat down next to her.
Not that Michelle minded. After all, she often said that redheads make the best toys. But there was something familiar about this redhead, and, after a minute, Michelle knew what it was. This was the same redhead that she had seen walking out of the salon on her first day at Blonde Concepts.
Surely her presence here was a coincidence, right? Michelle decided to find out. She waved the bartender over.
"Ah, yes, what can I get for you, luv?" asked the bartender.
Michelle tapped her lower lip with a finger briefly, then smiled. "Well, I was going to order another Mike's *Hard* Lemonade," she said, "but I've changed my mind. I think I'd rather have a Redheaded Slut."
The bartender glanced at the woman sitting next to Michelle and grinned. "Jagermeister, peach schnapps and cranberry juice. No problem," he said. He walked away to prepare the drink.
The red-haired woman hadn't missed the exchange, and she was looking at Michelle with a tolerant smile on her face. "Interesting name for a drink," she said. "I've never had one."
Michelle let her tongue touch the bottom of her upper teeth. Then she smiled. "Oh, you should. Redheaded sluts are *delicious*."
The woman chuckled politely, but her hips twitched in response. "It sounds like you've had a lot of redheaded sluts," she said.
"Some," said Michelle, "but you never get tired of them. No matter how chilled they are, they just melt in your mouth."
"You sound sure of yourself," said the woman.
"Sure," said Michelle. "I'll show you." She turned and caught the bartender's attention. She held up two fingers and the bartender nodded. "Now you'll get a redheaded slut of your very own."
The woman smiled. "You didn't have to do that, you know."
Michelle let her eyes drop slightly, taking in the woman's body, then raised her eyes again. "I know," she said, "but I like redheaded sluts."
The shots arrived. The woman picked hers up and said, "Thank you. I'm Cassandra, by the way."
They pitched back their shots at the same time, and Michelle chuckled as Cassandra shuddered slightly.
"Well," said Cassandra, "that's different. What's that ghastly aftertaste?"
"Jagermeister. You get used to it." Michelle signaled for two more. "So what do you do, Cassandra?"
The redhead paused only briefly before answering. "I'm an administrative assistant for a software company. You?"
*You mean you're a spy for Blonde Concepts, you adorable little liar, you*, thought Michelle. Out loud, she said, "Marketing for a major corporation."
Cassandra's voice was a shade too casual. "Really?" she said. "Which one?"
"Blonde Concepts," said Michelle.
"Omigod, you're kidding!" said Cassandra. "I love their products! I'd love to know what they're coming out with next!"
Michelle groaned to herself. This was the best lead-in Cassandra could come up with? As a spy, Cassandra had a ways to go. "Well, in that case," said Michelle, "just wait until I tell you about the Autumn 'Winds of Change' lineup kicking off in a few weeks! It's going to make Blonde Concepts bigger than Revlon or Maybeline!"