The party can be heard outside the extravagant and intricately designed restroom door. The low tones hum and give support to the piano piece intertwing in the sound. Margo tugs her dress to expose her shoulders. The scarlet material extenuates her pale skin and contrasts her glassy teal eyes. Tricking men was a talent that came easier to the striking women in recent years. In a short time, she had gone from administrative work to being in the field.
She went from working as an academic assistant to carrying classified secrets to the Czar. There was a point in which she would pick up books and spend long hours in a library and now she was amongst aristocrats, revolutionaries, and crime syndicates. Years ago she had seemed quiet, demur, and lady-like; now that facade was weaponized into persuading powerful men to tell her their secrets without the use of violence. This was a mission that she had not anticipated though.
Margo steps out into the hallway, the marble floor below her feet clicks with each step. The house is dimly lit by gas lamps and low-hanging chandeliers. The long elegant hallway with large windows leads to a larger room where many of the guests are surrounding the piano or sitting on couches. Men of prestige and power sit on the couch with what can be assumed as socialites or women of the night.
Behind this foyer is a small hallway to another room, that leads into a study. The room is dim, a fire place lit at the forefront that allows the silhouette of the target to be seen. Margo took a drink, she would need the liquid courage to face her former liason.
“Cassim?” The anxious woman’s voice is manipulated to sound demure and coy. Even if she was susceptible to his charm, she was hoping to gain the upper hand. To fulfill the mission as asked would mean Cassim will be dead by the end of their interactions, if she could add insult to injury it would be more enjoyable for her.
“Margo?” The voice was calm, but sounded elated in return. She could feel part of the ice in her heart melt.
Cassim stands up from the couch. He was not rugged but clean in appearance; aesthetically pleasing like a piece of art. Every part of him was detailed and precise, created with the intention to distract a whole room of people. His slicked backed black hair gave a resemblance to english royalty, you would never guess he once lived in a shabby apartment as a struggling academic. He looked like a prince, but was more comparable to a thief.
“It’s been a while,” he hums in glee walking across the room. As he strides closer, Margo notices how tall Cassim is. She remembers being a new employee at the university. He had approached her in the same way, towering over her and making her feel like a schoolgirl. In those days she had spent long hours with him; tailing him on his academic research, retrieving books for him, and getting to know her colleague outside of work more than she should have. They behaving the way in which adults do, but that did not remove the sting from the situation any more.
“Better late than never.” Margo smiles, leaning against a wall, and pulling out a cigarette. As she does this, Cassim moves closer. He pulls a lighter out and holds it out to the cigarette. The flame flickers in a teasing way; grazing and engulfing the ashy end, his eyes never pulling away from hers in the midst of their close contact.
“I’m happy to see you again.” As Cassim says this, Margo pulls her glance away and looks off to the side. There was a pull between having once shared a bed with this man and knowing he was a criminal that she had to kill.
“I know, you seem it,” Margo replies while strolling towards the window of his study. The streetlight irradiates the white blanket on the road. There was minimal traffic, the background noise of the party can be heard but is muffled when the door to the study clicks shut. She turns around to see Cassim leaning against it, smiling like a cat who just caught a canary.
Margo is about to say something but then looks down at the coffee table, on it sits a copy of Utopia by Thomas Moore. He liked two things, power and feeling smarter than everyone. The serpent-like woman could react in fear or she could play to his ego, namely his intellect. It was his most prudent strength and his most visible weak spot.
At this point, Margo goes and sits on the couch, turning around to look at the pretty boy who trapped her. Upon closer inspection, he had a cocky grin on his face that accompanied his longing for a woman. She had learned in the years that had gone past that she was a notch in his belt. Cassim walked closer to her, his hand gently cupping her face and admiring her beauty. It was an odd moment of tenderness Cassim did not expect, reigniting the passion he once felt for her.
“How is your wife?” Margo hums while looking him dead in the eye. The sound of this question hits like a piece of ice falling on one's head as the walk out of a shop. Upon their schism he had hoped she would let that go, his wife was separated from him and in a mental ward for good reason. It was information that he did not like sharing, nor did he want it to get out.
“She’s fine. The same as before.” Cassim pulls away and crosses his arms looking at her. He felt like he just put his hand in a cage and was bitten, her coy smile was now straight-faced. Margo slid forward on the couch with her gaze fixed on him, he held his composure but looked away from her. The way her eyes fixed upon him was venomous, both sultry and discerning.
“Apparently you are too.” Margo spat back in a kittenish voice as she stared into the fire and fell back on the couch.
“Margo, why are you acting like this?” The secretive man speaks in a hushed tone, he closed the door in hope that she would still have interest in him, some form of companionship but was met with the attitude of a jilted lover. She knew how to attack him.
Margo turns to him while fidgeting with her hands. “Being like what?” It was not a smile on her face but a grin, a look of control. Cassim is silent as she almost slithers like a snake, hips sauntering towards him with pride. The siren takes a drag on the cigarette then breathes out a cloud in direction, the cunning woman bid for his attention.
He refuses to answer. She is close to him, her voice soft and breathy “Like what Cassim?”
For the first time in ages his heart beats out of his chest, and desires something that isn't power.
Cassim rolled over to Margo, asleep next to him he stroked her face. “I missed you, I hope no one else is waiting for you.” A smile further extended on his face as he sat up. Convincing her to return to him was something he was happy he suggested. After the first night, he found that he still enjoyed her presence.
“Why? Because you’re a bastion of morality?” She replies moving closer to him. She places her head in the crook of his neck and nuzzles it. To Cassim, he believes it is genuine affection, he wanted to keep her around without the interruption of his former wife from his younger years. If Margo had not found out or he had been able to divorce his wife quietly things may be different.
“Let that go, sweetheart.” He chides to her, enjoying how they sounded like a married couple.
“So, then what made you turn over the new leaf?” Her half-lidded eyes settle on his as she kisses him gently, pulling him in before he can answer. After allowing her to carry on for several seconds he pulls away.
“I want things to change.” He says quietly while playing with Margo’s hair.
She pulls away quickly “With us?”
“No, well yes, but I mean with the country in general.” He was trying to speak about politics but his mind lingered on the subject of her question. It cried out to the small part of him that desired a future with her. He had enjoyed seeing her face again in the early morning hours when she was curled up and vulnerable with him.
She settles back into his arms with her eye looking up to him. “Go on.”
“You really want me to tell you?” He grins at this in amusement, his fingers wrap around her shoulders gripping her closer to him.
“When you take over the world I would like to rule at your side.” The smile on her lips was as serene as a warm spring pasture. This only served to distract Cassim further and cause greater compulsion to stare at the cupid's bow and the small details of it.
“I want to set up a system, where the ruling class is no more. The people would be set free of their chains, and instead of the Duma, more select and better leaders.”He stops, trying to focus on the politics but still paying attention to her admiring gaze. He felt more like a servant to her tactics than he used to, at one point he always saw himself at the head of their relationship but it had come to the point where he was wrapped around her finger, always thinking about her, abiding to her beck and call, “The politicians will better see what is in the best interest of the people, and then go about it.”
“Cass, that’s already what they do in government.”
“No, but they will be forced to do it.”
“Oh?” The turn in her voice is curious, but filled with concern at the previous comment.
“We have some people in mind.” He averts his eyes from her and looks towards the window on the grey morning sky. It looked like a blizzard was on its way. If he stayed he would be stuck here for a second night, not that it would upset him, but at some point he had to go.
“Tell me who, I want to know more about this plan.” She taps his chest gently to grab his attention. It’s coy and girlish, the little petite movements mesmerize him.
“I see myself in a leadership role, truthfully”, he explained with a pause. Thinking of what to say. He wanted to change the country, the government and the people. In some way he wanted to change with it, maybe that change would encompass her. "I want to be the head, but there are several other men at the party who are also involved in this.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll change the world.” She leans in and presses her mouth to his. He is happy and wraps his arm around her as she does this. It’s warm and feels like slipping into a deep sleep. If she were to give him poison in a cup he would accept it.
“Say you never loved me. Say it.” Margo remembers his last words and how he suffered on his death bed. She had gotten the information she needed. Keeping her lover alive was not an option, he would be too much of a threat and she would spend too much of her time sneaking around.
His body had turned from the youthful flush to a sickly grey. The poison she had given him was causing his liver to shut down. That and the mix of alcohol had led to him dying silently on his death bed while the names of his fellow socialist were given to the Czar and his administration.
Margo now found herself in a similar position to that which he died in. Nine months after their affair she was lying in a bed, entering a situation which she had not anticipated. Even in death, Cassim had a way of following her.