Getting back to the story about the Snoops this week on the Tale. You can read the previous parts of Snoops here on the Tale. Things don’t go quite as one might expect a lot of the time. Sometimes that’s your past getting in the way, sometimes it’s your present. When both collide head on, then you need to make a choice, and someone is always disappointed … somehow.
Farah was a slave driver. At least that’s what Nadia thought about the rather domineering red-tail, who was hovering over Snoops like it was her own personal store and not Nadia’s and Deirdre’s. Worse still was that Deirdre seemed to be pleased with everything that Farah did and kept bruising off all of Nadia’s concerns and questions about what was going on.
On the other hand, Nadia couldn’t really argue with Farah’s insistence that all of the succubi that were on the sales floor dressed up like femme fatales, and that the incubi looked like a certain fictional secret agent from some other realm with whom she wasn’t familiar. But why was it that every single incubi was to call himself ‘James’ and every succubi ‘Jane’? Marketing wasn’t one of Nadia’s strong suits, after all.
Nor could she really fault Farah’s choices when the sales reports were looked over, the order books checked. She did, however, have a problem with Farah putting her tail into the other part of what Snoops was from time to time, even if the red-tail wasn’t aware that she was doing so.
That was, after all, what this was all about, even if Farah wasn’t supposed to know it.
For all intents and purposes, the store was two levels now, the lower one the showcase of their wares, the upper, partly office space, partly where fittings were done for their clients. The basement wasn’t store but stockroom, with various succubi and incubi rushing in and out to stock shelves and to get items that their customers wanted.
At least that was the basement until a certain box was moved from a certain wall, the tip of a tail was slid into a lock, and a secret doorway was opened. Nadia meant to ask Deirdre why she kept talking about someone named ‘Max,’ but never really got to.
One particular afternoon, Nadia was sitting at her desk and had just interviewed a green-tail that had the correct password when she came into the store, meaning that Tera sent her along to join the Snoops … assuming that Nadia and Deirdre thought she would work out, of course. Nadia found that being dressed up as a femme fatale didn’t work for her, so, ever at her best, she just looked professionally aloof during the interview as she spoke with the applicant, trying to figure out what she would look like as a femme fatale, on the one hand, and if she was quick enough on her tail to be one of the Snoops that the Realm needed. The blonde was doodling on a note pad when she heard the clicking of heels coming towards her.
Deirdre stepped into view soon after, doing her best to look as ‘fatale’ as possible. Nadia did like the look, even if Farah had been completely responsible for it. Deirdre always did manage to make a purple cocktail dress look amazing. The wide-brimmed fedora added that little touch—though it was a shame that Farah had insisted on that.
“So? What do you think?”
Nadia arched an eyebrow: “If you mean your outfit, I think you look very mysterious.”
“Farah thinks so.”
The snapping of the pencil in Nadia’s hand was very loud in the office, she looking at the broken pieces before picking them off her desk and dropping them into the waste basket beside her. “Wonderful. I’m so glad.”
Her purple-tailed partner nibbled the inside of her cheek before blowing out a breath and closing the gap between them. The blonde Asian succubi didn’t say anything, only watching as Deirdre approached and then put her shapely rear on top of Nadia’s desk, sitting there, legs crossed, beside her.
“We need to talk.”
“No, we don’t.”
“So this miffed attitude you’ve been carrying around since Farah appeared is nothing to worry about?”
“Of course not. She’s looking after the store. Our cover is good. What’s there not to like about her?” There was a telling pause, then she continued: “Other than you two being …”
Deirdre’s hand moved to touch her partner’s sleeve: “No, we’re not. That’s over.”
Nadia closed her eyes: “Okay … Sure.”
“No, Love, you aren’t going to mope around without knowing the entire story, whether you want to or not.”
“I don’t need to know. Let’s move on; there’s other things to talk about.”
“No, first things first: Farah was my mentor, I loved her dearly, and still do, for everything she taught me. But I wasn’t the one she really loved. Farah only loves herself. She is self-centered, demanding, can be the most bossy succubi you’ve ever met. But she’s not stupid. Hiding things from her is a mistake. She’ll start rooting around to figure out what’s going on if you don’t tell her.”
“What we do is none of her business.”
“Alright, we’ll keep things a secret as long as we can. But someone is going to slip up, and she’s going to find out about us.”
Nadia’s sigh was a long one: “She knows about you and me, and she’s …”
“… she’s not doing anything except getting on your nerves, making you crazy for knowing that she was once with me. You need to accept that we need her here, get over your problems with her. I’ve had enough nights at home.”
The green-tail didn’t look at her lover: “I’ve seen the looks she’s been giving you.”
“Then you’ve been seeing something that I haven’t. When you introduced yourself as my lover—which, by the way, you never said to me—that ended things for her.”
“I thought it was obvious.”
Deirdre tapped one of Nadia’s horns: “It’s obvious, you dummy, but I still would like to hear it.”
“No, it’s obvious she’s spending a lot of time with you.”
“Of course she is. She’s running the store. We’re both her bosses, but you don’t want to deal with her, so you’re spending most of your time here getting things up and running, and so I have to play interference.”
“Someone has to. Tera wants us to do something, and we’re not ready.”
“When did she tell you that?”
“Doesn’t matter. Nobody’s ready, so … I’m going.”
If the snapping of the pencil was loud, the cry of “What?” was even louder.
The Asian pushed herself away from the desk and looked at her chocolate-skinned partner: “I’m the only one that has learned enough to go out there. I’ll be fine. I don’t have to look like you, or Farah. I just have to blend in, get what we need to know, and then get out. The ‘girl next door’ look will do just fine.”
“No! Absolutely not! You aren’t going anywhere. I don’t care what Tera says, you aren’t going to risk your tail.”
“I’ll be leaving before you know it and I’ll be back before anyone’s the wiser. Trust me, there won’t be a problem.”
The argument went on well into the night, neither succubi giving an inch on what she thought about the entire situation. It was past midnight when they left their hidden lair, the night shift working the store as they walked out the doors together …
… and right into the waiting stare of Farah: “Where have the two of you been? I have things to discuss. We need to change some of the displays, and I need a decision.”
Nadia pointed at Deirdre: “Talk to her. I’m going home; it’s been a long day.”
As Farah started to point out what she saw to be issues that needed to be addressed, Deirdre could only watch Nadia walk away and then disappear around a corner.
The following morning, Nadia didn’t return to Snoops … nor the next day. What came next was her purple-tailed partner prowling the store night and day waiting for her to return, at one point telling Farah to leave her alone in a way that made the red-tail take two steps back from her.
After a week with not a word, Deirdre decided to see Tera. Or at least she intended to when the Queen walked into Snoops. Her expression was troubled, which was worrying, but more so when she took the painter by the arm and pulled her upstairs and into Nadia’s office.
“Where is she, Tera?”
Tera was looking out the office windows to the floor of Snoops below: “Something’s happened. We need to go find her.”
Something snapped in Deirdre and what she said next she instantly regretted: “This is all your fault! If something’s happened to her, I’ll never forgive you!”
The monarch turned and sighed: “You don’t think that I feel the same way? I told the both of you that if anything happened to any of you I would never forgive myself.”
The next voice wasn’t Deirdre’s; Farah stood in the doorway: “Where’s Nadia, and what the hell’s happened to her?”
Tera glanced in the other red-tail’s direction, then to Deirdre: “You both have something to talk about. Don’t let me get in the way.”
The explanation about the SNOOPS didn’t take long, Tera nodding here and there as the story unfolded. Farah’s expression didn’t change from anger, though her tail started to move slowly behind her as the story was told. When it was over, her answer was simple as she looked at Tera: “Then we go get her.”
“It’s been a long time since you’ve been out there, Farah. Don’t overestimate yourself.”
Deirdre looked from her Queen to her past Mentor: “What do you mean?”
The green-eyed brunette pointed her tail at Farah: “Ever hear of Mata Hari?”
“You have got to be kidding.”
The retired spy smiled: “I’ll have to teach Nadia the fan dance when we get her home.”
“You mean if.”
“No. I mean when.”