The shroud was removed, and while I couldn't see before, I couldn't after, because a powerful light shone in my face. It wasn't a matter of adjustments. It wasn't as easy as putting up my hands to avert my eyes. After all, my hands were tied. First I was blinking, but I turned my head, and after a few minutes, I found I could squint quite well.
Although the light was shining, I discovered I was tied to a chair in a dark room, all alone. Except for the man who pulled the shroud off my head. Then I heard heels tapping. It was a woman.
Slowly, the woman tapped her way in front of me, until the light was almost completely obscured by her head. All I could do was confirm shas was a woman by the silhouette, and that her black hair was pulled back tight in a bun. I gave it some time, and I learned she was wearing a red dress. But still, I couldn't see her face.
I heard a flick of a lighter, and soon saw the woman had brought one to life, as she lifted the flames to her lips, and let the licks singe her cigarette. The fire faltered, as the lid slammed shut, and the woman chucked it to the corner of the room. I guessed it was a warehouse.
Finally, the woman felt there had been enough suspense, so she dimmed the light so as not to blind herself, as she manoeuvred the lamp, and revealed her face.
That tawny skin, those emerald eyes, perfect cheekbones, and of course, those supple lips were familiar to me. I smiled, "You're the flamenco dancer."
"And you're smarter than you look," the dancer joked, as she took a harsh drag. Her accent was as thick as her hair. Spanish to the core. An Iberian angel.
"No, not smart at all. Just a good memory. You see, I never forget a face," I admitted.
"You were staring at my legs the whole time. I assumed you would have forgotten."
"Are we still in Salamanca?"
"Don't even try, your Spanish is terrible," said she, stifling a giggle.
"Fine then. Where are we?"
"We're in Madrid."
"Ah, yes. How enchanting. I can smell it now. The city of protests. Or does Hong Kong claim that title now?"
"Were you in Hong Kong?" asked the woman.
"Of course. I wouldn't miss it. I didn't see you there though."
Getting back on topic, she demanded to know, "Why are you here?"
"You brought me here," I quipped.
"I mean, why are you here in Spain?"
"Oh, in Spain! Tell me your name first."
"Carmen," was the quick-fire response.
"I was lying."
"So was I." She took another drag, and blew smoke in my face. I stared into her seductive eyes, waiting for her to lick her lips, like she did in the plaza. Like when she danced to that flamenco guitar. She however, glared into my eyes. Probing them. Searching for truth.
Carmen rebegan, "Do you think you're getting out of this alive?"
"I know I'm not getting out of this alive," I replied, "so I think it's pointless, you asking me any questions. Why don't you pull up a chair instead; maybe we can have a drink. Who knows where that might lead us..." I winked, and she smiled at the euphemism.
"You're a funny man Senor..."
"Bond," I japed.
"Or James, if you like." I beamed. She smouldered.
"You're a very funny man, James."
Then Carmen did something I did not expect. She let loose her hair, sat down in my lap, and wrapped her arms around my neck, so that we were face to face. The chair creaked, but I suspected it was simply old. She barely weighed anything.
"Ooh... erotic and exotic. I didn't think you were this kind of dancer."
"I'm not any kind of dancer."
"You have everyone fooled then. The way you moved, and when you lifted your dress up, you made every man in Salamanca rock hard."
She moved her head in close, and whispered in my ear, "You're pretty hard right now."
I chuckled, "That's just a gun in my pocket." She chuckled too.
Then, in a most sensual way that I can't possibly describe, the dirty dancer bit my earlobe, and deliberately slid her hands down my chest until she got to my loins, going so far as to unzip my fly. If I wasn't tied up... scratch that, I would have told her everything I knew, if my knowledge wasn't my only chance of survival. I only wished I was tied to the bed.
Behind the smell of her perfume, and the cigarette Carmen threw away, I detected a hint of jet fuel.
"So... where are we going?"
"Going?" she asked, as she licked, my lips.
"Well..." I said, keeping my line of sight firmly on her cleavage, "we're in an airplane hangar... I suspect there's a plane nearby? Do we have an ETA?"
She scoffed, as if the sight of me reviled her, and she nearly leapt off of me, to adjust her hair and her dress.
"I suppose I'm not provocative enough for you?"
"Oh, you are very provocative, Carmen, I've never met anyone as gorgeous as you."
"But the smell of aviation fuel is oh so distracting."
"I'll keep that in mind for the next time."
"Now where are we going?"
Carmen laughed, and her who body convulsed like a dynamo of sexual frustration. I imagine I should have felt ridiculous for not knowing the answer, but I begged anyway, and watched her get pleasure out of it. I watched her, her with her perfect curves, writhe like a woman possessed by the devil.
"Oh, James! You are such a fool. You're not going anywhere. Where I have you right now, is perfect." The word 'perfect' rolled off her tongue... perfectly.
"And we'll let the torture begin?"
"I'm afraid so, my darling. And it's such a shame that I'll have to wreck that handsome face of yours."
"And here I was worrying you didn't like me."
"Nonsense. You're just my type. If it were up to me, I'd tie you to the bed, and really give you something to complain about."
I tingled at the innuendo.
I asked, "Have I told you, that your voice is driving me wild?"
"Just now, you did."
"And your body... divine."
I paused, watching her scintillating body, glow in the darkness around us, and I couldn't help but make a request. "Dance for me."
"Dance for me, and I'll tell you why I'm in Spain. Dance for me and I'll tell you everything."
Carmen smirked, "Oh, James. You promised the same thing when you asked for my name."
"Ah, but you never gave me your name, did you?"
"You Americans are so cocky."
Giving up all the charm I had left, all I could muster, I gave her a single look, and made her smile. I thought she must have swooned, because she agreed. "Very well. El deseo de un moribundo. Recuerdas el ritmo?"
She asked me if I remembered the beat. I thought to myself, it wouldn't be hard to remember if I could see her face. What a beautiful face it was.
And so, Carmen danced. Gyrating on top of me like a bitch in heat. I watched her twirl. I watched her spin. In a maddening frenzy of red, she danced, flapping her dress about, vigourously. She flipped her hair in my face, and circled around me rigourously. She tapped her shoes to the rhythm I heard hours ago, and I felt it match the thump of my heartbeat. She lived and breathed, flamenco. I panted too, smelling her drip, and sweat, even in the evening of a Spanish summer.
Finally she got close enough to kiss me again, as she was bent over backward, resting her head on my shoulder, and she whispered in my ear a second time, though something I would not have guessed in a million years, "Have you picked the handcuffs yet?"
I sat in shock, and after a moment, I gave a slight nod.
She murmured again, "There are a half dozen men behind you. When I give the signal... get the lead out."
It took a moment for me to realise, that when Carmen sat on my lap, she had stuffed a Beretta Bobcat in my pants, and I hadn't even noticed. That was lead she was referring to. I nodded again, suddenly ready for action. Prepared to die.
She tapped her shoe, and stuck one of her legs out, revealing her inner thigh and a second Baretta in a garter belt. And she had her hands on her hips, counting down, "Uno... dos... tres!"
Gunfire ensued, and didn't stop until everyone who wasn't Carmen or I, was lying dead on the asphalt.
I looked around, pointing my gun about, as did Carmen with hers. This time we were truly alone. Suddenly, slowly, we stared into each other's eyes, instead of the gun barrels we had pointed at one another.
So I asked Carmen, "Where are we going? Madrid to..."
To which Carmen replied, "For forty-eight hours Senor Bond... anywhere we like."
First I grinned, and then so did she with her flawless and tantalising smile, as we lowered our weapons.
I couldn't help but ask, Was that just playful banter, or should I keep the handcuffs?"
She licked her lips, and blew a flyaway hair out of her face.