The Microsoft Lounge at Black Hat Europe was easy to find. Living the way I did on this and that, doing a lot of things to pick up a euro, I’d worked shows here before. It had been a while. I had new skills now. The show floor setup at the Amsterdam RAI was typical, easy to figure out, areas for vendors’ presentations, demos and a centrally located lounge. Central, to keep attendees in the hall. Always sponsored by some company with deep pockets.
Taking off my coat, I analyzed the seating in the lounge. Most of the high tables were filled with solitary men, heads down, typing away on their laptops. Across from the coffee counter and the line of men waiting for their afternoon caffeine fix, the section with living room seating was more sparsely occupied.
That informal setup suited my purpose better, anyway. I chose one end of a black, leather-like couch across a granite colored coffee table from two matching chairs. Two more chairs, one at either end of the table, completed the arrangement. A woman with long white hair sat in one of the end chairs, at the far end of the table from me, looking intently at her Android phone, oblivious to her surroundings.
I should be engaged in some activity, too. I pulled out the show brochure while I waited.
It didn’t take too long. A slender young man with thinning blond hair plopped his computer bag on the boulder-like table between us. Collapsing deeply into the chair across from me, he took out his handheld.
The show badges that everyone was wearing on wide ribbons around their necks were bigger than my purse so it was easy to see his name. People were careful with personal information at Black Hat Europe, it catered to hackers, but everyone still had a name of some sort on their badge.
A bonus, his badge was color coded and if that wasn’t enough, SPEAKER was spelled out on a bright red ribbon hanging from it. This was going very well. I knew immediately what my next move would be.
“Excuse me,” I said, moving slightly forward on the couch, closing the distance between us but not too much, not too soon. This request needed a modest smile. “Is there any way you can get me into your session?” I asked him. “I didn’t pay for a full pass. See, I, I really don’t know much about this stuff. I told this guy I know that I’d come to the conference and get the information for him.”
Still bending slightly over the table, I turned my face slightly to look up at him. Fortunately, even with him sprawled in that low chair, I’m petite enough to pull it off.
He looked up from his handheld and faced my wide blue eyes. I tried to mirror what I saw. An honest, open face, sincere. A sap. Don’t think that now. You’ll blow it if it shows on your face.
He’s the most attractive man I’ve ever met and I’ll hold that thought.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I’ve already finished my session. Are you interested in cryptography?”
I blinked and turned my face away a bit, feigning slight shyness. Too bad I couldn’t blush on cue.
“I really don’t know any of this stuff but this guy I know had to work, so…” If I could get him to finish that thought for me, I’d know we were making progress.
I paused, smoothing my blond hair back over my ear, showing the full line of my chin in three quarters. One of my most attractive angles or so I’d been told. Still trying to look as if he towered over me. Skills I’d honed years ago set to a new purpose.
“Here’s my card.” He said, pulling himself out of the depths of his chair, leaning forward over the table. Crossing more distance between us.
Even better! I hid my surprise.
First step accomplished. I had a real name, his Company name and telephone number and he knew nothing about me.