Chapter Twenty One III

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?


It’s summer, we have more time during the day. Janah is on a progressive workout schedule, light to medium weights every other day and yoga the others. I spend the time in the gym practicing forms and working with Nikko. The tall slender Japanese girl is a marvelous student. She listens, says virtually nothing, and performs each move as instructed, then again and again and again.
I’d said Nikko might earn her student status in six months. It’s just three, I know Janah’s opinion, it flashes through our brains. 
“The only person I know who has her work ethic is you, maybe Black or Chan. She’s attentive, performs to perfection and an exceptional training partner. Chris says she’s exemplary in every class, so does Master Kim. If you’re waiting for a better personal student, you’ll be an old lady.”
I can’t argue with myself, tell my protégé the decision. Nikko is as ecstatic as she gets, which means she almost smiles. Her eyes betray her, Janah sees the masked delight. Nikko, at her most animated is less animated than Go-Go Yubari. Fortunately, unlike Go-Go, she isn’t a psychopath.
“You have many skills, the most important is diligence. Are you sure you want to be challenged at this level? I’m not taking a student to play around with hapkido and gung fu a few hours a week. Are you prepared to do this every day?”
“Hai, Mistress.”
“Then let’s play the horse riding stance game. I’ll play it with you.”
We do deep horse riding stance, which, to the uninitiated, means just what it sounds like. Legs a bit wider than shoulder width, sit as if on a horse, back straight, thighs almost parallel to the floor, feet pointed forward. For extra fun, hold arms out parallel to the ground. The average person, even athlete, can’t hold it for two minutes. I can hold the stance a half hour, Nikko lasts nearly ten minutes and collapses.
“You made it longer than any student I started with at the temple, congratulations. When you can hold it twenty or thirty minutes, you will be as ready as you need to be and we will begin gung fu. Until then, taekwondo and hapkido. You’ll be busy.”
After standing on still trembling legs, Nikko shakes her legs out.
“You can still stand? More practice then.”
Back into the stance, and actually makes it near ten more minutes. I stay with her, the difference is that I’m able to stand normally after Nikko folds to the floor. I admire her determination, she never made a sound, despite the pain. I look at my student lying on the floor massaging her legs, “Again.”
She makes it almost five, impressive.  
“Master J is coming to work on you. Tomorrow we’ll go at it again.”
I’d qi her myself, but my own legs are nicely fried, so I self qi. Janah appears and takes her to the locker room, Nikko strips and lays on a bench while Janah kneads her thighs. Then she sits up and straddles the bench, Janah behind her and working on her shoulders and neck, feels her relaxing, warm hands loosen cramped shoulders.
“Daphne is fortunate to have such a skilled companion. Your touch removes the pain. I thought my legs would explode,”
“You did well, staying for so long in that stance. Daphne has practiced for years to be where she is now. She will be hard, which means you will learn more in a year with her than 10 years with anyone else.”
“Thank you for your kindness, Master J. Is it right to call you that? Tell me, what is your preference?’
“What are you comfortable with? I can be simply Janah.”
“I call Daphne mistress.”
“She understands. There is a special bond between you, she feels it as well. It’s why she agreed to take on a personal student. Daphne would not have done this for anyone else.”
“Domo, Janah. I’ve made a vow to serve her, and there is no serving the one without the other.”
Janah is impressed with the girl’s perception. Nikko doesn’t yet understand our relationship in its fullness, she nonetheless caught something of its flavor. It means she has deep sensitivity, awareness.
Janah is sipping tea at Lacy’s apartment, Lacy asks, “I understand that Daphne knows what she’s doing, how does she absorb those kicks and punches? If Nikko is holding back, I can’t see it.”
“For all her sense acuity, Daphne has two other qualities that work for her. First she has superb qi control. She can make her body hard or soft, depending on the strike, reducing the impact. Second, she has a different view of pain. She thinks of it as part of training, welcomes it. Our natural instinct is to avoid pain at all costs. Anticipation of pain causes us to tense up in advance of the actual blow. Tension reduces the body’s ability to absorb and let the strike flow through, in one side and out the other so to speak. Daphne doesn’t get tense.”
“You’re right. I hadn’t looked at it that way, it’s plain as day. She’s perfectly fluid all the time.”
“Yes, and that’s why she can deal with pain, she doesn’t feel what would hurt most people. She’s not suppressing something, overcoming it, wrestling it out of her mind. The attempt only brings attention to the pain. It’s there, it flows through, she lets it flow, she doesn’t invite it in for a cup of tea.”
Lacy, “One more question then. If she’s relaxed, how is she so fast. I thought that required muscle tension.”
“Yes and no. Let me show you how she explains it.”
They rise from their cross legged sitting, Janah stands to Lacy’s side. “Punch the air, like you were hitting a bag, as fast as you can. Throw a few in a row.”
Lacy throws some punches.
“Now a few more, even faster.” Lacy does it again.
“How do your fists and forearms feel?”
“Tight, I thought a tight fist was important.”
“It is. When does it need to be tight?”
Lacy thinks for a moment, “When I hit something.”
“Exactly so,” she lets Lacy take it in, they sink gently down to the mat.
Lacy, “Okay, I think I understand. I don’t need to have the fist tight until the moment of impact. I’m creating resistance in my own arm by tightening my hand before I throw the punch. My own muscle tension slows me down.”
She hops up and throws more punches, not making a fist until her hand is almost extended, “I can feel the difference even in my unpracticed punches. It’s not just a little faster, it’s much faster.”
“Daphne extends that principle to her kicks, open hand strikes, elbow strikes, everything. She uses the muscles necessary to get her arm extended as rapidly as possible. Nothing else is tense until it needs to be. The bicep for instance has nothing to do with extending the arm for a punch. Despite that, lots of fighters tense their bicep and their forearm by clenching their fist before throwing a punch, it’s inefficient.”
Downstairs, I’m watching my student’s progress. Nikko is a black belt in karate, hardly a beginner. The basic skills are the same, blocks, punches, kicks;  we spend time on hapkido. The Korean aikido is effective for infighting, allows for a lot of throws, good for proprioceptive balance and lots of wrist, arm and leg locks. I don’t see myself, or Nikko, having any advantage in the ultimate fighting styles. We have a substantial weight disadvantage, even if we master escapes and ground guards. Those are terrific for what they are used for, fighting with rules.
If we are caught on the ground, we have more permanent solutions, like gouging an eye or attacks to the groin or throat, attacks not allowed in the ring. If we get trapped by a big man on top of us, a thumb in the eye socket equalizes the situation faster than any ground fighting escape technique.   
Nikko leaves Paladin after school lets out for the summer. Training and recovery chew up lots of time. She lives with her parents, money isn’t an issue, her parents own a successful chain of produce stands. The Murakami family isn’t wealthy by Epstein standards, they are comfortable financially because they stay uncomfortable. For years, they worked from early in the morning until well after the sun went down. Nikko spent her free time before joining Paladin helping them in the business, rising before dawn to assure deliveries, make sure the shops were set up, produce properly displayed, the various locations ready for the day’s business. She was the one called on to fill in, to rise early and stay extra hours if one or another family member was ill or kids needed extra study time. She knew the idiosyncrasies of every store, the cash and sales figures, the volume of business each store did and which items sold best where.
Because of family obligations, She was fifteen before she started in martial arts. The school, unfortunately, was run for money and as long as a student’s tuition was current the owner was happy, no extraordinary effort went into training. She learned a great deal from the one or two reasonably talented instructors, ignoring the bully boy nonsense of the sensei and his cronies. She was tall and attractive at fifteen. They left her alone until she neared eighteen, then she had to dodge the flirting and suggestive comments. She managed to feign ignorance until, just before joining Paladin Security, one instructor’s attentions got physical. She put him on the ground in front of the class, his nose spurting blood and his lip split. He couldn’t stand, apparently something had banged his knee rather hard.
Nikko said nothing when he sidled up to her, said nothing when he made his obnoxious suggestion and said nothing when her ran his hand down her back to her butt. She also said nothing when she broke his nose with a backfist, turned and smashed the heel of her hand against his lip and drove her kneecap into the muscle just above his knee. She hyper-extended his leg, nearly dislocated it. He crashed to the ground, grabbing his nose with one hand, his knee with the other, screaming like the stuck pig he was. Nikko stood over him, watched him squirm like he was no more than a mildly interesting science experiment. Her neutral expression never changed during his clumsy advances, or her attack, or his writhing on the floor. She turned, walked away, changed in the locker room and left as if it was nothing more than the end of another class. She came for the next class two days later. The instructor never returned. There were no more unwelcome advances.
This was the woman who approached me and asked to become my student. I didn’t know any of it at first. I found out over time, not because Nikko volunteered anything, because I asked. As her Master, or Mistress as she flirtatiously calls me, she is obliged to answer my questions. Not even I, whose sincere interest could charm information out of the dead, could simply charm her. The girl is my admirer because I live up to my rep. She watched with an experienced eye when I trained the RSG’s and watched when I practiced alone in the gym. In Nikko’s eyes, rumors about the unique martial artist around the dojangs and dojos in Manhattan underestimated the woman she now serves.
I understand devotion. I would, without a thought, give my life for Janah, would also dispassionately dispatch anyone who might threaten her. Nikko is an extra edge. If she’s with us when someone tries to screw with Janah, that poor bastard would have better odds naked in a pit of pissed off rattlesnakes.

Chapter Twenty Two III

When the master is ready, the student appears.
Daphne Sylk


“Janah, Nikko’s left Paladin, I want her to hang with us, what do you think?”
Janah, “Appears she’s going to be with us anyway, no point in having her hang out on the street, or stack apples in the shops.”
“She’s part of the plan then?”
“I don’t know. The universe brought her to us, eventually her place will be obvious. There’s no plan, she’s here. We’ve listened and looked, you can read her as well as I can. She’s completely trustworthy, her loyalty is unquestioned, she’s eminently trainable and anxious to learn. Plus, we like her. Like isn’t in her vocabulary. She doesn’t do like. Her high regard for her Mistress is obvious. We have our personal version of master, why deny hers? It’s how people understand us who know us from those roles. It serves no purpose to go through lengthy explanations of our ambivalence about it. Besides, Nikko does it with respect on the one hand and playfulness on the other, her enigmatic nature. She knows you don’t take it seriously. Actually, it’s kind of sexy; she knows that too.”
“Got it. Plus, she’s hot.”
Janah grins, “There’s that.”
I ask Nikko later, “I would like you to be with us, though not just around. You don’t have to be chatty. Be polite, talk if you feel like it, otherwise be Nikko. Try not to scare anyone to death. We almost never have problems in the city. If and when there are difficulties, in town or on our travels, use your own judgment and act, don’t wait for instruction.”
“I understand. May I ask, you say travels? Am I to plan to travel with you? I would be honored. I don’t want to presume.”
“Yes, and it’s better to be as a group of girlfriends, to seem natural and harmless. Simply young women out together enjoying each other and our friends in town. This is important. Janah will not be offended, be concerned with taking care of her. I am still your instructor and you are my student, and as your instructor I am requesting you take on this new role as our close friend.”
“As mistress wishes.”
I stroke her shiny black hair, “Your long hair reminds me of mine. I’m letting mine grow out like yours. We can be sisters…or something.”
Nikko allows the bare hint of a smile.
“One other thing. If you wish, it would please me for you to live with us, at the condo for now, soon we will move on our own. Please say nothing about the move. We want to talk it over with the moms and we haven’t sprung it on them yet.”
Nikko teases coyly, “When do you want me.”
I don’t miss the flirtation, “As soon as I can get you.”
Nikko, “May I come this weekend, it’s not too inconvenient?”
“There’s a spare room….if we need it.”
The end of the summer was a joy for us and the family. Nikko moves in, sets up in the spare bedroom. The family simply absorbs her as one of us. Janah and I meet her family and, while her father had his usual reserve, her mother is happy her daughter is pursuing her own life. Dad is traditional, even initially resisted her martial arts training. He half hoped she would find a husband and become a good Japanese American wife, live a safe comfortable life. His other half, though, couldn’t much see it. Nikko would never be anyone’s good Japanese American wife. Safe and comfortable would bore her to distraction. She has his temperament, a warrior. The father’s samurai blood courses though the daughter’s veins.
It had not gone unnoticed that Nikko never dated, never discussed boyfriends. She had been a faithful, obedient daughter; done her work for the family with energy and diligence. Ari Murakami handled her husband as Japanese wives have been handing their sometimes obstinate husbands for centuries, by patient listening, subtle observation, then pliable and unbreakable persistence. As a young woman years ago, she had been close to, and intimate with, one or two girlfriends. They loved and supported one another, had their skirmishes and disagreements, yet remained friends for all these years. All of them married, had children and are the backbone of their households, as is expected. She could not say what her daughter would do, she had once hoped for grandchildren.
Mrs. Murakami has also adapted to American life, where children are more likely to go their own way. Nishiko, her given name, shortened to Nikko, has always been an enigma, never a giggly little girl, and while independent, she also has more interest in and respect for tradition than her brothers and cousins. She often talked with her father about his days in Japan and his Kendo practice.
Mr. Murakami is a kendo master. He does not instruct in the states, he thought Americans sloppy and likely to see it as some slightly arcane hobby, not an art in itself. He couldn’t bring himself to instruct Nikko. Recently though, her determination in martial arts, her persistent practice at home, has begun to work in his mind.
We understand the importance of spending time with Nikko’s family, particularly her mother, talking and making her comfortable. We make it a point to learn Japanese, not trying for fluency or subtlety in such a short time, just to be conversational and polite. Even the stern, stone-faced father cannot resist Janah’s warmth.      
I convince Nikko’s mom to instruct me in the formalities of the tea ceremony. I love the ritual, it fits my nature beautifully. She is impressed by my interest. Nikko’s father is won over when I perform the simple version of the ceremony at their home, under the watchful eye of his wife. The formalities will take perhaps years, given all we have on our plate. But the Chanoyu, “hot water for tea,” is the kind of careful perfect preparation that is me. A full ceremony, which includes a light meal, could take up to four hours. It includes calligraphy, flower arranging and incense. I could sit with Mrs. Murakami for weeks on end, if either of us had the time. Fortunately, Ari Murakami is an expert, and I, with years of cooking and martial arts experience, a quick study.
Soichi told his wife later in the privacy of their bedroom that if Nikko wasn’t going to bring home a husband, she had at least added two respectful and talented daughters to his family, that was something. Nikko’s mom agreed. In many ways, she concluded privately, it was much better. No more grandchildren to raise and run after. No educating them and worrying over their safety, no concerns about drugs or poor choices in friends and, paramount, no expense. Like all wise Japanese wives, she is, above all, a rigorously practical woman.
Our family allows Nikko to reveal herself in bits and pieces. She is her silent self during meals, attentive, resp0nds politely when asking or answering.. The family is taken with her, particularly the softness in her voice when she calls me “my teacher” or “mistress.” It’s clear it is not subservience, her tone is more like loyalty, and it is clear she’s honored by her special intimacy with Janah and me. I explain it to Susan one early morning over coffee.
“Nikko doesn’t consider serving her instructor as any more subservient than our attention to Master Kim, or ours to Chris as our instructor.”
“She’s so graceful, and when she speaks, she’s dignified and eloquent. The sound of her voice is, I don’t know, softly confident.”
“Exactly, which is what she is. I mean confident, not soft. She uses mistress with the respect of master, and she’s also playful with it, teasing me with the word. She’s a sly thing, like her mother, who appears to take a backseat to her dad. In fact, she runs the family. That one word, mistress, gives her a certain kind of power.”
“Because you are her mistress, no one else’s.”
“It’s what you do with Lacy and Chris. You and Nikko are cunning devils, you do it so adorably we’re putty in your hands.”


Chapter Twenty Three III

You are allowed to think that adult life consists
of a constant exercise of personal will
but it wasn’t really like that.
You do things and only later do you see why you did them,
if you ever do.
     Staring at the Sun, Julian Barnes


Settled in, Nikko’s becoming more responsive with the family, outside she barely says a word. An early bird, can be found sitting with Sis and me before the rest begin stirring around.
Susan being Susan, playful, there’s another soft gentle giggle in the early morning as they talk. Why Nishiko decided to conspire with Sis is unknown, but she does. Nikko found a special way to Susan’s heart. During their morning chats, she brushes Susan’s rich dark hair, sits behind her at the big table. The two women softly chattering while one of the morning news programs makes white noise in the background.
“Sis, your hair glows, so thick and shiny.”
Susan, “Nikko’s spoiling me. As long as she has time and wants to, I’m going to sit and take it like a woman.”
Then, for once, mom gets to do the unexpected.
“Chris and I have been talking with Kara. We know that soon you guys will want to be on your own, it’s natural and right. I suspect some form of this conversation has happened between you and Janah. We want you to know, if you’re ready, or when you’re ready, that we think it’s fine. Of course, for the first forty years, you can’t move far away.”
“We were thinking of Harlem.”
“We were thinking of down the block.”
“Let’s compromise.”
“Okay two, maybe three blocks, but that’s it.”
“Done.”
Nikko, “How do they know these things?”
“They’re moms, it comes with the job. Your mom knew what you needed, and she went to bat with your dad to see you got it.”
Nikko, “Mothers are wise.”
“And none wiser than ours.”
Susan, “Omniscient moms have a few places to show you.”
“Do we have time to pack?’
“We expect you here most of the time, the other place is just for show, we don’t expect you to actually move in.”
“Can we look today?”
“Kara’s already made appointments. If you guys couldn’t go, we were going on our own.”
“Let me get breakfast made, what time’s the first appointment?’
“Ten.”
“Over two hours, no sweat,” I hug her tight, “thanks, Sis.”
“Thank Kara, she got the conversational ball rolling. Chris and I had talked about it a few times, we couldn’t face bringing it up. Kara helped us grow up.”
“Don’t even think of growing up. Besides, I’ll be here to make dinners and Sunday brunches when I can, like hardly leaving.”
“That’s how Kara convinced us. She made us believe we wouldn’t really know you were gone. Don’t make a liar out of her.”
“I would never make a liar out of one of my moms.”
Kara rounds the corner, “That’s reassuring.”
Susan, “I told them about the apartment. Chris and I promise to show restraint and bawl like babies when they move out. Then like mature adults, we’ll just sulk for a while.”
Kara, “James can lead group therapy, then we’ll all go the Epsteins and get whacked on martinis and champagne.”
“I’m calling Mrs. E. and telling her. I want to see Nikko after a martini.”
Nikko stares at me, blank as a black cat.
“Probably couldn’t tell the difference.”
I make breakfast, get James off to work, it’s approaching nine thirty when the women begin to gather again in the living room. I call Mrs. Epstein and suggest if she has nothing earth shattering that she should meet us for lunch; then I call Lacy and ask her to join us on the search and/or lunch. Lacy is going to a meeting with her staff, she will meet us for lunch at one. Mrs. Epstein calls with the restaurant and it is time to hit the door.
We see three places before lunch, one was too “apartmenty,’ standard living room, bedrooms kitchen, baths. The second is closer to what we need, just not big enough. We are looking as much for an open warehouse floor as an apartment. Lacy’s space is much more like it, everything in one big room, a partial wall, but no door separating the bedroom, the only door to the bathrooms, a water closet, the bathroom itself with a sliding door that opens to the bedroom. We need bare concrete or wooden floors, no carpet.
Over lunch we discuss possibilities. Mrs. Epstein leaves for another meeting, the rest of us visit two more places. The only suitable one would take a while to convert, it qualified, basically a warehouse. The good news is we can start from scratch.
While Kara, Janah and I are looking out of a grimy window, Lacy is talking with Susan and Chris. It’s four thirty, we stop at Java Joe’s.
After settling in, Susan says, “Lacy has a suggestion.”
“My place is on the top floor of my building, there’s nothing else up there. My apartment takes less than a quarter of the floor space, the rest is empty. I’ve suggested to Susan and Chris that, if you wish, you can build out that space and live there. It’ll cost you only what the build out costs, which will be plenty enough, the rent is free.”
“Gee, that sounds high, how about you pay us to live there?”
Lacy, “God, them there all the time, can I change my mind?”
Chris, “Deal’s a deal, no backing out. Hurry up and say yes girls, before she really does change her mind.”
Janah, “Yes,” she hugs Lacy tightly, “you are too good to us.”
“It’s not possible to be too good to your best friend. Besides, what could be better for the moms concerns than the safety of my building, or the safety of you and me with Daphne and Nikko around.”
Susan, “Wait a minute, Nikko has to stay with us. Who’s gonna brush my hair? I want to renegotiate.”
Nikko, “I’ll be there most mornings.”
Susan, “I’ll have Mrs. Walker draw up the contract. Then we can go forward.”
The work is done in double time. New Yorkers will probably say that’s crazy. That’s because they don’t have Lacy and Mrs. Epstein. Between them, everything is done properly and ahead of schedule. It still takes almost three months, is completed before Thanksgiving and it is wonderful. Not a thing there that doesn’t need to be, floors sanded, buffed smooth and left natural. The back wall is exposed brick, the ceilings high enough to put a meditation area up over the kitchen with a circular staircase leading up, loft style. The adjoining bedrooms are in the back, very quiet, a sliding panel opening each room. One bath is behind the left bedroom, the other to the right. A guest bath along the interior wall.
Each full bath has a water closet, a Jacuzzi and separate shower, the Master bedroom’s tub is a large Jacuzzi with a shower head directly overhead for rinsing. It’s cool, like a rain fall into a pool. We have a separate huge shower with two shower heads. It is a Nottingham Brass Pressure Balance Shower System - Rainfall & Hand Shower, and it is tres cool. The kitchen has a huge forty eight inch Jenn-Air range covered by a commercial vent, massive stainless steel Sub-Zero refrigerator, freezer with an ice maker. I am going to love cooking in this place.
We don’t have pictures, the art is on the wall. Lacy one wall, Kara the other. I do the bathrooms with calligraphy, Kara does the wall behind the bed, Lacy one in the second bedroom. The well lighted walk in closet, next to the bath is open shelving, bench seats that also serve as storage, the back wall a mirror, shoe racks or drawers along the bottom, replicated in the second bedroom.    
Mrs. Epstein demands the right to take us shopping for bedding, towels, sheets blankets and comforters, and added a stunning three section teak table for dining that can seat twelve. Running the entire length of one wall is a cushioned storage bench wide enough to sleep on. Interior lighting is remote controlled adjustable track with fluorescent bulbs across the unfinished ceiling, the water pipes and air ducts remain exposed.
Lacy’s building covers the block, three sides of our apartment have windows. They are either opaque block, for light only, or glazed so we can see out but no one can see in. Double panes for temperature control.
We use the same elevator as Lacy, just make a u-turn out of it down the hall to our front door. A large empty space separates the two apartments that runs the length of the building. We move in the week before Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving Day, Chris, Nikko and I prepare an international food extravaganza. There are ten in the immediate family plus Nikko’s parents, as well as Masters Kim, Sung, Chan, Hue and Zhang, Black and the boys, Sonia and her father. It’s a delightful zoo of languages, cultures and stories. The qi masters don’t stop laughing from the time they arrive and are laughing as they go down the elevator to return to the temple. The apartment inauguration is full of happiness, warmth and the blessings of the priests.

Chapter Twenty Four III

A lone hawk
a second
a third
riding air
for play
or prey
Nishiko Murakami


Janah comes in from the shower, Nikko and I are on the couch, me brushing Nikko’s hair, we finish our tea. It is approaching bedtime.
“She’s nice and relaxed, you’re ready to finish the job, break in the private part of our new home?”
J“She's adorable, so scrumptious, I’m a hungry little girl.”

Janah takes Nikko’s hand, “Would you like to come with me for a while, if Daphne will excuse us?”
Nikko, “Mistress?”
“I’ll meditate for the end of ignorance.”
Janah mentals, “And be in me.”
I cross my legs lotus style and close my eyes, “That too.”
Janah spends the next hour exploring Nikko’s long limber body, listening to her say the most searingly erotic things in her soft lilting Japanese. Nikko blissfully orgasms, then again for good measure, willingly yields to Janah’s soft lips and busy tongue. She lay in Janah’s strong arms, silent, Janah’s smooth leg over hers. Janah’s hips move against Nikko’s long thigh, then the warmth of orgasm.  
Nikko strokes her silky white hair, kisses her deeply, “I think you’re still hungry Master J,” guiding Janah between her legs, whispering to her in Japanese, “Twice isn’t enough, take me again.”
Janah decides this is a remarkably delicious idea and makes Nikko gasp and moan not once, but twice more. First, she is exquisite, and second, Janah loves the sharp pointed Japanese expletives that accompany Nikko’s frenzied climax.
Janah settles back on the pillows, she kisses Nikko, “Your mistress is waiting for you.”
Nikko emerges from the bedroom, still nude, slips next to me, kisses my lips lovingly, nuzzles my neck.
She pushes me back on the couch, “God....these legs,” spreads them, lowers her head. She makes love to me slowly, tenderly, stretching out the pleasure as I gently wrap my legs over her shoulders and feel the flood of me on her warm lips.
We lay still, me stroking Nikko’s hair, whispering tenderly, pulling her up, kissing her, pull her tongue into my mouth.
We leave the couch and join Janah. Nikko is snuggled against her neck, teasing soft breasts with her long fingers. Soon there is a whispered gasp, then a gentle moan, as I begin making Janah’s dopamine rise in anticipation, then serotonin and oxytocin flow in completion. The three of us glow and laugh together, then settle in with soft kisses. Janah sleeps between her warriors, to her delight, covered in long sensual arms and elegant legs.
Best kind of house warming.
It’s between the short stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I pass my twenty third, then Janah’s in December. Nikko will be twenty two in the early new year. I start calling her my ‘much younger’ sister since Nikko, despite her five ten frame, could appear to be about sixteen depending on how she decides to dress. In a short skirt and knee socks, she looks downright illegal. Mostly she adopts the RSG look still in vogue at Chapmans. She has a fondness for black silk pants, either ankle or knee high calfskin boots, depending on mood and weather, prefers white or ivory silk blouses and shirts. For winter, a long butter soft black leather coat. She has half a dozen stainless steel rings, an RSG necklace, and likes black or deep red nail polish. I’d had my fun in tiny micro minis, more inclined now to Nikko’s silk pants and form fitting dresses. Janah decides we are stunning, particularly since she also gets to enjoy us au natural; her favorite time, home alone surrounded by perfectly curved tight legs, wiry bodies, tiny t-shirts or minuscule silk robes, Janah nirvana.
After one of the first week’s lovemaking sessions Nikko confides, “Mistress, Master J is insatiable, she thrills me and seems thrilled to be doing it. She radiates sensuality.”
“Janah has always been the poster child for nymphomania. She loves giving pleasure as much, no, really more, than receiving it. Until you came along there was me, Janah’s girls are a small circle.”
“You have no jealousy. I was worried at first, our attraction, I didn’t know, I mean....”
“It’s time you understood something. I think you have the general idea, just not the whole story. You are part of us, and we didn’t explain, not to hide anything, rather not to confuse you until you knew us better. It’s difficult to grasp until you see us together for a while.”
Nikko is silent, she nods, waits for me to continue.
“What do you understand about Janah and me?”
“You are like no one else. You flow together without words, perfectly synchronized, completely at ease with each other. I’ve never seen such a thing. I have so much to learn. I tried to presume nothing, just to watch. Sometimes my mind, my heart, sees only one.”
“We waited, to let you grasp what you are seeing, what it feels like to you. Only our family knows. For safety, this is very important.”
“You and Master J have read my heart, I’ve felt it.”
“Yes. It’s why you are here, part of us. Janah and I physically met when we were twelve. To put it simply, we knew each other before we met, for several years. We came to be able to talk to each other without speaking. We call it mentaling. We don’t know why we have this gift, how it is possible. Janah tried it, she has an infinite capacity to sit and concentrate, or not concentrate. One day I felt things in my head, the rest is history. We haven’t spent time trying to figure it out. She tries stuff with her mind, sometimes it works. If the universe wants us to know details, it will tell us. Each day, week, year, we became more and more the other, until one night in the Shaolin temple, we completely merged. The world sees two of us, our parents, the Shaolin, everyone. The Shaolin and our families understand there is actually only one. We can think everything at the same instant, we can feel everything at the same time, one does not make a decision the other does not understand, there’s never disagreement, that’s not possible. Physically, to the world, there is Janah and there is Daphne. In reality there is only the one. Jealousy cannot exist, there is no mine or hers. There is nothing to possess.”
“The one is enlightened.”
“So they say. Janah gave up all that and moved beyond masters, gurus, religious systems even before we went to the temple. I, as Daphne, am happy to be Shaolin and blessed by my time there and to serve as a priest. She is neither Shaolin, nor priest nor master of any kind, although they lovingly call her Master J. The Shaolin understand she is beyond mere conceptual description.”
“Everything comes together, I thought I might be, what, hallucinating, when I see just one. You toward each other, the purity of the relationship, the flow of movement together, the two as one is perfect harmony. When I see it, my heart stops, it is fascinating. The world senses the blessing of your presence, yet can’t quite grasp the essence. From what I’ve seen, your many friends gave up worrying about any of it, they just enjoy you.”
“Unfortunately, we also have other tasks, not so pleasant.”
Nikko cocks her head, as if it should be understood, “Let me do them.”
“Your role is coming. Train and prepare.”
There had been no plan, no thought that tonight was the night. It was as if we had been making love to each other all along. In a way we had, from our early teasing, to doing personal things for each other, bathing, brushing hair, massages and pedicures, all intimacies shared as lovingly as the ultimate intimacy of lovemaking. I gave Nikko my complete confidence and trust by explaining our nature, our oneness. Now, instead of Janah’s head on my tummy, she lays surrounded by two languid leggy bookends. It seems purely natural, comfortable, as if things had always been this way.

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