Chapter Twenty Five

Amaya’s new, new life is underway. Our life adjusts to suit hers. She’d come along and tweaked our routines, changing them provides openings. Every other week, Amaya performs for Hanshi, Mrs. Murakami, Nikko, Janah and me. I perform the tea ceremony the Fridays she doesn’t. When I do it, Amaya plays shamisen and the flute. I never learned the instruments, but as a combo, we do pretty well, although under the stern eyes of Hanshi and Mrs. Murakami, it’s hard to tell, more like ‘acceptable for gaijin.’
Janah giggles, “You can’t catch a break my other. Worshipped one minute, disdained the next. Good thing you handle contradiction well.”
“We are contradiction, you are me, Buddha with a whip.”
 “I prefer to think you complex, folds of DNA creating and recreating itself, perpetuating life, a magnificent mystery.”
“We haven’t worked in a while, I know you’ve turned down jobs.”
“Amaya comes first, she’s absorbed an enormous amount, needs us to encourage and support. And Nishiko to silently demand she persist. It’s delightful, watching them interact. Nikko says almost nothing, Amaya catches a movement, a hand, crossed leg, slightest twist of her head, the look in her eye. She reads Nishiko’s intent almost before Nikko’s intends it.”
“She and I have been practicing at coffee shops. We each try to guess what other people are about.”
Janah, “Ah, I was wondering. I knew there was a lot of mentaling, I didn’t know what it was about.”
“I’d like to say we’re goofing, but we’re working. It can be exhausting, thus coffee. I found that it’s good practice to ignore all the words people say. I can hear the conversation across the room, regardless of how noisy the espresso machine is. Amaya doesn’t have that distraction. She said she got an insight when you told her you never believe what people say, rather watch what they do.”
“Cripes, I told her that five years ago. I wasn’t sure she even paid attention.”
“I didn’t realize how seriously she took it until the last year or so.”
“We never quite know what influence we have on people.”
Janah is equally busy minding the temple. She has, through all our adventures and numerous activities, kept a steady hand as Abbess as well as performed expected ceremonial duties. She’s obliged to greet distinguished visitors, make sure they are made comfortable. There are admissions, occasional dismissals. The housekeeping routines she leaves up to me, I trained three monks to maintain work details, keep kitchen inventory, maintenance records, track and record performance of disciples. We only monitor students based on what the more experienced disciples say. Keeping records for students is overkill. If they make it to disciple, their activities are documented to provide a fair basis for evaluating their continued role each year. Disciples must meet expectations annually, in gung fu, in academics, in knowledge of Shaolin and Buddhism. The pace is grueling enough, Janah doesn’t want guesswork to color annual evaluations. If a disciple were to lose his or her rank, she wants to be able to point to specifics. It seldom happens, in part because of the documentation. It’s on the temple’s internal site for any disciple or master to read. Slacking is obvious, most leave of their own accord. Others leave because of personal difficulties or family troubles. Janah and the masters occasionally discuss fewer monks but the number ranges around fifty, plus five to ten visiting monks. Janah’s reputation bumped that number to the point we have to limit long term visitors to five monks and those have to bring some skill with them they can teach. Five more could come for a month, then move on.
Nikko has the buildings to run, Amaya also goes regularly to review numbers, leases, maintenance, regulatory and tax matters. Mrs. Fong now has three women to fawn over. She still finds time to regale me for my uselessness and inability to provide freshly made tea the instant I enter the restaurant.
I discover a handy solution. I go to the kitchen through the alley while the others go in the front. By the time greetings are done, I’m magically at the table with a fresh pot of tea.
Mrs. Fong is unimpressed, “It took you years to figure this out, always in the front door with White Angel. Darling Amaya would have done it in a week. You have a lazy mind, Shaolin, discipline it! Never mind, it’s a waste telling you anything. Go to kitchen and prepare something wonderful for us, and don’t take all day babbling with cooks!”
Let’s see, what else? This is sort of an eclectic chapter, bringing you up to speed on odds and ends. Sometimes I find it helpful to go nowhere, rather fly over the environment, check out the landscape.
Amaya also has regular yoga and performance practice. For that, she frequently needs a full day to create and enact a character, sing, impersonate a dozen different voices. There’s the odd personal shopping trip with clients. That came up a year ago, Amaya has fantastic fashion sense, it was evident when she was at Chapmans. Girls told mom about the fashionista, moms sought her out for this and that suggestion, liked their adjusted look, and Amaya has a sideline business at fifteen.
Thus Janah’s foresight in avoiding Society work for a while. Lacy tested her and documented a high school diploma on the school’s records. We didn’t file it anyplace. Janah wants no substantive legal record of Amaya. Only the court appointed guardianship is kept at Mrs. Walker’s office and recorded with the State of New York. The guardianship is for a female named Amaya, no last name. Taylor Darien exited the planet years ago. Amaya has been on the planet near sixteen years, and though the years will go by, she started with our protein markers. It appears she would be someplace between fifteen and sixteen for a very long while.
One afternoon, alone with her, I ask, “Are you still good with this?”
Amaya, “I would be demented to wish for anything else. I have business, language skills. I am suffused with more talent than Oscar nominees, I create my own roles, I can blow away any American Idol, or any other idol. I have cool accessories, the latest technology, a snappy wardrobe, a snappier girlfriend. I am hotter than ten suns. I do not compare myself to anyone, there is no one comparable aside from my mother, my teacher and you. In the vernacular, I got it ALL going on. God wants to be me.”
I laugh so hard I get the hiccups. I hold my breath so they would disappear, it takes a couple of minutes but they go wherever hiccups go when you don’t have them anymore. Hiccup Hell I suppose.
Amaya, “Hiccup Hell? Only you would think of that. Cease witticisms and brush my hair.”
“As you wish.”
“Then tea, and one of those amazing cookies you make. Even if you were a lousy servant, I would keep you for the cookies. Of course, you would not be allowed to sleep with me, perhaps on the floor, in case I need something during the night.”
I smile and brush her hair, lean in to catch the scent of her, lick her under the ear, she likes that.
She is sitting in her vanity bench, nibbling the cookie, sips of tea in between. I’m kneeling beside her. She breaks off a piece and feeds me.
“Channel me a touch of qi, Daphne.”
“Fold up and go to no mind. When you are there for a while, I’ll transmit. Twenty minutes only. You have progressed splendidly, only headaches and weariness. In a year or less, you will be an immortal.”
“I am already an immortal. However, I shall defer to you for your selflessness in training me. I am certain you would rather be attending to me instead of sitting next to me and downloading.”
I drop in to lotus next to her, she pops one eye open to look at me, it twinkles slyly. Then she closes it and we get serious.
I decide to press, go hard for ten minutes until I hear her gasp. I feel her get dizzy, back off, she regains her composure, I go right in again. I hear nothing, drill deeper, her breathing quickens.
“More.”
I bring it on, we’re past the twenty minute mark, near thirty, I hear an anguished moan, turn to her. She’s soaked in sweat, blood trickles from her mouth, she’s breathing fast and deep. She collapses against me. I hold her until her breathing slows, turns her face up to me, tries for a smile, doesn’t make it, closes her eyes. I lick the blood from her jaw, she’d only bitten the inside of her mouth slightly, it isn’t pouring blood.
She rests against me for a while, I’m tired as well. Transmission is not easy, as Tan explained many years ago. She’s no longer sweating. I take off her damp t-shirt, wipe her down with a warm moist towel, then dry her with a fresh one. I pull back the comforter and she lays on the bed.
I sit alongside her, she takes my hand, “Stay with me, lay down, you are tired as well.”
I start to lay next to her, then, “Be right back.”
I go to the freezer, return with two gel packs. Towel under her head, one gel pack on the back of her neck and the other her forehead.
“Oh my, that feels splendid, Daphne,” she manages a smile, “you drank my blood.”
“Here,” I slip an ice cube in her mouth, “chill the bite. I’ll qi it from outside,” I place my hand on her cheek, begin removing the heat.
Ten minutes later, “I think my cheek is frostbitten.”
“Just lay there and take it.”
When it’s gone, I remove the gel packs, the towel and ease under the cover with her. She turns to her side and folds into me, pulls my leg over her hip and holds my free hand to her chest, falls asleep. I zone out until Janah peeks in the room. I hear Nikko turning on the shower, Janah comes to the bed, leans over and kisses me, strokes my head.
“I’m ready to get up, let me make tea and a snack.”

Chapter Twenty Six

Amaya gets up with me, I slip on her t-shirt, comb out her hair and check the inside of her mouth. Only a small red bump, it isn’t hurting her.
“Have a Coke Zero instead of tea, nothing warm for the rest of the day. By tomorrow it will be history.”
She makes tea for the others, I put together snacks, Amaya prefers making tea the Japanese way, powdered tea whisked into a paste, add hot water. I add a plate of cookies, chopped raw vegetables and cheese.
The four of us sit around the table, Amaya serves.
Janah, “Tea is superb, Amaya.”
Nikko, “Good to see your slave doesn’t have to do everything.”
Amaya and I laugh, Amaya says, “Why deprive her of the joy of serving me? I am so utterly….servalicious.”
Janah, “What did you two get up to while Nishiko and I worked?”
“Your student took quite a qi pounding, bit the inside of her cheek and got a lovely headache.”
Nikko’s eyes narrow, “You were to go slow.”
“I wanted to press. Daphne followed my lead.”
“It’s hypocritical for me to ask you to be cautious. We succeed because of trust in each other, not caution. Still, at least be attentive.”
“Yes, mother,” then to me, “Nikko is protective. I would say I am worth protecting, but that is rather obvious is it not?”
I laugh out loud, Amaya can be genuinely appreciative and imperious at the same time. Reminds me of someone.
Nikko, “What?”
Janah, “They are mentaling of course.”
“Amaya has managed to raise her self-regard and be deeply appreciative of her mother in the same instant.”
Janah, “Your influence no doubt.”
“I serve her in many ways, including imparting the wisdom of Daphinity. Although soon we may have to call it Amayaty.”
Amaya, “I think sharing credit is proper, Damyaty, since you were first.”
“Kind of you to avoid older.”
“Older doesn’t fit you. I am going to be fifteen or sixteen for who knows how long, I cannot have my mother, teacher and servant getting creaky on me.”
Nikko, “I have a teenage daughter for the foreseeable future. I hadn’t gotten to the implications of your decision. This is serious, a teenager for…years, decades.”
“Excuse me, you don’t seem to mind being stuck at twenty five. And she’s hardly an airheaded teen. You have it made as a mom.”
Nikko shrugs, I can see it’s an act. She’s delighted, always a young daughter to look out for.
Janah changes the subject, “We have work.”
“Ah, I thought I heard you telling Mrs. Epstein we were back in the mix.”
“Yes, day before yesterday. They are putting a project on the front burner. We’re going over tonight to hear about it.”
Amaya looks to Nikko, “I want to come along.”
Nikko, “What do you think?”
Janah, “She got us the most information on the Anderson thing, and she’s been preparing. Would you want to do all the work only to be denied participation?”
Nikko tells her, “You have been diligent in preparation. Preparation is empty without the test.”
Amaya stands and kisses Nikko on both cheeks, “Thank you, mother.”
Janah, “Let me see the injury.”
Amaya lets Janah poke around in her mouth, “Good job, Daphne, it’s only a small welt. Do you want me to work on it, does it hurt?”
“It does not. I feel the small bump. Daphne says it will be gone by tomorrow. I would like to see Sis and Chris. Perhaps stop by before the Epsteins?”
Janah, “Daphne, call the moms please.”
I do, they are good with the time, “Can Kara call dad and see if he can sneak home early. I’ve forgotten what he looks like.”
Sis, “Don’t have to, he’s working here today. See you at?”
“I’m taking Amaya shopping, we should be done by five, so just after.”
We disconnect, Amaya, “How nice, a shopping trip. Janah and Nikko coming?”
Janah, “No shopping for me. I’m resting comfortably. It was busy at the temple.”
“Nishiko?”
“I’m going to guard Janah while I make a few business calls.”
We head to Soho, Amaya’s long elegant strides create infernos along the way. I think I see flames. Two dresses, three blouses, underwear, an emerald necklace and two pairs of shoes later, we catch a cab to the condo.
Janah and Nikko are already there. I’d stayed out of Janah’s mind, but I could see the flush of sexual release. She glows. Nikko appears content, business calls my eye.
Chris, “Good God. You two must have stopped time out there. Are there any sane people left in Manhattan?”
“Only the ones who didn’t see Amaya. Of course it’s Manhattan, sanity is questionable in the best of times.”
Chris, “Good point.”
Kara comes in, “Holey moley. Two works of art. I’m getting an idea for a painting. Before we get bogged down, you two come to the studio, I want to take some photographs. I have several titles in mind, I don’t want to lose the image.”
She takes two dozen pictures from all angles, standing, sitting, together, individually.
“Done.”
We return to the living area, Chris has coffee made, I fix Amaya a Coke Zero.
Kara, “I am inspired to create a new work. I photographed the subjects just now.”
James, “Unearthly beauty no doubt.”
Kara, “A title! Thank you dear.”
Amaya, “Unearthly Beauty. Captures us, yes?”
“I was thinking Infinite Beauty, or Immortal Beauty. Unearthly will do. Don’t laugh, the others don’t know about us.”
“Why would I laugh at three titles for the same truth?”

I have to stifle a laugh with a cough, “Sorry, coffee went sideways instead of down.”
“Nice save.”
“Thank you.”

Janah, “We are visiting the Epsteins for six thirty. Perhaps visit with Amaya while we visit with dad?”
Susan, “Goody. Show me the outfits. You don’t need to model them, just let me peek and be envious.”
While Amaya and the moms discuss fashion, we refill coffee and tea, go to James’ office.
Janah, “We have a project, don’t know what.”
James, “Neither do I. I’ve been here writing a paper, and back and forth to the hospital. I’ve consulted with Bernie of course, but we haven’t discussed the Society. You guys were out of circulation, I presume you put yourself back in.”
“Two days ago. Amaya is training. She will be traveling with us from now on.”
“Her role?”
“She is learning. Sometimes she may simply observe. I envision her as a distraction, like magicians use to take the audience’s eyes off what the hand is doing. She also demonstrated her capacity to elicit cooperation, and isn’t shy about what she needs to get it. You recall how she handled that kid at Anderson Prep. She knows her sexual power, unlike some teenage girls who are vaguely or incoherently aware of their attractions, she is spot on about hers. It’s a tool, she has significant other skills. Impersonation not the least. She is learning pharmaceutical procedures as well.”
“Seems she’s found her niche.”
We are quiet for a time, sipping drinks, reflecting.
Janah, “It would help for you to chat with Amaya, after I’ve prepped her. Not to dig into the past, she’s well past that. There’s something else, new.”
James, “She’s mentaling.”
Janah smiles, “So much for secrets.”
She continues, “Haven’t lost your touch. So the moms say anything?”
“Hasn’t registered yet.”
“It must eventually. We’d thought to keep it private, among us, as long as possible. She is also training with Daphne in qi, just lightly, not Chan stuff. Still, the combination….”
“So she’s not aging either.”
“No.”
“So she will know I know, then we talk it over, without me analyzing.”
 “Yes. None of us think she’s trying to be more mature by hiding anything. Daphne and Amaya are quite close. She is completely upfront with Daphne, more reserved with us, but we have different roles.”
“I’m sensing something else here. Janah has referred only to you and Amaya, not she and Nishiko. Does that mean what I think it does?”
“Amaya mentals only with Daphne.”
“And, somehow, it doesn’t flow through Daphne’s mind into yours or Nikko’s.”
“We have so many somehows, and they pop up before I can even grasp the original somehows of my memory, Daphne’s sensory skills, qi and mentaling itself. Then Amaya comes along and, somehow again, it isn’t shared. I can feel when they mental, so can Nikko. We cannot converse, or see through Amaya’s eyes, or hear what she hears.”
“I have no idea what to say. I started lost, I’ve stayed lost. There is one thing, vague, but real.”
“So what is the one thing?”
“Earnest intention.”
Nikko, “Christ. James is spooky.”

Chapter Twenty Seven

I call Mrs. E, say we’ll be fifteen or twenty minutes, we snag a cab and hit the Epstein’s at ten to seven.
“My fault Mrs. E. The moms had Amaya wrapped up and were reluctant to release her.”
Mrs. Epstein looks at Amaya, elegant even in a miniscule skirt and a midriff shirt, “Darling, you are a work of art.”
Amaya hugs Mrs. Epstein, “You always demonstrate the very best taste Mrs. Epstein,” she turns to Dr. Epstein, “good evening Dr. Epstein. You are a most fortunate man to have such a perceptive partner.”
Dr. Epstein, “True my dear. I caught her in a weak moment. She stuck around, thankfully.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Let’s get situated, I have refreshments before dinner. We can discuss the assignment, then relax over dinner, good?”
Janah, “Let’s hurry, the dinner part resonates with me.”
Mrs. Epstein, “We have an extortionist to refocus. Not unlike the criminal in the Sherlock Holmes story, his name escapes me.”
“Milverton, Charles Augustus Milverton. The Return of Sherlock Holmes series.”
“That’s it. A woman was being compromised on the eve of her wedding or something.”
“She was engaged to a prominent man, likely royal, unnamed. In those days, any hint of scandal broke off engagements in those circles. Although it seemed to apply mostly to women, men were expected to have their dalliances. There was the story, A Scandal in Bohemia, of the King of Bohemia and Irene Adler, an exception, it was the King who didn’t want his former relationship with Adler exposed. Interestingly, Conan Doyle based his Milverton story on an actual blackmailer, Charles Augustus Howell, an art dealer sidelining in blackmail. Or a blackmailer sidelining in art.”
“How was he unmasked?”
“Brutally. He was found dead with his throat cut. A ten shilling coin was placed in the gash, a symbol used when someone was guilty of slander.”
Dr. Epstein, “You are a wealth of obscure information.”
“Wikipedia makes things relatively simple. I am delaying dinner however.”
Nikko, “God forbid.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Today’s blackmailer has to have significantly more than a prior dalliance. Affair’s are common. I suppose if our target was blackmailing royalty it might still have its effect, but this is not England, and our version of royalty, politicians and movie stars, could hardly be brought down by something so mundane as extracurricular sex.”
“Politicians get snagged by having current romances when they are out preaching about family values.”
Mrs. Epstein, “True, or caught in gay trysts when they claim to be straight. I wonder what would happen if a married female politician got caught in a lesbian liaison?”
“She’d be elected President.”
I’m rewarded with laughter, even Nikko manages a hint of a smile, Amaya thinks me hilarious. As we have demonstrated, she is unfailingly on point.
Mrs. Epstein, “Our target has a highly developed network of spies within corporations, and not a few in politics. He has some interest in sexual secrets, but leans more towards corporate ones. He doesn’t care who politicians are in flagrante delicto with, except to the extent he can use that to pry open government secrets. He sells the information to other governments.”
“So he’s a traitor and a blackmailer.”
“Traitor implies he has claimed loyalty to the US, or as a US citizen it is assumed as a condition of citizenship. He has made no such claim, nor is he a citizen. He is a spy and a blackmailer. We do not generally insert ourselves into spying. There are plenty of double dealers both in corporate suites and corridors of Congress. Our interest in this is that people who work for the companies are downsized or dismissed when details of a product or formula are stolen and sold. They didn’t do anything, they are collateral damage, but we don’t see it that way. Lives are upended, good jobs lost, families go from a decent middle class life to homeless in some cases. In the case of the government, lives are lost. Soldiers, staff at embassies, even kidnapped and tortured aid workers. All to satisfy the greed of a few through the machinations of one man. One extremely well protected man, as you shall see. Thus the danger. He will not be simply cornered, hauled off to a warehouse and have his brain rewired. The data is on the Society site. You can read it later if you wish. Understand, Janah, all of you, this is a ruthless, security conscious psychopath. When you see the site, it will be doubly clear.”
Janah, “I’ll read it now, it goes in my head and my two backup storage servers. They are encrypted as well. The Nikko disk is entirely black to anyone uninitiated, the Daphne disk is so full of Amaya it would be impossible to sort through for the relevant pieces.”
Amaya, “Is she implying that I am irrelevant?”
More laughter.
Dr. Epstein thinks to himself, ‘As always, these women have no fear, complete trust in one another. The young girl has folded into that. The three can mental and the martial artists are uniquely well prepared. How did the girl slip into that state of trust? I wonder can she….no, that can’t be…can it?’
Janah glances at him observing Amaya, “Sly devils these psychiatrists of ours. I’ll mention it to dad. If he’s on to anything, dad will know, and tell him we haven’t informed the moms.”
It takes Janah five minutes to read the files, fifty pages and photos. She makes a second pass to insure Nikko and I have it. Her wheels will turn tonight while she sleeps, tomorrow we will begin to organize. Now time for roasted pheasant with greens, mixed vegetables, and chocolate soufflé with bourbon vanilla ice cream.

Chapter Twenty Eight

Janah recaps this morning, “Nicholas Mai, French-Vietnamese, born in the north pre-Vietnam war. North Vietnamese consider South Vietnamese to be inferior, ignorant farmers and peasants. They also make much of their French influences, tend to be food snobs among other French affectations.”
Amaya, “Why did I learn French?”
I laugh, “Not a bad question. Janah and I learned Chinese, not out of any love for the Chinese government, because of Shaolin history. You learn French in order to effect a snobbish image, like the North Vietnamese.”
“Perfectly reasonable. A faux snob. The language sounds sophisticated, even if the speakers are not. I can intimidate headwaiters the world over.”
“There you go.”
Janah, “He was a high ranking officer in the People’s Army, the North Vietnamese regulars. He was also liaison to the Vietcong, North Vietnamese loyalists in South Vietnam. He is reputed to have endured severe and prolonged hardship on his crawl up the ladder, and his reputation for ruthless efficiency is apparently deserved although sketchily documented. His enemies usually didn’t live long enough to detail his activities. He made millions in the transition of South Vietnam after the war. He did it the old fashioned way, he took over factories for the state, then sold them to other wealthy Vietnamese and raked off substantial profits for himself. He operated a large drug distribution network to finance the North Vietnamese government, for which he was also richly rewarded.
He went off the radar for almost three years, that’s interesting. Then he shows up again, allegedly turned by the CIA and brought to the States for debriefing. Subsequent analysis reveals his information to be dubious at best, even worthless or subversive. It is thought he was in fact a double agent, working for the Vietnamese government to spread disinformation about their activities.”
Nikko, “How did he get to remain in the US?”
Janah, “Unspecified. The Society thinks it means he has highly placed individuals cornered by their own secrets, a precursor to his current lifestyle.”
Amaya, “Did he run out of money? Why pursue this if he is rich?”
Janah, “Good question. You will discover in life, particularly in our work, that people frequently do two strange things. First, they purse more money and power once they have money and power. That’s simple enough. What was a big thrill is gone, now they need more thrill, the foundation of all addiction.”
“Daphne has talked about that, I understand, and the second?”
“Akrasia.’
“How is it spelled?”
“As it sounds, a-k-r-a-s-i-a. Simply put, it means people do things that, even as they do them, know are not in their best interests. More than that, know they are in their worst interests. Smoking is a common example, but it doesn’t take much thought to come up with numerous examples, sexual peccadilloes, driving drunk, gambling, humans are rife with logical inconsistency and outright hypocrisy. Shaolin can be seen as hypocritical for being Buddhist and violent in the same hour.”
“One woman’s hypocrisy is another’s sensibility.’
Janah, “Of course. We advocate being in the moment, which does not presume being peaceful in the moment, although that is the common misguided assumption. The moment may not allow for peace. Not in the traditionally accepted sense.”
Amaya, “What does that mean?”
I ask her, “Is peace non-violence?”
“I think that is what people mean, yes.”
“Can you think of an example of peaceful violence?”
Amaya thinks for a bit, “Nothing comes to mind…unless…wait…can the two coexist? Is that what you are asking?”
“Very good, dear one. Nishiko is capable of great violence, so am I for that matter. Nikko is, within herself, quite peaceful at the same instant she is capable of great violence. When she’s in samurai mode, her vital signs are not racing, to the contrary. If she were on monitors, heart rate, blood pressure, brain waves, they would say she is in a meditative state. So what is peace and what is violence?”
Amaya, “Can I go back to thinking about accessorizing?”
Janah giggles, “Probably more productive. Shall we return to the business at hand?”
We shall.
“Our target has changed his name from Mai to Meyer, lives in a penthouse in San Francisco. This is the third time we’ve been to San Francisco for refocusing. Is there something in the air…there?”
“Lots of Asians and coincidence. It’s a big place.”
Janah, “Guess it doesn’t matter. The other two were years ago, we get to go out and make fresh new enemies. I recall the first target being rather ambivalent about Daphne as an enemy.”
“He liked me, who doesn’t? We kept him clean, he gave us verification of names in China afterwards.”
Amaya, “I presume telling me war stories is not going to happen, under the ignorance is safety clause.”
“You are remarkably smart for a fashion plate.”
“You mean to say a fashion banquet, a sumptuous fashion banquet.”
Nikko, “Not a modest one.”
“No, mother, not a modest one. Modesty is overrated. I think it primarily hypocritical.”
Janah, “I have a plan.”
“When do we leave?”
“Two days, Saturday, call Blue Sky. Then get yourselves into some other persona, send the photos to the Society and ask them to make us someone else.”
Amaya, “Will the photos look too much alike?”
Janah, “You’re right, we don’t want to look like our license or passport photos, no one does. Passports might be four or five years old. People change. So the license shouldn’t resemble the passport, neither of them should look like us now. We wear a different top, alter the hairstyle, then send the pictures to the Society. They Photoshop to further adjust.”
Amaya’s looking in her cosmetic mirror, swiping lip gloss on with a long finger, “They will not make me look old, will they?”
“It’s work honey. You don’t want to be too all that. Think of it as more performance art. Besides, we shred it when we’re done. And your docs will say you’re legal, twenty one. We may have to be in a bar for instance.”
Amaya, “I will make myself different, and still amazing, perhaps a beauty spot, a small one.”
Nikko, “Get going.”
“Yes, mother.”
Nikko and I round up the kits for makeup and hair color, we spend the rest of the morning tweaking ourselves. Everyone does their own thing, I won’t bore you with details, suffice it to say we don’t resemble us. I snap photos, upload and send them off. Then we deconstruct and by the afternoon we are us again.
“Now what?’
“Now I go to the meditation loft and think up the plan.”
“I thought you said you had a plan.”
“I do. I plan to go to the meditation loft and think one up. Now that I have a deadline, I can’t goof off.”
“Then Amaya and I will visit Sis and let her know we’re traveling.”
At the condo, “We travel Saturday. You’ll have to coerce C-mom into taking you out instead of coming to dinner.”
Susan, “No sweat, there’s always Old Homestead, maybe I’ll call Mrs. E, she likes Le Bernardin.”
Sis is eyeing Amaya, long legs, short skirt, Amaya catches the not so subtle stare. She plops next to Susan on the couch, mentals me, “Make tea or something.”
Susan happens to be in her normal home outfit, a shimmery silk robe that hangs to the top of her thighs. When Amaya joined her, her already short skirt somehow magically allowing a view of sheer panty.
Susan is transfixed on same, Amaya’s hand runs the length of Sis’s bare thigh. She uncrosses her leg and cocks it out towards Amaya. Now her hand strokes the smooth firm inner thing and fingers brush up against Susan’s bareness, she’s panty free.
I hear my mom gasp, quietly but I hear anyway, I smile. I’m pretending to be occupied with tea prep, but I can see through Amaya’s eyes. What I see is my mom’s lovely face, mouth open, eyes half shut, then Amaya’s soft lips on hers.
While they kiss, Amaya’s fingers are busy on a sensitive spot, I hear Sis moan, then release.
When I bring the cups, Susan and Amaya are busy tongue swapping, a hand still rests on the target of acquisition. Amaya turns to me, puts one damp finger in her mouth and sucks, then uses the other to lip gloss her lips.
“Kiss me Daphne,” I do.
Sis falls back against the couch, she hasn’t bothered to pull her robe together, Amaya’s hands stroke her tummy and breasts. They kiss again.
We sit and take tea like it’s a normal afternoon. Except I’m on a chair across from them, Susan quite contend to remain on display, and while I’m biased, the display is gorgeous.
Susan, “That was exquisite.”
Amaya, “As are you, and your look alike daughter.”
“But, not that I’m complaining, why me, now?”
“I am exploring my sexuality, no, not quite right. I am lesbian. I am attracted to a couple of Daphne’s women, one her mother. I’ve seen you two flirt, it made me warm. The other is Janah, who wouldn’t want Janah? The ultimate in sensuality.”
Sis, “Have you…?”
“I haven’t made love to Janah, but I will. Daphne helps me relax with toys, and I enjoy teasing her.”
“Nishiko does that with me, drive me crazy for weeks.”
“She told me, and she knows you get off on it, Daphne’s the same. I shall torture her before she can have me.”
Susan grins, “I’ll do anything you want, any way you want it.”
Amaya stands, “Of course you will, and since you have been so cooperative, you may kiss the prize, once only.”
She raises her already nothing skirt, Susan pull down the panties, admires the view for a bit, then a gentle kiss.
Amaya, “Enough for you…for now,” Susan looks at me with a sly smile.

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