Chapter Thirty Three

Nikko and Zi return the same day, night, catch the last Southwest back to LaGuardia, we have a car waiting, they make it to the apartment by midnight.
“Zi did a good job.”
Nikko, “Great, she started to put Tub out, but couldn’t resist a little action. The extras could have been trouble, Zi created a distraction and bailed us out.”
“You had us in stitches, screwing around with karate boy.”
“These guys get a black belt and think they’re invincible. Dancing around in class is better than nothing, but not better than unprotected full contact. Even then, restrictions about throat punches, snapping joints, is a mental block they don’t seem to be able to overcome on the street. Did he think I was going to faint when he did his sparring bounce?”
“I thought he was going to faint when you bounced him on your knee.”
“I didn’t see the need to off him, but I wasn’t letting him off as a functional sexual predator. I considered neutering him, but we needed to get moving after the others showed, the gunshots would bring cops.”
Janah, “If the knees in groin didn’t finish him, the foot stomp did. He’s going to hurt if he even thinks about his penis. I’m sure you crushed his pubic arch and shredded ligaments. I doubt his testicles will function.”
Nikko, “Wonder what he shredded inside the twelve year old girl?”
The twins are asleep, first night on their own, Chloe and Amaya are in Chloe’s room, Janah is yawning.
“Go to bed ladies, I’m taking the mat, I want to be outside the girls’ door in case.”
Nikko, “We’re hitting the shower, then bed. It’s a long day of flying around, missed an earlier flight by a half hour and had to kill time for three.”
“I didn’t follow, what’d you do?”
Zi, “Airport things, ate burgers, fiddled around the book rack, then decided to walk off dinner, up and down the gates a thousand times. A couple of college age guys tried to hit on Nishiko, that was funny.”
“What’d she do?”
Zi, “Listened, stared with those black eyes, when they slowed down babbling, she said something nasty in Japanese. They stood there for a bit, decided her expression did not warrant further communication.”
This morning I wake up to Dasha curled in next to me, I ease up and let her sleep, do bathroom things, see that Daria isn’t in bed either. A peek in Chloe’s room, she’s in between Chloe and Amaya. Chloe blinks at me, waves smiling, I move on to start up coffee and tea. As I’m sipping my first cup, Dasha joins me, I have tea ready.
“Dobroye utro, malenʹkiy angel ”
Dasha, “What ees English?”
“Good morning little angel.”
She twinkles a bit, the twins don’t actually smile, “Gud marning leetle ahngyl.”
“Angel.”
Dasha, “Gud marning leetle anjul.”
“Close enough.”
Dasha takes another intense sip of tea, “Gud. What ees break-fast?”
I smile, sooo adorable accent, “Eggs, toast, yogurt, fruit, smoked salmon, cream cheese bagels.”
“Show it me.”
I start laying out the items, point, she names them, does okay, have to work on the difference between toast and bread.
“I cook aig, meex up.”
“Scrambled.”
“Scrahmbulled.”
“Da.”
“I scrahmbulled aigs.”
I’ll leave the adjectives and verbs to Janah, I hear her in my head, “Sure make me do the corrections.”
“I don’t have the time, we need to scrahmbulled aig.”
“Idiot.”

Nikko, “Will you two shut up?”
“You’ll be less cranky after scrahmbulled aig.”
“Cut it out or I will kill you.”

I hear Janah’s soft laugh.
Dasha doesn’t hear any of this of course, she’s busy cracking a dozen eggs into the bowl.
“Six more.”
She gets another carton from the refrigerator, opens it and stops, I count them out loud, one through twelve, then again, one through six.
She cracks half the carton and puts the rest back, takes the whisk for a spin.
Girls surface, coffee’s gone, make another pot, I show Dasha how to use the bagel slicer, then the toaster oven setting to get them crispy. We put out salmon, cream cheese and the toasty bagels, then, while she scrahmbuls, I arrange yogurt and fruit.
Eggs to her satisfaction, she folds them into a bowl and sets it on the table, Lacy knocks, “I smell coffee and I’m out, can I steal a cup?”
“Sit and eat, Dasha made superlative eggs, there’s bagels and toast,” I hand her a plate.
Lacy, “Timing is everything, eggs are splendid Dasha.”
“No spleendeed, scrahmbulled.”
Lacy looks at me, I say, “We’re becoming more literal around here, nuance is passé.”
Lacy, “Understood.”
Janah, “By the way, Daria would like to join the Lacy Dance Team.”
Lacy smiles at Daria, “Of course, how exciting. We’ll have fun.”
Daria is deadpan serious, “No fun, dahnce.”
Lacy looks at me again, “You tried to tell me.”
“You’ll get the hang of it.”
Amaya, “She will need a ballet outfit, add that to my list, and something for Dasha’s gymnastics. Today, we shop! Daphne, we shall need wheels, I have to be all over midtown and eastside.”
“Time?”
“Pickup at ten, we’ll take until three or four.”
“Find a place for lunch?”
“Street cart on the go, no time to waste.”
Amaya calls Taylor, “Taking the twins shopping at ten, want to go?”
“See you then.”
Janah is working on the ranch project, plotting out costs for technology with David, he runs our schools in the Bronx. Nikko and Zi leave to attend to property matters and we’re on our way to shop. I won’t bore you with details, suffice it to say we hit Aeropostale for skirts and camis, J. Crew for tunics and leggings, Lester’s for cute dresses, coats and tank tops. Saks nets leather boots and wedges, and finish with Pritty ankle boots at Steve Madden, leotards at Capezio Dance and lavender, Snakespine Dansneakers.  Along the way, there are scarfs, knit hats and gloves.
Given our girls’ temperament, they are Russian, not Japanese, Amaya skips cutesy, no animal hats or fuzzy this and that, there is a mix of bright colors and more muted looks, nothing pink. The girls are pleased, not giggly, that’s not them, but I can see they are enjoying themselves. Store clerks and shoppers are taken with them, I spend the bulk of my time chatting with moms about the girls. Since we all look rather young to be mothers of nine year olds, I tell a straight story, we adopted them, don’t embellish.
Our on the go lunch break was fun, they got their first hot dogs, Dasha offers a concise review, “Ees gud.”
There are endless opportunities for English, street signs, store names, articles of clothing, shoe descriptions. I’m pooped.
We drop off the clothes at the drycleaners, best to dry clean to set colors, even for washables, then to the apartment.
Janah, “I enjoyed virtual shopping, got to see all the great outfits without the burden of dragging to stores.”
“Amaya bought you Dansneakers, too. They’re neat.”
“I missed that part, let me see,” she tries them on, “Wow, nice, I like these, thank you Amaya.”
“Nice and flexible, light and easier on our feet. Vesnushki got lavender like the girls, I selected hot pink for us, black was too….black. They only have three colors.”
Dasha is making tea, I open a box of biscotti, vanilla almond and chocolate, Nikko and Zi arrive.
“Busy day?”
Zi, “New tenant applications, drove to the Bronx to check up on building progress. It’s starting to take shape and we’ve contracted nearly half the space so far. Nishiko thinks we’ll be full by opening. Inspections have been flawless, it’s good to know the players, given the economy the subs are glad to have work.”
Janah, “Not to mention some of the subs are people Nikko put into business.”
Zi, “That too. Word is out about our upstairs addition, they are looking forward to Daphne snacks.”
Janah, “Speaking of which, I told Lacy what we wanted, no sweat, a thousand square feet on the roof isn’t going to co-opt much space, students don’t go up there anyway. She said the roof is ours to do with as we wish. I’m going to cover the the addition with solar panels, we’ll reduce our bill for the whole apartment.”
“Why not build another covered space in solar panels? Reduce Lacy’s energy bill as well. We can gift it to her, she gave us our space rent free. Put tables and benches under it, a spot to read or chill.”
“Good idea, we’ll do it.”

Chapter Thirty Four

Fall comes, there is construction upstairs, first reinforce the roof. When the shell went up, they cut the hole in the roof for a spiral staircase connecting the apartment with the new room. Winter isn’t a problem with the roof up, and unlike our prior addition, workers don’t have to be in and out of our apartment except for the staircase installation. We have a temp door at the top of the staircase to cut the noise. I bring up coffee, sodas and snacks throughout the day, shoot the breeze with the crews. Dasha and Daria are requested frequently, they like watching the guys work and wind up knowing more about their room than we do.
We have another water rock installed, like the one in Chloe’s room. It was an easy decision, the girls are frequently in there on their netbooks or laptops cross legged in front of it. They find the stillness soothing.
Theirs is the biggest bedroom, lots of space, huge closet, double sink bathroom with a water closet, Jacuzzi and double rainfall shower. None of our bedrooms are small, theirs is bigger than many one bedroom apartments in Manhattan. They even have a mini kitchen, with a refrigerator, stove and sink. Avoids having to drag cups and glasses up and down the stairs. Mrs. Epstein insisted on buying furniture, bath and bedroom linens. There are desks side by side, ergonomic adjustable chairs, a separate sound system, flat screen TV, a leather sofa loaded with throw pillows. Do you think we spoil them?
Amaya, “Cripes, did not take me long to fall from Queen to valet. That room is magical, the bathroom puts the Ritz Carleton to shame. And their wardrobe equals my own.”
“You bought the wardrobe, Queenie, and just added the spring and summer collection.”
“I cannot have the dears schlepping around Manhattan in t-shirts and baggy jeans, I have a reputation to uphold. Their appearance is a direct reflection on my exquisite taste. They are constantly complimented on their appearance, entirely due to me.”
Chloe, “To whom they give credit.”
“Not enough! Mostly they just say, ‘spasibo,’ (prn. spaseeba, thank you) which is polite but hardly credits me.”
“Sometimes Dasha says, ‘Eemaya peeks our wearing,’ that’s crediting you.”
Everyone laughs, Amaya huffs, “Who gets Eemaya peeks our wearing? Although, when she says it, I get melty.”
“See, you know what it means, that’s enough.”    
Nikko, “Girls in their room?”
“Yep. Daria was reading a book out loud, Dasha following along, repeats the words. She actually knows more unaccented English than she lets on. She’s figured out how charming her accent is, she’s not going to drop it.”
Zi, “So that’s why she keeps it, Daria’s is much less pronounced, and she gets the sentence structure correct most of the time, why does she do it and Dasha not?”
Janah, “Daria is intellectually flexible, Dasha emotionally flexible. They are both serious to a fault, Daria more so. Dasha doesn’t care if people think she only knows broken English, her reward is our reaction, Dahfoney’s in particular. I can see her eyes light up when she sees how much Daphne enjoys her reconstituted English. Underneath the unemotional demeanor is a sense of play.”
Zi, “Ah, that makes sense, like Nikko’s sly sarcasm.”
Janah, “Her version, yes.”
Speaking of which, I hear, “Dahfoney, come.”
“I am being summoned,” I go up the stairs, we left a door at the top of the staircase, the rest of us have doors, they should have theirs, although I’ve never seen it closed.
“Yes, dear one, what can I do for you?”
“Daria says you are wash our hair.”
That means Dasha wants me to wash her hair, but it’s nice to have a sister to take the rap. Daria goes along, she would never contradict Dasha in any case.
“Get undressed, hang things up, or if they need to be washed, leave them and I’ll take them down later.”
I crank up the Jacuzzi, add scented oil, they like lavender, I wash Daria’s hair, then Dasha’s , fine blond strands, silky and rich, turn on the rain shower and they stand to rinse. Lucky blonds, hair nearly as white as Janah’s, won’t have to shave legs, maybe their hair will darken a bit, although Janahs’ never did. Her legs have never felt a razor, she has no leg hair, neither does Amaya. The world is unjust. The rest of us got laser hair removal, Gillette would have to fold if it depended on us.
After the rinse, they soap up, rinse off again, then I wrap them in fluffy oversized towels to dry, and towel dry their hair myself. They’re not tiny, not tall, five feet now, I give them six or eight more inches, hardly Russian tennis players. Breast development is unreadable, the next couple of years will be more telling. Right now they have all the body fat of a two by four.
Chloe appears, we blow dry healthy shiny hair of the young, it glows. They go to their closet to find something to slip on, we police the bathroom, gather up towels.
Chloe, “Dasha’s aura is light peaceful green when you attend to her.”
“And Daria’s when you are with her?”
“The same. But when I came in, her’s was also green, darker. They are happy with us, all of us, but they have their favorites. Favorites is the wrong word, like the rest of us, they have differing affinities with the others. They can’t express it, it’s not their nature, they are deeply appreciative of Amaya, see her as possessing a mystical ability to help other people look their best.”
“She does have a mystical ability. She suggests things I would never think of and when I put them on, or try her makeup suggestions, I’m always amazed.”
“I’d be a street urchin if it wasn’t for her.”
We laugh, the twins are at the bathroom door, “What ees fuhney?”
“How Amaya makes us all look better.”
Dasha, “Why ees fuhn?”
“Funny.”
“Fuhney.”
“Because she does it so easily, and it always works.”
Dasha sails in from left field, “How ees Dahfoney always knowing what Janah or Eemaya want? No talking.”
Daria, “Talking without words, Dasha, like us, I told you.”
Janah, “What in heck is going on up there?”
“New information.”
Chloe, “Daria, tell me about talking without words.”
“What is to tell? I see sister’s words in my head, she sees mine. We are sisters, the same, does no all sisters talk without words?”
“No, they don’t. You are different from almost everyone if you can do that.”
“Not different, same.”
Chloe kisses her head, “And now you are both clean and beautiful. Do you want Amaya to put a little makeup on?”
Dasha, “Da, we learn making up, Eemaya ees gud making up person.”
Amaya, “Damn right, I am excellent making up person. Be up in a sec.”
Janah, “Dad is going to go squirrelly when I tell him.”
“He’ll love it.”

Daria, “More talk without words.”
“How do you know?”
 “You change color.”
Janah, “Christ, Nikko and Zi are speechless, Zi is crying at the beautiful miracle.”
“I’m a bit choked up myself.”
“Subject change, miracles must make me hungry, what’s the menu?”
“The girls like Italian, let’s go to Marconi’s, Dasha and I can take the night off. Amaya is going to make up the girls, might as well take them out.”

Amaya comes in, “Daphne is taking us to Marconi’s, so we’ll do an evening casual look.”
Chloe and I leave to dress, Marconi’s isn’t dressy but we don’t go out in slob mode, ever. In an hour we’re all downstairs, the girls in their skinny jeans, wedges, cool tunics, dark blue for Daria, a bright purple for Dasha, three rings each, wide band platinum bracelets. A trace of eye shadow that matches the tunics, lip gloss, hint of blush that creates just an edge of shadowy mystery.
Dominic, “Ah, my absolute favorite customers, glad you decided to eat in. Angie, take our friends to table six please.”
Our group follows the hostess, I stay to noodle with Dominic.
“We like to be at home, even better when our table is covered in your wonderful food. Today we decided to show off our young ladies instead.”
“God Daph, they are amazingly beautiful, and two of them. I’m glad to see they don’t do the twins thing, you know, dress alike.”
“They aren’t much for cutesy, too Russian for that. They like to look nice, Amaya handles that part, shoes all the way up to makeup and hairstyle.”
“How old are they now?”
“We think nine, broaching ten, not quite sure. Their birth certificates make them to be nine, so nine it is.”
“And the rest of you never age a day, how do you do that?  I know you grew up, I watched you do it. But you and Janah hit, what? twenty five and stopped on a dime. Amaya’s been with you, what, ten years? She still looks sixteen.”
“It’s her, miracle of her cosmetic recommendations, if you peel off my foundation, I’d look thirty five.”
“Bullshit. You barely wear makeup. Daniela has the most reasonable explanation, she says Janah knows witchcraft, although Juju told her it’s voodoo, that Janah is a mambo, a voodoo priestess, he’s absolutely convinced.”
“Daniela knows Juju?”
“Sure, she shops at his table, buys the stuff Amaya picks out, the Night Rain collection. She’s got our customers going over there, they see her jewelry, ask where she gets it. Amaya is making Juju rich. Hey, he ain’t just saying she picks it out is he?”
“Amaya would never go for that, they have a longstanding deal, and she checks regularly, the only stuff on that table is stuff she likes. Juju will lie has ass off to a tourist, but not locals, it’s how he is.”
“I can handle that. Hell, I’m Italian, we lie to anyone ain’t family, you don’t gotta worry, you been family a long time. My old man, rest his soul, woulda killed me if we even thought of jackin’ you around. Not to mention Gennaro, my criminal brother, said to tell you his offer to make you a Mafia princess still stands.”
“Best offer I’ve ever had from a man, but men aren’t on my menu.”
“Good thing, Gennaro woulda had them disappeared.”
“Give him a kiss….no, that won’t work, tell Daniela to give him a kiss for me.”
Dominic laughs, “I’ll do it, enjoy dinner.”
They’ve already ordered, pouring the Chianti, antipasto appears. Dasha and Daria are mad for antipasto, and they like ravioli, what kid doesn’t, they split a ravioli appetizer.
I have veal marsala, now a Dasha favorite, she eats half . Daria, Amaya and Chloe share osso bucco, another order for Nikko and Zi, plus manicotti, cheese tortellini and Italian salad for Janah. We split four cannoli between the eight of us.
Janah, “It’s eight fifteen, perhaps a walk around the Village, we’ve hung at home all day, the girls are all fixed up, they can wow the crowd.”
We kill an hour and a half strolling, the girls fascinate everyone who catches a glimpse, we run into a half dozen people we know, stop and chat. We’ve lived here a long time, if the people are permanent residents, I’ve run across them a bunch. New York isn’t as distant or anonymous as visitors think, people are talkative once they know you. We stop at a café with outdoor seating, have a glass of wine, chew the fat with the waitress, Nellie, an NYU student.
Nellie, “Girls are getting bigger, geez they’re gonna to be hot, you’re gonna need bodyguards.”
“Nellie, we are bodyguards.”
“True, Nikko probably scares the boys anyway. How’s Susan? Since Taylor came along, she’s not out as much.”
“It’s not Taylor, she’s got a load of work, by the time she does that and takes three or four taekwondo classes a week, she’s ready for bed. Saturdays are mostly another work day, Sundays Taylor won’t let her near her computer under penalty of death. They usually go out Saturday night, to a nice place for dinner, just the two of them. They go to Terrance’s parties.”
Nellie, “Terrance, what a piece of work, he’s what, forty? I’ve only been around a couple of years and he’s had a party a month practically.”
“You go?”
“No, what do I do with a roomful of gay guys. New York is half gay guys and half married guys, the third half are assholes.”
“Works for us, more unattached girls around.”
“I’ve experimented, the college lesbian thing. I keep quiet about it though, guys get weirded out.”
“They aren’t going to find out from me.”
“I’m up for anyone in your group, well, not the…”
I laugh, “I get it, no children, no farm animals.”
She laughs, “You are whack. I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t hit on girls, but if Amaya was to show any interest, I do whatever she wanted. God, am I too horrible?”
“She’d be flattered. She and Chloe are pretty tight though.”
“I can’t figure out who to call the lucky one.”
“They both think they’re the lucky one, Amaya would never admit it, she has to keep up her arrogance pretense.”
“She’s full of baloney, I love to hear her go on about herself, it’s so obvious she’s playing over the top. I see the way she looks at Chloe, like you look at Janah.”
“You have good radar. Nice to see some people see what’s there, it’s such a distracted world.”
“Waitressing has taught me as much as NYU, more. I have to earn a living, see you around, Daph.”
She hustles off , it’s busy, she needs the tips, Amaya mentals, “How perceptive she is.”
“She isn’t blind.”

Amaya smiles, Dasha says, “You make sex with her?”
“No.”
Dasha says in her serious way, “She will make sex with you.”
“She is experimenting, I do not make sex with girls who make sex with boys.”
Dasha thinks this over, “Nyet.”
I’m not sure what her simple ‘no’ means. I suppose she’ll tell me if she wants do, don’t pursue it. It’s pressing ten, we settle the bill, leave a standard tip, I press another fifty bucks into Nellie’s hand, gets me a cute smile.

Chapter Thirty Five

The twins have been with us over two years, obviously they’ve figured out we’re lesbians. They aren’t sure of their sexuality, they’re only twelve. They’re happy not to have men around. James is acceptable, they aren’t standoffish with him, they aren’t chatty either. They are accustomed to Chan and Black, Dr. Epstein. On the street with the Jamaicans or Mini at the diner is good, we trust them, they take that as acceptable. It’s more like men are another species for them, one they accept is out there, one they can do without.
Gymnastics is a good outlet for Dasha, it’s individual. She doesn’t have to be friends with the other girls, she can go, do her exercises, come home. Her talent is evident, she’s not the top student, more like the most diligent. A couple of girls approached her, one is having a birthday party, a family on the East side, Amaya got a present, a collection of Juju’s Night Rain bracelets, Dasha and Daria went. I got a call after an hour.
Dasha, “You will come now.”
“Not working out?”
“Enough.”
“Don’t say anything, I’ll show up and say we have to be someplace else, okay?”
“Da.”
Amaya drives me over, we’ve bought a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV, Amaya loved the Escalades until they got too boxy. If anyone can uglify a car, it’s GM.
We keep it in the Chapman’s below ground garage.
The party’s at a condo on 2nd Avenue, the doorman rings up, sends us to forty. I’d dropped the girls off, already met the parents.
“Hi Mrs. Needleman, sorry it has to be so quick, we have another commitment in Brooklyn and I was off on the time, sounds like the party is going full steam.”
Needleman, “They’re having a great time, pop music is driving me nuts, Daria is quite a dancer, she takes lessons?”
“Not formally, we have a friend who has dance experience, they get together a couple of times a week. She lives in our building, handy, don’t have to go anyplace.”
Needleman, “Amy says Dasha is an incredible gymnast, the girls are a little in awe of her.”
“Dasha tells me Amy is quite good, she doesn’t say things lightly.”
“So I’ve noticed. The girls are direct. I assume it’s a language thing.”
“Hope nobody got insulted.”
Needleman laughs, “I thought perhaps…it’s Terry, dear thing, she’s so tubby. She told Dasha she is always on a diet, you know what kids say, my mother is always nagging me about my weight, kid complaining.”
“Uh oh, what did Dasha say?”
Needleman laughs, “You are fat girl, so what?”
“Ouch.”
“No, just the opposite. Terry thought about it for a bit, then said, ‘Yeah, so what?’ and thanked her.”
“Whew. Daria doesn’t say much, sometimes Dasha is too direct for people. You’re right, it’s a language thing. Her English doesn’t allow for subtleties yet.”
“Good for her. At least she won’t become a politician.”
“Not unless people want to know the truth.”
“Maybe truth in politics will catch on, the current system doesn’t seem to work too well.”
“You may be on to something. Anyway, have to dash, thank you for inviting them.”
Needleman, “Oh, before I forget, where did you find those bracelets, they are wonderful. I have to figure out how to wrestle them from Amy, she told me they are her favorite present.”
“That’s Amaya’s doing.”
Amaya, “State secret, but I will send over some so you need not have to fight Amy over them.”
Needleman, “Let me pay you at least.”
“Not to worry, I have excellent connections.”
“Why, thank you. By the way, who buys the children’s clothes?”
“Amaya.”
Needleman, “Should have guessed. Dear, they are the best dressed children in Manhattan, the girls asked me to find out where they shop. They recognize the Capezio, but today’s outfits are just amazing.”
“Amaya is a fashion consultant, shops for a number of women and their children.”
Needleman, “Will you help me? I think I do okay, but I would so love to have an expert eye. How does it work?”
“I am booked now, but something may come up. I charge a thousand an hour, three hour minimum. For that, I take you to stores where I am already familiar with the lines, no wasted time, I do not get compensation from the stores. I have a private car, we pick you up, the store will have most things ready. Sometimes something new has come in I have not seen, but that is rare. The places I use send me updates, they want me to come in with clients. I do not use exclusively high end shops, many times I suggest items from H&M or other discount outlets. The point is to make the client look great, the cost of the clothes is immaterial. I also consult on makeup, hairstyle and color, rates are the same, but I try to work efficiently. I know what makeup I want, I do not waste your money sitting at the stylist, I call and tell them what to do.”
Needleman, “I know a good deal when I see it. Please, first available. How long do you need to decide about makeup and hair?”
“Already decided, also the clothes, shoes and accessories.”
“That’s impossible, you can’t know my tastes.”
“It is not your taste that is important, it is mine.”
Needleman is stuck silent, then, “Duh, of course. Okay, I hope to hear from you.”
Amaya, “Be patient, do not worry, unlike some of my clients, you are not a disaster, just some necessary tweaks her and there.”
“Can you give me a clue?”
Amaya smiles, “No, that is why they pay me. The upside is, once I show you what to do, you will not need me. Unlike a therapist, I am happiest when clients eventually consult me only for special occasions, that is how I measure my success. A few just like me to shop with them, an extra couple of thousand on a fifty thousand dollar shopping trip means nothing to them. Other clients have fewer resources, I understand that.”
“Ah, I see, then ring me as soon as you can, we have a benefit coming up in a month and I would like to be at my best.”
“Then I will make an exception, no more than two weeks, you will be the star of the show. Send me an email detailing the benefit and, if you know, who will be attending. It is helpful, I have a sense of how many of the women will be dressed.”
“How on earth would you know that?”
“Some, I will have dressed. Others I know from my sources, you will be appropriate, but unique, everyone will be quite jealous, except for the ones I created.”
“I don’t recall meeting anyone with your self-assurance.”
“Nor will you.”
Needleman laughs, “I am all anticipation.”
“We need to get out of your hair, you have kids to regulate.”
“Yes, of course. And here are the two darlings now, dears, I hope you had fun.”
Daria, “It is nice, thank you.”
Dasha, “Blagodaryu vas, thanking you, do svidaniya, saying gudbye.”
Needleman, “Oh my, I’ve never been thanked in Russian, thank you for coming and for your wonderful present.”
“Eemaya makes present, we bring only.”

Chapter Thirty Six

Amaya, “Finally, someone gives me credit, long deserved, she kisses Daria, then Dasha.
Dasha, “Why girls talking boys all time, or poppy music? Lady Gaga, Breeteeny, both fat girls. American girls like fat girls?”
“Maybe it makes them feel skinnier.”
Dasha, “No more party.”
“I felt the same way.”
“You no party when children?”
“Nope, no sleepover either.”
“Spend all night with girl children make Dasha crazy, text, boys, Miley girl wiz tongue always sticking out, worst Justone Bieber, stupid hair.”
“I understand.”
“Gud. You are like me.”
“I am like you.”
Janah, “She has no idea how much.”
“I’m no Breeteeny fan either, and she is fat. Taylor Swift is adorable, but those boyfriend angst songs are too annoying.”

I hear Janah giggling.
The party started at four, we picked the twins up shortly after five, back at the apartment by quarter to six.
“We have two well dressed girls and nothing on.”
Janah, “Bound to be activity in Washington Square Park, then walk to Chinatown and Fong’s?”
“I’ll give Ning a heads up, where’s Nikko and Zi?”
Then I hear a thump in the workout room, “Never mind.”
I go to tell them the plan, Zi is in the air, flying towards Nikko, foot lands on her chest, Nikko shoots backwards, then to her butt.
Zi turns to me, “Nikko is letting me abuse her.”
“Nikko is doing no such thing,  Zi has raised her aggression level and has learned how to use her sensitivity to read my intent, even at the speed of sparring.”
Zi smiles politely, “Nishiko finds it challenging, and insists I use every trick, she instructs, I obey.”
Zi loves to play subservient to Nikko, she isn’t really, she’s more than capable, but they like the roles they’ve adopted. Zi waits on her, if not hand and foot, at least hand. It took Nikko time to adjust, she’s independent. Zi taught her that there is an art to both sides, when Nikko understood she was, paradoxically, serving Zi by being served, she accepted it.
Since Amaya showed Zi how Nikko should use makeup, Zi keeps her looking like a Japanese model, and now, she seldom goes out sans blush, eyeliner, shadow and lipstick.
Zi, “She is a businesswoman, has many obligations, and must set the tone of our family’s business relations with tenants, vendors, lawyers, accountants, and our growing staff. She has become a force to be reckoned with, the business community is aware of her and would love to have her serve on boards, she declines, of course, but it is a sign of their regard.”
Nikko says only, “No time for meetings that do not concern family business.”
That was a couple of years ago, still no boards, still approached occasionally.
“Going to Washington Square, see whatever’s happening, then to Fong’s. What’s your pleasure?”
Nikko, “Go to the park, we’ll clean up and meet you there, then to dinner.”
Washington Square Park is a few blocks down 4th, to Waverly, which runs past Babbo’s, a popular restaurant, takes forever to get a reservation, then the northwest corner of the park. It’s only a couple of blocks wide and one deep, but there is green space, a large center courtyard where various street artists come to scrounge up a few bucks with music or acrobatics. NYU faces the west side, midway down the block. The Village is ambivalent about NYU, it’s started chewing up real estate that was formerly housing or retail. As a consequence, the feel of neighborhood diminishes as more student zombies roam the area, the walking dead, minds eaten away by the plague of wisdom free knowledge.
The girls are seated on a bench with Java Joe iced lattes, taking in the scene. I hear various languages commenting on the twins, man playing a flute walks past, families with strollers, couples doing couple stuff, food carts doing steady business. It’s the last gasp of spring, warm during the day, cooler breeze now.
Two girls are standing with their parents, tourists it appears, backpacks, snapping photos with cell phones, the girls, thirteen or fourteen are staring at Chloe, whispering to each other.
One approaches tentatively, “Excuse me, are you Chloe Sylk?”
Chloe stands, “Yes.”
“Ohmygod,” the questioner turns to her friend, they might be sisters, but they don’t resemble each other, “It is her, right in front of me….oh….my….god,” she looks back at Chloe, “We are, like, total fans…you have such a cool fan page, we’ve been, like, subscribed for ages. God, I can’t believe I’m talking to you.”
The other girl is beside her, “You’re the first famous person we’ve seen in New York! Oh God, are we, like, disturbing you?”
Chloe, “Not at all, you are…?”
The first girl says, “I’m Jen, this is by totes best, Christy, nobody is going to believe we met Chloe Sylk, unless we….could you…?” she’s waving a cell phone.
Chloe, “Sure, let my totes best Amaya take us together.”
The parents have finally figured out the girls have struck up a conversation and walk over, watching them being snapped with a tall girl they sort of recognize.
I happen to be standing next to them, the woman asks me, “I’ve seen that girl, she must be somebody.”
“She is.”
Woman laughs, “I didn’t mean that, our daughter and her friend recognize her, is she an actress, a singer?”
“She’s both, but they recognize her from fashion magazines, other ads, and they’ve seen her Facebook page, she’s a model.”
Woman, “Ah, of course, I see Jen on it, Sylk, Chloe Sylk. They adore her, she costs me a fortune in accessories.”
“Mom, dad, this is Chloe Sylk, do you believe we ran into Chloe Sylk?”
Chloe introduces herself, then, “This are my friends, Amaya, Daphne, Janah, and our two sisters, Daria and Dasha.”
Christy, “Oh my gosh, identical twins, and the cool look they have? Chloe must outfit them.”
Amaya, “Cripes.”
Chloe, “I have nothing to do with it, Amaya does our shopping, she’s the fashionista, I have no clue what I would look like without her, the girls are entirely her doing.”
Woman, “Well she sure has the eye, all of you look like you’re out of a magazine. I’m feeling rather out of it.”
“Lots of Amaya’s ideas are on the page.”
Jen, “Wait, is that Amaya’s hands I see putting on your makeup in the videos?”
“Yes, she has the best instincts, I just sit and get painted.”
Jen, “She should have a page!”
Amaya, “Thank you, I am publicity shy, no cameras, that’s Vesnushki’s thing.”
Woman, “What is vez…?”
Chloe, “She calls me Vesnushki.”
Woman, “What is vesnushki?”
Dasha, “frayculs.”
Chloe giggles.
Woman, “I’m lost.”
“My sisters are from Russia,” she skips Belarus as overly complicated, “she’s saying freckles,” and waves her finger around her nose, “vesnushki is freckles in Russian. Amaya called me freckles, Dasha renamed me.”
Christy, “That’s cool, I mean, like, you don’t mind I guess.”
“Not at all. I have freckles, besides, Amaya loves them.”
Jen, “God, your eyes are sooo gorgeous, at first I thought contacts, but they are violet in all your photos, and they’re totally real.”
Chloe, “I hope so.”
Christy, “I saw a girl and her brother I think, on your page, at a beach, and a bunch of others that look like New York, in restaurants and stuff. Are people always hassling you for photos?” she giggles, “like we did?”
“People enjoy it. If I have their permission, we put them on the page. If you send me copies of the ones Amaya took, yours can go up too. Your mom has to agree.”
Woman looks at her husband, “I’m fine with it, we’d have to ask Christy’s mom, but I think she’ll say the same thing.”
Chloe, “Then, if I get the photos, Mayumi will post them.”
“You have someone do the page then?”
“It wasn’t my idea, two girls we met in Kyoto wanted to do the page, it’s a fan page, it’s for people interested in what’s going on with me and fashion.”
Jen, “Yes! I remember those pictures, they are adorable, they live in Japan, mom.”
Chloe, “Actually, they live in New York now, in college here. I see them frequently, they’ve done a great job with the page. I’m very lucky, Amaya makes me presentable, Mayumi and Katsumi make the page beautiful. I just stand around in whatever pose the photographer wants.”
Woman, “Refreshing to hear you aren’t glomming all the credit, some of the pop icons make it appear they do everything themselves.”
Nikko and Zi appear, but remain off to the side, we needn’t prolong the conversation with more introductions.
“Girls, we have a dinner reservation and we are tying up these nice people’s time while they enjoy the city.”
We say our goodbyes, Chloe has managed to delight two teens from wherever. They have evidence to show their friends and a bit of inside information to gossip about. We, on the other hand, are heading for one of Ning’s scrumptious dinners.

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