Chapter Sixty One
When we return to the Peninsula, Janah gets a call, listens for a minute, disconnects.
“The Society called off number three, called off all the operations on the coast. The heat caused the child sellers to shut down and some of the targets have gone on vacation. The remaining locations with girls have been sent to the FBI. It’s gotten more public than they wanted, the top tiers of the business aren’t going to wait around to be refocused by an invisible group of people who don’t mind them dying. And the concern is the remaining girls might be hustled off by the lower tier before our teams can round them up.”
Nikko, “Victims of our own success.”
Janah, “The Society learned a lesson I wasn’t smart enough to see in advance. They way we do things is through stealth and subterfuge. Once the media get a story and the lights start coming on, we lose our advantage.”
Amaya, “So they decided not to take such big bites.”
“Yes, I should have thought of that myself.”
Zi, “How are you supposed to know how many operations they have going? It didn’t really become evident until we were here. Besides, it’s plugged the flow, at least for a while.”
“True. In any case, we have tonight off, no girls to free tomorrow. Out of courtesy and lust, I’m going to call Joan Wayne, if she’s available, she can join us for fun. If not, we’ll have fun anyway.”
Joan Wayne is our friend from Chapmans, now a powerhouse forensics expert. Nikko and I have sliced up a few bodies, Joan Wayne hundreds, but they were dead already.
Amaya, “I hope the plan is to have it here. I’m a little weary of LA and traffic.”
Nikko, “Me too, and all I had to do was ride.”
Janah, “Then it’s settled, we order from the hotel, we’ve got tons of room, we have tonight and tomorrow night, then we fly home to Chloe.”
“Let’s bump it up to tomorrow.”
Janah, “I know what Nikko wants, Amaya, Zi.”
A simultaneous, “Home.”
These things are draining. And taking lives isn’t like in the movies. We also learned something. No more jobs with so much one day after the other. Killing child slavers isn’t the problem, it’s killing that’s the problem. No matter how bad the bad guy is, it wears on the psyche.
Janah calls Joan Wayne, “I am so on the way, is now good? I’ll be an hour, hour and a half, need toys?”
Janah giggles, “If you have something you like to use bring it. We have a couple of things, but we weren’t planning much free time. Obviously I didn’t call because we had no evenings available. Plans changed, I’m so happy you can make it.”
Joan Wayne clicks off, Janah grins at her dead phone.
“Zi, Amaya, you are free to free for all or no. Joan Wayne is flexible and never insulted. I have to warn you though, she’s a tiny doll and totally adorable.”
Amaya, “I shall occupy Daphne in our suite.”
We do personal cleanup, Joan Wayne appears at four thirty, I’d ordered a buffet of nibbleables and wine. Dinner would come after round one.
“Joan Wayne, this is Amaya and Zi.”
“Doesn’t Janah know any plain girls, or at least only gorgeous?”
“Not that I’m aware of, she’s a specialty collector, limited collection of unlimited babiosity. It’s a bit of an obsession with her.”
Joan Wayne, “Why are we still in clothes? I can drink wine and eat organically.”
Clothes is an overstatement, we have on slinky silk t-shirts and robes, which hit the floor along with Joan Wayne’s tiny shorts and top. She’d passed on underwear, she’s prescient that way.
Janah, “Glad you were able to drop work on the spur of the moment.”
“No big deal, all the customers are dead.”
We sit around sipping and chatting, Joan Wayne on the couch working Janah into a frenzy. Amaya and I excuse ourselves and go to our room.
While we play, I hear Janah's conversation in my head, “God, Joan Wayne, that toy is a latex earthquake.”
“Vibrates like a stud horse at full gallop, don’t it? I’ve broken fillies with this never been rode before. When I’m done, they’re docile as lambs, do any damn thing I want.”
“Speaking of which…”
Joan Wayne, “Which of you ladies want to lick my ass?”
Janah, “Love to.”
Zi, “Can I take a turn?”
Joan Wayne looks at Zi, “She’s cute, she’s gonna be even cuter later, with her head between my legs.”
Zi giggles, it’s the last I hear until it’s time for a break, I order a significant amount of dinner, delivered to the other suite. All the filthy girls re-refresh, gather around the buffet.
Peeled shrimp, filets with asparagus, Janah a salad, a splendid vegetable casserole, champagne and red wine. Joan Wayne joins Amaya in vodka rocks. We might get dessert later, but dinner is for rehydration and fortification for the XXX games to soon recommence.
We take time over dinner, let it settle, I call for cart removal and push everything out to the hallway. Three carts of empty plates, glasses and silverware, for a mere seven hundred bucks plus gratuity. We did have wine after all. I’d ordered the more moderately priced, a good bottle of champagne.
Amaya is leaning against the table, holding a glass of wine, Joan Wayne stares, asked, “Janah, it’s too late now, but is she even eighteen? She doesn’t look a day over fifteen. I’m generally spot on about ages in my line of work.”
Amaya, “Thank you Joan Wayne.”
Janah, “She’s twenty.”
“Get out of Dodge.”
Amaya, “I was fifteen when I seduced Daphne. She keeps me looking young.”
Joan Wayne, “I need to have sex with her more often then. Now that I think of it, none of you look over twenty five, I know you are, I went to high school with you. Zi is just twenty, right?”
Zi, “Twenty two, soon to be three.”
“That’s it then. I’m moving back to Manhattan to drink from your fountain of youth.”
Janah, “Please do. Your Korean heritage is keeping well under the age radar, though. You still have a washboard tummy and everything that needs to be tight is. You don’t have a line on your face.”
Joan Wayne, “Lacy was like that, she still hanging in?”
Amaya, “She is leading the way, we do yoga and dance together, not ‘dancing,’ workout dance.”
“I remember, she was good.”
“Well, enough memory lane, shall we make new memories?”
And we do, until near midnight, Amaya and I return to our suite, Joan Wayne downs her remaining conquests, Nikko and Zi, then Zi reciprocates for a long stretch, there’s an never ending wave of moans and groans, the sound of vibrating mechanical devices.
Alone with Amaya, she wants to be anally pleasured, I strap up and deliver the goods. I assume the others had fun, I stayed out of everyone’s brain, my own busy melting.
Chapter Sixty Two
We’re back at the apartment, travel tired. Ning thoughtfully brings food from Fong’s, I heat, we eat and talk to Chloe. She’s nonstop, so many wonderful adventures for a girl raised on nothing but abuse. My heart melts for the zillionth time.
Chloe, “Daphne, can you and Amaya sleep with me tonight?”
My answer would have been the same if she’d asked me to buy her a Rolls Ghost, “Of course, are you about ready, I see little tired eyes.”
She yawns, “Yes.”
Nikko and Amaya stack the dishwasher while I get Chloe ready for bed. Amaya’s arms around Chloe, I’m the other side, catch the clean scent of soft ginger hair, yeowch, life is sooo good.
Morning comes late, almost nine before I move. Amaya and I leave Chloe asleep, began the day. Coffee and tea gets Janah moving. Chloe is stirring, I hear Zi and Nikko in the shower, feel Nikko being intimately attended to. They emerge, Nikko blank, Zi with a silly grin.
“Samurai corrupts Shaolin, unforgiveable.”
“As you already know, she corrupted me, I was simply standing there meditating for world peace and universal sisterhood.”
“She’s a Sensitive, your beneficence must have ignited her hormones.”
“Perhaps, but she mentioned legs as the source of the flame.”
“Strange, they do that for me, but then, Shaolin have much in common.”
Nikko’s lips turn a miniscule half grin. Zi’s coming out party in LA did more than confirm her sexual orientation, it appears to have sparked something in her for Nishiko.
Janah, “What’s for breakfast?”
“Yay! Can I go like this?”
“We’d never make it to the diner.”
“Decisions, do I get to exhibit myself, or eat?”
Nikko, “I believe you would actually walk right through Manhattan nude.”
“Would not, I’d wear platforms.”
Chloe calls out, “Is there tea?”
I bring her a cup. She is brushing her teeth, still in her nightshirt and fuzzy socks. I sat with her while she drinks, pull off her shirt and socks. She’s still a stick, but up a couple of inches almost in a pop.
Chloe, “I’ve gotten taller,” she dances around, looking at herself in the vanity mirror, “I’m going to be pretty, not Amaya, but cute anyway.”
I love her developing confidence, the soft spray of freckles, thick, soft as cashmere ginger blonde hair, all legs and arms, just like I was.
“You are already pretty, beautiful, smile for me.”
She smiles into the mirror, “I don’t like my teeth.”
No, I don’t either, “Time for braces, in a couple of years, they’ll be perfect.”
“Can I get cool colors?”
“You can get any kind you like. You know, there’s an adjustment period, your mouth will be sore.”
She frowns, “My mouth has been sore plenty of times.”
“This time it’s voluntary, your decision.”
She brightens, “Yes, yes it is,” she gets in the shower, screeches, “Too cold,” adjusts the temperature, “Ahhh, better.”
Amaya, “Touch of makeup for me, then dress the Fairy Princess.”
We’d had her new skirt cleaned in LA, Amaya adds a long sleeve pullover and platform wedges.
Zi, “Look, how wonderful, such a treasure. Amaya has the eye for fit. It’s like it was handmade for you.”
Chloe, “I’m getting braces.”
Janah, “Good for your teeth, it will take some time to fix you know.”
“Some of the Chapmans girls have them, I’m okay with it, can’t leave my teeth the way they are. They also told me I have to wear a retainer at night for a couple of years. They say it isn’t so bad, just something you put in while you sleep.”
“Okay then, find out who they use, no point in going in without a recommendation, and the Chapmans girls are going to use the best around.”
Amaya, “I’ll talk to some of the moms, I can call around later, then make her appointment, as a matter of fact….”
While we walk to the diner, she texts half a dozen Chapmans moms. Before we orders she has a consensus.
Amaya, “They all say the same two names, Dr. Winston and Dr. Francis.”
“Run them by Lacy.”
She sends a text to Lacy, she replies, “Both excellent, Francis is closer, in the Village actually. The other is east midtown. Lots of our students live in that direction, that’s why his name came up. Chloe getting orthodontics?”
Amaya taps in, “Yes, and thanks.”
Technology is the great simplifier.
Chapter Sixty Three
Chuck, “Janah, your group gets any bigger, I gotta expand.”
There are six of us, we have to use two booths.
Janah, “Hey Chuck, two booths are fine. Besides, you just remodeled a couple of years ago.”
Chuck, “When the space next door came up, I couldn’t turn it down, bigger kitchen, more seats, a takeout counter. It’s paid for itself. What’ll it be?”
“Tell Mini we’re here with Chloe. We want breakfast, he can surprise us.”
Chuck, “Chloe, you are another of Janah’s heartbreakers,” he looks at me, “She’s gonna be a knockout, getting taller every time she comes by.”
He moves off to place the order, I wink at Chloe, “Told you.”
She grins, no open mouth smile yet, but when she gets her braces, that will change.
Mini comes out with the food, “You musta been traveling.”
“I read about a major mess in California, somebody busted up a few, um,” he looks at Chloe, doesn’t finish.
Janah, “Beverly Hills is nice this time of year, we did some shopping, see Chloe’s new dress?”
Chloe stands, twirls around, Mini says, “I get to see Daphne grow up all over again. She goin’ for the martial arts thing?”
“She’s taking kendo from Nikko’s dad.”
“Another samurai. Guess it balances out two Shaolin.”
“Janah likes things orderly.”
“Chloe, Daph used to come around when she was your age, built like a stick. She took to my cooking, and look how she turned out,” he rumbles off to his kitchen.
The tables are covered in mega veggie omelets, fries, crispy bacon, Chloe another bacon fan along with Nikko and Zi. Amaya an egg white omelet and tea. We plow through, I didn’t realize how hungry I was, now I’m not.
Janah, “Anyone up for a stroll to the temple, I need to check in.”
“Sure. Amaya and I can be ‘all that’ for the crowd.”
Amaya, “She gains confidence by the hour.”
“With you for a role model, it’s hardly surprising.”
“Right answer, keep building points, it will pay off for you sooner or later.”
“Sooner and later is better.”
Amaya beams her dazzle smile, “Perhaps I can schedule you in.”
Chloe and Amaya head off to the ladies. Amaya makes miniscule adjustments to Chloe’s hair and skirt.
Chloe looks in the mirror, “I never thought I’d look this way, live like this, be so happy.”
Amaya, “You deserve it, never think otherwise.”
Nikko and I take the front and rear, Zi just behind Chloe by a half step. Chloe is walking with Amaya. All of us are in jeans except Amaya and Chloe. Amaya in a snug denim skirt that hits her mid thigh, Chloe’s skirt about the same length, sways gently with her steps. Heads snap as they pass, eyes follow.
Chloe, “Amaya, everyone is looking at us.”
“We are living art, dearest. Let them appreciate, but do not acknowledge. No eye contact.”
Nikko and Zi drop off at one of our buildings, we continue to the temple. I do a quick kitchen check, pristine, Janah to her office, Master Kahn waves and joins her. We go to the garden.
“David Li, the garden is perfect, hummingbirds feed, bees swapping stories with the flowers while they do their work.”
“Always noisy here spring through summer, it is quieter in the fall and winter.”
Chloe, “I don’t hear anything.”
David Li, “Sit on the bench for a bit, close your eyes, be still.”
Chloe takes a spot, I say, “Give it a half hour, then come to the hut.”
Amaya and I enter the hut, always clean, dusted and swept, cushions cleaned or replaced regularly, even though no one goes there but Sensitives and us. It is a place of special reverence for those of us trained by Tan, Sensitives say they feel a certain vibration inside. To the others, it’s just a hut at the back of the temple. Perhaps it is, perhaps it is more what we bring in that transforms the place, the place doesn’t transform us.
We drift into no mind, then I download a higher qi transmission. Amaya doesn’t flinch anymore, past the severe pain, and even the dull ache. Mental lights still go off, but they aren’t painful any longer. After a time, we merge.
Chloe rises to leave, David Li sees the glow from the hut through the bamboo. “Wait, I’ll walk with you.”
As they ease through the bamboo, Chloe says, “Is there a light in there? I never saw one before.”
“Child, it is the light of the two within. Go to the door, say nothing, sit on one of the cushions and observe. Remember, no talking.”
Chloe enters and sits, she doesn’t know what to think, much less say. She sees one being, light emanates from it, lighting the dark hut and spilling out the door. There is a soft hum, almost undetectable, more felt than heard.
A quarter hour passes, the light dims, Amaya and I are smiling at each other, we kiss, turn to Chloe. She is dumbstruck, wondering if it is a magic trick at the same time knowing it isn’t, tears stream from violet eyes, her hand over her mouth, she is trembling.
I envelop her, she’s shaking against me, then settles, I wipe her cheeks with my thumbs, kiss the tears under her eyes.
Amaya, “Sheesh, sit on the bench, I need to redo your face.”
Amaya is always ready for primping. She pulls towelettes from her purse, wipes Chloe’s face, dries it with Kleenex. Eye shadow has held up, she reapplies the tiny trace of eyeliner, a quick swipe with the brush for blush, reapplies lip gloss.
“Now, all fixed.”
Chloe, “What did I see? I mean, I saw a beautiful white light, one person sitting, I felt….joy. How does….”
Amaya, “I will explain later, at home, when we can talk. Until then, say nothing. You have witnessed a great mystery, one we do not speak of outside our family.”
“Nobody would believe me anyway.”
On the way back, David Li asks, “When you sat in the garden, what did you hear?”
Chloe has to stop and think, what she’d just seen had overridden her half hour in the garden, “You’re right, bees buzzing, a million little wings, I heard another sound, like a lot of people talking but very low, almost whispering.”
David smiles at her, he isn’t much of a smiler, his father’s son, “Come and visit again, there are hundreds of friends here, waiting to tell you their stories.”
Chloe looks up at me, “I can come again, to listen?”
“If we can work it into your schedule, maybe one or twice a month, until Hanshi cuts back on your training, then, if you wish, you can come more often.”
I explain to David Li, “She is training with Master Murakami and Ari three days a week, she has schoolwork at home and a class at Chapmans, math with Susan, learning Japanese. However, if she caught the scent with a half hour in the garden, we need to explore that.”
David Li, “The garden will be here, it is not yet summer. Languages are easier to learn with the young.”
I understand, she had, in one short session, heard what only a very few hear. I hear the sounds, don’t grasp the language, even Janah only partially.
That Chloe heard at all is remarkable, and it may come to only that, but David Li thinks otherwise. Sensitives are rare, but not restricted to Shaolin. Lots of children have the ability, then become distracted by life and bludgeoned by society’s misguided notion of education. The ability to read energy, sense another’s intent before they know it themselves, catch sadness, malice or joy at a glance, is dampened in the dissonant racket of growing up.
Chapter Sixty Four
We walk back to the apartment. We ate breakfast at ten, no one is that hungry, I arrange cheeses, crackers and cut fruit on the table, more tea and Coke Zero. Amaya puts some on a plate, takes Chloe to her room, shuts the door, time for a fuller understanding of her family. Amaya can talk to her from the point of view she experienced it, a young girl, lost, coming to know the wonder of real relationship, no enforced obligation to what people call family.
Zi, “I felt the child’s openness. With the flood of experiences in her new life, I decided not to bring it up until she settled. Sometimes, with children, there is a flicker, too faint to develop. She has more than a flicker, not quite a flame, but the potential is there.”
Janah, “Then we need to build in more time at the temple. There are no distractions there. No one will take her as unusual. She has you, David and Chan to guide her. If she develops, fine. Ultimately, she can decide to go with it or not, but she should be given the opportunity. Once a month isn’t enough. Daphne can you juggle her schedule to make it weekly, a half day at least?”
“Sure. If we can’t take her, Chan will, should be pretty simple. I’ll post the new schedule and coordinate with him.”
Janah, “Good. I’m going to rest. Anyone cares to snuggle, please join me.”
Zi, “Easy duty, I’m in.”
Nikko, “I may slip in later, I’d like to be with Daphne for a time.”
Janah, “No fighting.”
“No, we’ll be in the meditation loft or the workout room.”
Janah glances at me, “Two merges in one day, Buddha smiles on you.”
“So he does.”
Unburdened of clothing, Janah and Zi slip under the covers. It’s not a sex session, it’s an intimacy session, the sensual sensation of smooth feminine skin.
Nikko and I are in the mediation loft, not meditating, laying on a cushiony mat I’d put up there, along with a couple of bolsters and plump throw pillows. We lay facing each other, kiss gently, let ourselves completely relax. I stroke her hair, hand on her graceful neck. She has her hand on my hip. We do exactly nothing, then merge for another hour.
As we return to two, I see Chloe sitting on a pillow watching us.
Chloe, “Amaya is napping, I went to get a glass of water and saw another soft glow up here. I had to see. Is it okay? It’s sooo beautiful, I couldn’t resist.”
“Did Amaya explain, not to get caught up, not to hold on to it?”
“Yes. I know about Janah and you, then Nikko, then Amaya. She told me about talking without words, which I had a feeling about, I couldn’t express it. I’m glad to find out I’m not getting freakier.”
“Your moms are already freaky enough. You will discover your own freaky.”
She giggles, “I try to follow your instruction, not to anticipate or live in the future, but it’s kind of exciting.”
“Joy is not anticipation, you sense there are things that will unfold in time. To be appreciative and grateful is not the same as wanting it to happen quickly.”
“Can I take a nap between you? Just a short one?”
“You don’t mind that we are not dressed?”
“Gee, no. Why would I, I like you like this,” she giggles, “Am I bad?”
“Bad isn’t always bad, sometimes bad is good.”
Nikko, “Daphne would know, she is frequently bad.”
Chloe giggles again, “That’s what I like best about her.”
We separate enough for the little stick to fit, she sits on her knees, grins mischievously, pulls off her t-shirt. She lays on her back, we are still on our sides. Nikko and I put our faces in her cashmere hair, cross an arm each over her.
Chloe, “Legs, too.”
We cover each leg with one of ours, Chloe says, “Perfect, buried in beauty. I hardly believe my life.”
She’s asleep in two minutes. Nikko and I are holding hands on her tummy, we fade out ourselves.
I feel Amaya climbing the steps to the loft, her lovely blonde head appears, I look at her, blow her a kiss. Apparently, clothing free is the order of the afternoon. She eases her lovely wonder behind me, kisses my neck, long fingers trace the side of my leg to my hip then further up, she cups my breast, a gentle squeeze. Her hand moves back down to my hip. More kisses on my neck and shoulders.
I look at Chloe, she has one eye popped open, watching, smiling.
Chloe, “She likes touching you.”
“And I like touching her, a lot, beautiful isn’t she.”
“A dream. I just hope I’m not a nightmare.”
I kiss her shiny cheek, “Not a chance. No need to drift off into future, which is only a different kind of dream, an illusion.”
Chloe, “Would you like tea? At the Murakami’s, we have tea every afternoon. I make it now, she says it’s okay, then she says I need to get better. Hanshi says the same thing when I practice kendo.”
“It’s the Japanese way. Perfection within a hairsbreadth, never grasped.”
Chloe sits up, slips on her shirt, scoots forward and hops down the steps. I hear the preparations begin.
“Suppose I need to get moving.”
Amaya’s hand slithers between my legs, one finger strokes me up, then down. She sits up, “Teasing you for later. Perhaps you will get lucky.”
I grin like idiot girl.
We descend, Janah on the couch. Tea is steeping, Chloe turns and asks Amaya, “Are my socks in your room?”
Amaya, “In the closet, third drawer down, the bottom drawer.”
Chloe runs to the room, back out in the kid’s version of the long socks Amaya and I like, bikini panties.
She comes to me and whispers, “Is it okay, just this?” Her arms waved down her body.
“We’re fine with it. You need to be dressed at Chan’s of course, even if he’s not there.”
Chloe, “Miyako and I shower together sometimes. But we sleep in long shirts. Besides the shower, I would never be undressed at Ning’s.”
She sets out the tea and cups, cookies and crackers. We are quiet, enjoying her tea, which is excellent, Mrs. Murakami has taught her well, Tiger Tea Mom.