Janah and I met before we met. She reached out with her oversize brain and connected to me mentally when we were around nine or ten. We both lived in Manhattan, she on the upper east side, me in Greenwich Village. We met in person at twelve. Her parents decided to take a condo above ours, adjusted to two girls who can not only talk mentally, but see through each others eyes, hear what the other hears. Other senses swap a little, but I don't taste what she tastes, or smell what she smells. It took getting used to, we confused who was seeing what for a while, but our brains do what brains do, adapt.
When we speak mentally, you will see the conversation in italics.
We also discovered, around age twenty five, that our telomeres, whatever they are, don't shorten like the rest of humanity. I do know that telomeres are caps on the end of strands of DNA inside chromosomes. Shortened chromosomes have been linked to age related diseases like heart disease and some cancers. They produce more telomerase, which is the enzyme that repairs telomeres. We also have more active Sir2 genes, which stabilize rDNA, which without the Sir2 genes are typically unstable. It's only a partial explanation, particularly as it began with Janah and me, biologically unrelated people. We don't know much more, just that the relationships between cells and their telomeres and the Sir2 factor on rDNA appear to have life extension effects.
We subsequently discovered we can pass along the DNA to others by injecting small amounts into their veins. Now, our parents, our companions, we've collected an extended family of girls, and a couple of friends from the Shaolin temple no longer age. We have no idea how long the effect lasts, but since Janah and I met at twelve, almost thirty years have passed, but we're biologically twenty five, our parents are in their forties when they should be sixty, my mom had me at fifteen, she's biologically barely forty despite being on Earth fifty five years.
More is in prior books, I presume if you're reading this, you've read some of the earlier work.
When we left you in our last effort, we’d just returned from Kyoto. It was all we could have hoped for, we did touristy things, spent ten days in the Koyasan temples complex, learned about Shingon Buddhism. We met two Japanese teens, Mayumi and Katsumi, fans of Chloe, astounded to actually meet her, and after we visited got Chloe’s permission to create a fan page. The thing took off, I was amazed at the speed of the international adolescent girl underground. By the time we returned home, Chloe had over a hundred thousand subscribers and more comments than we could possibly digest.
As promised, Chloe, via Amaya, has been sending them updates on her life, upcoming fashion shoots, a sort of insider view of modeling. She also makes fashion and accessory suggestions, which are really Amaya’s, our resident fashionistess. Chloe likes to look nice, but Amaya picks out her stuff, everything, clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup and hair style.
Chloe has no interest in fashion detail, Amaya is immersed in it. She could care less if people give Chloe credit for her suggestions. It’s a microcosm of our family. We aren’t interested in individual anything regarding external recognition; we are blessed with gifts no amount of money, power or social admiration can touch.
With her success might have come the aggravation of paparazzi. She sidesteps the problem by offering so much stuff on her page, paparazzi photos have no value. She has no tabloid value as a wild child, she doesn’t club, have volatile relationships, is never in legal trouble. There are dozens of Chloe shots around New York, practicing kendo, dressed as a maiko, walks through Central Park, not the Village, don’t need the location narrowed down that much.
After thinking it over, she decides not to come out, not in any formal way, she just answers question from fans who ask about boys generically ‘I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m just a girl with an extraordinarily busy life and dating isn’t on the radar.’
She doesn’t feel compelled to be a poster child for young lesbians. We talked it over, and she concluded that the issue of sexual preference is far too magnified and needs to be talked about less, not more.
Chloe, “I just can’t get caught up in tabloid trash about who is homo and who is hetero. My opinion is no opinion, it shouldn’t be relevant to anything related to work, school or even family life. To take a stance is to make it more important than it is.”
Janah, “Tend to agree. The argument that gay rights needs to include wearing a rainbow bracelet, or coming out, is irrelevant to the issue of fairness in the social arena. I never cared for the notion of stacking up ‘names’ as trophies to justify something that requires no justification. Like trying too hard to prove it’s okay to be homosexual. I prefer to treat it as a given.”
Amaya, “I should think Chloe would want to wear a sign proclaiming me as a sexual partner. Her status would be infinite.”
Chloe grins, “No doubt, but I’m not seeking status. If someone finds out somehow, fine with me, but I’m not going to announce it.”
“Suit yourself, freckles.”
Janah, “I’m hungry.”
Zi, “Nishiko, the car is downstairs.”
Nikko closes her laptop, “We leave for the Caribbean in ten days, I have a ton of things at the property, got to get going. We’ll grab something at Fong’s.”
Nikko originally wasn’t going on the trip, but she figured Zi wanted to go, so changed her mind.
They leave, the four of us decide the diner is the place to be.
Mini, “Welcome back girls, how was Japan?”
“Japanese, Chloe and Amaya were delighted, tons of great food, lots of Japanese conversation, adorable girls, ten days at a Buddhist complex, Kyoto is a splendid place.”
Chloe, “I’d love to go back, I’m going to work on Daphne to take us again.”
“If you take the business offer, you have to go back. Janah wants to go to Tokyo I think.”
Mini, “What business offer?”
“A Japanese advertising company wants to feature her. The backdrops need to be in Japan. They want her to come in late March, cherry blossom time.”
Chloe, “It will be so beautiful, I’m leaning towards going.”
Mini, “You gotta do it, how many people get a deal like that? So, what’s for lunch?”
We order, and in diner time warp speed, there’s plates of chicken salad for Amaya and Chloe, grilled veggie sandwich for Janah, and for reasons unknown, I want eggs over medium, bacon and hash browns. Janah helps with the hash browns and when we finish we decide a long walk is in order, wind up at the Shaolin temple.
Janah and Master Kahn review admin matters, I pass through the kitchen, Chloe and Amaya go to the garden. I find them sitting on benches talking to David Li and Manolo.
“How are things?”
David Li, “It’s fall, winter approaches, we’ve harvested a lot of herbs, drying on the racks. We’ll be busy chopping, boiling, making medicines, liniments and a few specialty formulas. It will take much of the winter. Our liniment sells so well, it’s become hard to keep up, so we doubled the harvest this year. I’m running out of space.”
“We don’t have any more ground space, but we could go up, create a platform of some sort, haul the dirt up there, run irrigation lines.”
Manolo, “Gee, that would be terrific Master Sylk.”
“If we get busy, it can be ready in time for spring planting.”
David Li, “We have much to do to get the current herbs into the various mixtures.”
“You aren’t going to do the work, we have many monks who would see it as something different from their routines. I’ll speak to the Abbess, actually, I’ve spoken to the Abbess, she says to go for it. It’s for everyone’s benefit to have your liniments and medicines. I don’t know from plants, if we put in a platform, does it create too much shade for what’s underneath?”
David Li, “I can figure out where it should go to allow for morning or afternoon sunlight to hit the plants underneath, and some herbs do quite well in shade, grow lights for the others, it isn’t a problem.”
“Then it’s settled. Building requires permits, Nikko knows several architects, we’ll get the permits pushed through. Someone will show up to start the plans soon.”
David Li, “Thank you, this is most helpful. I also have something for you. Have you had a chance to try out the anesthetic I gave you?”
“Not yet, nothing’s come up.”
David Li, “Manolo, please get the new ones.”
He steps into the shed, returns with two quart jars of clear liquid.
David Li, “I would like you to try the first, then this, make a note as to efficacy. They are quite potent, I think you need a tranquilizer dart gun instead of shuriken. If you poke yourself with the shuriken, you’ll be the one asleep.”
“Dart gun, don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.”
Chloe, Amaya and I make our way to Tan’s hut, wind through the bamboo, sit and drop into meditation.
The days prior to leaving for the Caribbean are whack busy. Nikko, Zi and I get in solid, not manic, practice, we’d had a month in Japan with almost nothing, a little kendo, a few rounds of forms. It’s good though, we needed a lengthy rest period.
Janah, “And I want the annihilation practices reduced, sharply reduced, once a quarter or less. Your bodies are like tempered steel. Three or four times a year is all that’s necessary and when we return from this next trip, I’m going to take on more Society work. You’ll get plenty of chances to employ your arts.”
Nikko, “I need to tune in more, didn’t know you were thinking that way, glad to hear it.”
Janah, “Like you, I’m disgusted by the endless abuse and head in the sand attitude of the social and justice systems. They chase around illegals, spend billions on border patrols, more billions on a useless drug war, near nothing to help women and children escape from abusers or the child sex trade. Politicians are no different from gangs selling protection. They enact stupid drug and immigration policies, then use our tax money to ‘protect’ us from the consequences of those absurd policies. I can’t fix that, society is mentally ill, so called leaders and politicians have used fear to reduce the masses to sheepish acquiescence since there have been societies.”
Nikko, “Don’t have to convince me. I’m ready to cut through the bullshit and deal with punks all day every day.”
Janah, “You have our business to attend to, and Society policy of breaks between jobs is sensible. I do have a small job for you and Zi. A government contractor, you know, the slime that sucks down our tax money flying off to various countries to do stuff we don’t want our military to touch, has been importing children for adoption. He gets a pass at immigration, brings in a couple of kids every time he returns to the country. He sells them to whoever has the most cash.”
“Kids, how old?”
“Four to six, a few older.”
“The buyers are…”
“Men or women acting as brokers, they markup the product and sell to another buyer.”
“And the end user?”
“All the usual, old men, depraved couples, it’s not so much for prostitution, although that happens, it appears to be pedophiles, but we are concerned that more than a few sadists are involved.”
“If you send me, I’m not going to leave him alive, Janah.”
“That’s why I’m sending you, in this case, I don’t care.”
“Right down the road, Washington. He’s in the country, we know where he lives, drive down, fix him, drive home.”
“Associates, anyone to wade through to get to him?”
“He lives alone, his associates are not in the DC area. This one is a message to his defense department contacts, butt boy politicians and any other bureaucrats that thinks it’s okay to overlook the child sex trade for our alleged national interests. Soon as he’s dead, evidence will be released of his activities, and who hires him in our government, and who clearly knew of his extracurricular business interest. We plan on making it messy.”
Amaya, “I want to drive, I need wheels under me, all I do in Manhattan is stop and go.”
Janah, “ Zi is backup, Nikko does our guy, depending on time of day, you can check into a hotel or make a round trip.”
Nikko, “Where is he?”
“Virginia suburb. He stays home when he isn’t working, if he parties or sees women, it’s when he’s overseas, which is often. When he’s home, he’s doing prep for the next mission. No housekeeper, no dogs, no gal pals. Should be nice and clean, well, clean may be the wrong word.”
“What about the people he sells the kids to, do we know who they are?”
“Some, Surveillance picked up a couple, they are being monitored and will be dealt with by other Social Work teams after you’ve taken down the target. He’s not going to keep records on who bought kids, that would be insane. Maybe he has a digital trail of who the brokers are, they would deal with him more than once. It’s also possible they use encrypted phones or Tor, tracking them may be impossible.”
They leave the next morning, Chloe and I go off to a photo shoot for a name glossy fashion magazine. I spend the day as wallpaper while Chloe is dressed, made up, unmade and redressed a few thousand times. It allows me to follow Nikko in my head.
Amaya has them there for six, it’s about two hundred fifty miles down the NJ Turnpike, some traffic snags through DC, they go straight to the house in Virginia.
It’s standard cottage on a cul de sac in a quiet neighborhood.
Zi scans the place, “One person only,” confirming what Surveillance last reported.
The target’s name is Madison, Jeff Madison.
Nikko knocks, he answers, she smashes him in the mouth, as he staggers back, Zi shuts the door then sends two shuriken into his chest. She’s using the lower dosage anesthetic David Li created. Madison is a pretty big guy, thick, not so tall, maybe five ten. She sent them through his shirt on purpose, to see how the anesthetic handles material before flesh.
Madison blinks, clutches his chest, stares at Nikko. He’s tough, staggers towards her, makes an attempt at a fist, swings drunkenly. He looks confused, clearly the anesthetic is kicking in, collapses to the floor. They drag him to his living room. She confiscates his laptop and phone, rummages through his desk, finds a couple of thumb drives. When she returns to the living room, Madison is dead, Nikko wiping her blade on his shirt.
We don’t care if anyone noticed the car, it’s got stolen California plates. Whenever Social Workers are in a town, they lift a couple of plates and mail them to the Society. They get used in situations like ours, CCTV or observant citizens can’t help in any subsequent investigation. Nikko and Zi are in watch caps and baggy clothes, they could be men. The windows of the SUV are dark, no way to tell if there’s a third person inside. As a precaution, Nikko drove into the subdivision and she gets in the driver’s side when they leave. Nobody sees Amaya.
It had taken under ten minutes. Nikko pulls off the interstate, they change cars, Amaya drives them back to New York. It’s a nine hour slog total, but it gets them back to the apartment for nine thirty. Janah, Chloe and I are waiting, Chloe hands Amaya her preferred vodka rocks, bitters, Nikko a glass of wine. We don’t recap, no point, we all know what went down. By eleven thirty, we’re asleep.
Mrs. Epstein is on the phone with Janah, “Madison was found dead this morning at seven. The Washington Post has an exclusive on child sex slavery, naming Madison, his Pentagon contacts and his CIA buddies. There’s a clear trail of his activities, there will be a lot of breast beating and a full scale Senate investigation. Lots of embarrassment, lots of demotions, lots of finger pointing.”
“Best we can hope for. We leave in five days, when we get back, I’m going full court press.”
“We have more work than even your crew can handle, you’ll be busy.”
Janah, “No problem, we are sick of America’s posturing on child sex slavery around the world and doing nothing about the massive trade right here.”
“When you want to take attention off your poor performance, point to the poor performance of somebody else.”
They click off.
Since we’re leaving on a Sunday, Chloe spends two nights at the Murakami’s to get in an extra day of kendo and training with Ari. She studies kendo with Nikko’s dad, a kendo master, who is Hanshi, the highest level in kendo. Ari is a former geisha, and has brought Chloe up to maiko, a trainee geisha. She’s mastered the art of the tea ceremony, now time for more structured training in conversation, dance, musical instruments and song.
Amaya has been geisha for some time, and, if you’ve followed along in prior stories, she possesses a unique singing voice, can modulate her tone to sound like anyone she wants to, both in song and speech. Similar to an impressionist, but to hear a girl sing like Joe Cocker or AC/DC's Brian Johnson is an out of body experience. Comes in handy when we need to misdirect a target’s attention, trick him into believing he’s talking to a man. If she’s heard a few sentences, she can imitate the voice precisely.
Janah collects people with weird skills and off the charts capability, the first of which was me. Along the way, Nikko joined us, then Amaya, then Zi, a Shaolin priest like me. Zi is a Sensitive, she can read auras, energy fields around all things, living or inanimate. It allows her to interpret intention ahead of an action and determine the state of mind of whoever she’s focused on. Sensitives at her level can also sense how many people are in a room, from outside the room. At least if it’s a half dozen or so, more than that, energy fields overlap and it gets hard to get a body count. Chloe is not Shaolin, but she is a Sensitive as well. They come in handy if we’re going into a situation blind. They can tell us not only how many people, but where they are in the room and if their intent is hostile, neutral or friendly.
The worst of the worst in our world are Shadows, people with mind control skill they developed from qi training. That level of training is dangerous, and pressing too hard too fast can wreck a mind. A Shadow is one of those wrecked minds. Generally solitary, sometimes a few disciples, and always psychopathic.
We’re on St. Martin’s, in the Caribbean east of Puerto Rico. Treat Sis and Taylor to a private flight like we spoil ourselves with when we travel. It’s a small island, the hotel is minutes from the airport. We travel as ourselves for once, the six of us, plus Sis and Taylor. We’re staying at the La Samanna, west side of the island, opt for a villa instead of hotel suites, lots of spread out room, three bedrooms and baths, big patio, full kitchen and a pool.
We arrive at eleven, SUV to the hotel complex, unpack and in the restaurant for one, a short walk from our residence.
Lovely goat cheese salads, mushroom ravioli, mixed seafood, and back to the Villa Sucrier for relaxation in the sun.
Janah, “Guess we don’t need to find a clothing optional beach, we can optional right here.”
I’m slathering her with sunscreen, don’t need a Caribbean sunburn to screw up future intimacies.
“I’m going to bikini up and walk the beach.”
Amaya and Chloe elect to go with me, Nikko, Zi, Susan and Taylor elect to opt out of clothing and lounge around our deck with Janah.
The three of us change into the barest scraps of swimwear ever constructed, not thongs, Brazilian cut, half a tush exposed. A square of fabric in front about the size of a silver dollar, a wrap around the waist to provide an illusion of modesty. Neither Amaya nor I have more than large apple breasts, Chloe half that, we won’t be jiggling around the beach. Floppy hats and sunglasses and we’re out.
The beach isn’t crowded, plenty of room to stroll up and down, it feels good to move even after a relatively short plane ride. About a half mile walk to the point at one end, back to a small cliff on top of which are the villas.
Chloe, “Gosh, the water is crystal blue, what a lovely setting. I wonder where we’ll be shooting?”
“I suppose all over, it’s set in St. Martin’s, I presume they select various spots around the island, it isn’t that big. I read it’s about six miles wide, ten north and south, Manhattan size. Unlike Manhattan, can’t take any time to get from one end to the other.”
Amaya, “Lots of nice beach bodies, and some that ought to be inside, not outside.”
“Baloney, tell me I am wrong.”
Chloe, “Taylor is going to look so good, I’m glad we’re working together.”
Amaya, “How many models?”
“Six, I think. Two teenagers, Taylor said she’s the oldest.”
“She’s not thirty, it’s a young crowd then.”
We make the half mile up and back twice, opt for the beach bar. We find a table on the deck, an umbrella overhead, lovely view of the ocean. Chloe takes off her hat and lays it in the empty chair, her sunglasses on the table. Two California type girls walk past to a table, tanned and tight, appear to be fourteen or fifteen. One turns and stares at Chloe, they sit a couple of tables over from us, the girl leans to her friend and says something. The other turns to look at Chloe, turns back to her friend, shrugs a ‘not sure’ gesture.
Chloe and Amaya are studying drink menus and are oblivious. The waiter comes, I get a Diet Coke, Amaya champagne, Chloe has iced tea. The drinks arrive, we’re doing zero, taking in the ocean, enjoying ourselves together and soaking up the ambiance. It’s a relaxed place, people are having a good time, kids filling up on crap, parents having libations, dads ogling girls behind sunglasses.
California One can’t take it anymore, she approaches, “Excuse me, I, um, my friend and I think you look like a model, Chloe Sylk.”
Chloe smiles, relieving the girl, “Good call, you got me.”
The girl stifles a screech, then the famous girl squeal, “Ohmygod, it’s really you,” she looks back at her friend and nods a ‘yes.’
“You’re, like, awesome, we love your fan page, I must have posted a dozen comments, Ohmygod, what are you doing here?”
“Goofing today, working tomorrow.”
“Get out! You’re doing a photo shoot here?”
“I don’t know if it’s here exactly. They pick me up tomorrow and I go wherever. It’s a beach and resort wear layout. There are five other girls.”
“I hope they do some here, I would so love to see it.”
CG Two shows up, “Mindy, she’s, like, with her friends, you know?”
Chloe, “It’s cool, here,” she takes her hat off the chair,” one of you sit here, and let’s get another chair.”
CG One isn’t going to miss her chance, she plops down next to Chloe, I grab a chair from an adjoining table and slide it on Chloe’s other side, CG Two sits.
Chloe, “So, you’re Mindy, and you are…”
“It’s nice to meet you. You are here on vacation, from where?”
Mindy, “We live in Dallas, my parents are here, Drew came with us. She’s my total best, I couldn’t do vacation without her.”
Chloe, “And these are my besties, Daphne and Amaya, I don’t go anywhere without them either.”
Drew, “Are you guys modeling here too?”
Amaya, “Nope, that’s freckles’ line. We came along to improve the scenery.”
Drew, “You’re doing a good job, geez, it’s impossible to tell who’s hottest.”
Amaya, “I’ll help, I am.”
Mindy, “She sounds just like you, Drewpy.”
Drew, “Mindy’s jealous.”
Amaya, “A cross we shall bear with dignity, Drew.”
Drew laughs, “Finally, someone who understands the trials of beautiful girls.”
Mindy, “And who made cheer squad?”
“Back flips are no substitute for breasts, when you get some, get back to me your flatness.”
“You two could pass for Amaya and Chloe, they spend half their time taking potshots at each other.”
Mindy, “That’s how I know she adores me. If she ever quit, I’d be, like, shattered.”
“I’m refreshed, taking another stroll up the beach, anyone else?”
Chloe, “Yes, come along White Queen, you need to make sure your thighs don’t get fat.”
Amaya, “Hah, I will race your skinny butt to the end of the beach, then we shall speak of fat thighs.”
We stand, the girls stand with us, Chloe says, “Take a walk, I’m sure Drew wants to avoid the chubbies, like Amaya.”
Mindy, “Great! Let me grab my bag.”
We’re walking down the strip again, Chloe answers Mindy’s thousand questions, Drew and Amaya chat about, what else, fashion, make up, accessories.
Mindy, “You have the most amazing eyes, I love the photos on your site that focus on them, everyone wonders if it’s, like, contacts. I can set them straight for sure.”
Any race down the beach is forgotten in girls talking girl stuff, Chloe asks Mindy what she senses Mindy wants to ask her, “Do you have a phone? Take some shots of us together.”
The favorite girl question, as if reverification is needed for any statement.
Drew, “Can I take one with Amaya, to prove that there are two impossibly gorgeous girls in the same place at the same time?”
Amaya, “Suppose it’s ok?”
“Sure, it’s been years, you don’t resemble the kid on the website.”
Amaya, “Good idea.”
I volunteer to take the photos, thus avoiding me showing up in any. A dozen snaps later, two and two, all four, Mindy and Chloe with heads together, hugging, Chloe hugs Drew from behind with her head on Drew’s shoulder, Mindy insists on the same shot for her, Drew and Amaya arm in arm, hugging. Mindy and Drew together, they do their ‘model’ pose, I make sure the full body shots are flattering, bent knees, cocked to one side, no straight up and down standing there. I take some animation shots, of them talking, not looking at the camera. No tongues stick out, what’s up with that anyway?
Mindy is flipping though them, “These are great! I can put them on your fan page?”
Chloe, “Send them to me, I’ll get them on, we only allow comments, but tell me what you want to say and I’ll put that up with the pictures. Actually, I’ll send them to Mayumi and she’ll do it.”
Drew, “Who’s Mayumi?”
Chloe explains how the site came to be. Two Japanese girls we’d met in Kyoto wasted to start a fan page on Facebook, one thing led to another and now it was a fairly big deal.
Mindy, “I remember those pictures, cuuute girls, I love Japanese girls.”
“Nikko will be relieved.”
Drew, “Slow down, who’s Nikko?”
Chloe explains Nikko, well, that’s an exaggeration, there’s no explaining Nikko.
“So you, Daphne, Amaya and Nikko all live together?”
Chloe then explains there’s a Janah and Zi.
“Holy macaroni, six women in one apartment, must be bizarre.”
Chloe explains it’s a rather large apartment, four full bedrooms and baths.
Drew can’t resist, she’s a teen, “So you share bedrooms, like a dorm?”
Chloe, “Sure, the beds are all king plus. I’m so thin it’s like I’m not there.”
Mindy, “Don’t be a doofus, Drewpy, we sleep together all the time.”
Drew flushes, “Blabbermouth.”
Chloe, “I think it’s sweet.”
Amaya takes Drew’s arm, “Think how wonderful they feel, allowed to share the sheets with us, who needs heaven when they have us?”
Drew grins, “This is true. Chloe called you White Queen, what’s it mean?”
“In our house, I rule. I am the sovereign. Daphne is the Red Queen. She used to be sovereign until I came along. Obviously, I usurped her, but I allow her a secondary throne. Chloe is the Fairy Princess, because Daphne has her believing she’s magical. I have to keep both of them in their place, below me.”
Drew high fives her, “Same thing I have to do for Her Flatness. All the boys think she’s such hot stuff, cheerleader as a freshman, straight flipping A’s, struts around school, never in a skirt longer than mid-thigh. Showoff.”
Mindy, “You always say I have awesome legs.”
Drew flushes again, just a little, she has a half smile.
We’re back at the main building, Chloe asks, “How long are you guys here?”
They answer together, “Two more days,” Mindy giggles, “We’re always doing that, saying the same thing at the same time, finishing sentences. You would think we grew up together, but we only met two years ago.”
Chloe, “What’s up for tonight?”
Mindy, “Parents are going to some party at another hotel. Which means we have to stay in the room, eat pizza and watch TV. They’ve read about girls disappearing and stuff.”
“Sounds like they’re sensible parents.”
Drew huffs, “I was thinking prison guards.”
“If you can talk them into it, we’re having dinner in the main restaurant tonight, maybe they’ll let you go that far anyway.”
Mindy, “Wow, really!”
“If it helps, tell them we’ll meet them first, my mom is with us, you can swear to call or text them, or they can call the room at ten or something. Show them the photos.”
“Here, let me add my stuff to your contacts, you can let me know, or call our villa,” she gives them the name.
Turns out not to be necessary, as we walk up to the lobby, Mindy’s parents are coming in from a golf course. Introductions are made, we chat for a while.
Mindy’s mom, Peggy, says to Chloe, “What a coincidence, Mindy’s been going on and on about Chloe Sylk, I’ve started to go to the page myself, you have the neatest stuff , I’ve stolen some of your makeup suggestions. I can’t believe we meet you on vacation.”
Mindy, “She working, starting tomorrow, I hope they do some of the shots here.”
Now mom is interested, “Gee, I hope so too. Can people watch?”
Chloe, “It’s a beach, I don’t see how they prevent it. If it’s not here, I’ll text Mindy where we are, if you get a chance to drive over, maybe you can see some of it. Just know, it’s a lot of standing around.”
Now that mom is on board, Chloe promises to call with a time for dinner and two very happy girls follow mom and dad to their room. Based on what I noticed behind dad’s sunglasses, he’d be along for the ride tomorrow.
Our cohorts are in the pool playing, a few beer bottles around, not even a half dozen, doesn’t look like they’re snockered.
Susan, “You guys must have walked the whole island.”
“We ran into Chloe fans, two adorable teen girls, they’re having dinner with us tonight.”
Susan, “Parents too?”
“Nope, parents are going to another hotel for something, we met them on our way back. The girls were going to be parked in the room while mom and dad were out, parent paranoia, but after they met us, they agreed to let them loose as far as the restaurant. I made reservations for seven so they can be back in their room by nine or so. Mom said they could be out until ten. Doesn’t matter, Chloe and Taylor need to get a good night’s sleep, tomorrow’s a work day.”
Zi, “Do we need to go to the shoot?”
“I’m going for security purposes, Amaya’s driving. Depends on if you want to stand around watching not much instead of playing at the beach.”
Janah, “I’m here, too much fun in nothing all day.”
Susan, “I’m going to stay and guard Janah.”
Nikko, “Zi wants to see the island, we’ll tour what passes for town.”
“Good, then it’s settled.”
We meet the girls at Le Reserve, the hotel’s open to the beach restaurant. There’s another more formal place we might try called La Cave, a private dining room adjoining the wine cellar.
Mindy’s parents are there, just leaving for their party, mom looks relieved to see Susan, dad looks, well, fascinated, and appears to be trying to figure out how to skip the party.
Peggy, “Hi, I’m Peggy Murchison, this is my husband, Robert. Thank you for including the girls in your dinner plans. They get insulted being restricted to the room, but we just aren’t comfortable having them roam around alone at night.”
Susan, “Understandable. Taylor and Chloe have an early call tomorrow, and we’ll all be back in rooms no later than nine thirty, before ten for sure.”
Robert, “Is this the collection of models for the project?”
“No, no, that’s Taylor and Chloe’s thing. I’m a computer security consultant, Daphne is my daughter, she and her companions have real estate interests in New York.”
“Real estate, they’re all so young, I mean, well, New York is a tough real estate town.”
Susan smiles, “They have excellent mentors, Nikko has family with a fair number of shops in town, a family friend is a former investment banker with knowledgeable real estate contacts. Our lawyer is a corporate specialist and a long time friend, they’re covered.”
Peggy, “We need to get going dear, much as the company here is likely far more interesting than the party we’re attending. My daughter has the most incredible luck, she’s had her head in the clouds waiting impatiently on dinner time. Drew’s a bit more reserved, but she’s taken a liking to the other girl, um…”
“Yes, beautiful name, I’ve never heard it before.”
“It’s Japanese, it means ‘night rain.’”
“Unusual, she’s not Japanese.”
Susan smiles, “Don’t be deceived by appearance, she speaks fluent Japanese, she’s absorbed in the culture, as is Chloe.”
“I gathered that from her fan page. You have an unusual family.”
“Can’t argue with that.”
Robert, “Now who’s dawdling?”
Peggy, “Oh well, again, thanks for this, the girls are delighted.”
Susan, “And they will be absolutely safe, enjoy your evening.”
The Murchison’s leave, we fill a long table, ten of us. Chloe is surrounded by Mindy and Drew, Amaya next to Drew, the rest of us take up the other chairs. Mindy is wound up about Chloe’s work, Chloe shifts the conversation to Mindy’s life story, Drew and Amaya have heads together, discussing the intricacies of accessorizing, makeup and fashion preferences.
The waiter brings the drink orders, Drew is a bit taken aback as Amaya has a vodka.
“They let you drink?”
“They don’t have much choice, I am twenty one, and the legal age here is eighteen.”
Drew’s mouth hangs open, “Get out of town, you’re such a liar.”
Amaya grins, shows Drew her driver’s license, “I am the driver for this family. Everybody knows how to drive of course, but they don’t like it much. I love it, so I get to take the wheel whenever we need a car. Unfortunately, in Manhattan, it is not much.”
Drew, “But you look my age.”
“Lucky gene pool. Chloe is sixteen, but can look younger or older with a few make up adjustments. She has the perfect facial structure for modeling. You and I are almost too naturally gorgeous, we have one look, amazing. Chloe can do a dozen.”
Drew laughs, “I think I feel about Mindy like you feel about Chloe. I’m glad to be a hottie, but I admire her adaptability. Mindy never meets a stranger, she’s totes popular at school. I’m admired, but she’s really the one that’s all that.”
“Chloe is the same. Like Mindy, she makes people feel so good, they are in love instantly. I give her grief about being the family’s Fairy Princess, but what that really means is she brings joy to us every second. It is something they have, built in. I cannot think of not being with her.”
“Exactly how I think of Mindy, don’t tell her!”
“Dear One, Mindy already knows, do not even pretend to keep secrets from her.”
Drew thinks it over, “Do you keep secrets from Chloe?”
“Chloe knows what I am thinking before I do, there is no point.”
“That’s just like Mindy! I’m sitting around saying nothing and she tells me what’s on my mind! How do they do that?”
“They read our hearts, sweet, they are our hearts. Be glad you found her. So few people get that chance.”
“I never thought of it that way, I see it now, exactly.”
“And do not even think of losing your sassy attitude, Chloe adores that in me.”
“So I can still act like I’m all that?”
“All that plus, the more outrageous, the more she likes it.”
“You guys know how to make life fun.”
“Life brings lots of crap, having fun with your tribe is the way to deal, essential.”
And so it went around the table, personal conversation and cross talk. Too soon there is dessert and goodnights. Chloe and Amaya walk the girls to their room, we return to the villa.