Chapter Twenty One

Just back from Dyanna on 21st St. Normally, I do Amaya’s pedicures and manicures, we wanted time out together in the crisp fall air. I signed up for a facial mostly to kill time while I wait on her. We take our time coming back, stop for tea, follow 5th Avenue to Washington Square park. I wear what has become near uniforms for Nishiko and I, black silk pants, a white blouse, ankle boots and, today, a pashmina shawl, enough for the slight chill.
Amaya’s in an oversized cashmere sweater and leggings with Steve Madden ankle boots she copped from me. Thick inch and a quarter platform, four inch heel. Hair straight, dark blonde now, parted on one side, hangs to her shoulders. Bracelets and rings from the Night Rain Collection featured exclusively at the Jamaican Outdoor Boutique. Pale Good Times lip gloss, light touch of eyeliner and Satellite Dreams eye shadow by MAC. She’s more all that than all that could ever dream of being.
If I were insecure, I’d have to shoot her. Instead, I allow myself to be enamored, which is far more fun. I consider myself the most fortunate of women, I get to play varied roles, keeps me well off the treadmill of habit.
Amaya, “Does Nikko wonder about my disinterest in boys?”
“Nikko isn’t curious in that way angel. Her attitude is that things will play out when they do. That doesn’t mean she’s not going to press you in your work, or in school. You don’t give her much to press about. You’re neat, orderly, diligent and respectful of her. She returns the favor to you. If you want her to interfere I suppose you could always get sloppy and indolent. She’d come down big time.”
Amaya, “So no one is concerned about my sexual neutrality regarding boys?”
“Nope. You are warm, playful, loving and thoughtful with us. It’s hardly surprising that you aren’t hot for sex, given your former life.”
Amaya, “When I was being photographed, and even the few times I was pimped out, the whole business felt like a play. I would adopt a role and act it. I might have preferred that my parents not think of me as a paycheck. I enjoyed showing myself off. I guess young girls do.”
“I can relate. I never shied away from putting it out there. As I’ve gotten older, it seems less important. Of course I still get gobs of attention from the people I care to get it from. I hardly feel ignored.”
“You are far too beautiful to be ignored. I think I feel as you do, I love it when certain people find me irresistible,” she glances at me slyly.
“You’re irresistible to me, you already know that.”
Amaya giggles, “Yes, you make it fun, and sensual. I wonder if we will be lovers?”
“We are lovers, not in an overtly sexual way. Perhaps intimates is a better word.”
“For now I am, what is the phrase, in charge. I play to your submissive streak, yes?”
I smile, “You know how to press that button, one of my favorite buttons, and now I have another gorgeous creature to obey. Probably my lifelong martial arts experience, always a master to please.”
We laugh together, I say, “My brain popped just now, you led me to an insight about myself.”
We hadn’t changed since coming in, we’d gone straight to the couch, I hadn’t even shucked my shawl.
Amaya, “Now that we have sorted out what you are, come to my room and undress me. When you have put my things away, make me something light to eat and bring it to me. I shall be rehearsing my program.”
“As you wish.”
When she’s comfortably propped up in her bed, I go to the kitchen.
As I’m cutting up fresh fruit and cheese, I feel something open in my mind, and then, And a Coke Zero as well.
She hadn’t verbalized, she’d mentaled.
I blink, stand motionless for a few seconds, 'Well…there it is.'

Chapter Twenty Two

I am giddy, a sense of vibration, stop, compose myself. Maybe it’s imagination, I close my eyes, Coke, fruit, cheese.
I hear Amaya screech, then, You are in my brain!
I hear running, turn in time to catch her jumping into my arms, her legs wrap around me, kisses my face a hundred times.
She hugs me, I knew I could do it, I knew it. I can do anything.
She looks me in the eyes, Now you really belong to me, this is sooo amazing!
You feel okay? It’s can be painful at first.
No more than a twinge.

I switch to verbal, “Good. Then enough for now. I know you want to practice, but part of it is moving slowly and getting it right. Just like you practice your performances.”
Amaya, “I tremble,” she clings to me in her excitement.
“Snacks are ready, hop to bed and I’ll bring it along.”
Amaya climbs off, to her room, I follow with a tray, set it on her nightstand and we sit staring at each other. We share bites of fruit and pieces of cheese. When we finish, I take the tray and her glass to the kitchen, I feel her in the bathroom, brush and flush. When I return she’s back in bed, stretched out in nothing, enjoying being enjoyed.
Amaya surveys her body, her long, long legs, rock hard tummy, “I am sooo hot. Is my egomania showing? Of course it is. I do not care. If I did not say it, you would still know it in my mind. No secrets now.”
“Can you handle that?”
Amaya, “We were not keeping any, nothing changes. I suppose I felt things that you did not know about, or we did not discuss.”
“I don’t feel Janah in this. I can see what she’s doing, she could hear me now if she was tuned in, but she’s not picking up your mentaling. Neither is Nikko. It’s a strange feeling in me, I’m on two different channels at the same time.”
Amaya, “I am sure I do not know. I am thrilled to be able to mental you. I do not want to mental Nikko or Janah.”
“Intent is required. Janah intended to find me, we intended to connect with Nikko. We never thought of it otherwise. J will have fun exploring the mystery, even more fun if it eludes her. She needs that brain occupied or it goes into hyper drive.”
Amaya, “My head hurts.”
She sits up and pulls off my t-shirt, “Lay down with me, hold me, I want to feel your body next to me.”
She rolls to her side, facing away from me, my cue to curl in behind her and envelop her my arms. I kiss her neck, shoulders, stroked her brow gently, feel her relax, fall asleep. At first, mentaling is exhausting, our short conversation has taken its toll. I enjoy the wonder of her warmth, her soft breath.
Janah and Nikko are returning, walking from Chinatown, the weather is perfect, they take side streets, away from the zoo of Broadway through Soho. Instead they take 6th, far less pedestrian traffic.
I start to get up, Amaya takes my hand, Stay with me, she pulls my arm back around her, slides in closer to me.
Janah and Nikko come in the front door, Janah peers into the bedroom, smiles at me curled up, Guess I have to make my own tea.
We’ll join you in a bit.
Fifteen minutes later, Amaya and I come out of the bedroom, Janah and Nikko on the couch, having tea.
Amaya takes a cup of coffee from me, I sip mine, Amaya, Janah wears nothing beautifully. I’m…attracted.
Of course you are, so am I. J brings sensual to indescribable levels. She’s practiced since we met, she has the hang of it, your eyes on her will make her squirmy, 
we laugh.
Janah glances at me, curious. Time to spill the beans.
“We have an interesting, fascinating anomaly.”
Nikko looks up, Janah is all attention. If I said interesting, anomaly and fascinating in the same sentence, she knows it will be good.
“Amaya and I can mental.”
Janah cocks her head, the sure sign of total amazement, “Run that by us again.”
I smile.
Nikko, “Have you been working at it? I had no sense of it if you were.”
“No, not on my end.”
Amaya, “Janah and Daphne talk about intention, the driver. I set myself to make it happen, then it did. I kept sending Daphne thoughts, and today they connected.”
Janah, “Intent is the crux of almost everything. Strong intent, strong likelihood of success. Weak intent, no chance beyond random.”
She’s not ready to mental all of us. Perhaps she never will. For now, seeing us, she has both a strong desire to be a part of it, and a resistance to destructuring her structures.
Nikko, Ah, of course. I’m more her mom, Janah her teacher, you are different for her. Amaya sees you as her friend.
Amaya, “I sense you are talking it over. I do not receive Janah or Nikko’s thoughts. If Daphne was included, then I cannot hear her when she mentals you, only when she mentals me.”
Janah, “No shortage of things to contemplate. There’s much more we don’t know about this than we do, even having done it for years. Daph, you’ve been over the part about going slowly?’
“Yes. She had a mild headache, that’s why we were resting when you came in.”
Nikko, “Come to me daughter.”
Amaya slides next to Nikko, “You are entering a different land. There is no rush, nothing to get to, everything in its time. I can say this because I was brought new to that land. Trust Janah and Daphne, you will discover things no one has ever dreamed, and you will do things no one believes can be done. This is the way of them.”
Amaya, “I will, and I trust you. If you say it, it is so.”
Time to do Amaya’s schedule, I join her and pull up an Excel sheet, “Before we get started, I want to tell you something. You must understand, we don’t know if it will happen with you, but it happened with Janah and I, then Nikko.”
I have her attention, she doesn’t say anything, just nods.
“Something to do with the merging in combination with qi training and our DNA has slowed us down metabolically. I don’t mean we digest slow. I’m talking about aging. To cut to the chase, we appear to have stopped, or it’s so slow as to be unnoticeable.”
Amaya, “I never asked about birthdays, we do not celebrate them in this family. I wondered how you had done so many things, including the years in the temple, but you look like twenty somethings, not even the north side of twenty something. And nobody is ever sick. Are you saying this will happen with me?”
“Nikko slowed, she was with us for a while before she could mental, and she didn’t start qi training until she was twenty three or so. Being Asian, she ages more gracefully than Caucasians anyway. It may happen with you now that you are mentaling with me, and you are starting qi training soon. I can’t say yes or no. We felt you ought to have an idea before you hit twenty and look fifteen. Maybe it won’t happen, or won’t happen as quickly. There’s just no way to tell. We also don’t know what has the most influence, qi or merging. We can now, however, make it happen.”
“What do you mean?”
“We can have our protein markers taken from us and injected into others, we started with Nikko. To cut to the chase, our entire family no longer ages.”
Amaya grins, stands and goes to the full length mirror, “You mean I might look pretty much like this for a long time, a very long time?”
“Could happen.”
She hugs herself, “Wow. I do not mind looking like this until I drop dead in three or four hundred years. I am beautiful, gorgeous, fascinated with me,” she kisses the mirror, her lips linger, looking at herself, “besides my enormous ego, I feel your eyes on me. I like that. I get a beautiful servant, you get a hot young mistress.”
“Understand, there’s no guarantee it’s immortality, and once it’s done, it’s done it can’t be undone. Further, it doesn’t stop bullets, or severe illness, get terminal cancer, protein markers don’t help. And you know the rule that guides everything, yes?”
Amaya, “We do not want, we do not, not want. We try things for the purpose of trying, take what happens and deal.”
“And keep the intent close to your heart. That is enough. Think over if you want it now, or in a year or two. Nikko’s parents declined, they have old school ideas about ancestors and the flow of life. They see it as unnatural, which of course it is.”
“I shall decide soon, must say I am inclined to start, but a few days to let it settle will not hurt.”
“Good. Now, a schedule to make Nishiko happy. Chapmans is four to six hours a day, but you can use some of that time for French, Nikko will make sure your Japanese stays sharp. Let’s fill in the other hours, with appropriate rest time, and time for pampering you, my favorite time.”
Amaya throws herself into the task, shows her usual good sense. I only have chop a couple of things off the list. I sense Janah working with Nikko, it will be another hour at least.
“It’s pressing the cocktail hour, let’s see, t-shirts,” we slip them on, go to the living room, Janah and Nikko are coming down from the loft.
Janah, “Good session, I’m getting hungry and in need of wine.”
Amaya, “I will get it, what is dinner Daphne?”
“Pasta starter, then grilled fish with lemon butter, mixed vegetables.”
Dinner, a forgettable movie, day draws to a close and we shuffle off to respective beds.

Chapter Twenty Three

School day, time to get Queenie dressed. She’s out of the shower, I dry while she admires herself in the mirror.
Amaya, “Makeup.”
I straddle her knees, warm hands drift along my thighs. I apply light blush, eyeliner and iridescent pearl eye shadow. I bring her earring tray, she selects the inch long diamond chains that sparkle when she moves her head. She wants her ivory choker, and chooses three rings, one platinum filigree, the others enameled metal, one ivory, the second silver and black. She takes four acrylic bracelets of varied colors and slips them over her wrist.
Amaya, “I’m yummy. It occurs to me that if the aging thing is right, then it is far simpler to makeup older than it would be to be older and makeup young. So if I stop at fifteen or sixteen, I will have it so made. I am my own Narcissus, a Narcissette.”
“He self gazed to an early death.”
Amaya, “I shall not make that mistake, I have you to gaze on me, I don’t have to spend full time on it myself.”
“You take egotistical to infinity.”
Amaya, “Part of my incredible charm, n’est-ce pas?”
I bring black flared jeans, a silk blouse and black Steve Madden Rodnee platforms. I kneel, hold out the black Barely There bikini panties, she steps in, I pull them up, kiss her tummy.
Next, jeans, then a white silk Carmeuse shirt. I make minor adjustments, kneel to slip on Rodnee platforms.
She turns to the mirror, “Thank you Daphne, you are splendid. I shall keep you.”
She’s headed for school, all of an elevator ride away, I follow her into the main room, Janah’s giving Nikko a morning massage, nude Nikko on the table, nude Janah working elegant muscle.
 Nikko props up on her elbow, “Wow! Look at Her Majesty.”
Amaya turns slowly, Janah, “You got it going on and on, girl. Very nice.”
Amaya, “Thank you.”
“Go learn something. Daphne used to be the diva, now she’s creating a new diva.”
“Daphne is still a diva, of martial arts and of cooking, and a diva of making me her diva. I am the diva’s diva. A role unique in the world, as I am unique in the world.”
Nikko, “Sheesh. Go,” she rolls of the table and heads to a shower.
Amaya stares, Janah’s next to the table, one knee bent, hands on creamy thighs. Amaya’s gaze has the intended effect, Janah’s lips part, teeth bite lower lip gently, her breath shallow. I think she might orgasm standing there.
Amaya looks over her shoulder at me, God she sizzles.
Know the feeling.

A step closer, she leans in and gives Janah lingering intimate kiss, a finger strokes the softness between  her legs. Janah’s eyes close, a quick intake of breath. Amaya turns to kiss me, leaves for class.
“Well, well.”
Janah, “She’s been teasing me with her eyes lately, then this. I’m so hot I might ignite.”
“Let me deal,” I kneel on front of her.
She was right, it took about a half dozen licks and a clit tingle, she’s quivering against the massage table.
“Good Lord! I haven’t popped that quick in ages.”
“I’m thinking she might like girls.”
We laugh.
“Get on the table, let me make you dissolve.”
I massage my girl for a half hour, finish her off with a finger on the sensitive spot, she goes off again. Dear J, always reliably orgasmic.
We spend the bulk of today in neutral, light lunch, we’ll have tea when Amaya turns up after school. Until then, I spend a couple of hours on the roof, part of it nude sunbathing, the rest reading at a covered patio table. It’s nearing time for Amaya to come home, I go downstairs to shower, Janah is having her way with Nikko as I walk past to the bath. They’re finished when I am, we regroup at the kitchen table.
 “Amaya has decided to work with us?”
Nikko, “What do you make of this shift?”
“Only what she tells me. Selling rags, or makeup, singing to suit a producer’s tastes or acting a part somebody else wrote she says is too easy. With us, she gets to do original work. She creates a character, a wardrobe, uses her ideas in makeup and disguise.”
Janah, “She’s not fond of secondhand roles.”
“What about Chapmans?”
Janah, “I don’t think there’s much there for her. She may want to do the odd performance, or help with a part in a play. Does she want to continue in school full time?”
“No. She will if Nikko insists.”
Nikko, “I have no objection as long as Janah continues private tutoring. She is studying Geisha, plays the shamisen and flute, speaks French and Japanese, studies math, investments and real estate. She is a formidable yoga student. I don’t know what I could object to, except perhaps she’s too busy. Create the schedule, just so she knows I’m paying attention. She has to have time to herself, to play Imperial Geisha with Daphne. It’s her relaxation.”
Janah, “Daphne  pulls a lot of things off her, cleans her room, bathroom, keeps her closets orderly, feeds and waters her. I used to have a full time slave, now I have to share.”
“And your things haven’t been handled, when?”
Janah’s finger taps her lip, “I’m sure there’s something, it won’t come to me just now though.”
“Be sure to let me know, I’ll get right on it.”

Chapter Twenty Four      

Amaya’s home, we take tea on the mat, sit in a circle, Amaya says, “Nikko told me there was nothing so beautiful as merging. She said one day I would see, and that when it was over, it was done and never hold on to it. What did she say? ‘The moon is in the sky every night, why hang on to it?’ Your explanation to her.”
“You may one day pass into that realm, by your intention, not effort, not desire.”
Amaya, “How is intention different from desire?”
Janah, “Words are imperfect, useful enough if we agree as to meaning. For us, desire is a wish for something. It may be fulfilled or not, it may come with effort, or given to us. Intent is demonstrated by what we do, firmly fixed, concentrated on the objective.”
Amaya, “It sounds like intent is desire in action.”
“You may say so. Many desires pass, our eye is caught by a more attractive distraction. Intent overcomes distraction. Others may use desire and intent differently. The definitions we apply are to explicate this discussion.”
“Then, is there truth?”
“Not in words, which are partial, limited. Truth is complete, whole, unlimited. Sometimes we say the Absolute. Sometimes our definition of truth is reality, which is what we see, hear, sense, different from the Absolute. There is truth in the sense of not lying, or is physically accurate. A rock is harder than water appears as truth. I’d rather have ten pounds of water poured over me, than a ten pound rock dropped on my head. So the rock appears harder, until the water wears it away to gravel, then silt, then nothing.”
“So truth is a variable?”
“In common usage, it has to be. In one way we use it, it is absolute and unchanging, within it, there is the changing, which is movement. Water changes to ice, to mist, to liquid again. It’s all water. As soon as I say it, I question myself.”
Amaya, “What do you mean?”
“I wonder if there is no Absolute. What if everything changes, everywhere, always? What if time isn’t a made up convenience, but a fourth or fifth dimension? I don’t mean clock time, which is only based on the rotation of the Earth and it’s rotation around the sun. The rest of the universe knows nothing of our solar system, doesn’t operate on our time. Even our solar system doesn’t operate on the same time.”
Nikko, “Wait. What does THAT mean?”
“A day on Jupiter is under ten hours, it rotates faster than the Earth. We say the time it takes for Earth to orbit the sun is one year. It takes twelve years for Jupiter to orbit the sun.”
“I see, so what does that mean?”
“Good question, if time is relative to speed and location, then is there any time at all? But I’ve unintentionally wandered away from intention. Amaya, how does truth relate to intention?”
Amaya’s wheels spin for a bit, she scrunches her lip, “I can fool people when I distract or lie. Not being truthful in either the common sense or the Janah sense.”
“And what is your intent at those times?”
Amaya, “In performance, to entertain, offer a different perspective, make people puzzle over it. In my performance at the Anderson school, to resolve a danger.”
“The intent at Anderson was to uncover deceit, to unmask the intent of the deceivers. You were part of that larger intent.”
“So my intent, our intent, was good?”
Janah, “It was a right intention. There was evidence of mind control to feed the desires of others. To know and ignore isn’t acceptable to us.”
“How can one recognize truth, the absolute, from everyday truth?”
“Only negatively. People don’t like, even deny truth, because it doesn’t come with help, excuses, explanations or any reward. It just is.”
Amaya, “There is no shortage of truth denial, politics, evolution, guns, drugs, immigrants, test scores, who started the fight….is there anything not on the list?”
“Some people say love. We find that too precious. Too vague and squishy. One of those concepts that sounds like an answer, but when you cut away the chocolate coating, it’s just sugar inside.”
“Is there no love?”
Janah, “I don’t know what love means. I have enormous affection and gratitude for Daphne and Nikko, you, our immediate family and our larger family. I suppose I can label it love, but what does that tell me I don’t already know?”
“I see what you mean. And the vagaries of the word account for a fair amount of mischief.”
“You have caught it! The cunning use it for sentimental control, or to create guilt. Even the spiritual throw it out as if the meaning is obvious. I have great respect for Krishnamurti’s work, but he uses love as if everyone is clear on what it is. I’ve never found that to be the case.”
“Yes, I have talked that over with Daphne. I think it is one of those words we can stick on the shelf.”
“I used to say love is a noun, not a verb. Now, I skip the characterization altogether. I don’t know what love is, I don’t find I’m worse off.”
“If anything, it seems we might be clearer. No emotional hand grenade thrown into the mix.”
“You sound like Nikko.”
“A high compliment. I would like nothing more than to emulate mother’s direct sensibility.”
Nikko, “And now, I think perhaps a walk to the diner. I haven’t listened to Mini in a while, you can visit the Jamaicans if they’re out today.”
A short walk, then, Juju, “Ah, Night Rain, I felt beauty in the air, and here you are. I have new merchandise to show you,” he pulls a case from under his table,  opens it, “what strikes your fancy?”
Amaya sorts through the items. Two bracelets, a scarf and three rings catch her eye. She tries them on, replaces one ring, sets the others aside. She looks over the offerings on the table, finds a purse and a silver necklace with onyx stones.
“I’ll take these.”
Juju, “Good. Juju is learning your tastes, I bought extra rings. Tonight, we pick up more of the others. Purses are knock offs, of course, but well made, prob-ly surplus from de manufacturer dat makes de’ real ting’. Do it all de’ time, make more than de’ order, dump extra on de’ black market. No difference except de’ label gone.”
Amaya, “As long as you are not claiming to be selling the brand since you do not really know it is authentic.”
Juju, “Customer tinks what dey want. I say it looks jus’ like de’ brand and your friend cannot tell it from anudda wit’ de label. Dat’s all.”
Amaya, “Just finished a discussion about truth. I cannot decide who is the bigger liar, the guy who provides the knock-off, or the brand that has enormous markups on the original. The brand is getting merchandise from manufacturers that employ children at tiny wages and crummy working conditions. They know that. Cheating all the way round. I decided in the end it is unsolvable. Not buying either does not help anyone.”
Juju laughs, “Particularly not Juju.”
“Yes, I can rationalize that. I am helping the small businessman at least. The children have already been taken advantage of, I cannot fix it. I have to assume that making some money is, for them, better than making no money. Life does not come in black and white.”
“Good to see a young person thinking over dese tings. I, too, wish for a better world. I have to feed my family in de’ world we got. So, we hustle de’ goods at our disposal.”
The crowd picks up, Amaya tries on the items again, lets customers see what she’d selected. It’s, she decides, a kind of modeling job, but not one where she wore whatever someone else wanted to sell. The customer count grows, a woman asks Amaya to try things on, instead, Amaya starts putting things on a couple of the women. A half hour later, there is an informal class in accessorizing and business is brisk.
A lady asks, “Do you work here?”
Amaya, “No, I like some of the things they offer.”
Another says, “They must at least give you a discount.”
Amaya, “It is already a bargain, these prices are amazing. I work with several women, help them pick out clothes, makeup and accessories. Items here are a fraction of the prices they pay when we are in stores, they refuse to buy off the street, so they pay ten times as much. A waste, but it is their money.”
The first woman asks, “A personal shopper, what do you charge?”
Amaya, “A flat rate per trip, one thousand for four hours. If they buy something and bring it back, that is not my problem.”
“Do you get a lot of work?”
“I turn down most of it, I have other interests and no time to spend shopping all week. I tell clients to go and pick out things, then I meet them and we decide, rather than waste time going from place to place, then selecting, trying on. It is not the best use of their money to sit in traffic.”
Lady Two, “Honesty and integrity still around. How do I get in touch?”
Amaya, “Leave me a card, I cannot promise anything. If you wish, I will call if there is an open slot.”
The woman forks over a card, two more hand Amaya theirs, she thanks them, dazzles a smile at everyone, pays for her choices and crosses the street to the diner. Juju sold out of similar items before he could get them to the Night Rain display. He told disappointed customers they could have a discount on other items, and that he would be restocked tomorrow on Night Rain’s choices.
“You moving the merchandise for Juju?”
Amaya, “Yes. Business is brisk, look what I bought.”
She lays her purchases on the table, “Nice, that’s a thousand dollar purse girl.”
Amaya, “Not from Juju, it is a hundred dollar purse.”
“Probably a lot closer to its value.”

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