Thirty Seven

Tuesday is more nothing, stroll the beach, swim in the ocean, beer at the bar, then an afternoon of hazy laze. 
Ellen, “We have an arrival time for the Pearsons tomorrow?”
Katya, “Two o’clock, no more Pearson, they are Janah and Daphne now, never got last names.”
“How many others?”
“Five, they have a suite at the hotel, the twins are staying with us.”
Sarah, “Cool, twins squared.”
“Where does the time go? Ellen, we will have cocktail, where is dinner?”
“Le Pavillon, primarily seafood, but they have steak, lamb and duck, seven thirty. Car will be here at seven fifteen, island isn’t big, we can be anyplace in minutes.”
Knock on the door at seven fourteen, “Your car, mademoiselle.”
“Thank you, we’re all set,” it’s a roomy Mercedes SUV.
He takes them to the restaurant, all of twelve minutes, table is waiting. Ellen orders a bottle of Jacques Cartier Brut, which she’s never heard of, but it’s Brut, which means it’s dry to tart.
“Very cold if you will please, we’ll have cocktails first, so don’t open the Champagne yet, just let it sit in the ice. And a bottle of Mount Veeder Cabernet, I’ve had that one before, big slap your face taste.”
Sommelier, “Excellent choice mademoiselle, you have some experience with wines.”
“Nothing like you, I took a sommelier course for a few months, it was fun. I only sommelier for the family.”
After a cocktail, Ellen indicates to the waiter he should open the Champagne, she tastes, “My, quite good, I’ll make a note for when we get home.”
As the tide goes out in the Champagne bottle, they order dinner.
Sarah and Mani have lobster and filet mignon for two, lobster tail stuffed with lump crab, garlic butter for dipping. Pan seared scallops for Katya, snapper filet for Katja and lamb with red pepper sauce for Ellen.
The cabernet is poured and tasted, Ellen, “Same as I remember it, lovely stuff.”
“Da, ees good Ellen, we do we not haf at home?”
“Oversight I’ll correct, this is perfect for crusty charred steak au poivre. Maybe a little heavy for seafood,” she flags the sommelier, “Georges, a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé, for the twins please.”
“Right away mademoiselle.”
The white arrives as the food comes, Katja tastes, “Excellent.”
Ellen sips, “Geez, sure is, another one to add to the list,” she taps the name into her phone, which is kind of pointless, Katya would remember the names and vintages. But the phone will be with her at Martin’s Wine, Katya won’t.
The next near hour is spent in food heaven, including a dessert of assorted French and Dutch cheeses accompanied by snifters of Cognac. The waiter is unsure of what to make of the girls’ capacity. They don’t appear close to drunk despite cocktails, Champagne, wine and Cognac. He chalks it up to youth over experience.
The tab comes, around five hundred, six with tip, Katja lays six hundred on the table. The bill is in Euros, but for cash, they exchange one for one. Quite a savings, they paid six hundred, if they put it on a card, it would have cost them six hundred eighty in dollars.
Car is waiting, another dozen minutes and they are returned to the villa. The driver, all gentleman, bids them good evening and silently pulls the luxury SUV away.
Katya, “That is a good car, you will buy one for us Ellen.”
“Super, soon’s we get home, heck, I can probably do it on the internet from here.”
“No hurry. We have Hyundai SUV, and scooters. Sell Escalade and buy Mercedes. Two cars are fine, more will clutter the courtyard.”
It’s late, girls are pleasantly tipsy and ready for sleep. Half hour later, silence throughout the villa.
Sleep in, until eight thirty anyway, lounge with coffee and tea, nobody’s hungry after last night’s food fest. Mani and Sarah head for the beach, Katya’s online reading something, Ellen and Katja are surfing places for dinner that can accommodate twelve.
Ellen, “It’s not gonna be a problem, they do a lot of big family gatherings, groups, corporate stuff.”
Katja, “Why not just haf buffet here? First day in, maybe do not want hassle of going out on first night.”
Ellen, “That’s a better idea, thanks sweetie. I’ll get the hotel to put something together. We can grab a light lunch at the bar and I’ll ask them then. Think I’ll take in a bit of sun.”
She and Katja strip off t-shirts and adorn lounge chairs for an hour, with intermittent swimming. 
Katya comes out, “They found Frank Warren.”
Ellen, “The door was open, the back door, but there’s no house behind him or on either side.”
“No, police went to take a look when his ankle monitor didn’t move for twenty four hours. They ruled out molested girl’s family, some cousin talked about killing Warren, he didn’t own a gun and has no record of violence. Somebody mentioned random vigilante, that would be us.”
Ellen laughs, “I’ll say. Maybe we should nickname Sarah RV.”
Katja, “She did good work on first job, maybe not a job, we did not get paid.”
Ellen, “I wouldn’t really nickname her, nicknames are for rednecks, which I was, but I don’t want a nickname either.”
Katja, “No, Legs, no nickname for you.”
Ellen, “Sly, you must be a sociopath.”
“Da, we are all sociopathical persons.”
“What do you call a group of sociopaths?”
“Weapons of mass destruction.”
Mani and Sarah show up, Sarah says, “Wow, nude women, yummy. Think I’ll join in, although with the suit Mani made me buy, I’m nude already...almost anyway.”
Mani, “Made you buy? Hah! You couldn’t take your eyes off yourself in the fitting room.”
Sarah, “I was appreciating your filthy good taste.”
“Give me the suit, I’ll rinse and dry.”
Ellen, “Katja called you both sociopaths.”
Mani, “Takes one to…,” she goes off to deal with the bikinis.
Sarah, “Flattery will get you everywhere Katja.”
Showers, a light salad lunch at the hotel, then to the villa, the new arrivals land in twenty minutes.

Thirty Eight

Katya’s phone rings, “It’s Janah, we’ve checked in and sorted out, what’s up?”
“Come over, we have arranged to have a buffet here for dinner if that works.”
Janah, “Thank you, they fed us lunch on the plane, the others will be happy to skip a restaurant tonight. There are many good ones though.”
“So we discovered, La Pavillon last night, Trellis the first. We will have tea in a while, cocktails at six thirty unless anyone wants something before. There is wine, Champagne, beer, vodka and bourbon. We do not drink scotch, I can have a bottle sent over.”
“No, no scotch drinkers, Daphne doesn’t drink, everyone else does. I’m wine or Champagne, the twins we talked about, the others in the group vary. Sloane is younger, but she can have wine or Champagne.”
“It is three now, tea is at four, maybe four thirty. Come anytime.”
“Thirty, forty five minutes, girls want to freshen, get out of travel clothes.”
“Da, we are casual, jeans, shorts, maybe only t-shirt.”
Janah giggles her soft giggle, “Sounds like our place.”
They click off.
Katya, “Ellen, Champagne is cold? Plenty of ice?”
“All done dear one, and the buffet is scheduled to arrive at six thirty as it also includes appetizers to have with cocktails. I had a nice chat with the banquet manager, and gave him a massive tip. All will be perfect.”
“Da, good, okay. They will be along in a half hour or so.”
“I’m having both green and black tea, since we have cheeses and whatnot for dinner appetizers, we’ll have sweets with tea, pastries and Belgian chocolates.”
The girls are dressed in either snug shorts with platforms and silk t-shirts, the twins opt for simple curve hugging shifts and barefoot.
The bell rings, Ellen answers, “Welcome, come on in, I’m Ellen, this is Mani, Sarah, you know by phone, Katya and Katja.”
Janah, “So pleased we could get together. May I introduce Daphne, the sprite is Eloise, this is Daphne’s daughter Sloane, Daria and Dasha, and the one who will ignore us all night is Oceane.”
Oceane floats through and sits by the pool, she appears to be greeting the water, but one can never be sure.
The two sets of twins burst into a gush of Russian and go to the patio and park near Oceane.
Janah laughs, “Well, it simplifies conversation, five of us are occupied.”
Mani, “Ellen, you’ve run into competition,” she glances towards Daphne’s shorts and the incredible legs they reveal.
Ellen, “I noticed, I’d hate her, but how to you hate that?”
Sarah takes Daphne by the arm, “They now have a new obsession, please, ignore them, such sluts.”
Daphne, “I love being objectified, I sense we have similarities, you familiar with the term strum queen?”
Sarah shrieks, “I performed for my crew just today, they are so easy to entertain.”
Daphne, “Perhaps we should entertain each other, I’m sure we can figure something out.”
Sarah whispers in her ear, Daphne smiles, “Brilliant. Those legs, I’m guessing runner, not sprinter, not marathon.”
“Three and five thousand, and I’m really good at it.”
While Sarah and Daphne flirt, Janah sits with Mani and Ellen, “Thank you for agreeing to work with us. Talented teams, ones that can handle more difficult assignments, are not so simple to find.”
Dasha calls from the patio, “Eloise, you will come here, we are talking of drone.”
Eloise ducks her shy head and smiles, as usual, her glasses slide down her nose, she pushes them up and goes outside.
Janah, “Eloise is a hardware genius. She built the drones, with the help of software from Daria and another programming genius, Daphne’s mom.”
Ellen, “I was wondering, thing almost flies itself, actually it does fly itself if I turn it over to the GPS. The darts, amazing, laser sight the target, tap the screen, zip, done. Genius is understatement.”
Mani, “Can you tell us about Oceane? She beautiful, almost beatific, no, is beatific. She glows, and such languid poise. Who’s she talking to?”
“Oceane is frequently on an alternate wavelength. She thrives with us because we have the resources and surrounding family to let her operate entirely on her own schedule. She took the name Oceane, French for ocean, because she is practically a sea creature. Most at home in water. While we are here, she will be at the beach almost the whole day. Join her and watch, I won’t spoil it by a preview.”
Ellen, “I need to fix tea or we won’t have any.”
Janah, “Daphne, tea prep, perhaps help Ellen.”
Daphne shows up, she and Ellen discuss tea, which flows into a food conversation.
When the table is set, the others come in and Daphne pours everyone’s choice.
Ellen, “Daphne and Chloe know how to perform a Japanese tea ceremony. They learned from their friend Nikko’s mother. She and Dasha are also the family chefs.”
Katja, “Ellen ees best chef, Daphne does what kind of cooking?”
Daphne, “I started out with the same things Ellen did. A dear friends from the South taught me. Pot roast, meatloaf, green beans with ham and onion, macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach, fried chicken. We branched into New Orleans style po-boys, fried seafood, red beans, while beans with ham and hot sausage. Dasha really got into it.”
Ellen, “Then come to New Orleans soon, Dasha and I will cook up a few dishes.”
Dasha, “Da, we will make good food and haf vodka.”
She and Katja veer off into a burst of Russian, sounds like food and sex.
There’s a soft splash, Oceane has discarded her gauzy dress and is swimming.
Sloane, “This is a nice place. The family came here before Daphne and the rest took me on. It will be fun to swim with Oceane.”
Sloane’s made it to sixteen, all girl with a penis. It’s nearing the time when she can decide to go all the way or stay put. None of the girls are straight, but Oceane provides a sexual outlet for Sloane as she is. Occasionally Janah joins them, Sloane loves that bit, two girls focused on her boy part. It makes the decision easier to put off, she can get a sex change anytime. Oceane is a dichotomy that seems to enjoy the dichotomy of a girl with breasts and a penis. She is blissfully uncaring of what anyone thinks, in fact, it wouldn’t occur to her to ask. If someone ventures an opinion, all they get in return is an enigmatic smile.
Several conversations ensue, none of which include questions about the past, how they came together, or only tangentially. Considering what they do regarding Social Work and Shadows, everyone instinctively understands it’s better to keep those windows shuttered.
Janah, “Katya and Katja are as identical as Daria and Dasha, it’s like they were cloned. They even vaguely resemble each other, if it wasn’t for hair and eye color.”
Dasha, “Katya and Katja are taller by maybe an eench, not anyway much.”
Katya, “They can talk in their head also.”
Sarah, “Geez, just like you guys.”
Janah, “We call it mentaling. Daphne and I do it, she does it with others in our family, not all. It depends in part on whether they actually want to, some don’t care to have people creeping into their thoughts. Do you see through each other’s eyes, hear what the other hears?”
“Da, it is two brains, one consciousness. Each brain operates the individual body, the unconscious part, but as things arise in consciousness, we can share them or not.”
“Pretty much like ours works, good thing, or we’d have dual conversations going on. Daphne would have four or five.”
Mani, “Does it sometimes feel secretive? Like people can discuss things that the others never know about?”
Daphne, “People do that now, just not brain to brain.”
Mani thinks it over, “Of course, silly question, duh.”
Janah, “No, it’s fair, it is different than having a conversation about someone later, in our case, it doesn’t matter, we don’t do secrets. Besides, Dasha will say anything that pops in her head, be prepared.”
Ellen laughs, “Exactly like Katja. Oh, let me guess, Dasha walks around having conversations with herself.”
Eloise giggles, “All the time. We had to learn when she is saying something to us and when she’s just talking. At first, she didn’t even realize it, she’d be perplexed that we responded to something she didn’t know she’d said.”
Ellen, “I had to learn that with Katja, I’d reply to her and she’d look at me like I’d lost my mind. She slowed down on it after I kept asking if she was talking to me or herself.”
Janah, “So much of our behavior is stuff we are unaware of, the subconscious absorbs the environment, things people do or say and up pops a thought. We believe it but fail to recognize that the thought is full of subconscious biases, which may be positive, neutral or negative.”
Sarah, “So I can’t trust what my brain is telling me?”
Janah, “A fact is a fact, the red light is red, it doesn’t need interpretation, most of the time, we need to interpret. If it’s yellow, then you have to quickly assess your speed, whether it will turn red before you’re halfway across the intersection. If you’re going pretty fast, do you hit the brakes, is the driver behind you too close? If someone in a group says something ironic or sarcastic, people have to figure out which, and to whom it’s directed or they can take jump to conclusions and be offended.”
Ellen, “Without knowing it, Katja teaches us the pointlessness of taking offense.”
Daphne, “My ego is limitless, it doesn’t require approval. Dasha is a fun reminder, and she’s been helpful to Sloane.”
Sloane, “Yeah, she says stuff to me that would make many trannys cringe. I learned that she’s not just speaking her mind, she’s inoculating me.”
Katja, “We haf transgender friend in New Orleans, she haf a nightclub and a beeg production. Lady Mary ees just feenish transition, she works a long time to pay for it. She haf some meental problem at first, but that was long ago, she ees now good.”
Sloane, “My lezzie family scooted me right past issues, I was always a girl to them. I’d like to meet Lady Mary.”
Katja, “She ees nice person, always drama wiz her, but ees only beeg act. We see her at En Vie wiz Raymond and Reynaldo, we never know eef they are boyfriend, but they take care of her and are partners een club beezness.”
Eloise, “What is En Vie?”
Mani, “Café a couple blocks from our house, we have breakfast there at least once a week. It’s in the back of the Quarter, the residential section and mostly locals go there. The food is quite good and not outrageously priced. If you visit, we will go.”
Dasha, “Da, good. I am always for visiting new restaurant, we steal ideas for Ultra Violet and Down Home.”

Thirty Nine

Sarah, “What is Ultra Violet? And the other, Down Home?”
Daphne, “We opened a restaurant that got quite popular. It’s named after one of Chloe’s films, Ultra Violet.”
Sarah, “Wait, you know Chloe Sylk?”
“Pretty well, she lives with us.”
Sarah, “Good God, I go to her fan page and steal ideas.”
“You can’t steal them, she puts them out there for people to try.”
“And she has such cute photos from Japan. And I saw the film where the author Amaya did a strip scene, God she’s hot. Does Chloe ever bring her around, or even know her that well?”
“Well, they sleep together and do lesbian things.”
Sarah stares slack jawed, then she blinks back in, “Where did you meet…..never mind, you met, good enough.”
Ellen, “Good, you’re learning.”
Sarah, “So anyway, Ultra Violet?”
“Southern cooking, New Orleans style poorboys and seafood, grilled and fried. Old style dishes. The concept is a juxtaposition, Amaya designed it to be ultra modern.
Even the ordering is done by the customer on a touch screen. The contrast of straightforward simple food in a sleek modern environment caught on. It helps that the food’s scrumptious, prices are reasonable and we don’t take tips.”
Katya passes over an IPad to Sarah, “Ooohhh, we have to go there, Mani, Ellen, look at the place.”
Ellen, “The staff, all dressed up, nice touch, violet shirts. Plates are generous squares, white. Utensils stripped down Dansk if my guess is correct.”
“It is, and all the glass is acrylic, there are spills, but nothing breaks.”
Sarah scrolling, “Is that a band, you have live music?”
“Traditional and Dixieland, not a show, more an accompaniment to dinner. People can talk in a normal conversational tone and be heard.”
“You give local musicians a venue to show their stuff.”
“We have more offers to play than we have nights to accommodate.”
“There are other restaurants as well?”
“Four in the boroughs, two in Brooklyn, one each in the Bronx and Queens. They open for breakfast and lunch only, traditional breakfast, good Lavazza coffee, no specialty drinks, no espresso or latte. Lunch is a downscaled version of what we serve at Ultra Violet. A lot of takeout business, they have to come to us, we don’t deliver.”
Mani, “Dasha must be busy.”
Dasha, “We have top manager at Ultra Violet, Mariella and she has also good assistant. We hire Black to oversee Down Home daily operation. I go wiz Dahfoney every week to each place and check up on things, food prep, cleanliness, freshness. Sister ees in charge of the money. All eencome and expense ees automatic on computer to spreadsheet, update as transaction happens. Katya ees same for her businesses, donuts shop, real estate.”
Janah, “The similar styles are rather interesting. Then again, it’s the world of tech, much simpler to account for what’s being spent and received. Katya does the technology?”
Katya, “I learned from the internet, enough programming and modified Excel to make the system work. Software off the shelf can do most of it, but I do not trust it.”
Janah, “No, neither do we. All our internal stuff is proprietary. Daphne’s mom is a system security consultant, she built most of ours with Daria.”
Katja, “Ees for vodka, Ellen.”
Just then there’s a knock on the door, Ellen, “The time flew by, it’s appetizers and dinner.”
Sarah, “I’ll make drinks.”
Dasha comes alongside, they concoct preferences and pass them around. Vodka for the Russians and Eloise, Champagne for Janah, Oceane and Sloane. Seltzer and lime for Daphne. Ellen’s directing the placement of dishes, lump crab and peeled shrimp, a variety of cheeses and crackers. For dinner, a grilled fish entrée and veggie pasta she puts in the oven keep warm. Mixed green salad and three dressing options to the refrigerator.
Sarah, “Her you go angel, Elijah on the rocks, splash.”
Dasha, “What ees Elijah? Looks like bourbon.”
Ellen, “When this whiskey was first barreled, Sarah wasn’t born yet. Try it.”
Dasha takes a sip from Ellen’s glass, passes it to her sister, Daria sips, “My dolzhny poluchit' nekotoryye.”
Dasha, “Da, sister says we will get some, we luv Russian Standard, but we are American girls also, so we must drink also weeskey cocktail.”
They raise their glasses, “Viski!”
The others repeat, in Russian and English, “Viski, to whiskey!”
Down the hatch as they say.
Ellen, “Well hell, I’m all flattered, shall I make you a drink?”
Dasha, “Da, glass cannot remain empty.”
Sarah, “I’ll do it,” she hops up and replicates Ellen’s drink twice, brings them to Dasha and Daria.
Ellen refills empty Champagne glasses, “Appetizers won’t eat themselves ladies.”
It’s the beginning of summer, warm in the Caribbean, they stay inside and enjoy the sunset through wall size glass windows, comfortably air conditioned. They didn’t come to St. Martin’s to suffer.
Conversation rolls around, sometimes three or four, other times two with heads together, laughter and giggles. 
Oceane is at the table talking to a plate of shrimp and crabmeat, “I am swimming in your home tomorrow and I will be sure to tell your brothers and sisters how wonderful you were.”
Sarah leans to Daphne, “Oceane is talking to her appetizers.”
“That’s just the beginning . Oceane lives in a world of pure sensation, anoesis, much of the time. When she swam nude this afternoon, it wasn’t just nude swimming. She wants to feel the atmosphere on her, all of her. She absorbs the vibe like you and I absorb UV rays.”
Sarah, “She’s, what’s the word, gorgeous is too pedestrian, ethereal.”
“That would be Oceane, she lives with us, but is with herself most of the time.’
Sarah takes in Daphne’s tight thighs, “I’m thinking lascivious thoughts. Janah seems to have taken a personal interest in Ellen.”
Daphne smiles, “Janah takes a personal interest in beautiful girls, Ellen is overqualified.”
Sarah grins, “So, if Janah will be occupied later this evening, perhaps we could find something to occupy ourselves.”
Janah mentals Daphne, “Looks like you’re in for a treat.”
“Try to leave Ellen sentient, at least by morning.”
“Based on our chat, I may be looking for sentience in the morning. Something about fucking my creamy self into butter.”
“She’s spotted a willing victim, enjoy those magnificent legs.”
“I have lots of experience.”

Mentaling happens in milliseconds, Sarah feels no lapse in the conversation, Daphne, “Splendid idea, suppose we let Janah and Ellen go off to our suite, and we can explore in your room here?”
Sarah grins and blushes, “I am such a slut.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
Sarah giggles, hand to mouth, then, “Mani, I wonder…”
Daphne, “Eloise has her eye on your pal, and when Eloise has her eye on something, the dance is over, the games begin.”
Sarah, “Really? Geez, she’s so quiet, and stares at the floor.”
“You know what they say about the quiet ones. She’ll have Mani doing despicable things and loving it, she gets Janah going frequently, the twins more frequently.”
Ellen announces, “Now that you’ve had a chance to explore late evening possibilities, step up and demolish this food. From the change in the atmosphere there’s a low pressure system building, we’re going to need the calories.”
And they do, assignations organized, they enjoy the salad, entrée and sides accompanied by white wine, the unfairly maligned Pinot Grigio. Then slices of double chocolate cake with Cognac. 
Not surprisingly, Dasha goes off to Katya’s room, Daria and Katja take the room originally meant for Dasha and Daria. Ellen and Janah are in Ellen’s room at the villa.
Daphne and Sarah to Daphne’ suite in the hotel, the second room occupied by Eloise and Mani. Oceane and Sloane are in their separate room.
New friends and intimates, best thing next to old friends and intimates. Nobody goes to sleep alone, everyone wakes up happy.


Sloane and Oceane are at the beach, Oceane swimming out, Sloane keeping up, barely. Oceane zips through the water despite her stroke, which appears easy, almost languid.
Sarah comes to the water with Daphne, “She doesn’t seem to work it at all.”
Daphne, “She has an endless pool at home, the kind where the water moves, like a liquid treadmill. She goes at least an hour a day, often twice.”
“Sheesh, but she doesn’t have those swimmer bulky shoulders.”
“No, she says the water pulls her along. Her imagination I suppose, but she can keep up against the fastest current the pool can generate. I’ve tried it, it isn’t easy.”
“You, Chloe and Sloane are all Sylks.”
“Not biologically, there’s another, Cassie, she’s nine. With Amaya and Chloe in LA right now.”
“Another film?”
“Maybe, they’re exploring the possibility of making another film with the twins.”
“That’s right, duh, they were in an Ultra Violet, Sarah laughs, “Now that I’ve met them, I see they played themselves. The similarities between both sets of twins is baffling.”
“I find squirrely things in the world frequently, well, more frequently than I’d guess. Here’s comes our fishes.”
Sarah and Daphne wade out to waist deep, Oceane slips up and stands, there are four or five fish swimming in place behind her.
Daphne, “You have a posse, a group of Grouper.”
Oceane, “So ugly they’re beautiful, ocean bulldogs.”
She turns and squats down, her hands visible in the clear blue water. The big clunky fish swim to her, she strokes their bellies one by one, then puts her head under water. They bump her cheeks and swim away.
Sarah, “I never even….fish kisses, how does she….?”
Sloane, “Oceane can talk to anything, living or dead, although she would say nothing is truly dead, just in transition. We don’t know how much of it is real and how much is her imagination. What we do know is when she swims in the ocean, there’s always sea creatures around her.”
Sarah, “But, how do you know it’s safe?”
Oceane, “They protect me, I am their mother, Oceane,” she walks to shore as if that explains that.
Sloane, “I gotta text Cassie, what time is it in LA?”
Daphne, “Too early, text her after lunch.”
Oceane is walking along the shore, Sloane races to catch up. 
Daphne and Sarah head to the restaurant, Daphne says, “Oceane can’t be out alone. She loses track. We’re careful, but if you see her anywhere by herself, stop her, tell her Daphne is looking for her, or any of us. She won’t argue, she’ll just stand and wait.”
Sarah, “Will do, I’ll mention it to the others.”
“Janah already has,” everyone but Oceane and Sloane are in the restaurant.
“Ordered yet?”
Janah, “Tea and coffee, the waiter just finished the twins’ table.”
He comes to us, “Two sets of twins, remarkable, they are your sisters?”
Daphne, “Well, friends, but we are all more like family, sisters as you say.”
“Lovely girls, the two with accents break one’s heart. And what may I get for you?”
Liquid caffeine delivered, traditional American breakfast, eggs to order, bacon, cut fruit, waffle or wheat toast.
Sloane and Oceane walk up, Sloane, “I’m starved.”
Daphne waves the waiter over, “Two more then we’re done.”
Sloane has a full breakfast, Oceane gets fruit and smoked salmon.
Sarah, “Oceane talks to the fish.”
Ellen, “Uh huh, and I talk to the trees.”
“No, really, when she swam in, she had four ugly fish behind her, then she scratched their tummies.”
Ellen, “Cut back on the Champagne, we may need to start you on meds.”
Sarah, “Daphne, tell her.”
Daphne summarizes, Ellen shakes her head, looks to Janah, “They pullin’ my leg?”
Janah, “No, Oceane talks to all kinds of things. Maybe she makes it up, but the fish thing is true. Like we said yesterday, she has a particular affinity with water, anything aquatic.”
Oceane tells her breakfast, “I swam with friends of yours, I like you for breakfast, the bulldog beautiful fish are better for dinner.”
Ellen, “What…?”
Janah laughs, “No she’s not on meds either, she swam with fish, and now she’s having one for breakfast, she’s connecting the two.”
“Do the live fish know she eats fish?”
Daphne, “Animals don’t see it like that. They understand life feeds on life, it’s the way of it. The animals think we’re weird, that humans kill for no reason related to survival, to kill for food is quite acceptable, they do it all time.”
“That what the fish told Oceane?”
“I don’t know, an owl told me.”
Ellen, “Ooookaaay.”
Katya comes over, “Everyone is invited to the villa. Maybe we have something simple for lunch later, then go out for dinner, Ellen will find us a place.”
Janah, “Several years ago, we had a nice lunch at L'Escargot, in town. They have enough variety for everyone, snails of course, but lots of seafood, lamb or beef options, and the quality was high. It’s touristy, but St. Martin’s is touristy.”
Ellen, “I’ll get us a spot, between seven and eight good?”
They go to rooms to refresh, take care of business items back home, then reconvene at the villa for eleven.
Ellen, “We have a basic lunch coming, finger sandwiches, chips, pickle. If anyone wants something special, let me know. Janah’s a vegetarian, I have that covered, anyone else?”
Katja, “Whatever you haf order ees good Ellen.”
Sarah, “We have a variety of beers, wine, Champagne or more deadly stuff. I’m opening one of each, white, sparkly and red. Beer is in the fridge, help yourself. There is sliced lemon if you like to tart up your beer, which is my choice.”
Janah, “Beer sounds enticing, Eloise?”
“Yes, please.”
Daphne, “I’m chilling by the pool. Any girls who care to swim or sun, I promise to ogle shamelessly.”
Lunch is delivered, unfortunate for the room service guys, the girls are still dressed, mostly. Ellen directs traffic, signs the tab, adds forty in cash, they go away happy.
Girls wander between the pool and the spread on the table, the day slides along. Some lounge and chat, others play in the pool, loungers swap with players and repeat. By three thirty, it’s time for showers and naps. Girls return to their original rooms for a lazy afternoon doze.
Mani makes tea later than usual, quarter after five, it’s only her group and the twins staying with them, Katja and Dasha are downstairs with her.
Mani is leaning against the kitchen island, Dasha faces her, leans in to kiss, “We have Japanese and Chinese girls at home, no Thai,” kisses her again.
Then a finger explores, Mani bites one corner of her lip, Dasha kneels, pushes up Mani’s t-shirt and leans into the softness. Katja makes tea and puts out cookies while Mani moans, then gasps, shudders and sinks back against the counter.
“Splendid surprise, feel free to surprise me anytime, or just tell me what you want and how you want it.”
Dasha, “You will come to room tonight wiz Katya.”
Mani, “I can do that, and anything else.”
Sarah, Katya and Daria appear, they have green tea and shortbread cookies with a sweet crunchy almond crust.
Katya, “When is reservation?”
“Seven thirty, cocktails here at six or so, heck, it’s quarter to now. Don’t have much to accompany drinks.”
Katya, “No matter, leave out cookies if someone wants, dinner is soon anyway,” the phone rings, “Da Janah, we are all up. Time for cocktail, reservation is seven thirty,” she clicks off.
Janah giggles at her dead phone, “And bye to you, Katya, like talking on the phone to Daria.”
Daphne, “Ready to walk over?”
“Yes, call the others.”
Eloise, Sloane and Oceane meet them in the lobby, stroll to the villa in the warm evening air.
Ellen, “I only opened Champagne and white, figured we’d have more wine at the restaurant. The twin twins have decided on Elijah Craig, wine glasses are chilling in the freezer, help yourself.”
Sloane has a rolled up paper in her hand, “Oceane drew the twins,” she unrolls the thick drawing paper. 
There’s a moment of nothing as they examine the drawing, then Ellen says, “How’s that possible? It looks like a photograph.”
Sarah, “I don’t recall ever seeing a drawing so vivid, Ellen’s right, it looks digital. Oceane, that is just splendid.”
“The pencils tell me what to do.”
Ellen, “Sheesh.”
Katja and Katya are studying it, Katja says, “Oceane, ees most beautiful peecture, exactly peerfect.”
Katya, “Her skill is remarkable, she does many?”
Sloane, “Lots, if she’s not swimming, she’s drawing, not every single minute, a couple hours a day. Then sometimes not at all. If the pencils or brushes don’t come to her, it isn’t time to paint.”
Ellen, “I’m not gonna ask.”
Sarah, “I will. What do you mean come to her?”
Sloane, “The one she is supposed to use floats from the box of pencils to her hand.”
Sarah, “Daaphneee.”
Daphne, “Telekinesis is hard to learn, but it can be learned. Oceane is the anomaly, she didn’t practice, just did it one day. But she says the pencils come to her, she doesn’t make them do it, so who knows?””
Janah sets her empty glass on the table, it slides down to the bottle of Champagne, which lifts off the table, fills the glass and returns to its place. The filled glass floats to Janah’s open hand.
Mani, Ellen and Sarah resemble statues, mouths slack, Sarah sits and stares at the Champagne bottle.
Ellen, “Sheeyt, what else you girls got up your sleeves? Talking fish, birds, people who can see through walls, talk mentally, see through each other’s eyes.”
Daphne, “It isn’t actually seeing through walls, just sensing life, Sensitives can’t tell you what people are wearing or what paintings are on the wall inside.”
“Oh well, if it’s only that….hey, hang on. The business of seeing through someone’s eyes, I gotta check you on that one.”
Janah, “What will satisfy you? Tell you what, anyone have a book or magazine?”
Sarah, “I have a couple upstairs, so do the twins I think.”
“Take Daphne up and pick one.”
They go up the steps, Janah waits, then, “She’s got a copy of  Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and she’s reading, ‘Perception is complete and of itself; it doesn’t reveal itself in an outward, concrete manifestation. There are no tangible benefits to it either. It’s not easy to explain in words. You have to experience it to understand. One thing I can say, though, that once you see that true sight with your own eyes, the world you’ve lived in up to now will look flat and insipid. There’s no logic or illogic in that scene. No good or evil. Everything is merged into one. And you are one part of that merging. You leave the boundary of your physical body behind to become a metaphysical being. You become intuition. It’s at once a wonderful sensation and a hopeless one because, almost at that last minute, you realize how shallow and superficial your life has been. And you shudder at the fact that up to that point you’ve been able to stand such a life.’”
A minute later, Sarah and Daphne come down, Sarah has the book and hands it to Ellen with her finger on the passage.”
Now it’s Ellen’s turn to sit, “Word for damn word.”
Katya looks at the passage, “Janah, do you think Murakami is correct?”
Janah, “It’s where we live.”

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