Chapter Seventy Seven

Amaya's crew flies out, the rest of us are discussing the four remaining Shadows over tea.
Janah, "We have Raleigh, Charlotte, Palm Beach along the east coast. The final one is in Memphis."
Nikko, "Can you and Daphne handle the first run? Zi and I need to be in the office. It's also about time to go to San Francisco."
"No sweat."
Sloane, "I'm going, so is Oceane."
Eloise, "Do you need me? I have lots of workshop projects, but they can wait."
Janah, "No, these are singletons and unlikely to be much complicated. I'm going to save time and have Surveillance track the targets for a few days. We should be able to get right to business instead of having to find and follow."
Nikko, "So we can go to San Francisco next week, you good with that?"
"Sure, business needs to be looked after."
"I gave more responsibility to senior management in an effort to buy us more free time. They overachieved, the property management end just keeps growing. Second office in San Francisco and we expanded one floor here in town. We've been approached to buy an existing management company in Chicago, two million square feet."
"Geez, you want to take on more?"
Nikko, "The current owner is ill. He knows us, we've exchanged referrals for years. His kids do other things, a physician,  musician, something else..."
Zi, "She's an actuary."
"Yes, right. Anyway, gross revenue running at fifty million per, we're looking over accounting, but I know the guy. He's a straight talker, nothing ugly in his background, never a hint of shady business practices. We are paying a fair price, not a bargain, fair to both of us. We get the same eight percent we charge now, plus commissions for new leases and lease renewals."
"How do you know the owners will stay?"
Zi, "We don't, their lease continues, we have to perform or they move on."
Janah, "So four million a year, plus the lease commissions."
"Yes, and some of the space is under market, we'll bump as leases expire, increases revenue and our cut goes up. And it isn't a start up like San Francisco, we have employees, offices and property to manage. We can go to Chicago on the way to San Francisco. I've never met his people, we want to let them have a look at us, get a sense of what they're thinking."
"Good to have a Sensitive along."
"Makes it simpler, we don't have to second guess what attitudes are."
"You think management will try and set up on their own, poach tenants?"
"Sure, they'll think about it. There is always someone who thinks they should be the boss, see opportunity in the transition. May be cultural crosscurrents, we're left and right coast, they're middle America. Also hometown animosity. Chicago was second city, then San Francisco and Silicon Valley exploded, Chicago slipped a notch."
"If attitudes are bad?"
"Then we pass and leave them to figure it out. The employees could buy him out, but they have to borrow a ton of money, we pay cash. We show them our salary schedules and bonus plan, 401K and noncontributory employee health insurance, low rates to add family, free dental. They want to pass on that, go for it and good luck."
Family consensus is to let Nikko, Zi and Daria decide, they do all the work, looks like we take a look at mid-America.
"What's for dinner Daphne?"
"Vegetarian meatloaf for you and Oceane, regular for the rest. Garlic mashed, artichoke salad with vinaigrette or Tahini. Flourless chocolate cookies and vanilla bean frozen custard."
Janah, "Yum, guess I have to open my own wine with our bartender traveling."
Sloane, "I'll do it, let's see, meatloaf sounds like Cabernet, you, me, Oceane, Nikko and Eloise, five glasses."
We don't much discus work during meals, tonight follows trend, I pass around my IPad with photos from the parents' Grecian getaway.
Zi, "It seems really incredible, why have we never gone?"
"Good question, never came up. We haven't been big on international travel, once for Japan, twice for Amaya's films, Canada doesn't count as international."
Nikko, "I don't care for it, even first class. Too long on the plane, airport hassle is better in first, but it's still security lines, customs and baggage claim."
Zi, "True enough, besides, we have three homes and a San Francisco apartment. Has Amaya considered something in Los Angeles?"
I laugh, "Shutters and the Beverly Hilton are her LA homes."
"And Chloe doesn't care."
"Chloe would be happy at the Motel 6."
Amaya, As long as I am there, but there is no chance we will be found at a Motel 6, or a motel of any denomination.
"Amaya's in my head."
Nikko, "Taking credit for Chloe's good nature no doubt."
"And denying any possibility of a motel in her future."
"Amaya would not function well with thin towels, scratchy sheets and little slivers of bath soap."
Meatloaf is fairly basic, but the family likes it, might be the brown gravy, garlic mashed and habanero cheese cornbread.
Zi, "Splendid as always Daphne, thank you."
Nikko adds, "Twice that. I've been fed by you my adult life, always a pleasure. Dasha makes it a double pleasure."
"Double pleasure for me too. Cooking for a dozen women is an undertaking, she makes it fun, mumbling to herself the whole time."
Which reminds me to check in with Dasha, Where are you?
We are een San Diego. Surveillance only haf one day to check on him. We are watching now, and haf tracker on car. You will tell Surveillance they can go.
I will, you need anything else? You aren't supposed to take him anyplace, stick a dart in him and go back to LA.
Da, we will keel today. He leafs een beeg house though. We want to search, maybe haf money, contacts wiz more Shadowy persons on computer.
Whenever you think best.
Now ees best, you will see.

And I do see. When I look through her eyes, there's a cut glass double front door, I see a finger on the doorbell. A Spanish woman opens the door, oops, who's this?
I hear, 'May I help you?'
Then, 'Yes, by getting out of the way,' then I see a hand, Daria's, touch the woman on the neck, she slumps into Dasha's arms.
Now the view is of the woman's torso being dragged across a marble floor and a voice from elsewhere.
'Who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing in my house?'
Geez, some people get so touchy when they're about to die.
Looking through Daria's eyes now, I see Dasha blown away from the woman and slammed against the wall. I feel Daria's reaction, it doesn't bode well for the Shadow, one Roberto Perez.
Perez is lifted off the ground, he's momentarily shocked, then eyes narrow, focused on Daria. I feel Daria's heart slow, there is a sharp pain in her head, like a migraine. Perez, however, is having a different sort of pain, the area around his heart is smoking. The pain in Daria's head eases, Roberto is otherwise occupied. His airborne torso jerks hard, blood appears on his shirt, lots of it. He drops thump! on the hard floor. EHS, exploded heart syndrome.
Next there's Dasha's face, Daria's hand stroking her cheek.
'Ees okay, nothing busted, shoulder will be maybe sore. He was powerful Shadowy peerson.'
Daria, 'Da, he got in my head for a time, tried to fry my brain, then he had a change of heart.'
I laugh, "Are you both good to go? Any serious injury?"
Dasha, "Da, nyet, we will search now Dahfoney."
I check out so they can get to it, bring the others up to date.
Zi, "You're sure they're okay?"
"I can feel what they feel, or I should say, I know if they are injured, I don't feel the injury myself. They know our rules, if we're badly injured we take ourselves out of the game. One of them will check in after they've searched the place."

Chapter Seventy Eight

An hour later I get a mental, Dahfoney, Shadow haf beeg brokerage account. Daria will get password and move money, maybe seven or eight million, sister knows. We haf six hundred thousand in cash, a million een bank account. What about house?
Let me talk to Janah, did the woman wake up?
Da, she ees housekeeping cook. Something else, look....
There's a seven or eight year old girl, adorable, raven black hair, deep sea green eyes, slim, almost a waif.
She have a name?
Sounds like a Shadow, no complications. I recall Oceane's Shadow calling her Girl. What's the story, housekeeper know anything?
She says he calls her his daughter, but she's not Hispanic. The woman thinks she might be adopted, if she was, there is no paperwork here, or on his computer. Also, she ees robot.
Robot? What's that mean?
You will see,
 eyes turn to the girl, 'Tell me again, what is your name?'
'I am called Girl.'
'Who gave you that name?'
'The man, Roberto. I am his.'
'What does that mean?'
The girl looks blankly at Dasha, I'm seeing flat affect, lack of animation, 'I am his possession, sometimes he calls me slave. I do what he tells me to do.'
Don't get into what that is right now, ask her what she knows about the world, outside the house.
Dasha does, Girl says, 'Girl has never been anyplace. Only the back yard. I am to swim in the pool every day to be beautiful for Roberto.'
I feed Dasha questions, she gets straightforward, robotic answers. She doesn't see him as father, she has no idea of father or mother. The housekeeper feeds her, but isn't allowed to talk to her, although she does sometimes, when Perez isn't around. Perez bathes and dresses her, we skip asking about intimacy for now. She doesn't volunteer anything.
Daria has been quizzing the housekeeper. If there is sexual activity, she is unaware of it, the girl has never said anything. She does say the child is kept in a state of child. Her clothes are either too young for her, frilly tiny dresses or too old, slinky skirts and heels. She is sometimes in makeup, more often not. The woman is clearly under the influence of Perez. What she knows about the girl or the man is close to zero. We decide he must keep her partially erased and dampens curiosity. She's also illegal, which increases his control.
Another clue, it never occurs to her to quit, she is paid decently, but not enough to make it unusually well paid or special. She was never asked to do anything intimate, she thought Perez almost prudish on the subject. Then again, he could make her think anything, so her observations don't add much insight.
Daria, What do we do with child?
Talked it over with Janah. The housekeeper is undocumented and she's not too bright. Even if she wants to take the child, it's not an option. Put her under again, take the obvious, the money, computers and phones, go to LA with the girl. Janah and I will be in tomorrow. Cleaners are on the way. They will remove the body and dispose of it, take the woman someplace and drop her off. If Daria can wipe her brain of today, that would help, confuse her memory at the least. The Cleaners will remove all traces of the girl, any blood, the usual. Wipe down whatever you touched, it doesn't have to be perfect, only a precaution. Check in when you get to Shutters.

We blink off, Janah comes along, I recap, she says, "We have a flight at eight tomorrow, five hours, pick up three, we get in ten thirtyish LA time. Give Amaya a heads up."
Amaya, the twins are returning to LA with a passenger. Seven or eight year old, girl. We know nothing of her situation other than the target told her she was a slave. There doesn't appear to be any physical abuse, don't know about sexual, we stayed away from that. She responds robotically, expression is flat. Janah and I will be there around eleven or so.
Amaya, We will take care of her. Chloe can get a read, she can stay with her tomorrow, I have the negotiations at the groan and moan part. We are heading to the hotel now. Darcy and I will wrap tomorrow, I have Chloe's power of attorney and can sign any contracts.
Darcy Vay is Amaya's West Coast attorney. She handles contractual details, particularly the ones studios try to avoid living up to.
Daria and Dasha take a few of the girl's clothes, enough to get by for a couple of days, there isn't much that’s her age anyway. Another reason is to remove reminders of her now former life. While Dasha drives, the girl stares out the window.
Daria, "You have never been out, in car?"
"No. I always wondered what was beyond the wall. Everything is big."
Daria, "You did not see world on television?"
"What is television?"
"You will see television, and many things."
Girl says nothing. Dasha is driving, Daria isn't the chatty type, they make the rest of the trip in silence.
At the hotel, Girl does what she's asked, but doesn't initiate anything. She never asks about the man, the housekeeper, what is happening or what will happen. Chloe sits with her at tea, they take it in the room, then Amaya and Chloe take her for a walk down the beach.
Amaya, She is not animated, but she is attentive, just doesn't volunteer a word.
Ask her questions, including if she has a question.

I hear Amaya, 'What do you think of the beach and the ocean?'
Girl, 'The world is huge, so much water in the pool.'
'Do you have any questions, anything you want to say?'
'I am to obey, not to question.'
'Not anymore, now you may say or ask anything you wish. You have a different life starting today.'
I hear Chloe giggle, 'Going to take a while. The good news is she isn't dark or even cloudy. Actually, she's quite clear, which indicates a worry free mind. Also indicates one with no attachment or feeling, bad or good.'
Amaya, You got that?
Yes, good enough. We are more concerned about Shadow influence, it appears Perez wasn't interested in converting her. He knew Shadows are a pain to deal with, regardless of who trained them.

Girl is silent, but as Chloe sensed, attentive. With so much new, her curiosity will eventually overcome her reticence.
Janah, "She's not much different than Oceane, who came to us as detached as anyone could be. She used it as a way to cope with sexual abuse. Chloe gets no read on sexual abuse so far. Perez bathing her is questionable, and the outfits are another suspicious spot. I wonder if he erased her memory of it? He was certainly capable."
"If he did, good, it's gone, and it's good he's gone."
Janah smiles, "Let's go to bed, as Dasha says, 'you will make me feel gud Dahfoney.'"
And I do.

Chapter Seventy Nine
Sloane and Oceane want in on the trip, Sloane loves SoCal, Oceane, the ocean. We don't leave until nine, get to LA at eleven thirty left coast time. Half hour to Shutters and settling in our suite.
We go to Amaya's, she introduces us, "Meet Daphne, Janah, Sloane, and Oceane."
The girl smiles, we figure out she's not going to have a conversation. Sloane takes over, she and Oceane surround her on the couch, Sloane natters away about the family. The girl is attentive, she's listening, with no visible response or reaction.
Chloe, "She's simply vacant. Knows almost nothing external to the house and backyard. Besides no TV, she has never been on the internet. She has no learning disability. She can read, knows about cooking food, brands, what the label says. And the housekeeper/cook taught her about a half cup, one quarter, a gallon, teaspoon, numbers, two eggs, five slices of bacon. She can count, add and subtract. She was on a computer, but learning programs only, not to surf. Most of what she knows came from reading instructions. She was not allowed books, but the man had some, she sneaked them when she could. Unfortunately, they were murder mysteries, but she can read and comprehend. Last night, she watched TV until Amaya made her turn it off and go to bed at midnight. I think she would have sat there all night. Soon as she got up, she turned it on. I showed her how to change channels, but she doesn't. Whatever is on, she watches it."
Janah, "Okay, that's a start."
"We going with Girl, or a name?"
Amaya, "Girl will not do, sounds like a bad movie about Neanderthal cave dwellers. Sloane, ask her to think about a name, a real name."
Sloane, "Calling you Girl has to change, girl is a generic word for all young females. Do you want to see a list of names? Have you ever thought of what name you might like?"
"No, he said I am Girl."
"He's not around anymore, he doesn't get to make the rules, you make your own rules when it comes to yourself."
She accepts that, at least no argument, but she doesn't question or advance the conversation either.
Amaya, "I will think up three names, then see what she thinks."
Sloane and Oceane take her to the beach, walk out on the pier full of tourists. The girl stays close to Sloane, a bit overwhelmed by so much activity, so many people. They get ice cream cones, she has never had ice cream. Sloane has to show her how to manipulate it, success, big smile at the first lick. They walk to the beach itself, toes in sand, Oceane plops on a rock, content to watch the water. Sloane races the girl across the sand, up and down the shoreline a few times. She tentatively steps in the water, it's cool, not cold right on the shore, a few inches deep. She swam at home, she's not afraid of water.
Time to return, Sloane ties their sneakers together, drapes them over shoulder, they walk back barefoot.
"Did you like the beach?"
Girl, "So many people, I ate ice cream and walked in the ocean," the sum of her report, she clicks on the TV.
She has to click off for afternoon tea, we take it downstairs in the Living Room. Amaya recaps film negotiations, successful, the production schedule is almost finished.
Amaya, "We have to be back in two months."
"We'll be in Arizona around then."
Sloane explains our home in Arizona to the girl, shows photos she has on her phone, and a video of the go karts racing around.
"Do you want to ride one?"
The girl is perplexed by 'do you want to,' says, "if you tell me to."
Sloane lets it slide. She intuits, correctly, it's going to take time to adjust to deciding what she wants, not what someone tells her to do.
Tea over, to the suites for showers, the cocktailers cocktail, then we head to James' Beach for dinner. Good burgers, kale and quinoa salad for Janah and Oceane. The girl looks at the menu but says nothing.
"Do you want me to pick something for you?"
A nod, I get her a turkey burger, shrimp cocktail for me, they served us breakfast and lunch on the plane, beauty of flying private.
"What did she have for breakfast and lunch?"
Dasha, "She haf schrambulled aig, but we haf room serving. Lunch we spleet two club sandwich between three, wiz cheeps."
Janah, "So she never ordered herself."
"Nyet. We go to room, she ees watch TV, CNN."
"Seven year old girl watched CNN all afternoon?"
"Da, it was first thing on, she never change channel, just watch."
Janah, "She was told she was a slave, don't think, don't decide, everything was decided by him."
I look at the girl, "Burger good?"
She smiles, so cute, "Yes."
I wonder if she decided it was good, or if she was allowed no opinions, the default answer is yes. Then I think he may never have asked if she thought things were good or bad. Maybe the housekeeper asked, she did the cooking.
Amaya, "We have to go to Lake Tahoe on business tomorrow, I assume you will take her to Manhattan."
"Yes, and the other work is on hold for a bit. When Tahoe is finished, just come home. We can figure out later what happens next."
Back to Shutters, it's early, only eight. Amaya has come up with three names.
Janah, "Chloe, she likely won't decide, it may actually confuse her. Read her aura and temperament when she hears the names."
Amaya, "Here are three names, I will read them so you know how they are pronounced, then you say them, okay?"
"First is Cassandra, now you."
"Next is Martine."
"And Sidonie."
"Sidonie." (pronounced Sid-oh-nee)
"Now say them again."
"Cassandra, Martine, Sidonie."
We look to Chloe, "She likes them all, Cassandra is a slightly brighter blue."
Amaya, "From now on, your name is Cassandra, or Cassie, not Girl, Girl is gone, Gone Girl."
Cassandra actually giggles, "Girl gone, gone girl."
Sloane hugs her, "Beautiful Cassie, she going to have a last name?"
Amaya, "She resembles Daphne, black hair green eyes, Daphne's eyes are a couple of shades darker. She has growing room, feet are already outsized for her height, long legs too," she looks at me, "you sure you have not misplaced a kid along the way? What were you up to eight years ago?"
"I think I would recall, Janah surely would, and you were around then, remember me as pregnant? If she is mine, one thing is for certain, it was an immaculate conception."
Dasha, "She will be Cassandra Sylk, wiz Sloane Sylk, Chloe Sylk and Dahfoney."
"Wonder how Sis will take to yet another grandchild."
"She's been happy with the others. For a woman who had sex one time with a man, she's gotten a rather large family."

Chapter Eighty

Flight home goes without a hitch, Amaya, Chloe and the twins will be delayed a day or so. They fly to Tahoe to off another Shadow. By the time we get to Manhattan, it's nearly six, five and a half hour flight turns into eight and a half with time zone changes. Our driver, Angelo, is at Teterboro waiting on us.
"Miss Daphne, Miss Janah, welcome home, and who is this young lady?"
"This is Cassandra, Cassandra, this is our friend Angelo, say hello."
She smiles, "Hello."
Angelo, "And hello to you sweetheart, cute girl, she resembles you Miss Daphne. Good trip? Negotiations go okay?"
"Amaya generally gets what she wants."
Angelo, "Great, a new movie to anticipate. My wife brings her friends so she can tell 'em she knows Chloe and Amaya, that they come over for dinner. They used to think she was makin' it up, then she got pictures on her phone with Chloe and all the family around. She can't figure how she's known you guys fifteen years and none of you are a day older."
Angelo laughs, "Yeah, sure. I told her it's a Shaolin thing, some kinna secret ancient breathing technique maybe."
"If I reveal secret techniques, they won't be secret anymore. Then they kill me. Where's the fun in that?"
Angelo, "Cassandra, you know Miss Daphne is a little strange. Not to worry, Miss Chloe, Miss Amaya, Miss Oceane and Miss Sloane turned out beautiful. So maybe a little strange is a good thing."
Angelo doesn't know the rule, "Cassie has a different operating system Angelo. If you want a reply, you have to ask a question."
"Ah, okay, got it. Miss Oceane was kinna like that at first. She ain't no chatterbox now, but she can carry her end of a conversation, at least for a few minutes."
"Oceane has other things on her mind, we never know what those things are, but it's impossible for her to tune in for extended chat. If she's drawing, she can focus for an hour or two, she doesn't have to talk to it."
I skip the part where Oceane says the pencils and brushes tell her what to paint. We don't know if that's just her way of describing the process, like when an author says the characters tell her what to write. Amaya never says that, she demands full credit for the words she writes. She says what happens is the author creates a character for the character, then imagines how a person with that character would speak and behave. She has to remember that people adopt different personas depending on circumstance. We are not always the same person with our parents as we are with our friends, siblings, coworkers or alone. So it's okay for a character to act out of character, just like real people.
Angelo, "Here we are ladies. You need me to get Amaya and the others when they come in?"
"No, I'll fetch, not sure what arrival day is right now."
"Good to see you guys again, and Cassandra, it is very nice to meet you, welcome to New York."
He gets a smile, which makes him smile, Cassie may not chat, nor express much animation, but her smile is natural and all genuine smiles are beautiful.
After introduction to Nikko and Zi, Sloane takes her around the condo, which takes a while, it's a big condo. The endless pool is a hit, she wants in.
Sloane, "Cassandra wants to swim, we don't have suits that small."
"So, your question is....?"
Sloane grins, "Duh, let her swim naked," she races back upstairs, shows Cassie how to adjust the water flow, and off she goes, swimming to nowhere. Sloane changes to a swimsuit and joins her. A girl with a penis is a bit much to lay on Cassie just now. It's getting dark, but they're having fun and Cassandra will be nice and exhausted from the extra long day.
Downstairs, we're eating pizza, Nikko, "Where's she going to sleep?"
Janah, "Sloane's room, either with Sloane or Sloane can go to Oceane's or with us. Sloane made herself designated big sister, she may want to keep an eye out at night for a while. I think we leave that up to them. Maybe we can figure out how to encourage her to make decisions."
Nikko, "Let me get this straight. She doesn't have preferences, won't decide on her own?"
"Not yet. We think the Shadow wanted absolute control, if she had preferences, he suppressed them. We know he bathed and dressed her, but there is no evidence of sexual abuse. If there was, he suppressed that too, she has no memory of it. From our standpoint, that's good, if she doesn't remember, it didn't happen. She hasn't, so far, acted out in a sexual way, like she's had experience or it's expected. David Li will take blood, test her for STDs or genetic abnormalities, Miyako will do a gynecological exam for evidence of abuse. First, we let her settle in for a few days. She has no experience with such a big world, in just the last day or two, she's had more experiences than her first seven years."
Nikko, "James should meet her."
Janah, "That's on the list, but we go slowly, as we did with the others starting with Amaya. We don't imagine problems, kids are extraordinarily resilient. Adults think in linear causality, that experience X must result in problem Y. We have not found that to be the case. Amaya was exploited, Chloe physically abused, Oceane passed around like Halloween candy, Sloane beaten and verbally abused. They came to us, received unconditional acceptance and zero judgment. Apart from a few conversations with James, no therapy or drugs. They are all fine, happy, talented, zero behavioral issues, they are intelligently engaged with the world. Well, Oceane is engaged with her world, which may only be loosely connected to ours, still, she's a brilliant artist, among other talents."
Nikko, "You mean lissome and sensually spectacular in bed."
"Best use of genetic gifts is sharing them with others, there's a sutra about it, can't recall the name."
Nikko, "Chloe and Zi can keep a read on her, they will know what she prefers without her saying anything."
"Just remember, you want to talk to her, ask a question. We think she's replying honestly, but she may also be programmed to answer some things in a certain way. Don't be shy about follow up questions for clarification."
Sloane and Cassie come downstairs, Cassie in one of Sloane's t-shirts.
"I'll get her jeans and sneakers, a few incidentals tomorrow. Amaya will want to do her wardrobe."
Nikko, "She going to the Village School?"
Janah, "I think so, for the rest of this year, she's home schooled. She's seven or eight, we think, she doesn't know her birthday, so we'll use the day she came to us and her records will reflect that as her birthday eight years ago. Then adoption papers have to be fabricated, social security number, a passport. Susan or Daria can fix that."
I ask Cassandra, "You will be my daughter, like Sloane. Cassandra Sylk, eight years old two days ago. Is that okay with you?"
"Yes. I am yours now."
"Not mine, you are yours, daughter. Do you understand what a daughter is?"
"It's okay, you will. There is no more slave, we, I, do not own you. You will come to understand that too."
She blinks at me, reminds me of Dasha.
"Sloane, take a slice, you and Cassie watch something on TV, not the news, find a movie, Crouching Tiger maybe."
They go off with a plate of pizza and Coke Zero.
Zi, "She's a blank on daughter. There was some small lightening in her when you said no more slave. I think if you talk to her in small chunks, about what a daughter is, who we are, Sloane as sister, the others as family or friends, she will adapt. My guess is you're right Janah, the man erased things. She should have more active memories than she does."
Nikko, "Did she bury them?"
Zi, "It doesn't read that way, there's no cloudy confusion, she really is blank in spots, I mean the aura is clear, empty."
Janah, "That's good. Perez did her an unintentional favor. A Shadow wouldn't erase out of kindness, more out of self protection. She can't testify about things she doesn't remember."
"It occurs to me that, if she does whatever she's told, she may have no moral code. I tell her to shoot somebody, she shoots them."
Zi, "She's not my daughter but..."
I stop her, "Hold that thought Zi. I'm playing designated mom on paper, we are all her moms or sisters. All the girls were a group responsibility."
Zi, "I understand. Then my comment is that she may be a child for the temple rather than our school. There, her life is more regimented, orderly. She's not put in a situation where dozens of daily decisions need to be made."
Janah, "That is a very good point."
"Then before Amaya dumps a bundle on a new wardrobe, I'll take her to the temple and see how she reacts. Zi will need to come, get a read."
Oceane, "She will not be Shaolin."
We're quiet, Oceane gets glimpses of the future, not a full narrative, pictures in her mind, stills. She hasn't been wrong so far. Well, well. If she knows what Cassie will be, she isn't saying.

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