Chapter Ninety Three
Weeks turn into months, between the temple, diving, cooking for ten women, our business interests, Amaya's new screenplay and Chloe's still active modeling assignments the time flashes by. The twins and Eloise are flying out tomorrow to install the automation system, we get to test run the new place in a month.
Janah and I decide to fly out with the others, we want a sneak peek; Oceane wants to join us. It will take Eloise and Daria a few days to set up and test the system, Dasha and I can help.
Flight is simple, we check in, dump luggage at the Embassy Suites in Prescott Valley, go to the house.
Cripes, the place is humongous, and gorgeous. There's finishing work, but the structure is complete, the pool even filled. Oceane chats with the pool, her expression pure bliss, the others roam the house, I chat with the contractor, Phil McClusky.
"Well, hello, good to meet the other owners. I'm Phil, want the tour?"
"Sure, Daria and Eloise will be around, they're installing the automation."
"Yeah, that's what Nikko said. I coulda had it done, but she wants your ladies to do it. Said they know exactly what they're doing and how you want things."
"They do, and they won't be in the way. Just tell them if you need room, they will wait, it's no problem."
Phil, "Nikko and Zi have been a pleasure. She wanted the best, lemme tell you, she got it. This place is Fort Knox. Double pane windows, earthquake proof, lightening rods, big propane tank secure, generators don't make a sound on the surface. Never saw a battery room charged by solar. She thought of everything and everything else. The batteries are good for days unless you run air conditioning or try and keep the pool heated."
"Just a precaution, we hope they never have to kick in."
Phil, "The inspectors checked every drilled beam, the air units, the roof, twice, then the state. I never seen the state come out so much, somebody's connected."
"We have a lot of cash in this place, no mortgage. It is to operate as expected from day one, no mistakes, no foul ups, if I hit a light switch, the lights come on. Every outlet functional. Turn on the stove, gas flows. The toilets flush, the hot water is hot and doesn't run to cold after ten minutes. We have a large family, lots of showers, Jacuzzis and laundry."
Phil, "Miss Daphne, you can run all of 'em at the same time. Water heaters every two bedrooms, big suckers. Separate heater for the kitchen and laundry room. Same thing in the outbuilding. Enough ac to freeze meat. You have top of the line kitchen appliances, two stainless refrigerators, a walk in freezer and separate ice maker. All the water is filtered, drinking, bath, all of it. It works, I tested it, your inspector tested it."
"Thank you, Nikko says you did it right, she's not easy to please."
"She's better to work with. Gave me the plans, didn't decide halfway through to change a room, add a closet, don't like the paint. Some ladies just can't make up their minds, then complain when the price goes up. Nikko brought donuts and coffee every day she came, sent the crews lunch every Friday. Saturday a couple weeks back, she sent a barbecue trucks out, invited the subs and their families so the family could see the beautiful house dad built. We had great time, kids loved the place. Took good care, didn't mess up anything. No customer I ever had did that, they aren't gonna forget it."
"Glad to hear it. We have a tendency to add things, we know who to call when we do."
Phil, "Geez, gonna make the place bigger? It's a Ritz Carlton now."
"We remodeled our condo in New York three, no, four times, and our place in Canada once, that after we did substantial upgrading when we bought it. Our family mysteriously keeps growing."
Phil, "None of you over twenty five or so. How's that happen?"
"Beats me, Phil, it really does."
Janah comes along, "The girls want to start right away, is it a problem?"
Phil, "Nope, they'll need to get to outlets I guess."
"Only one or two, everything is wireless."
"Get out, really?"
Janah, "Yes. In New York, Eloise did some through outlets, dimmer switches for instance. Here all the lighting is already adjustable, we just need to connect them to our system. When they're done, everything with power can be adjusted from anywhere we have an internet connection."
Phil, "Was surprised you didn't want one of the talking refrigerators."
"We don't want anything that tracks externally. Guess we're paranoid, but that's how it is."
"Don't blame you, government sticking its nose into everything, Google and Facebook following us around. My own phone tells on me."
I don't mention that Eloise hacked ours. They can triangulate all the cell towers they want, but our location will be inaccurate by several states. If we need to, we can switch it off and go to normal GPS. None of our phones have Manhattan area codes, nor Canada, nor will they have Prescott area codes. If we keep building houses, we may have to revert to smoke signals.
The work goes quicker if we all help, Oceane spends most of the time swimming and diving. We work until ten, then to the hotel.
Three days later, it's operational. Eloise and Daria check and recheck every connection.
I mental Nikko, "Fire up an IPad, take a long distance test run of the automation."
Ten minutes later, lights are coming on we didn't turn on, the sound system plays, cameras show the rooms and exterior. Same for the pool house.
Nikko, "Thing's great, thank Eloise and Daria for us. Chloe thinks it's magical."
It's almost better not to understand the technology, keeps the magic.
"We can move in as soon as two weeks."
Nikko, "Let's see. We have one sizable new tenant, I want to be personally involved, so it will be the end of the third week for me."
"Good enough. We won't all fly on the same plane anyway. Some can come at the end of two, the rest later. Give me time to grocery shop and set up the kitchen. The boxes are here with plates, flatware, glasses and utensils, but I can't deal with it now, there's cabinet finishing left, a bit of painting."
"When do you return?"
"Tomorrow, Oceane has the pool fully broken in and she's distracting the workers anyway. She puts on a diving exposition when they break for lunch. I don't know if it's the dives or the swimsuit. I did require a one piece. A bikini would have created chaos."
Nikko, "She's going to swim nude when it's just us."
"Maybe I should have let her swim nude, they would have paid us to do the work."
Nikko, "There wouldn't be any work."
We've shipped all the bed and bath linens to a UPS store in Prescott. Dasha and I drive to collect the sheets, towels, small kitchen appliances, utensils, dishes, plates, cookware. Plus anything that wouldn't spoil, paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, spices. I never realized just how much stuff there is until we bought it all at once. The boxes fill the SUV and some wind up strapped on the roof. At least it will be here when we move in. All I'll have to do is grocery shop.
Amaya picked out the bedroom and bath linens, I didn't ask the price, she doesn't shop at Wal-Mart. The boxes have luxury brand names on them. Dasha and I tote the boxes inside. No point in unpacking while there's still work to be completed.
Time to fly to Manhattan again, Amaya is waiting, on the drive I think to ask, "What else do we need to do?"
Amaya, "I also ordered cosmetics, leave your stuff here, the things we like will be at UPS. That includes hairbrushes, toothbrushes, hair dryers, nail polish, you will not need any of it. Will you pass that along to Nikko and Zi please?"
I mental Nikko before I forget, tell Amaya, "Done."
Amaya, "I am so looking forward to this. I am certain new inspirations will come from a new location, and it will be great to have a short flight to the west coast."
"I guess, it isn't like you go there a lot. Nikko goes to San Francisco frequently though."
"Chloe has been offered another movie, in all the house hubbub, I have not mentioned it. We have to go to LA in a month."
"No, initial meetings. I am still negotiating the contract. Chloe is box office now, she deserves to be compensated accordingly. We have them over the proverbial barrel, it is not as if Chloe needs either the money or the fame."
"What's the part?"
"Model. Think of Black Swan and change it from ballet to modeling. No deranged mother, instead a young girl is modeling from a very early age, all the expected drama, anorexia, cigarettes, cocaine, pressure to be perfect. Chloe goes down the rabbit hole, on the brink she finds herself and redemption. Maybe a touch of Lindsay Lohan flameout with a happy ending."
"Good script then?"
"The dialogue is crisp, Chloe has funny and ironic lines, she is a sympathetic character, not a bitch. She gets into problems trying to please everybody. In the end, she learns what we preach around here."
"Look at what people do, not what they say, truth is in action, not talk."
"Exactly. I am also nearly finished with the twins’ screenplay. We will finance, Childers will direct. Our twin assassins will be working soon, another trip to LA. It is a prequel to their role in the Ultra Violet films, how they got there. I made them Slavic, but not from Belarus. They have accents though, I can make the dialogue snappier with the accent. I had to rework the abandonment and abuse, from their real mother to a stepfather. I know nobody can trace them, but still."
"No, better to steer clear of the actual past. Do they know yet?"
"Yes, they are reading the script now."
"I gotta keep in touch."
"I planned to cover the developments at tea, you got the preview."
Wonder if life can get any busier? One might think with all the money we have, we could afford to goof off. That sounds good, and we have goof off times, but it would be boring. We have people with talents that need to be nourished, exercised and stretched, just like a muscle or a brain. Like dad says, learn new tricks and you won't become an old dog. Besides, we don't age, we can do nothing later if we wish.
Chapter Ninety Four
Time does its thing, it seems like we just left and we’re back in Prescott. The dealership has our new Escalade Platinum waiting. It's been our preferred ride since we trained at Bondurant Performance Driving a few years ago. They teach tactical, executive protection skills in SUVs. We also took the race driving course, and Amaya's need for speed resulted in a Corvette parked next to the Escalade.
Amaya, "How wonderful, sleek, tight, high performance, like me. Come on Chloe, let's break it in."
The rest of us make do with the most luxuriously appointed Escalade I've ever seen.
Janah, "You could live in this sucker, criminey, what doesn't it have?"
"Daria can speed read the manual, she and Eloise can drive it around and figure out the technology."
Amaya shoots off, we take a more leisurely drive to our new place. Gate opens soundlessly, we make the arc of paved road and pull in next to the Corvette.
Amaya's upstairs, Chloe is in the kitchen, "Daphne, maybe you and Dasha can deal with the initial grocery trip, the rest of us will unbox things and start washing sheets and towels. Eleven bedrooms, sheesh, lots of sheets and towels."
"The guest house can wait for a couple of days, our monks don't arrive until Monday. Okay Dasha, let's get to the grocery, all the basics, we'll find something prepared for dinner."
Amaya, "Vodka, bitters, olives, cocktail onions, wine and champagne are basics."
"I doubt Dasha would let me forget."
We nearly fill the Escalade with food, the big SUV drives like a dream, Dasha takes the wheel for the return trip.
"Car ees beautiful Dahfoney, we haf two Escalade now."
We keep an SUV, Ford 150 and a jeep in Canada, but those are working cars for the fishing guides. They’re for reliability, not for comfort.
Dasha pulls up to the house. There's a mini-frenzy of activity inside, Daria's unpacked dishes and flatware and has them in the dishwasher. While Dasha and I organize the pantry and refrigerators, Daria unpacks small appliances, hand washes stuff that needs it, blenders, coffee pots, mixing bowls. We have commercial stove and ovens like I'd put in the condo. Dasha and I cook for ten, sometimes more. Four gas burners and a single oven aren't close to adequate. Ours has six burners, two ovens and a griddle, there's a second in the guest house. Over the ranges are commercial vents, supplied by Thermador gratis when you spend near fifteen thousand on two stoves. Built in over the counter are two microwaves and two Breville toaster ovens on the counter. If you don't have a Breville, get one. It's two hundred fifty bucks and worth every cent.
We take a tea break at four thirty, back at it in fifteen, work until dinner.
Janah, "What did you get? I'm starved."
"Roast chicken, baked potatoes with vegetables, creamed corn, romaine with blue cheese, loaf of French bread. Various Pepperidge Farm cookies for dessert, had to keep it simple. We'll get sexier for dinner in a few days, we have a good variety of breakfast things, lots of eggs, pancake mix, I'll get the waffle irons checked out later. Man there's a lot of stuff, pots pans, dishes, cups, blah, blah."
Janah, "It's setting up a house from scratch for ten women, twelve counting Danika and Su. (Our caretaker monks, more later.) It's going to take a couple of days."
"Yeah. Round up everyone, been a long day, we don't have to finish it all tonight. Beds made?"
Janah, "And the bathrooms, Amaya made gorgeous selections, Ocean's room looks like fairyland, soft pastels, nothing garish, no frilly things."
"No, Amaya wouldn't do loud and frilly, I suppose the exception is some of Oceane's decora."
"That's supposed to be frilly. She shipped several outfits here, Oceane may start a Harajuku Street in Prescott."
Amaya, "I'm wearing down, maybe stop for tonight."
"Oceane, the pool working out?"
"Crystal clear water. I made small adjustments to the boards, too flexible, better firm. Having such a big pool is like my own ocean."
Amaya, "I told her to spend the afternoon out there. I wanted to set up her room, organize her bathroom and closets."
Eloise, "Thanks for my room, and the workshop is perfect. All my new toys. I went over the automation system again, no glitches. Satellite TV is clear and the sound quality excellent. We can play the audio over the sound system for the house and each TV in the bedrooms will play over the speakers in the room. You can turn that off and just listen on the TV audio or headphones. Your internet streams work the same way. There's an IPad for every bedroom, or you can use your phone."
"The server room?"
Eloise, "All working, more than enough RAM and the best hard drives. Our servers flip IP addresses, none of them located here, just like New York. We're invisible both places."
Janah, "What's the movie?"
"We never watched Savages, the Oliver Stone thing. I can load that up."
We kill the remainder of the evening with a movie where everybody is either a bad guy or a self absorbed asshole.
Amaya, "I do not recall seeing a film where I disliked all the characters, and the dual ending was dopey. Would have been better without Indonesia or Africa or wherever they wound up. Definitely a story where everybody should have died."
"I agree. From the start, I never connected to Ben and Chon. The girl ‘O’ was played by Blake Lively, who is twenty six but manages to look thirty five. Salma Hayek, who plays the vicious drug lord, is forty seven but also manages to look thirty five. Go figure. Uma Thurman was cast as O's mother, but all her scenes were cut due to time constraints, too bad."
Chloe, "They cut Uma Thurman?"
"It happens, movies that run too long don't do as well. You stuff is two hours almost to the minute. That's enough butt time in a theater. I think they have the extra Savage footage on the DVD."
Amaya, "I have seen quite enough. Chloe, time to test drive our new bed, good night all."
Time for all of us. Oceane left the movie in the first fifteen minutes, she made the better decision, but she never actually watches TV anyway, even when she sits through them with us. Her mind is on something else or nothing at all.
Janah and I fold up together, tired, cuddle and a kiss, then gone.
Chapter Ninety Five
Su-Bin, who goes by Su, and Danika are joining us. Su is Korean, Danika is originally Serbian but was a toddler when she moved to New York. They've been in the temple since they were children, Janah admitted them, Su one year, Danika two years after. Danika's father was a refugee, mother unknown. He was killed in a shootout, a bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. Su's mother abandoned her in New York.
Danika is a mystic, Su a contemplative. Both are solitary, our contemplatives and mystics live within. Su is an authority on both the Dharma and the history of Shaolin. Danika is, well, you'll see.
Amaya fetches them from the airport, "Plane ride okay?"
Su, "Never flew privately before, whisked from Teterboro to Prescott in no time. And the food, excellent vegetarian."
Amaya, "Janah will be happy someone else is a veg, the rest of us are carnivores."
Twenty minutes later, they drive through the gate, Amaya makes the arc, Su gasps, "This is your home? It's magnificent."
Amaya, "I trust you will be satisfied with your rooms in the guest house. It's a few steps from the main house."
Janah, "Su! Danika!"
Hugs around. They know all of us of course, Janah, Zi and I much better since we spent time in the temple with them.
"Let's get you settled, then perhaps tea and a tour."
Danika, "What a room! What do I do with all this space? The bed is huge, look Su, look at the bath. A tub, I haven't been in a bathtub in...gee, ever."
Su, "Thank you Janah, Daphne, everyone. I'm going to need to adjust to such luxury. Never thought to live in a place such as this, it's a palace. Sharing such a huge room with Danika will be simple, not bumping into each other."
"This is a single room, one of you take this one, the other can take the one of the others, they're all the same size and layout."
Su, "What? A single room, like this? How glorious, the Buddha smiles on us."
They have a carry-on each, they're monks, a closet of anything but a couple of robes and gung fu uniforms is like a department store to them.
"Amaya took the liberty of selecting a few outfits for you. We don't do robes in town. If you prefer them here, fine by us."
Danika, "Thank you Amaya."
Amaya, "Other than normal toiletries, I did not order cosmetics. If you wish to wear lipstick, eye shadow, mascara, I will get it for you."
Su, "I have no idea. I think maybe to try something, just a little. But I don't know anything about it."
Danika, "Neither do I."
Amaya, "Fortunately for you, I know everything. Let me get it, I will show you how to apply it, then you can use it or not."
Su is bald, Danika has a close cropped cut. Our temple shaves heads when a monk is admitted, after that it's up to the monk. If the monk can detach from hair for a few months, good enough. Many of the men remain bald, female monks run the gamut, none has really long hair. All the gung fu, long days and early mornings, hair gets troublesome. They lived in a monastery, it isn't like they needed to make a fashion statement.
Janah takes them on a tour of the house while Chloe and I prepare afternoon tea. We take it at the low table with a few simple snacks. Chloe doesn't do geisha, but she does it tea ceremony style.
Su, "Chloe and Amaya are geisha Janah says. I've never taken tea this way, so elegant."
Amaya, "When the others arrive, we shall do a formal ceremony in appreciation of the splendid home Nikko built for us."
Danika, "Who did the decorating?"
Danika turns to Amaya, "You have an excellent eye, each part is in harmony. There are differences in the bedrooms, enough I think to reflect the character of its occupants, then the common areas pull all of it together. The kitchen is clearly Daphne, precise, just like in the temple. I shall have to learn to cook for myself."
Janah, "It isn't required, but when we’re here you can take meals with us, you live here. Daphne and Dasha are used to making large meals, and there are always vegetarian options. The rest of us barely cook at all."
Su, “Won't have to ask me twice."
Janah, "You will have to make meals when we are in New York or elsewhere. If you hang out and watch Daphne and Dasha, you’ll be good to go when the time comes."
Danika, "Is there a place for meditation?"
Janah, "Anyplace you like. The grounds have lots of quiet spots, there is a sitting area on the roof of the guesthouse and the main house. The view of the mountain at sunrise and sunset is quite spectacular. We have a meditation loft in Manhattan, but it seemed superfluous here in light of the space on the roof and the mountain."
I take them to their rooms, go over operating the Jacuzzis, showers, Eloise demonstrates the home automation system.
Danika, "This is magic. I will have to take time to learn the functions."
Eloise, "Daria or I will take you through a few trial runs, then just try it. You can't break anything. Here are your phones. I put our numbers in the contact list."
Phones they don't have to learn, we distribute mobile phones at the temple, monks have to be prepared to enter the world sooner or later. They know computers, learning the home automation system will be simple. They are also familiar with TV, we have television at the temple. Of course they've been on the internet for years, much of their coursework was online.
Su and Danika go off to meditate. It's sunset, Janah takes them to the guesthouse roof and sits with them. Dasha has dinner under control.
Dasha, "I haf already make egg drip zoup. They will haf vegetable lasagna and soy cheeken strip. Lasagna wiz ground veal ees ready also for cooking, I will make mix green salad wiz tahini. Ees enough, oh, also Ciabatta."
Chinese Italian, sounds tasty. I fire up the oven, when it's heated, slip in the lasagna. Needs about forty five, then twenty minutes to settle so I can carve chunks that don't slop.
"Thank you Dasha, I did next to nothing."
"Da, you haf to make settle monks. Lasagna ees easy."
Still, it's a good excuse to kiss her, so I do.
Amaya and Chloe come along, it's the cocktail hour. Daria and Eloise come down from the workshop. Oceane's not in the pool, must be in her room. While Amaya makes drinks, I go upstairs to find our sylph.
"Cocktails, would you like a glass of wine or champagne?"
"Either," she's drying off from a bath.
I blow dry her hair, a chance to appreciate her finer points while I do it. I decide she doesn't have anything but finer points. Seems a shame to cover them.
Oceane, "The white linen please."
I find one of her dresses, slip it over her, a simple airy shift, she doesn't wear shoes in the house, none of us do. It's either barefoot or socks. Shoes come off at the door, just like at the condo.
Chloe, "Things are so relaxed here. I love New York, but I already feel the peace of this place."
Amaya, "Does it feel different to you Oceane?"
"Spirits in the air, less violent, not afraid."
Janah, Su and Danika come in, Danika says, "The spirits here are less agitated than New York."
We laugh, Danika is puzzled, I explain, "Oceane just said the same thing."
Danika, "She is a seer."
Janah, "More of a feeler, but yes, the same idea."
Danika looks to Oceane, studies her, blinks, "She contains multitudes."
Janah, "You have similarities. Oceane's world is parallel to ours, but not of ours. Her thoughts are not always comprehensible to us. But it is of no importance, she comprehends them just fine."
Danika is quiet, then, "At the temple, most know you and your family are different. I didn't understand just how different. I have much to contemplate, and to learn."
"That will take nourishment, dinner is ready. Please find a seat."
Amaya fills wine drinker's glasses, Dasha and I hand out cups of egg drop soup. Then platters of the two lasagnas and two bowls of salad. Warm Ciabatta sliced and buttered.
Su, "Delicious Dasha. Does the family eat like this all the time?"
Chloe, "This is one of the simper meals. We are completely spoiled by our chefs."
Su, "Tomorrow, may I hang out when you cook?"
"Sure, we may enlist you to work though."
"Great. When we were young in the temple, we did kitchen duty, but that meant washing and cleaning the dining hall. We never cooked anything ourselves, there were always volunteers, Danika and I went other directions. She doesn't eat much anyway."
Danika is an ascetic, which typically means severe self discipline and abstention from indulgence. One might say she's ascetic to a point, doesn't cross over to severe. She's tall, five nine, slim but hardly anorexic, kind of like Chloe. Chloe is naturally lanky, she eats like the rest of us, it doesn't stick. Danika takes small portions, doesn't eat sweets unless you count fruit. Over the years, I've increased the amount of fresh fruit on hand, there are always apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, whatever is in season. That's pretty much our snack food, but we have dessert, and I keep chocolate around. We've also gotten hooked on Enstrom almond toffee. There's always a couple of boxes in the refrigerator.
Su is hardly ascetic, she's a monk, not self indulgent, less restrictive about food than Danika. She's also not what one would call slim. She's shorter than Danika, five three-ish, edging on stocky but not there, unusually muscular for a girl. The Shaolin lifestyle makes stocky near impossible.
Su, "I will need to exercise with this wonderful food. At the temple gung fu was part of the day, you just went. Now that I'm on my own, the motivation has to come from me."
Dasha, "Fahmahley ees always exercise. We haf gymnastic, sweem, fighting, dance, yoga. You will find something. Besides anyway Eemaya weel not permit fahmeley to get fat, she will tell you."
Amaya, "Do not make me out to be a dictator, Russian fascist. I only look out for the best interests of all. And yes, I know your best interests better than you do."
Su laughs, "Good for Amaya. If I need a swift kick, I can count on her to deliver it."
Chapter Ninety Six
The first week we settle in to our routines, we like routine at home. Our out of the box life with the Society is not routine. When we're in the box, we like what passes for normal, at least normal for us.
Su becomes a kitchen apprentice, she likes it. Did have to get used to Dasha's stream of mumbled commentary. Dasha talks to herself while she's preparing and cooking, Su naturally thought she was talking to one of us.
"No, if Dasha is talking to you, she will say your name first, unless she's answering a question of course. Sometimes she will start with 'you' and your name will show up at the end of the sentence. Otherwise, she mumbles to herself. It's how she figures out what she needs to do next, she needs to verbalize it."
Su smiles, "Then I'm not ignoring her?"
"Not at all. Wouldn't matter if you did, neither of the twins take what people say personally, they don't see why anyone would. If they say something, it's usually direct, they aren't much for softening. They don't mean to be rude, they mean to be plain spoken."
Su, "I've noticed Amaya is direct with them, particularly Dasha."
"That's their play. Amaya would do anything for her, Dasha knows that."
Su, "Ah, of course, how delightful. Little miscommunication then."
Su, "Danika had another question, I told her I would ask. We live here at no cost. I know we are expected to look after the house when the family is not here, but what is our role when you are here?"
"Everyone maintains the house. Dasha and I deal with the kitchen, Zi takes care of her and Nikko's room. I clean up Amaya's, Amaya does Chloe and the twins. Chloe and Nikko take care of the common area, Janah generally does laundry for everyone. She finds wash, dry, fold a form of meditation. I do our room, Janah can get preoccupied, you’ll see a forgotten glass or a plate, just take it to the kitchen and stick it in the dishwasher."
Su, "How nice, everyone does something for someone else."
"It gets done better that way, we might slack for ourselves, but not for the others. In general, if you see something needs doing, do it. For now, you have two bedrooms in use and the rest of the guesthouse to be dusted, floors vacuumed and mopped. That's enough when all of us are here. There's a washer and dryer in the guesthouse, simpler for you to do laundry there perhaps."
Su, "We will take on the exterior, the sitting areas on the roofs, the pool furniture, sweep and such."
"Okay. There's a pool company that does the heavy lifting on the pool itself. Nikko knows who it is. They'll come once every two or three months, I forget.”
Su, "Anything else?"
"Does either of you drive?"
"I do, Danika doesn't."
"Good enough. If she wants to learn we'll send her to a school and get her licensed. You will both need Arizona IDs. You can get a driver's license, here you just swap out the old one, they don't make you test. If Danika wants an Arizona ID card, she can get one at the DMV. Give them the mailing address, the UPS store, not our home address. Just your name, the store address and the box number. It's not a PO Box, just put hashtag and the number. We don't want our physical address on any state stuff, anytime you are asked for an address, use the box, and don't volunteer that. If you don't need to give an address, don't. Lots of our stuff comes from Amazon, use our account. Nikko will get you credit cards, we don't use debit cards or checks. You have a passport?"
Su, "Yes, so does Danika. I went to Korea twice, Danika went to China and Tibet."
"Good. Let's see, oh, let me show you the family website. We post our intended comings and goings. There are twelve of us now, people are busy. It helps to know where they are going to be."
I pull up the site on an IPad, a calendar appears. If you are going to be here or an errand in town, don't bother to post. I can't think of anything else for now, you'll pass the other stuff along to Danika?"
Su, "As soon as she returns to Earth, she's out on the grounds someplace, probably up the mountain. Oceane went with her."
"That will be an interesting combo."
Su, "Multitudes meet multitudes, hope it isn't confusing."
Janah comes from upstairs, "Nikko and Zi arrive tomorrow, Amaya will meet them."
Su, "Is Amaya the driver?"
"Mostly, she loves driving, I prefer to ride. Dasha and Daria are excellent drivers. If you want to get more experience, Amaya will take you out."
Su, "Good idea, I know how, can't say I actually did it much."
"Then go with her to the airport, drive one of the legs."
"Amaya, Su needs to get up to speed on driving, has a license, not much experience. She'll go with you to collect Nikko and Zi tomorrow."
"I will take care of it, I leave at ten thirty, change that, we will leave at ten, she can tour us around. They are to arrive at eleven."
"I talked to Amaya, meet her at ten. You can drive to the city then to the airport for eleven."
Su, "How did you...? Oh, yes, you call it mentaling, I thought it was just you, Janah and Nikko."
"I mental Amaya and the twins. Chloe and Zi are Sensitives, they don't mental. Sensitives know what others are thinking already, as you know."
Su laughs quietly, hand over her mouth, "Yes, there are a couple at the temple, we try to mask our intention, it only works sometimes."
"Give it a shot with Chloe and Zi, good luck."
"They won't mind?"
"More like they will enjoy your attempt. Maybe Danika can do it, mystics are strange in a temple of strange."
She laughs again, "Good test for her, Danika is good at illusion, she can create a world right in someone's mind, like virtual reality games."
"What do you know of our, um, outside work?"
Su, "The Society, the Shaolin know a bit, some of it rumor, no details. Janah gave us more insight. I am not sure I can be helpful, Danika is willing. She sees it as fulfilling her vows. I understand it, I'm just not much of a warrior."
"Some of it is more analytical, you may find yourself having a role. That, however, is up to you, no obligation."
Su, "If I can be useful, I am happy to participate."
Janah comes along, "As Daphne said, there is no requirement. If you choose to stay out of it, it's okay, nothing is lost."
Su, "We came in with eyes open. This is a good place for us. Danika and solitude are friends, but she's not like Master Tan, the old mystic. Not for meditating in a hut for years. I am not particularly interested in the world outside, caught up in my studies. But neither of us are for cloistering. We were delighted to be chosen."
Janah, "A sanctuary for us, like our home in New York and the place in Canada."
Su, "Canada, yes. How are the monks?"
"Chugging along, they say they're happy, the business stays active all season. I think they look forward to the winter, just maintenance and lots of time to be quiet. You and Danika will join us there, we usually go in summer, get out of New York and desert heat."
Su, "We can go? How wonderful. We have heard so much of the beauty and splendor. A place where our Earth has not been so spoiled. Like our garden at the temple, herbs, vegetable gardens, fruit trees."
"Daria is going to make a garden here, the work will be finished next fall, it needs irrigation lines and some cover."
Su brightens, " A garden! May I be allowed to help?”
"Of course. It will be a little work over the summers when we aren't around."
"I found David Li's gardens to be a joy, my hands in the Earth, seeing the plants spring up, life seeking life."