Chapter Ninety Seven
Lunch comes and goes, Danika and Oceane had playtime, now Oceane’s in the pool. Sloane is leaping off the high board, Cassie is practicing flips from the one meter. She has no innate superior proprioceptive skill, she misses one, nails one. What she does have is tenacity. Her fearlessness leads to crashing the dirt bike, a lot worse than missing a flip into the pool.
Nishiko checks in, We’re in at ten thirty tomorrow.
Sooner than you thought, glad you’re coming early.
The San Francisco management runs the business like a Japanese corporation, efficient, dedicated, client centered, not just a public relations ploy, in fact. All Zi and I did was wine and dine tenants, a couple of prospective tenants. We met with all the owners, got two new properties our people have been working on. They wanted to meet the principals before they signed, we met, they signed. Another million a year in revenue. We had a party for the staff, peeled shrimp and cracked crab, champagne and top shelf liquor, a DJ. Time to leave them alone and let them do what they do.
Daria would have enjoyed it.
She flew up for the party, dazzled the crowd with dance moves, spent the night with us at the apartment and flew back to LA yesterday.
I’ll pass along the news, be at the airport tomorrow to collect you, kiss Zi for me.
We log off, it’s moved to tea time, we’ll have it outdoors again. The weather here in November is splendid. Arizona doesn’t do daylight savings, by six it’s dark.
I repeat my conversation with Nikko.
Danika, “Splendid, coming in earlier than expected. We must have a big dinner, what do you think Daphne?”
“Nikko is a steak lover. Zi enjoys whatever we put in front of her. We’ll round up filets from Sprout’s, I’ll do a few sides, have dinner by the pool. Sprout’s will have catfish and trout, I’ll grill that as well.”
Tonight is pizza, I have five of the premade Boboli crusts, make two with sliced tomato, four cheese and light sprinkling of basil. Two with standard tomato sauce, pepperoni, one of those with anchovy, and one veg with provolone, mozzarella and Boscoli olive salad, a Janah and Oceane favorite.
Sloane is wolfing pepperoni and anchovy, the swimming girls are hungry, Cassandra has a slice of pepperoni and a slice of margherita, then tries on the one with olive salad. Glad to see it, she’s built like a pencil, all elbows and knees. Just like I was at her age.
Su, “Thank you Daphne, Sloane. That was scrumptious, simple things made delicious.”
Sloane, “When are Dasha and Daria coming home?”
“Not for a month, they take a Christmas break, then back for final wrap. Amaya says they’re shooting for a summer release. It’s a PG and they can capture the teen market with Chloe as the star.”
“I miss everybody.”
“We all do, our family functions best together, we’re multi-codependent. I’ve never been apart from Janah a single day since we met.”
Sloane, “Really, like never?”
“Really like never in any twenty four hour day. We do stuff separately obviously, but we’re together physically for some part of the day.”
“But you can mental, and merge into each other.”
“True, merging only happens when we’re physically together though. Mentaling is great, but I like to see and touch, so we’re not only multi-codependent, we’re ultra-codependent, multi-ultra-codependent. Maybe a new personality disorder, drug companies can peddle a whole new line of pharmaceuticals, expensive ones that don’t do anything, like they have now.”
Janah, “They do things, make people lethargic and fat zombies.”
“True, and they make pharma executives rich, I’m hypocritical, we have tons of money in the stock market, some of it must be in drug stocks.”
Sloane, “Better than being fat and lazy.”
Danika laughs, “She’s adopting your personality Daphne.”
Sloane, “I’d rather have her legs, mine are skinny.”
“Yours are slim and all muscle, racing around all the time.”
“Yeah, like today. I raced Cassie up the hill, I ran, she was on the bike.”
“It wasn’t a race, race, I just ran alongside. I could cheat a little, jump rocks too big for her to ride over. She still kept up.”
Su, “You kept up with a motorcycle?”
“Well, it was uphill, the bike doesn’t get past forty, I can run that fast.”
Su blinks, “You can run forty miles an hour?”
“For maybe a half mile, then I have to slow it up.”
Su, “I know she’s fast, I see her running around here, but forty, for a half mile? How fast do sprinters go?”
Janah, “The fastest human, Usain Bolt, hit twenty seven and that only for twenty meters in a hundred meter race.”
“She could be an Olympian.”
“We don’t need the recognition. First, how to explain it? Second, Chloe’s fame is quite enough. That happened kind of accidentally, she did commercials and the video camera liked her as much as the still camera. Studio wanted to make one of Amaya’s books into a movie, then Amaya wrote a book with a Chloe-style kendo girl. That got made into a movie with Chloe as lead, one thing led to another.”
Sloane, “It wouldn’t be fair anyway. I could beat all the men from a hundred meters to the marathon. I don’t know, might poop out in a marathon, the top runners are doing just under five minutes a mile, thirteen miles an hour. Maybe I’ll run the race course at five minute miles and see how far I get before I conk out.”
“Wear your Band.”
Sloane holds up her wrist, “Always do, can’t swim with it.”
I got her a Microsoft Band. Tracks all kinds of things, UV light, GPS, connects to her e-mail and text, tracks sleep, deep or light and how long for each. Tells you how many calories you burned. Important for Sloane, it monitors her pulse. At speed, she needs to know her heart rate and back off if it gets too high.
A wolf’s heart hits two hundred forty flat out. Humans under two hundred. Sloane slows if she gets to one ninety. The monitor helps her another way, she’s learning to lower her heart rate even at speed. I don’t subscribe to the theory that hearts have a max number of beats in a lifetime, and since we don’t age, the muscle is forever young. Still, better to learn control and run flat out at one forty or fifty, the target she’s shooting for.
Chapter Ninety Eight
It’s Christmas, everyone is home and the parents fly in from New York. They’ve been here two days, Oceane and Cassie have managed to stay dressed. December temperatures average sixty five for a high, it’s chilly in the mornings and after the sun sets.
The pool is heated, normally a huge expense for one that size, but we’re all solar, heating the pool costs zero. Today everyone decides on a swim, Oceane entertains with spectacular dives from the ten meter.
Lacy, “Oceane is such an incredible diver, geez, she slips in with hardly a ripple. And Sloane is like a cruise missile.”
Susan, “Think you have enough stuff? Dirt bikes, formula one cars, go karts, a pool bigger than most houses, a house bigger than some hotels.”
“Said the woman who spends half the year out of the country, flying first class and staying in five star accommodations.”
Taylor laughs, Susan says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Baloney, you ran out of passport pages in a year.”
“Besides, we live in a consumer culture, if we quit buying the economy collapses.”
James, “Cassandra appears content.”
Amaya, “She the most content person on any planet. I could turn her into a child fashion icon and all she wants is white chemises, she has eight, at least I can make up her lack of interest by buying a lot of the same thing. Dasha and Daria are far more sensible.”
“Because they let you dress them to suit your taste.”
“An-duh, how do they always look?”
Susan, “She’s got you bub, they always look amazing. The Olsen girls got nothing on your twins.”
Amaya, “Thank you, the Olsens are quite fashionable, excellent taste overall.”
James, “Cassie is still the quietest person in the room.”
“And remember, if you want a reply, you have to put a question. She doesn’t understand implied questions or carrying her end of a conversation.”
Lacy, “She goes to school, at least online?”
“Sort of. She will read and comprehend if I put something in front of her. She knows basic arithmetic, how to spell. She doesn’t search on the internet. Somebody has to get her to a site. Generally it’s Kahn Academy. She will listen to the lectures, watch the video. We intentionally don’t run a lot past her.”
“She’s minimalist, in her clothes, the things she owns, and in her head. She doesn’t want a lot of information, doesn’t make choices, not directly. Fortunately our Sensitives can read her subconscious preferences.”
James, “Then, like the rest of your family, she wound up in the right place. Nobody makes demands, she has no need to conform. Everything is provided.”
“Yes, as for Oceane. Oceane makes decisions, sort of engages in conversation, sparingly but she’ll do it. She also likes simple clothes, only puts things against her skin out of necessity.”
“So she’s wearing a swimsuit because I’m here.”
“Because the extended family is here. If all of you lived with us for a while, she’d skip the suit. That you are male has nothing to do with it.”
Susan, “But Cassie is different, it isn’t the feel of things that bothers her.”
“No, getting dressed is a decision. If Sloane or I wake her and tell her to get dressed and come to breakfast, she does. If we just say come to breakfast, she comes down naked, like she sleeps.”
Kara, “It’s hard to get my mind around. I mean, the brain is a decision machine, data in, process, decide. What happened?”
Janah, “We don’t know. It isn’t that she never decides. If you put an apple and a banana in front of her, she’ll eat the apple, ignore the banana.”
“Until we figured out the apple was simpler, just take and eat, you have to peel the banana.”
They laugh, Taylor says, “Now that’s minimalist.”
James, “So you did the obvious.”
Susan, “Don’t do that, what’s obvious to you escapes the rest of us. Don’t say, let me think.”
A minute passes, then, “Oh, duh, peel the banana first.”
Janah giggles, “Yes, then she picks the banana, but generally eats the apple too.”
“It gets worse, or better, she can heal,” I relate the bobcat story.
Susan, “You let my granddaughter sleep in a cave, with a bobcat!?”
“I didn’t let anything, it wasn’t a play date. The animal was injured and sensed help, which he got. And I know I don’t have to say it, but I’m saying it, this story stays right here, go home and forget it.”
Taylor, “Nobody would believe us anyway, and the child must be protected.”
“The family must be protected, we have a pile of strange skills, and I have no intention of any of it becoming public knowledge. We would have to relocate to our Canadian wilderness home and I really don’t want to have to winter there.”
Kara, “Sloane would be okay, she’s a wolf.”
Speaking of which, Sloane comes racing along, “Come on Susan, time to ride the karts, let’s see whatcha got.”
We move to the track, there are four karts, Cassie takes one, Sloane, Sis and Taylor.
Sloane and Cassandra make the granny look like a granny. They lap them, then lap them again, then Cassie spins out, off the track in a cloud of dirt.
Susan jumps out and races over. Before she gets there, Cassie has it back on the track.
Sis putts over to us and gets out, “She’s insane, how fast do these things go?”
“Are you crazy? Sixty, she’s nine.”
“I was more concerned about you going sixty, but you didn’t get close.”
Cassie’s kart screams by, Susan, “Does she ever slow down?”
“Slowing down is a decision.”
Susan, “You are the worst mother of all time.”
I laugh, “Said the mom who had her daughter in taekwondo at five.”
Susan is indignant, “That was your doing, and Master Kim. Besides, taekwondo is safe by comparison, you don’t do forms at sixty miles an hour on a concrete track.”
“Then you don’t want to watch her on her dirt bike.”
“Gaaaahh! What! She has a dirt bike?”
“Yeah, her size. She already goes airborne, and can wheelie. It took a fair number of wipeouts, but she got there.”
James is laughing, Susan looks at me like I’m from another planet. Then she smiles.
“Chris would ask me if I thought putting her in a rubber room with only soft toys was a good idea. C-mom would have been learning to ride with her.”
“That’s Sloane’s job, and the twins. You can imagine how fearless Dasha and Daria are on them. That’s the extent of our bikers, four.”
Sloane screeches to a stop, hops out, “We’re getting the bikes out, Anyone else who wants to kart is welcome.”
James, “I have to give this a shot, my inner child demands it.”
Kara, “Bet I can take you buster, come on Lacy, let’s give the shrink a lesson.”
They helmet up, the karts are simple, press the pedal and go, the brake is the other pedal.
“Tell you what, take a few laps, then I’ll pull you to the starting line and drop the flag, five laps, winner takes all.”
They do pretty well, it’s putt-putt for the first lap, then they get their sense of it and pick up the pace. After five laps, I flag them to the starting line, walk down the track ten yards, raise the flag, drop it, off they go.
James takes an early lead, but Kara catches him with Lacy on her bumper. They roll in that order for three laps, then halfway into the fourth. I’m waving fingers each lap with the count. Lacy takes advantage of her size, tiny. She gooses the gas, passes Kara, cuts inside as James takes the outside turn and shoots past him. She takes the fifth lap going away. Kara just nudges James at the finish line.
They come out of the karts laughing and breathless.
James, “I can’t remember when I had so much fun, that was amazing.”
Kara, “Lacy is ruthless, congratulations.”
Lacy, “I have a weight advantage. I’m like a hundred pounds. It’s why Cassie beats everyone.”
Kara, “I didn’t think of that, I’m feeling better about getting shellacked but not so great about beating James. He was doomed.”
“There’s some strategy, Sloane cuts in front of Cassandra to keep her from passing. But they don’t much ride the things competitively, it’s just fun to be sitting almost on the ground whizzing around.”
I hear motorcycles winding up, Dasha and Daria blast out of the garage and towards the mountain.
“Settle back and enjoy the show, I’ll find a bottle of wine.”
Sloane, “Come on Cassie, let’s ride.”
Family with a large glass of cold Graves, they kick back and watch four girls defy gravity, both going up and coming down.
Taylor, “They’re incredible, good Lord, look at Cassandra, she must be six or seven feet in the air!”
“They insisted on a dirt track, they used to just ride around the mountain, but they wanted higher jumps. Over the summer, Danika and Su hired a crew to make half the route a track, with fat hills and dips, then the mountain, you can see the arc of the turn back down which takes them to the left half.
Dasha goes sailing over a hill, in the air, plops down halfway up the next hill, then up the mountain. I hear Sloane screech in joy, airborne off a downside hill, which quickly arcs left in a long curve with two smaller hills to navigate. For variety, they can run the course clockwise or counter, today it’s counter.
Taylor, “I got to give it a go. I won’t be jumping anything, but I want to ride one.”
“Sloane will give you a lesson tomorrow, you don’t have to ride the track, anywhere on the property is good. Try not to tear up the garden.”
I made roast beef and gravy in the slow cookers, tonight is poor boys with fries and coleslaw. Janah and Oceane get garden loaf with grilled vegetables on French and black bean soup.
Lacy, “Cripes, I’m starved, these sandwiches are just amazing.”
Susan, “I can’t believe Cassandra on that motorcycle. She has zero fear, none of them do. A nine year old sailing through the air and dropping onto the dirt like it’s perfectly natural. Cassie, which is your favorite, the bike or the kart?”
Cassie blinks at her. Goes back to her fries.
“That’s a choice. You have the right idea, a question, but not a question with a decision. When she’s on the bike, the bike is her favorite, on the kart, it’s the kart.”
Susan, “I used to think you and Janah were as weird as it got. I thought wrong.”
Cassie grins, she likes strange.
Chapter Ninety Nine
Parents decide to go with Chloe and the others to LA, a chance to watch Chloe work.
Susan calls me a couple of days later, “You kept telling me about Shutters, I was busy world traveling, this place is wonderful.”
“Take a walk to Venice Beach, find a restaurant called James Beach. Food’s great, big list of cocktails and beer.”
“We’ll do it, right now we’re getting ready to go to the set. Chloe is a major attraction, I feel like I’m in a star’s entourage.”
“You are in a star’s entourage.”
“Chloe gets attention from the guests and people on the street, but the star of the hotel is Dasha, or Miss Dasha as she’s known here. She walks around talking to herself, Amaya said the staff got accustomed, at first they thought she was talking to them, or on a mobile. They can’t do enough for her, she’s as bad as you, knows everyone’s name. The chef has been to Ultra Violet, he comes to the table and talks food with her. Amaya held an impromptu author’s talk at the request of several guests. I’m feeling inadequate.”
“Hack the hotel’s system then sell them a fix.”
She laughs, “I don’t need to be that adequate. Actually it’s fun seeing the girls in action. We see them at home, no so much when they’re out in public. Is it always like this?”
“Pretty much. Chloe won’t turn away fans, she’s in a few million phones with people she doesn’t know. If Dasha’s around long enough, people get charmed by her accent, then double charmed by her direct speak.”
“Yes, Amaya told me she made the hotel stock Russian Standard vodka and the cocktail list now includes Double Trouble, chilled Russian Standard they keep in the beer cooler, double shot with a drop of orange bitters, served neat in a frozen old fashion glass. It sells briskly they say.”
“They should have their own wing of the hotel by now, we’ve dropped a bundle there, and the studio bill is going to be eighty grand.”
Susan, “When we checked in the manager came out to greet Miss Sylk and Miss Amaya’s guests. He did ask if I was Miss Daphne’s sister.”
“You told him yes I hope.”
“I fessed up, he looked at me, doubtful. The not aging thing is working splendidly. They’re ready, gotta go, cars are waiting. Sheesh, we get treated like royalty, I’m going to feel deprived back home.”
We ring off, happy they’re having fun, and there’s no rush back to Manhattan. Winter has kicked in and the polar vortex is doing its frozen bit.
Janah, “Family enjoying star treatment?”
“What did Kara say?”
“She wants to apply to be Chloe’s personal assistant. Every wish granted instantly, car and driver, secluded restaurant seating, top of the top shelf liquor. James had a forty year old scotch and when he expressed his delight, a bottle appeared in their room the next day compliments of the hotel.”
“Good for them. I’m sure Amaya will drop management a note, as will I. I’ll stick mine on Murakami Sylk letterhead. Amaya has ultra bond super premium paper for Chloe Couture and her personal stationery. Nikko won’t allow it for Murakami Sylk, it has to be quality, but practical quality. Not that there’s much call for actual paper these days.”
I’m in the kitchen contemplating dinner, Cassie comes through towards the pool. Guests gone, she’s back to all natural. She looks more like me all the time, it’ll get bizarre soon. She’s nine, I look twenty five. Unless something in our biology changes, I’ll still look twenty five when she’s fifteen.
Janah, “And you’ll look twenty five when she’s twenty five, passing her off as your daughter won’t work.”
“I’m not letting her go to twenty five. We’re going to have to decide when she gets the blood and protein markers. Let her get through puberty first. Do we go longer than Amaya, Chloe, the twins and Oceane? They’re all teens. Oceane’s the bio-youngest at fourteen or fifteen.”
Janah, “Maybe she starts making decisions. If we say she can have it now, she’ll say okay and be nine forever. The Sensitives can read her non-response, might help us decide.”
“I have to decide on dinner. Think I’ll pick up fried chicken, baked beans, I can put together French onion soup and a big salad.”
Janah, “I’ll take a ride with you, check in with Nikko so somebody keeps an eye on Cassie and Oceane.
I go to Nikko’s head, I see her tummy and legs, and Danika’s head in between. Blink off that channel.
“Nikko and Danika are….”
Janah, “I’ll find Su, you tell Sloane.”
Upstairs, Sloane’s not in her room, only one other place to go, Oceane’s.
Her bedroom door is cracked, I see nude Sloane leaning against the dressing table, Oceane on her knees pleasuring Sloane’s boy part. Geez, everyone’s having sex but me.
I silently pull the door to, find Zi. She’s sitting on her bed, legs crossed putting batteries in a vibrator.
She looks up, smiles, “Nikko is visiting Danika, it’s got me heated up. I’m prepping to self adjust.”
“Vibrators are a girl’s best friend.”
“Are you available?”
I mental Janah, Going to be occupied for a while, and the others are also busy. Keep an eye on Cassie, I’ll get to the store later.
I sense Janah looking through my eyes, Zi is tasty warm.
Nikko and Danika are having a play date, Zi got toasty thinking about it, I need to butter her toast.
Good of you to help, later you can strap up and help me. I’m going to lose my shirt and go for a swim with Cassie.
I toy Zi with the vibrator, use my tongue on the sensitive spot, she responds according to plan, a delightful Chinese delicacy. Then she’s over me like graffiti, covering every inch. Not finished, a strap on appears, then disappears, inside me, it vibes and buzzes, ooohhh. Zi goes slow and deep until the end, finishes me with a frenzy, working my clit with the tip, I mega moan, geez it’s soooo…. shivers.
Zi’s smiling down at me, “You blasted off nicely.”
“Worked me like a government mule, I’m still tingly.”
She rolls off, I destrap her, we snuggle until I can’t put off the store any longer. Kisses, then to my room to freshen and dress, pass Nishiko along the way.
Nikko, “She’s ravenous, what happened to Buddhist all things in moderation.”
“She’s showing compassion by sacrificing herself to meet your needs.”
Nikko, “While you showed compassion to Zi?”
“We’re both Shaolin, we shared compassion with each other. Zi shared a lot of compassion, she may get the Most Compassionate Buddhist Award.”
“You are a slut.”
“Said the samurai who sleeps with three Shaolin and their Abbess.”
“Just going, fried chicken, couple of sides.”
On the way out, I check in with Janah and Cassie. Swimming over, they’re on a lounge chair with the fading afternoon sun. It’s gotten cooler, Cassie is curled into Janah, wrapped up in arms, one slim leg between Janah’s.
Janah, “Hand me one of the big towels, starting to chill.”
I lay it over them, “Back in a bit.”
Chapter One Hundred
Cocktail hour arrives, Janah, I miss Amaya doing bartender duty.
You just drink wine.
I miss watching her make cocktails.
You mean just watching her.
That’s what I said.
Here comes Oceane, watch her.
Nice of her to save us the trouble of undressing her with our eyes.
Oceane floats in, slips close to Janah and gets her unspoken request to have her legs and tush fondled. Janah rises to the occasion while still seated. Oceane parks next to her on the couch to provide a convenient thigh for Janah to rest her hand.
“Our family is so thoughtful.”
Nikko, “Pour me a glass of red and quit being nasty.”
Danika leans over to nibble Nikko’s earlobe, then a kiss, tongue included.
Zi, “So sweet, you make me warm again.”
Danika sits next to her, another kiss, “My sister Shaolin is delicious.”
Nikko, “Geez, is there a Shaolin slut sutra?”
Four voices, “Yes.”
“Part of the secret teachings.”
I hear the engines die on the dirt bikes.
Sloane and Cassie come racing in, “We’re crummy.”
“You sure are, shower outside, just leave the clothes next to the shower.”
“Thanks mom,” out they go.
Nikko, “Still can’t get my mind around Cassandra on a dirt bike.”
“Sloane didn’t ask, she told her what to do and Cass did it. When they ride now, Sloane says ‘let’s ride the bikes,’ Cass goes along. She swims when she sees Oceane in the pool, she eats when we put food in front of her, showers on her own, occasionally with me. Other functions have become habits, like tooth brushing. She spots the toothbrush, she brushes. Body functions are automatic, at least we don’t have to remind her to do it on the toilet.”
Janah, “That’s a personal hygiene thing, she’s super clean. I assume the Shadow bred it into her, maybe the housekeeper. She doesn’t mind getting dirty, like riding the bikes, but she cleans up right after.”
Zi, “You think the Shadow…did things..”
“Her hymen was broken, doesn’t mean he had sex with her, it could happen other ways. She enjoys herself. I was cleaning her room, she was in bed with a sheet over her, but it was clear she was playing. She wasn’t modest about it. I was right next to the bed, facing her, she kept after it.”
Janah, “I played with me from age five, it felt good, still does.”
“I was more mature, six.”
Nikko, “How does starting later make you more mature? Seems like it would be the other way round.”
“Depends on how you see masturbation, as childish or mature.”
Janah, “It’s neither, it’s normal. What’s childish and immature is worrying about it.”
“Good point, I withdraw my observation.”
Janah, When Cassie was lying with me on the recliner, she wrapped her legs around one of mine. Must have started feeling good, she rubbed against my leg until she tingled. She didn’t offer an explanation, I didn’t ask. Stopping her didn’t seem right either.
No, she’s different and gets a longer behavior leash, still, can’t have her humping everyone, I’ll give her a small vibrator and have a chat.
The chicken goes over well, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken. Sloane helps me clean up, the others are outside enjoying the air. It’s brisk, but we have outdoor heaters that generate enough heat to melt rocks. The star show out here is brilliant, in Canada it’s luminescent.
Nikko, “Be Cassandra’s first trip to Canada.”
“Sloane can introduce her to the wolf, and all Janah’s pals, or their children. I’ve lost track of how many generations we’ve been through. I’m on my third eagle and fourth owl.”
Danika, “How strange it must be, receiving transmissions from them.”
“Think triple migraine with a touch of brain chisel, then you start to get close.”
Su, “Must have given you some concern, letting Sloane work with the wolf.”
“I recalled my moms letting me go to the temple, knowing the work would be grueling. And how they handled it when Janah got her brain mangled. Sloane is tough, she’s endured as a girl with the wrong parts, treated abysmally by her father. Now she’s learned to make her psychology and her biology work together. In part due to Oceane.”
Oceane is lying on a recliner facing away from us, “Sloane fucks me, and it feels good in my mouth.”
Nikko, “Too much information.”
We laugh, Janah says, “Do you think Oceane is losing sleep over that?”
Nikko shrugs, “Oceane isn’t even talking to us, she likely doesn’t know anyone else is here.”
Sloane comes out, she’s been in Cassie’s room, “She’s watching some animated Japanese thing and making stuff float around the room.”
“She does it all the time. She goes to Oceane’s and flies her drawing pencils. Oceane plucks one out of the air and uses it. When she’s finished, she lets go of it and it joins the others twirling around her.”
Zi, “She isn’t going to get a pencil in the eye I hope.”
Sloane, “Noooo, they go real slow, like a lazy tornado. When she leaves, they all drop to the floor.”
Nikko, “Janah never takes in normal.”
Zi laughs, “Janah would send a normal kid to one of the ranches. We must take the ones other people would not understand. Their skills would wither away while they were sent to therapists for reeducation, brainwashing. I’m not sure how she knows they are special in the first place, mystery of Master J.”
Janah, “Here, they are unrestricted, we don’t assume limitation. See what happens when the unregulated, uncontaminated, unconditioned brain is allowed to flourish. Amaya, a performance master, Chloe a Sensitive, the twins’ qi, Oceane, artist extraordinaire, Sloane the wolf girl, now Cassandra with telekinetic qi that may surpass Daria. Eloise came under different circumstances, we didn’t rescue her, but she’s an amazing hardware techie.”
“Speaking of which, the movie wraps tomorrow, our family will be whole again. Parents return to frozen Manhattan.”
Danika, “Why don’t they just come here? Who needs twenty eight degrees and ice?”
“I told them that, but they have projects. Dad is still practicing, Kara has paintings she wants to paint, Sis still has her hand in the computer security game. She’s also advising start-ups and getting paid in stock options.”
Su, “Don’t they mostly go broke?”
“Sure, but when one clicks, she cleans up. She only works the security end, doesn’t make the games and apps, makes them safe from hacks. If the game or app catches on, she gets a payday. It keeps her head in the latest code and code busting. It’s fun for her. In comes this ancient forty year old woman, and the smug kids who are sure she’s past it sit abjectly humiliated while she burns through their firewalls like a blow torch on papier-mâché.”
Su laughs, “Love to see their expression.”
“It isn’t pretty, they start blaming, denying, she waits until they settle down, then tells them how many options she wants.”
Evening’s winding up, I go to see my daughter before bed. The movie must be over, HBO is doing some kind of sports thing. Cassie watches, changing the channel doesn’t occur. I click the TV off, sit on the edge of the bed.
I stroke her hair, down her soft cheek, “Better not to enjoy feeling good on someone else, Janah’s okay, it isn’t a problem. Other people might not be comfortable. If you like it, I’m sure Oceane doesn’t mind.”
Cassie, “Oceane likes me to do it on her.”
“Okay then, Janah and Oceane. I have something for you, use it when you feel like it, wash it when you’re done. Do you know how it works?”
Cassie takes the cigar sized toy, clicks it and the vibration starts. It’s straightforward, one speed, twist clockwise it starts, twist counter it’s off. I show her about the battery, put a half dozen in her nightstand.
“Do you know how to use it on you?”
“Oceane has one, I watched.”
I kiss her, lift her head and fluff the pillow. Click off the light, her color changing nightlights pop on. As I close the door, there’s a soft buzz.