Cast of Characters
Luna de la Sky 20 Pacer Entertainment Complex
Cello, Piano, Flute
Future Prophet of Tempenka
Chloe Karmin Imani 45 Neurosurgeon
Mathilde Avenue Research Hospital
Owns various industrial estates
Of Sub-Saharan and Haitian descent
Lake St Clair Waterfront
Kai-Tashka Semira 20 Malaree’s
Future Prophet of Tempenka
Galla Isadora Sali 21 Pacer Entertainment Complex
Luna’s best friend
Sashenka n/a Divine Prophet of Tempenka
Stoker n/a Government Employee for shady secret service or
Myrk Gerome 19 Kai’s Partner
Work’s at Malaree’s
Caroline Celestia Xanthe Chloe’s Friend
Quentin Zisa Weaver Chloe’s Friend
Arlo Kasumi Ryder Chloe’s Friend
Gretchen Zima Enka n/a Luna’s foster parent
Forensic Neonatal specialist
Teaches at Law Enforcement Facilities
Uparit Vesna Kai’s foster Father
Grey Mouren Kai’s foster Mother
Hunter Parker CEO of Rainbeaux Homeless Youth Charity
Host of Esther Ball
Archer 26 Programmer
Creator of Archer Artificial Intelligence Program (AAIP)
Owner of Pacer Corporation
Cast of Pacer Staff
Name Floor Band Instrument
Calais Rence Dorenia Alternative Spenal Bass & Vocals
Decter Mesa Lucal Popular Dancer
Claudia Jean Classical Xaidia Pianist
Xaiden Webster Classical Xaidia Violin
Fletcher Omis Hanover Alternative Spenal Guitar & Songwriter
Bree Khiam Cho Alternative Spenal Drums
Kali Ayesha Stover Classical Ballroom Dancer
Laeir Myra Rhoch Classical Dancer with Lethe
Eviva Ridge Popular Dancer
Sanihda Terua Talier Popular Dancer
Lethe Barclay Classical Dancer with Laeir
Estella Krya Classical
Walter Drisk Classical
Archer Artificial Intelligence Program (AAIP)
Cast of Bands
Milhra Level 1 Popular
Spenal Level 2 Alternative Calais, Fletcher and Bree Khiam
Tanikka Level 2 Alternative Guest Band
Xaidia Level 3 Classical Claudia Jean & Xaiden Webster
Piper Lahri Level 4 Country Singer/Songwriter Piper Amelia
Guitar/Composer Lahri Bailey
Qira Level 4 Country Qira Rai-la Madore
Cast of Places and Buisnesses
Pacer Entertainment Complex Owned by Pacer Corporation
Ash’s Smash Repairs Café owned by Jamere
Tempenka Community Kai and Luna ran away from
Malaree’s Kai’s employeer
Male Review “Stripper Bar”
Harper’s Dusk till Dawn Performance Zone
Sadie’s Dawn to Dusk Yellow Painted eatery
CLS Bar Woody and Smokey Bar
Fire place light only
Ectoria Hotel 5 Star Boutique Hotel
Eloise Club Ectoria’s membership Restaurant
Amberlai Island Part of the Eden St James Archipelago
Ava Acadia Resort Exclusive Resort on Amberlai Island
The City (Raptor City) Home of all the Characters
Raptor City Philharmonic Orchestra
Sahntyna Retro Diner
Rainbeaux Homeless Youth Charity (RHYC)
Clara Mai Sans Centre (CMSC) Chloe and Luna get married here
Mathilde Avenue Research Hospital
Cast of Events
Esther Charity Ball (ECB) for Rainbeaux Homeless Youth Charity (RHYC)
Smash Punch Women by Ash’s Smash Repairs
Salsa-T Witching hour Cruise
Both an acknowledgement and an acquiescence
Sriah A plea for recognition
A plea to yield to listen
Kthia Both Hello and Love
Pacer Entertainment Complex by the Pacer Corporation
24 x 7 Operation
7 x Levels
Level 1 Popular Music
Level 2 Alternative
Level 3 Classical/Theatre/Experimental
Level 4 Country/International
Level 5 Children’s/ Young Adults
Level 6 DVD’s
Level 7 Adult Entertainment
3 x Basement
BS1 Staff “BIS”
BO2 Management Offices “BOSS”
BA3 The Archers “The Hive”
On Floor houses A 3 x Tiered Café
A Band Area
Band and Tour Paraphernalia
Themed Weeks Country Music Week
Teddy Bear’s Picnic
0700 x 1500
1000 x 1800
1200 x 2000
1700 x 2300
2100 x 0300
2200 x 0800
3 x Morning
0900 1000 1100
3 x Afternoon
1300 1400 1500
45 x Minute Sets
15 x Minute Sets
*Unscheduled early morning sessions known as “Owling”
Pacer Entertainment Complex Retail (“Pacer”)
Pacer Music Studio’s Recording Studio (PMS)
Pacer Publishing House Music Publishing (PPB)
Pacer Emporium Online Online Retail, delivers via PCM
Pacer Bootleg Live History Records touring bands (PBLH)
Releases DVDs and Albums
Pacer Courier Management PCM
Ash’s Smash Repairs
24 x 7 Café
Owned and Operated by = Jamere
Feeds Homeless Daily
Hosts Annual Event = Smash Punch Women’s Charity = Supporting Abused women.
Menu Items Falling Bubble
Shallow River (Thin Soup)
Bundle of Hail
Base Jumper (Starter)
Community x 185 People
Farming – corn/wheat/sugar/cows/chickens/goats
Speak own developed language – Tranqi
150 years developed
Led by prophet and leader Sashenka
Temple + Sashenka = Tempenka
Sashenka is a genderless title.
“Are you ready” Chloe called from the ensuite. Pushing the back of the earring into place. Luna was standing in the stillness of the living room. She kissed her fingertips then placed them to the urn on the mantle.
“Yes” Luna called back, picking up her clutch, and walked towards the anteroom.
“You look beautiful” Chloe said as she followed Luna “Ready?”
Luna nodded as they exited their penthouse and pressed for the elevator. The car service was waiting, the doorman opening the doors, escorting the ladies to the car. There was a slight hum as they knifed into traffic.
“The speech ready” Chloe asked. Luna nodded and smirked, “Can’t wait” as they both laughed.
Silence rested with them for the remainder of the journey. They pulled up to the theatre forty minutes later and walked through the crowd. Finding their names at tables delicately prepared, chatter ensued, small voices becoming a cacophony of noise. Food was served and removed, wine gently flowed through the room, relaxing the participants. Hunter, CEO of Homeless Youth Charity and the host of the Esther Ball, stood to the podium while flashing lights dimmed and rose to seek the silence of the crowd. Once the audience had calmed, Hunter began.
“Welcome to the annual Esther Ball, in support of Homeless Youth Charity. We welcome tonight Luna de la Sky as our guest speaker. Her story is a fascinating one. Over six years ago, at 14, Luna and her friend escaped an alternative enclosed community that had no access to outsiders. Her friend, Kai-Tashka Semira was active in HYC programs and many of us remember him fondly, yet had little knowledge of his past. Kai, along with his partner, Myrk Gerome, were murdered one year ago tonight, after leaving this very ball’s after party, and the day after Luna’s wedding to her partner, Chloe Karmin Imani. Please welcome Luna de la Sky.”
“That was Stoker. He is my liaison, my handler. Remember when I told you that when we were finally picked up by social services and they found out who we were, so they attempted to break us before they broken themselves? It was because we were considered assets against Tempenka” derisive laughter “Assets. Not just information, informants on a secret the government felt it should have. We spent so much time in therapy, but we had always been within Tempenka and the communal secretless environment. What had clearly damaged us was what they were doing, not Tempenka. We had no basis for comparison for what they wanted, only a hunger for being able to make our own decisions. We were placed in high-priority care. Watched. Interviewed. I think at some point even when we had gotten legally ‘out’ of their abuse, they felt that we could still be spies for them, reinfiltrate Tempenka under their purpose. They never gave up. We did participate with some aspects, taught them Tranqi, liaised with linguistic professors for a handbook, dictionary. They never changed, never changed their blunt stupidity. At 18, they wanted to keep us under control, attempted to assert their authority by legally obtaining court ordered control. We were lucky to escape the authority that they wanted over our lives, it was for us risking our souls escaping Tempenka to be thrown back into the fire, a circle of punishment for survival. They failed in their court bid. Gretchen and Kai’s foster parents, Uparit and Grey, were not actually foster carers. They were government liaisons tapped to keep us under control” Luna laughed, bitterly “It didn’t work out the way they planned, though. When Kai and me challenged the supervision order in court, Gretchen and Uparit and Grey were adamant that we are capable of being functional members of society. They had diversified our private tutors with an education to include all social, financial and legal responsibilities, and we both maintained employment. We were responsible and participated in charity drives and donated our time. Our therapists concurred. The outcome was a year of supervised independence, as we were to be leaving our foster parents to create a home of our own. We kept therapy and individual handlers mandated with our order, and our apartment. The therapy ended after a year, Kai and me officially released on our own recognisance. We kept the handles, though, as they kept up there observation. They were waiting for anything that could, that would, prove us incapable just once.”
Luna stopped, twisting her fingers around each other, looking hassled and angry, then continued “I made it clear that when therapy cleared me, I was not going to communicate with them or participate in whatever schemes they had planned. I did not want to associate with them, not because I was afraid or out of any fear of them, but because I fought so hard to not be controlled. I wanted not to lie, not to be a puppet agent. I guess they held out hope, but we had had such excellent foster placements. What they did was fail themselves, cheated by their own hand. I haven’t seen Stoker in a year” Luna rubbed her eyes, red “I am sorry that I didn’t say” her ragged breath still hitching, her throat welled and sore “I had only hope that they were leaving me alone. Kai alone. I knew that they must be watching, following, hoping that we would return to Tempenka so that they would have an excuse to raid if we were not willing to spy for them. They came to Pacer often. I see them. They don’t hide. I am sorry that by omission I have lied to you”
“Stoker is a code name. The character, the person behind it is just a genderless face, a body” then her tears, her burden pressing, enclosing her life. Chloe held her and waited until she stopped. Chloe then stood and pulled Luna up, looked her in the eyes, and compassionately yet with her firm voice said “Let us see what he wants, then.”
Luna nodded numbly, understanding that Chloe was assisting with the burden. They showered and dried, dressing solemnly, then waited for the knock on the door. Chloe walked the few steps over and let Stoker in. He sat on the chair next to the small, rounded table. Luna and Chloe sat on the foot of the bed, not smiling.
“I am sorry to startle you. This is important. Semira has disappeared.”
“When” Luna asked sharply.
“The night you left. He went out clubbing. He got into the taxi with another male, approximately 6”3’ and of a similar age at 0430. The taxi never dropped them off at their apartment. He has not returned since to that location, nor attended his shifts at Malaree’s. We have been monitoring the community, however he has not arrived at that destination either. He has not contacted work. Has he been in contact with you? When did you last see and or speak to Semira?”
Luna became furious, outraged “how could you lose him? You stalk us relentlessly and you LOST him?” her voice was escalating to shouting. Chloe rested her hand on Luna’s tense, agitated shoulder as she continued “How dare you insinuate that he returned to Tempenka. You know how we feel about that. You need to stop assuming he did what you desired. We would NEVER go back” She spat the last words out at Stoker. Luna breathing then began to tremble and she began twisting her hands again, said “We had dinner the night before we left. Our wedding dinner. We flew out the next day. I think I texted him when after we checked in. He was going to the Esther Ball” Luna looked at Chloe, then continued “his boyfriend Myrk. He was the other boy? Or is he ok?”
“We have been unable to confirm the identity of the companion as yet, however it is most likely Gerome, who has not returned to work or the apartment”
Luna stood and started to pace, a feverish expression on her face. Stoker waited. Chloe watched. Luna turned, “Why?” then again, anger “How can you not know?”
Stoker stood, then sat again “We keep very little stabs on either of you. You made you decisions remarkably clear” Stoker paused before stating “We have been intercepting letters from Semira to Sashenka.”
“Tempenka” Luna automatically corrected “Since when?”
“About a month after you moved out and Gerome moved in”
“Intercepted? This is a little intervention is it? Were they sent on at all? Or is that too much intervention?”
Stoker shrugged, “After interception, they were copied to Semira’s file, then they were sent on. Would Tempenka accept you back? Semira?”
“NO. We have been over this” fury was entering Luna’s voice and adjusting her demeanour “they couldn’t. It would rupture the tranquillity of the place. We are tainted. We are shunned. Even worse than the converts who chose the Tempenka perfection and then abandon it. We, who were destined, fled perfection for sin. You would know all of this if only you had read your own reports. They state exactly what Sashenka said when she was told of us, of our capture by the state” Luna frowned “You are still monitoring them?”
“Did they get the letters?”
“I know they never open or check the mail at the gate”
“Yes. We know” Stoker replied with a tone bordering on recrimination. Chloe looked at him scathingly.
It was Luna’s turn to nod; “Yes, I remember main only ever being taken directly to Sashenka. Which means you know that. You just want to know my reaction” she grimaced “what was he writing for?”
“For his parents to be in contact”
Luna smiled maliciously “It would have been Myrk, Stoker. You know this. If you were any good, you would have has analysis done on the handwriting. Fingerprinted it. Known exactly who had sent it, who had posted it. You are intentionally baiting m, torturing me. What exactly is going on?”
“No. I am not baiting you. Our analysis have concluded the same. Semira did not know what Gerome was doing”
“Of course not. Kai was generational Tempenka. We were raised without parents. What is going on? Outside of your Tempenka parameters?”
“That Semira and Gerome have disappeared”
“Oh. So Myrk was the other, then? I have told you all I know” Luna held outright dismissal in her voice.
Stoker nodded curtly, then “Can you stay here until we find Semira? Just in case it is something we should be concerned about?”
“Concerned about what?”
“In case it was targeted”
“Targeted? From whom exactly? I think that you should concentrate in finding Kai. Tempenka has nothing to do with this. They barely leave that farm” Luna started to clench her fist, “You come here, bringing your stupid, arrogant prejudice. NO ONE has ever left that community beyond sunlight hours. NO ONE. That place” she spat “is at least a 32 hour drive, or 7 hours of connecting flights from here” Luna was utterly worked up, infuriated “Which you would know from your own reports. You job is to find Kai. Not to make unfounded accusations. We battled and fought not to go back to that place from idiots like you, who only ever fought to place us back and then sought to discredit us when you failed. You have absolutely nothing to say on whether we stay here or return. Get out” Luna pointed furiously at the door. Stoker stood and walked out the door.
Luna burst into tears. Chloe stook quickly and wrapped her arms around Luna. Luna clamed, frustrated as she drew all of her unravelling back into herself. She shifted from Chloe’s hug, and then shuddered as she sat on the bed.
“You know what frustrates me the most is that Tempenka, while defiantly exclusionary to the outside, is decisively no –violent. Holds no weapons. They are a simple farming community that rejects the callings of sin, they delineate the evils of society from themselves. They are not secretive, they are selective. They don’t want what the world offers, including weaponry. You either reject it all or embrace it all. They stay at the farm as it is the only place that they can control, the only place that they are safe. 150 years of non-violence, yet they are viewed as a threat. They don’t believe in a mythological doomsday, or in culling yourself or others. They glorify life. What they insist on, the department that Stoker represents, that Tempenka is anything else is beyond me. It is not like people have left before and condemned them. We were…young and ran as an act of rebellion against growing up. If it wasn’t for where we came from or the fact that we didn’t want to return, ever, we would have meant nothing. I don’t understand why they fear without provocation.”
Chloe said nothing, let Luna drift with her emotional Landscape, far too much had already been interfered with and inferred. Chloe resolved to distract Luna the only way she knew how, and gently kissed her. Luna, for lack of anything else that would make her feel like she want so alone, pulled at Chloe’s shirt, urgently kissing her down her body.
Two days later, they were lounging by the pool. Stoker walked to the deck bar, took a stool and ordered a drink. Chloe noticed, then glanced at the incongruous beauty besides her pretending to nap, “Drink?”
Luna mumbled her assent yet did not open her eyes. Chloe snaked her way through the pool side chairs to the bar, “What are you doing here?”
“I cannot leave. I am the only one”
“She doesn’t want to speak to you unless you have answers” the bartender approached and Chloe ordered the drinks.
“I know. We have been looking for 5 days. No unexplained dead bodies, no unaccounted for stolen cars, no ransom demands made, all stolen credit cards and obvious false names checked out at hotels. Once we had realised that he was missing, we had highlighted to border control, passport and land checkpoints as well as the team observing Tempenka. 5 days of nothing” Stoker sighed, then sipped his drink before continuing “I am her handler irrelevant of whether she wants one or not. I would be here without this. I am, I stay visual, as we have to be sure that his disappearance is not habitual. I am here for the safety of Sky.”
Chloe picked up her order that the barman had sat down in front of her, the turned away before adding “She has a point about your department. If I see you again, or anywhere near Luna or myself when we get home, I will be pursuing stalking charges.”
“No…” Stoker half-stood, raising a placating hand.
Chloe cut him off without hesitation “I am not a scared child, nor a traumatised young adult. I do not care for you, or your department. It is actually important whether she wants a handler or not. I cannot easily be discredited. I have no idea where on the food chain you are, but just so you understand I have begun pursuing legal recourses in information regarding Luna. Push, Stoker, and see exactly what I will do to protect her.” Chloe walked off.
Luna had been tortured since Stoker visited. She was only relaxing because Chloe was mildly sedating her. Their honeymoon had become a disaster and the days filtered by with anguish and drifting within the haze. Three days before they were due to go home, Chloe and Luna were lying naked on the bed, a slightly sweaty glint shearing over their bodies. Luna was propped up on her elbow, gently running her fingers in an ever increasing circular pattern over Chloe’s stomach.
“I am sorry for being difficult”
Chloe took Luna’s hand and kissed her fingers, shifting her body closer to Luna, encouraging where she desired “You are not difficult. I love you. That is where the circle starts and finished. I love you.”
Luna smiled, kissing Chloe’s wrist, her hand bee lining across Chloe’s skin. A slight tap at the door made them startle. They grabbed hotel robes. They had both gone from relaxed to tense in an instant. Chloe opened the door. Stoker entered, walked passed Chloe and stopped in front of Luna. “I am sorry Sky, His body was found. Fished out of the river this morning. He was just identified.”
“What happened?” Luna asked as tears involuntarily started streaming down her face.
Stoker sat at the table in the same chair as before, pulling out his notebook and opened it too a page two-thirds of the way through, then said “The taxi was hailed on the streets by Gerome and both entered at 0430 from the Esther Ball Homeless Youth Charity after party. He drove them to a riverside industrial estate, where various indications suggest torture. They were then weighed down and thrown into the river. He was 43. Male. Brent Leah. At this point we have no discernible motivation. No criminal past. Resisted arrest. Shot at arrest site. Deceased.”
Luna tensed, then “Wait. You knew the taxi driver was missing? Or you didn’t bother checking on him?”
Stoker paused “We were looking for him, yes. He had delivered the taxi to the next driver and then failed to show for his next shift. He was ran through our systems. As I said no criminal past. It was…not a high priority.”
Luna slapped him across the face. She struggled to compose herself, and then said “Please Leave. Thank You.”
“I am so sorry” Stoker stood and then left.
Luna’s voice was hitching as she failed to speak, and then fell back on to the bed. Chloe curled up around Luna. They laid like that for hours in the silence. Eventually, Luna shuffled and cuddled further into Chloe, before whispering “He was my last connection, my last evidence that I existed before. I will never speak Tranqi again. I have lost myself.”
Chloe had no answers, only comfort, only love. They stayed that way until they left, hibernating together within Luna’s sorrow.
“Do you have to work nights?” Chloe asked, running her lips against the white pearl flesh of the inner of Luna’s elbow, “Do you need to leave so early?” she murmured, kissing between the bottom two ribs, floating in the wilderness. Luna sharply breathed in as Chloe released the deliberate feel of moistness between her thighs. Gently, Luna slipped out of Chloe’s kisses before replying.
“Yes. I like working, and no we are not discussing it again. I am having dinner with Kai and Myrk. You can come, you know” Luna by this time was grinning, then quickly kissed a kneeling Chloe before walking out the door. Luna was happy and remarkably contented. She had moved in with Chloe three months previous. She was leaving to have her weekly dinner with Kai before both of their shifts. Kai had kept the apartment, and Myrk moved in. Yet the two of them, still had almost perfect synchronicity between their souls, within their lives. They were no longer the lost children they once were. They now seemed so beyond what they had experienced, they were feeling like adults finally. Their lives had at once diverged, split into the lives that they should have been had they not been raised the way they had and survived the way they had and had twisted the coil of their lives together permanently. Yet, the skill most valuable that they were learning was not to dwell on the broken parts, but how they could reconstruct them. Kai and Luna had only ever learnt to scatter the brokenness between them and hide the remains. Now they were assembling them in their history and leaving them where they belonged.
As she called a cab, her mind drifted back to Chloe. In spite of the deliberate love, there was a subtle pressure from Chloe for Luna to become…something. Go to university, seek a profession, relax. Luna negates all pressure, cannot hide behind the freedom that she ran towards, cannot unsupport herself. She stands against all that she ran from; that communal mindframe, that singularity leader prophet. Luna was never to be a follower again, never going to sequester herself from life. Her relationship with Kai had evolved beyond the inter-dependency of their youth, beyond the birth that put them together and the trauma that etched each other indelibly on to the other, however indelicately together. They have given each other the freedom to shake beyond their past, somewhere scared into them was the belief that they were destined to be together, that the claim of and two each other was holy ordained. Trapped by the severe indoctrination of their youth, it took outsiders not to break the bond but forge a new alliance between their souls. They met for dinner at Ash’s Smash Repairs, a place that had fed them as homeless youth. Jamere brought them their standard order and then left them to their matching voices, melting around each other in a language beyond Jamere’s own.
Returning to the apartment close to nine am, she found Chloe asleep on the sofa. Gently waking her, Luna began to remove Chloe’s grotty clothes, haphazardly pulled on from the dirty was pile.
“Oh. Good morning” Chloe pushed herself up, rubbing her eyes.
“When did you get called in?”
“A while ago. 1130 maybe. Got back at 7ish I guess”
“Ok” Luna knew better than to ask about a night call “Shower”
“That would be lovely” Chloe shifted and stumbled to her feet, and walked towards the bathroom. Peeling off the layers of the outside with their clothes, they climbed in together and shed the world with a kiss. Fresh and clean, they wondered out to the kitchen to have breakfast, relaxed in fluffy robes. They moved around the kitchen, their fatigue even sifting through into each other.
“I have applied for holiday leave” Chloe said.
“Why” Luna asked over the noise of the cutlery moving around in a draw to find the ladle.
“I decided something important”
“Ok” Luna joined Chloe at the table “So…”
“I want a holiday. We haven’t been on one together. We do not see each other nearly as much as we should when we moved in together to do that, but it’s not happening. We deserve time and our shifts spiral us away from each other and…” sliding a small square box across the table “I thought that we could get married”
Luna looked surprised “we have only been together for eight months”
“I have had this since I met you”
Luna hesitated, pause with contemplation. This was not as big a decision as she thought. They had already been made within saying yes to the second date, choosing to kiss again. The decision had been when she moved in together. A fire of a smile burned at the edge of her lips as she sighed to release the heat “Of course”
“Of course to what? The holiday? The engagement? Both?”
“Both. When did you book your leave?”
Chloe relaxed noticeably, not realising just how tense she actually was, and reached over, kissing Luna feverishly, without shield, exposed in a raw new state. Luna, enveloped in themselves, lost her space in the world, yet found her beacon.
“Look. It is not like you can miss it”
“Luna, that is fantastic” Kai, Galla and Myrk were leaping around Luna at Kai’s apartment.
“Details. When?” Galla asked when they had all calmed down.
“Here is what we have planned. In eight weeks, we will get married at the Mai Sans Centre and then have dinner at Ectoria Hotel’s Eloise Club. The next morning we will go to Amberlai Island for two weeks as our honeymoon and we will see you all when we get back.”
“No, Galla. It is not going to be major. We want love to be the most prevalent thing. We are not getting married for a day, we are getting married for the rest of our lives. An extravagant wedding is tacky and pathetic. It’s like they forgot the life that was meant to come after it. Ourselves, our relationship is what matters.”
“Perfect” Galla hugged Luna. The four celebrated, going to Malaree’s, swinging into daylight with the vigour only youth can maintain.
The resort was on an island, one of an archipelago with more infamous neighbours, torn between fending off tourists and making a profit. Owners of the island had blended an exclusivity to a rustic aesthetic, old world money with new world adventure. Luna gently rolled over, breathing in as the white sand scratched at her sharp hip. Luna settled on her back as a gentle hand ran over her stomach and a shadow fell across her face, eclipsing the sun. Chloe leaned in as Luna smiled, running her fingers lightly up her arm, both of them responded to each other as if finally breathing. Chloe relaxed back down on the beach towel, their bodies contrasted, resting into each other, parallels of the sun, complete, relaxed, comfortable. Three days of bliss, three days of rest and replenishment, their souls connecting in the calm between them. Bliss dictated the passion of their days and the ocean of hope swimming inside of them. Three days shattered by a suit with a badge and worlds of attitude. A knock broke their nap, their quiet half sleep.
“Sky” the rusty, whisky voice spoke when she pulled open the door.
“Stoker” a frown and a defeated sigh, Luna exhaled his name.
“May I” he asked, indicating entry.
Luna shook her head, “No” indicating her hastily pulled on robe to Stoker “half hour”
A swift, almost imperceptible nod, then a turn back towards the elevators. Chloe had shifted towards awareness at the knock that had quickly shifted over to curiosity at the voices. At the close of the door, Chloe sat up, then stood, pushing herself off the bed, beautifully naked. Luna, still at the door, blankly staring at deep panel wood.
“Luna?” then “Loven” in a softer, gentler tone. Luna turned and looked towards Chloe, but did not see her, her eyes unfocused and concerned.
“Sorry, Chloe, sorry” the burst into tears, her body shuddering, weakening, slacked against the wall, then wiltered to the floor. Chloe strode the few short steps, then sifted to the ground, encircling her arms around Luna. She held her, time silent, waiting, paused, encompassed in orbits of warmth as Luna unravelled into Chloe, gradually relaxing. Luna ghostly whispered “sorry, chloe, sorry” again while Chloe waited for her to speak.
Although they had been spending all of their time together, excepting Kai and Galla, nobody really knew of them. Their journeys, shared between two emerging souls reaching for the embrace of each other, found that rare and passionate bliss of accepted, enclosed, circular comfort. These shared histories joined them together, intertwined, irrevocably. Luna was exhilarated almost constantly, elated with the fresh wash of love. Since discovering Chloe worked with Gretchen, a small sense of concern had enveloped her. Luna was certain of her feelings for Chloe, and had never doubted them, but understood that her history left her open, left her exposed to considerations of being taken advantage of. She could see the relationship and how it could be perceived against her own shortcomings. However, this Thursday night, her mind was on the clothing and on Chloe, the unrelenting liquidness of her eyes, and on their date, tonight, dinner.
Chloe was reacting in much the same way, history hampering her ability of effectively apply her makeup. The past few days have been interesting for Chloe. She had informed her mother, who had not reacted as well as assumed she would, unable to understand how Chloe could date someone so young, over 25 years her junior. Her mother had lost her perfect life partner and could not understand Chloe’s later life attachment to youth. There was discontented pressure, of loss and a life mostly lived when too young to understand the pleasure, swimming beneath her surface. That her mother had highlighted the age difference that had never bothered her before highlighted how much their compatibility with each other eliminated everything else. The disturbing history of Luna in the Tempenka community both explained her strangeness and her otherness as well as her seductive charming allure, Chloe left unsaid to her mother. The other issue was Gretchen, an unknown and strange factor that Chloe could not place. Chloe had not heard Gretchen mention anything regarding fostering. It seemed odd.
The five years for Luna since leaving Tempenka had been long enough to start healing, not forgetting. That was no longer the world she had inhabited now, this one, for all of its dirt and filth, was the once of her future life. Love had not changed her resolve, however it had softened her edgy hardness. This time she had spent in the last month had really deepened her understanding of individuality, of maintaining beauty even within the ugly.
Chloe had planned this intimate night, their first public outing on a date. Opera tickets (a gift from a friend timed perfectly) and then a Salsa-T Witching hour cruise. Chloe had discovered this intriguing combination of a salsa harbour cruise under recommendation of a work colleague, with the late night time fitting perfectly against the end of the opera. After that, Chloe had left places to develop themselves. It was easier to let their love unravel, to savour the experience then to expect outrageous passion that could flatline if too constrained. Their intimacy was both immediate and gradual, enveloping them more slowly than their love, which had been loud and immediate, demanding and precious. The physicality between them tender yet hauntingly expressionistic. They were still growing into the desirable pleasure they wanted, founding roots in the sunshine.
Chloe, wearing a storm blue strapless dress that highlighted her dusk hued skin, was silently willing that the date would at least be a reflection of the relationship so far. Luna, dressed in deep aubergine, waited anxiously for Chloe and the car service. As the car sidled up to the curb, Luna’s phone beeped. She exited her apartment, her shoes echoing on the stairs on the way down, then nodded at the driver as she swung past him into the leather interior.
“You look exquisite” breathed Chloe. Luna smiled, nerves tickling slightly over her racing heart.
“Thank You” Luna spoke softly, overwhelmed momentarily by the grandeur, swallowed shallowly “you are quite stunning yourself.”
The car was quietly humming through the traffic. Chloe took Luna’s hand as she leaned in tempting a kiss. They remained in silence until they sleeked up to the theatre. Luna, familiar with musical and theatrical training with Tempenka, had actually never made it too theatre since coming to the city. The busy social conventions, conversations and greetings swept in with the opera community, lifetime members and season ticket holders alike with the solo show ticket holders, glasses of champagne clinked together. Chloe, a lifetime member, introduced Luna with unconcealed delight to friends and operatic family until the bell sounded, the lights flicked with impatience and the audience drifted towards their seating.
Luna became quite intoxicated with the Opera, the varying hues if the voices, the particular strains of the music, the twisting emotions vibrating intensely through her soul. After the show had finished, they waited a moment as Luna’s breathing and heartbeat spun back to a more relaxed setting. They strolled, still in silence, hands intertwined, out of the theatre and into the waiting car. The silence wrapped around them until Chloe turned and kissed Chloe with such passion that it rendered her immobile. With her soul dancing, Chloe relaxed back into the chair, finally knowing.
Sweaty and exhausted, yet still swinging from the salsa, the car service deposited them outside of Chloe’s apartment. They stood for a moment, wistful, with the two am moon still issuing a silver glimmer behind a half cut cloud. Without Language, they entered pass the doorman and into the elevator. The cold out of the air, they were left with the twinkling of already heightened emotion. They entered past the heavy oak doors, and barely closed them before softly undressing, still without words, gently pursuing one another with confident, exploring hands, lips caressing exposed skin. Their kisses were passionate, evolving into desperate, then feverishly, escalating towards their climaxes, tasting the saltiness of each other, entangled by gleaming sweaty limbs, eventually finding rested, soft positions, slipping unobtrusively into sleep.
“Breakfast?” Luna, naked and still shimmering with beaded water from the shared, lengthy shower as Chloe, towelling herself, asked.
“It is more like lunch, Sadie’s?”
“Oh, you haven’t been? Sadie’s, defiantly then” Luna dried quickly, then rapidly pulled her towel through an airing rack and wondered naked through to the bedroom, searching for clothes. Chloe followed, longing once more for the sharp edges to graze her hips again. Chloe followed Luna’s searching eyes, until they found what they were seeking, her mobile. Chloe intercepted the mobile and held it with a smile.
“Well, Well….” Luna looked up, then away from Chloe’s hand to her gentle form, filtered through the daylight streaming from the windows and fell to wonder all over again. Luna closed the gap quickly and reached to take the mobile, but ran her fingertips over the edge of Chloe’s ribs and as she drew a sharp breath in, slipped her mouth over hers. The distraction allowed Luna to extradite her mobile, then giggle as she turned away.
“Hay, not fair!”
“Yes, it is. We are meeting Kai and Myrk, remember”
“It should be fun, I am hungry anyway”
“So am I….”
“Chloe…” then Luna acquiesced, Chloe’s look making her aroused ever more desperately. She texted Kai about timing, then threw her phone to respond to the urgency of Chloe’s touch. It was early afternoon before they wondered out into the daylight, the town car taking them towards Sadie’s, the day respite.
“So what is this place?”
“I got that bit”
“We will need to walk the last bit”
“It is next to our favourite night space, Harper’s. They are referred to as the coin face”
“Flip side of the same coin, mirror reflections of the same. And a town car where we are going is noticeable…in a bad way. That and I will never live it down.”
“Oh. Ok. Is this where you go before morning shift?”
“No. Not Sadie’s. Ash’s Smash repairs. Closer to work, better food. A menu.”
“Should I be worried?”
“No. Kai will be there. As will Myrk. Calm down. They both love you as I do”
“You love me?” a smile crept on Chloe’s face, hesitant.
Chloe leaned over and kissed her, and then pulled back enough to say “I love you” before continuing.
After a long sleep in and brunch, they were relaxing. Luna, laying over the pillows haphazardly scattered across the rug, asked “What about you?”
Chloe, stretching out on the sofa, “What about me what?”
Luna reached out with her lithe, pale leg and poked Chloe with her toes, “Come on”
Chloe laughed, swatting away Luna’s foot. “Ok, Ok” which quickly turned to giggling as Luna leaned over, tickling her as their lips met.
“It is not nearly as interesting a tale as yours was.”
Luna smiled, settling back onto the pillows on the rug, “it is not interesting. Really. It simply is.”
Chloe wrinkled her nose as she smiled “I wasn’t always this” indicating the penthouse “my parents were young, underage, living an itinerant lifestyle, escaping the system that mostly seemed to fail them. My father’s parents, my grandparents, had fled one type of oppression for another, languishing against a broken system with broken languages. My mother had fled her own immigrant parents, raising children just as lost as they were in a world that they did not play well with. They had met jumping through cities big enough to hide them in the darkness. Until they met me, I guess I hid within freedom. They were still underage, under educated and now a baby. Yet, they now had purpose. Sometimes life events make people. My birth did that for my parents, young and hungry and fierce. They came upon something, when they started an import business. I do not remember what they were doing. It became successful rapidly, and by the time I started school, they could not afford their own education. My mother became a successful litigation attorney, my father an international business consultant. Within 10 years, my parents were wildly successful yet still both in their late twenties. However, by this time, their careers had taken over their lives, and they worked constantly. I was by now raised exclusively by nannies, domestic boarding schools and international finishing academies. My father died when I was 17. A heart attack. I became his sole beneficiary. My mother became the guardian of my estate until I was 25. I did not find out about his death until six months later. I had also become co-owner of family property and trusts. My estate was earning 2300 a week in interest residuals alone from only the financial investments. My parents were very particular about their financial clarity, especially regarding my inheritance and my mother’s financial independence from this. I think it was a taxation issue. My mother was ruthless with my trust management, and had tripled investments, diversified into property, industrial, scientific and medical programs. I graduated high school at 15 in the top 1% of the country. As I was unable to touch any of my portfolio until I was 25, I decided to study overseas for a year upon graduation, I guess as a kind of gap year, to find out what I could become. I had freedom of choice from my parents. We didn’t really know each other, communicate much or even see each other. Yet, I had not direction, no idea what I wanted. When I left to study, I had with me the nanny that I myself had hired. I had hired and fired most of them myself. For lack of anything else to do, I took art classes while travelling. I remember how lonely I was. I don’t remember the face of my father. When I was eight, I thought the brooding house was my home. Reflections on all of this used to be powerful, immobilise me for days. It was after this study that I returned to my parents to discover my father’s death. My mother, in her grief, had not thought to tell me. For lack of anything else to do, I went to law school. The youngest in my class, I was again isolated. Again, I graduated with honours, the top 1% of that years graduates. I found it a ruthless and distasteful profession. I was at an indefinitive end. I was young and educated and rich if only on paper rather than reality. So, I fled, lacking a home or a family to bind me together. I spent six months travelling around the country, free finally from the obligation of education and the paid concern of nannies, but not quite free from myself. My mother was too busy, as usual, to be concerned with an already overachieving daughter. On paper, I was the perfect daughter of those whose were wild too young, however just like on paper I was wealthy on paper, most things are an illusion. The isolation of refusing to deal with the death of my father after his neglect, nor the neglect of my mother was a dominant force in my young life. I drifted among the relics of a culture which discards those who do not participate according to the rules. It was a world of the disenfranchised, an emotion I was familiar with. We were all hidden in plain sight, just the opposite side of the capitalist coin. I stayed into the dark, a prodigy lost, all the while knowing that it was unlikely that I would not be searched for if I did not. I hid from everything wrong within my life by abandoning it. I met fabulous people who taught me many skills unknowable in my sheltered life, but it was desolate and lonely, a wasteland of the unfound. I found myself on the beach, having lost track of time and of the pressure it contained, surfing. When I paddled back in, thinking of how I may just sleep on the beach before moving on, when an out of place car puffed up the dust on the gravely dirt road. It was black and shiny and expensive. By the time I ran out of the water, and up to my backpack, my mother stood, silhouetted against the sandy dunes, the black car, the cloudless blue sky. She requested that I return to her house. So I did, for lack of anything that grasped my attention or direction. My mother felt she had allowed me to have enough time, that I needed to commence my future. She requested that a decision be made within the month as to my future direction and requested that my presence within her house be limited unless I engage my future appropriately. I had enough time to exorcise my juvenile system of the grieving and recovery to negotiate with myself to integrate all the history together. I applied to medical school, eventually specialising in neurosurgery. I worked, consumed by the intricate nature of the brain patterns and repair. I studied and researched, wrote papers and topped out again with stellar academic record. I worked and I drifted into relationships but also as soon as out of them, they were an auxiliary to my main life and were hard to maintain. I was both focused and untethered, I had ebbed into a strange and unbalanced hybrid life, spectacular professionally, distant and indiffident personally. However, I began to develop my own worth by recognising my own passions. Being wealthy and independent allowed me many freedoms that took me years to learn. I realised the insanity of my own hate, of my own distance. I was privileged in so many ways that it took me to adulthood to realise them. I realised the choices I could make, the choices that I had indifferently neglected had because I could. Once I stood aside from myself, I allowed myself to develop and become. The greenhouse garden is an example of this. I gradually started to accept invitations to advisory committees and became a member of several boards, most particularly at my boarding school. I wrote papers and became part of a peer group that reviews papers for publication. Through this, I met your foster parent, Gretchen Zima Enka. I had no idea she fostered. She is a highly respected forensic neonatal specialist, and consults for various governments as well as teaching trainees with various law enforcement agencies with primary directives regarding the care of infants in criminal cases and the high impact socio-economic development delays in infant care. We had developed procedures for allowing existing extant tissue to remain at a far higher ration than previously when removing diseased or damaged tissue” Chloe’s reflected “I have become much more contented. My mother, still practicing litigation, and I have become much closer as adults. She is only 13 years older and me. I guess in many ways we grew together.”
Chloe stopped, then shrugged. Luna smiled, then pushed herself out of the pillows and then lifted Chloe in close, kissing her velveteen lips, slowly relaxing into an extended, delicate tasting of each other.