The Last Emperors.
Chapter Fifteen: The Thirty Billion Dollar secret.
By Jolie Adam
Two weeks later
Hundreds of pineapple prickly skins were piled at the top of the garbage bin. The scent of a myriad of fruits from every end of the spectrum tackled the airy space in the large, modern kitchen. Cupcakes, cookies, Belgian chocolate, delicate Russian pastries were all being whipped and frosted with ingredients. Light splayed in generously from the sizable windows, helping the bevvy of cultured chefs slave away in ambitious order. Stainless knives rose and fell swiftly on the cut boards, slicing through vegetables, meats, poultry and fruits. The Shori household imported foreign cooks, gourmet chefs and every artisan of the culinary industry. Even the ice cream and the 24k gold flakes would be hand-made. In approximately 12 hours, this mess of a cooking development would have to be neat, presentable, delicious and ready to serve to nearly 2,000 guests. It would be a much different scene with the chaos shifting from the kitchen to the ballroom. For now, the remainder of the palace buzzed with a nescient calm and the promise of a new day. Even if it wasn’t just a regular day. Today was Tatiana Shori’s 18th birthday and if you weren’t a live participant, the edited coverage of the party would be broadcast tomorrow night on every national station in Japan. It was the next best thing to attending the party.
Tatiana glanced around her room at her friends getting made over. She was having her makeup done last by none other by Samuel Clinch, the famous ‘face designer’, whose work has been featured in countless fashion and beauty magazines. He took one look at Tatiana and albeit having worked on some of the most beautiful faces in the world from models to actresses, he still managed to be emphatic while delivering a slew of compliments.
“Oh honey, that skin is just flawless. I don’t even want to touch it but then again I do.” Tatiana blushed at how blatantly flamboyant the man was. Bigger than life extravagance and flair, sashaying with every step he took. The kind of person who didn’t need to moonlight as a drag queen. He already carried the attitude and embodied all of its crucial elements. “What did you want done today? What look are we going for?”
“Naomi Campbell for Tom Munro. Vogue Brazil. Latest issue.” He gasped at her knowledge and precision. No beating around the bush here. With her dark olive skin tone, warm undertones and dark hair, the finished look would be even more glamorous than any Vogue cover – past or present.
“Honey, I am going to turn you from a beauty to a Goddess. The photographers are going to be paying you to take your picture tonight – not the other way around. Sit, sit and let me transform you,” he turned around to his hair assistant and uttered some assistive direction. “Just loosen up the curls at the bottom, we want to keep the top wavy and then use the heavy curls underneath for volume.”
Tatiana just wanted to participate in the carefree giggling resonating throughout the room but her friends were so far from where she was sitting. Besides, Samuel wouldn’t appreciate her moving around or laughing while he was so focused on crafting his mastery. She still hadn’t divulged her big secret to anyone which was hardly the way she pictured it’d be. She pictured herself calling her best friend Suki the minute she’d lost her virginity to rehash all the details and gossip on what it felt like. Most of her friends weren’t virgins anymore but that was a privilege they could manage to get away with. As the only daughter of Ty Shori, the richest man in Tokyo, she was watched and guarded every second of the day. The older she got, the more innovative ways she created to fake her presence. An average teenager might manage to pull the old stuffed pillows beneath the cover trick but she had to go above and beyond. Plots more elaborate than the Bourne Identity with intricate details. To her parents’ knowledge, she’d never gone on a date, never stayed more than an hour after school or past an extra-curricular activity, never gone to a public movie theater, never had a drop of liquor, never kissed a boy, and never had sex. Except all of those were incorrect. At least for her sweet sixteen, her father fulfilled one of her most desirable wishes – aside from the pink Bentley. Ty Shori, the man who could sell a vibrator to a nun and a gas-guzzling car to a serial environmentalist, relented and agreed to remove the two trained, retired CIA agents who used to guard her bedroom door. It’s too bad the thing she’d wanted most for her birthday this year, even her father couldn’t replace or purchase. Her virginity; so that she could redo it all over again, with the right twin.
Dear socialites, dancers and good old common folks,
Your favorite gossip bunny is back. In the spirit of my favorite American show Gossip Girl, I started this blog to keep you abreast of the many events and news in the Japanese media world. Today is a very special day. Teenage socialite, heir of Shori enterprises and daughter of the super hunk of a billionaire Ty Shori turns 18! A lot of creepy (and handsome) bachelors will be trying and failing miserably to get closer to this young beauty. I only care because I finally managed to snag a media pass this year and will be attending this renowned annual event that brings out the most important faces in Japanese and international media. The food will be excellent, the men will be rich and the women (and girls) will be hot. You’ll see it on TV tomorrow in case you
weren’t invited missed it. That being said what will happen when two of the Shori brand representatives from equally popular dance groups Les Twins and The Last Emperors face off? It’ll be the first public meeting since their little dispute at an underground dance club two weeks ago. And what better way to meet again than in the limelight of a frivolous night?
To all my readers, which dance group do you favor? If it’s any consolation, they’re both great on stage … and off. Rumor has it one half of Les Twins is sleeping with the enemy and the other half is just downright fucking with fire. Read between the lines, lovelies.
Until next time, find me at one of the numerous cocktail bars tonight. I’ll either be drinking, gossiping or blowing the richest guy I can get my hands on. Oh, the things I do to keep you guys informed should be banned.
It’s not a party until tongues start wagging and heads begin to roll. Here’s to secrets and to the idiots who jeopardize far too much to keep them safe.
Tokyogirl, the gossip whisperer
Julia raised her eyebrows in conclusion of Tokyogirl’s latest post. The latest fad in internet blogging, gossip site copycats, Tokyogirl had taken the entire nation by storm with over 12 million views in under a month. She constantly updated and wrote articles about everyone who was anyone in the country. And that apparently included dancers now. Julia hurriedly chewed the last piece of sushi on the tray. The girls were dieting for the day because they’d been warned by Jacques that Tatiana’s birthday parties were known for the jaw dropping island availability of foods and fruits. Julia wasn’t going to restrain herself or her appetite at the party or beforehand. With Lorra throwing herself into every TLE opportunity presented and Dawn growing seemingly more distant on a daily basis, one person in the group had to stay sane to deal with paparazzi and media tonight. She was intolerable, lethargic and mean on an empty stomach. The group was at its most fragile state she’d ever witnessed or experienced since she joined. Except now, problems and issues were magnified. One wrong joke or verbiage would make headlines on tokyogirl insinuating they didn’t get along. Words would get distorted, sentences edited to issue a false sense that someone was unstable or another really didn’t enjoy being part of the group. Their manager on the other hand loved every single magazine and television appearance, gossip rag, paper clipping. All publicity was good publicity. So instead of dealing with the issues and dissolving them firsthand, they remained stagnant and silent, working together and sweeping unresolved concerns and questions under the rug. Julia wasn’t worried, certain that the moment they returned home, they’d have no choice but to go back to normal, within their normal apartment, around their normal environment, with their normal problems. In the tiny slice of fame the group had received so far, she could see just how superficial and fictitious the industry really was. So she kept her stomach happy and her moves on point. Because once that contract was over, she was taking all her fees and bonuses and faux-fame and friends and hauling their asses out of this toxic, overrated place. But first, she had to get ready in every aspect because it was going to take all of her energy occupying Lorra to keep her mind off of Laurent – especially if they were attending the same party.
“Did you read tokyogirl today?”
“I don’t care.”
“Are you going to talk to her?”
Lau hesitated. There wasn’t any point in lying to his brother. Larry already knew how much he missed Lorra.
“Then when? She stopped calling and texting so she’s given up. You need to let her know if you still like her before she really moves on.”
“Yeah. But tonight is business. We’re going to end the feud and shake hands in front of everyone. So tokyogirl can stop spreading rumors. Have you talked to Dawn?”
“She’s being weird. She hasn’t returned my texts.”
“Did you call?”
“Yeah but her phone was off.”
They both stopped interrogated each other and let their presence in the room simmer. Two brothers with two similar dilemmas and zero ways to solve them.
The velvet dark blue carpet rolled out at the entrance of the mansion expanded a couple of kilometers from the curb. Expensive cars, carriages, taxis, limos, motorbikes made their way through to the drop off/valet area before going around to exit. A sturdy metal band wrapped with thick blue wool contained the bursting energy of the overly anxious and curious media. Microphones, cameras and shuffling hands were probing out in attempt of hailing the newest arrival. Shouts of celebrities’ first names were loud, mashed in different voices and volumes repeatedly, trying to grab their attention. The breeze of the evening evaporating into the intensified and uncomfortable heat emitted from the flashing bulbs and the artificial outdoor lighting system.
Les Twins arrived in a shiny black Lincoln and all of the blog journalists and a few big publications began summoning them as soon as they got out of the car. By the time the pair finally walked over to the blue carpet, questions swirled and attacked them like a nest of angry, vicious, revenge-stricken bees.
There’ are rumors that your contract has been terminated because of your feud with The Last Emperors. Can you elaborate on that?
Did you read tokyogirl’s earlier post? What does she mean by sleeping with the enemy?
How was filming the Swarovski commercial? It just came out this week. You guys look great in it. What brought on this odd collaboration?
Will we ever see a LT/TLE collaboration? Maybe tonight? Is the feud real?
What are you guys wearing tonight? Larry, is that YSL?
How do you feel about being branded as celebrities when you’re just dancers?
Do you know the identity of the members of The Last Emperors?
And all the chaos stopped with the illusion of time standing still. You could hear the cars motors running and the clutter of activities surrounding the blue carpet. Everyone held their recorder tighter, zoomed in on their cameras and settled into an expectant mode. The question that annihilated an entire line of questioning. No one cared about what they were wearing or even about Swarovski. They all stood still, feet firmly planted, creased foreheads, tense eyebrows and bulging eyes waiting to hear juicy details. Who better than Les Twins to expose their competitors, their nemesis, their biggest opponents in front of all these tabloids. But that’s only if they knew.
Lau took a deep breath and replied,
“We don’t know who they are. We just know what they are. Amazing dancers.” And with that, he and Larry walked out of the limelight and into the spacious booth inside where they were greeted, welcomed and offered an extensive gift package to start off an extravagant, celebratory night. Once they grabbed their goodie bags, Larry pulled Lau aside,
“That was the perfect opportunity. Why did you lie?”
“Because it’s not my place to tell.”
“You hate Shao Mein and now you care just because it’s Lorra?”
“Yes. If you want to tell on them so badly, you go back out there and do it. And see if Dawn will ever talk to you again.”
He left Larry standing in the lit foyer to enter the puzzle of festivity. Two weeks ago, Lorra had been a good friend with great possibility of becoming more than a friend. But the burden of carrying a lie and a hidden identity overwhelmed her and she told him the truth. He’d chuckled at first, frowned at the exaggeration of her lie but he saw the look on her face. She wasn’t budging. Then he saw the bruises and cuts on her chest. The mask, the hoodie, the bandages, the shoes. He wasn’t sure what to believe but there it was, the evidence, the answer to his most disturbing concerns and bothersome inquiries. There he was. Shao Mein. And there she was. Lorra Bernal. He wanted no part of it, didn’t even bother to consummate a dignified reply, rebuttal or angry and betrayed remark. He just left, in shock and somewhere deep down still in disbelief. If Lorra was Shao Mein, that would explain everything. The ‘coincidental’ meeting, the chance of her staying in Tokyo for a few months, the absence and alter ego reappearance during performance nights and outings. If Lorra was Shao Mein, he was sexing the person he loathed most, cuddling with the most arrogant dancer he’d ever battled and falling for his worst masked nightmare. Except there was no ifs, buts or maybes. He’d walked the entire way to his and Larry’s building and took the stairs, climbing three at a time all the way to his twin condo. Larry had seem a little shaken up and for a fragment of a moment, he didn’t want to torment his brother with the news but he had to. Larry had been even more surprised but surprisingly more laid back about it. With a couple of weeks’ to fully digest the full gist of it, they both secretly admired and appreciated the ladies more. What Larry didn’t know is that Lau regretted mishandling the news and letting time drag to the point where two whole weeks had passed without any initiation on his part. And what Lau didn’t know is that Larry was a lot more involved in pursuing Dawn than he let on but even he didn’t know that she’d blocked and deleted his number. They were both surreptitiously hoping to see The Last Emperors tonight and luckily for them, they could hear the crowd of parasite bloggers calling out the group upon the arrival on the blue carpet.