The Last Emperors
Chapter Twenty-Three: Encore
By Jolie Adam
The bold and brazen?
Or brilliant publicity stunt?
Hours after dance duo sensation Les Twins revealed the identity of their adversaries, fellow French dance group The Last Emperors proudly showed face at Tokyo’s Night Out biggest after-party dressed to impress.
Fans, press and celebrities at the event were shocked to discover that the talented masked group that has taken the underground and commercial dance scene by storm in France and Japan were three female beauties. The trio’s claim to fame came shortly after appearing as back-up dancers for pop sensation Rank before being signed to multi-media powerhouse Ty Shori’s talent agency where Les Twins are also currently represented. Since then, they have appeared everywhere from television and editorial ads to event performances and appearances. No words yet on whether this latest discovery will alter their current deal or impact future opportunities.
The secret was hot, out and buzzing from every newspaper’s front page, covered on every online blog and journal and talked about from fans and fellow dancers alike. Because of the time difference in France, they had made yesterday’s nightly news and had missed about 24 calls from their agent. With all of this energy and gossip surrounding them, the girls’ ears should’ve been on fire however they were the calmest and most settled they’d been since arriving in Japan. This little bump in the road brought them back together, as a unit, as a group and as friends. Having independent living situations enabled them to distance themselves from each other. It provided them with too much freedom that they forgot they were in this together. That they had come together, struggled together and rose to the top together. It took falling and failing together to reinstate that bond and based on the way they currently felt, what was meant to be a disaster turned out to be a huge blessing.
Waking up at 11 in the morning, Lorra slept better than she’d had in the last three months in Tokyo. Last night was a clear blur. They’d gone to the party, made a huge splash with their announcement, walked in for a few minutes – just enough to let everyone else absorb their presence and then left. Heads held high, cameras and flashing bulbs mere feet away from them and a huge smile on their face, they walked right back into the car that had brought them and left feeling like the superstars they were. Somehow, with their secret out and the fear of being exposed destroyed, they truly felt invincible. What was Tokyo Girl going to reveal now? What would they have to fear? Everything was on the table. Their identities. Heck, even the fact that Lorra had slept with Laurent was out there. No more blackmailing. They were free.
They stopped at McDonalds, grabbed a bottle of Dom on the way home and had a girls’ night in. The notorious sound of laughter, freedom, friendship and champagne glasses clicking rang well into the early morning before finally letting sleep conquer. Dawn, Julia and Lorra slept incredibly well now that all of the weight and pressure was no longer on them. The world would either choose to love them or reject them – neither of which they could control or decide.
Lorra could have used an extra hour or three of sleep but when she opened her eyes, it was 11:26 in the morning and there was a persistent knock on the door. It took her a couple of minutes to realize where she was and why she was there. A brief moment of concern rose as she thought it might be a journalist or someone who had found out where Dawn lived. Then she remembered how hard it was for her, an actual friend of Dawn to get inside this fortress of a condominium building, and exhaled loudly in relief and lethargy. Julia looked like an angel, balled up inside the huge King size cover of Dawn’s bed, on the carpeted floor and Dawn was sprawled out on the bed, like a deformed starfish, selfishly claiming her space. She was suddenly glad she’d passed out on the cozy couch.
Dragging her feet and rubbing her eyes, she made her way to the door and asked who it was. The voice behind it was scruffy but polite,
It only took a sliver of time for Lorra to remember they lived in a condo and not a hotel. She opened the door nonetheless. The security in this place was not a joke. If it turned out this was an attacker or unwelcomed guest, all it took was a push on a little button and the entire building would be on lockdown. Before her stood a well-dressed, foreign looking chef in front of a well-furnished food cart. She eyed him suspiciously, waiting for an explanation which he offered.
“Compliments of Mr. Shori,” and handed her an envelope which she accepted before allowing him to enter with the cart. Of course, once Julia smelled the food, she awakened promptly. Lorra fingered the envelope in its entirety, admiring the quality of the paper and the delicate artwork on it. She wouldn’t be surprised if the seal was made of real gold. Inside there was a folded note that read,
“Congratulations on your big night out. Secrets are like poison for the soul and yours will be validated by your talent and the work that you’ve continuously put in as a group and as artists. Shori Media is proud to represent strong women and because of this, it would be an honor to extend your contract for a year. Japan and the rest of the world could use positive and talented role models like The Last Emperors to redefine women and their power.
Lorra stuffed the note back in the envelope and held it for a moment. Albeit the obvious fact that this is a great business move for Ty Shori, she couldn’t help but feel grateful and appreciative for the supportive words, following a night like yesterday’s. This was the nicest thing and the most he’d ever said to them in the entire three months that they’d known him and worked under him. She smiled to herself and left the note on the side of the cart, excited for Julia and Dawn to read it too. It just reaffirmed that Julia’s idea to come out was not just the only option they had at that point but the best one as well. Julia crawled out of the ball of duvet covers half-asleep and crept towards the delicious aroma of assorted foods.
“Is this heaven?” She mumbled, slowly opening her eyes and taking in the spread before her. All French foods. Pastries, cupcakes, croissants, bagels, freshly baked bread, jams, butter, cream cheese, natural orange, grapefruit and pineapple juice, vegetable quiches, ham and cheese. A platter of a large seasoned omelette was opened and she could smell all of the tantalizing spices slowly emitted from the steam.
“Compliments of Ty Shori,” Lorra repeated as she grabbed a mini cinnamon raison bagel and popped it in her mouth.
“Looks like a misplaced breakfast set meant for Marie Antoinette. Is that a tiny tiramisu cake?” Julia pointed at the assortment of cakes.
Lorra gasped girlishly in delight and ran to jump on Dawn’s bed. She groaned, annoyed at the disruption. She pushed Lorra off her arm and moaned,
“What’s wrong with you? I was having a sick dream. Terrence Howard was about to give me the business.”
“I have something for you better than Terrence…and it also starts with a T. Ti-ra-mi-su.”
Dawn got bright-eyed and looked right at Lorra, “Don’t mess with me. If I can’t have Terrence, there better b— ”
“There is tiramisu.” Lorra stated seriously. Dawn sat up and eyed the cart, suddenly giddily. She looked back and asked,
“Where is this from?”
“Compliments of Ty Shori,” Lorra regurgitated once more.
“So I guess that means we’re not fired?” Dawn asked rhetorically.
Lorra smiled and shook her head, “If anything, we’re re-hired. He wants to extend the contract for a full year.”
“Whoa,” Dawn digested the news. “One thing at a time…where’s my cake?” She was drooling now.
“You’re the only person I know who can eat cake for breakfast.”
“Still not as weird as Julia eating rice for breakfast,” Dawn rebutted.
Julia yelled from the kitchen, “I HEARD THAT!”
Laurent was on his fifth mile, long limbs aching and wind chiming out of his respiratory system. He was following the trail in his favorite conservatory, surrounded by lush gardens and periodic architectural water fountains. One of the secret places he’d been so eager to show the girls when they’d first moved to Tokyo. He’d been jogging slowly for an hour, intermittently quickening his pace and then slowing back down, to purposely tire himself. He’d gone to bed with blue balls and the only way to get rid of the discomfort was to exert himself either sexually or physically. His hair whipped and bobbed up and down as he ran, letting the sweat drip and soak his shirt. Last night had been such a mind fuck and in hindsight, he wished he’d stayed home, even if it meant being all by his lone self. He’d practically tagged along all night, made a huge mistake and then bathed in the aftermath, the slow repercussion of self-reprimand and guilt. He was barely managing when he spotted her, albeit briefly, he did see her. She looked gorgeous in her red dress and lips. For a moment, he forgot who she was, despite being drawn to her, and simply wanted to approach her based on instinct and attraction. He realized it was her at the same moment their eyes met and her gaze enchanted him, despite all of the malice, hurt and disappointment it held, there laid their pull and sexual magnetism towards one another. When she looked away, he nearly collapsed and gave out at the knees, ready to knead his begging forgiveness into her merciful heart. At that moment, he knew that regardless what had gone on between her and Larry, he should’ve held her in higher regards and had the decency and courtesy to guard her secret, something she had entrusted him with. Yet another part of him was glad for the solid deterrent because had it been under regular circumstances, he would’ve been guilty regardless. The things he would have done to her and that dress would’ve weighed gravely on his mind. Not to say that wasn’t the case now. His virility struck ardently, wanting to exploit the desires of his imagination and body. Laurent took another empty gulp of air, shifting his focus on proper breathing. A pulp of fresh breeze swept across his face, chilling the perspirations on his face and torso. His shirt was drenched, even his toes slushed in his damp socks, making his feet heavy adding to the lethargy of his exhaustion. At the next fountain he approached, he stopped – not to take a drink. He very well intended to deprive himself. Surely, if his body was low on hydration, it wouldn’t allow him to think so much. He was drained in every aspect which callously pleased him to a certain extent. There it was again playing clearly, that silhouette, that dress, that smile, her. He gave in and took a sip, and another. Squinting, he looked into the horizon while catching his breath and regaining composure. He’d be sore for days. It was the healthy equivalent of getting the shit beat out of him which he truly felt he deserved at this point.
He checked his pockets mindlessly, making sure all of the contents were still in place. Pulling out his phone, he unlocked the screen to see the missed text message. It was from Larry,
“Wat u doing tonight?”
Laurent deleted the text and shoved it back in his pocket. He’d be spending the rest of the week by himself, away from his brother and the microscopic view of his personal life from the rest of the world.
Laurent woke up from a necessary nap due to the loud and persistent buzzing of his phone. He moaned something inaudible while traversing to a state of wakefulness, trying to grasp the vibrating electronic.
“Hello,” he mumbled.
“Did you get my text? What are you doing?” Larry asked impatiently.
“I was sleeping. What do you want?”
“There’s another party tonight. Come with me.”
“Did you not hear me? I’m sleeping,” Laurent was getting annoyed at the interference.
“Lau, we have to go. Remember that L’Oreal contract we were after, they announced today they chose The Last Emperors as their new brand ambassador.” He waited a beep for Laurent’s response.
“So?” Lau said, although he gained a little more awareness. He half-sat, rubbing his eyes solemnly, letting his eyes adapt to the overhead lamp in the hallway. The oven clock read 7:34 and the mixed hues of the departing day and the new night were married to the sky. He’d showered hastily after his run, changed into sweats, ate some left over sushi and sometime between thinking and wishing, he fell asleep on the couch. It had been the best part of his day until Larry had woken him up.
“We need to show that we’re just stronger than ever.”
Ignoring what Larry just explained, Lau retorted, “I’m staying in tonight. I cramped a muscle while running.”
“Since when do you run?”
“I’ll talk to you later.” Lau hung up and sat up. He looked around, the beautiful sky was now blending with the darker undertones of the night, crawling over the clouds like a wistful embrace. Without a spot of reflection, he felt rather than saw the dreary expression on his face. It didn’t help that he’d been nursing a painful boner since last night. Although they’d met a very nice PR agent and her friend, Laurent had declined her invitation to go back to their shared place and elaborate on the benefits of a publicist as a growing celebrity. He had gladly allowed Larry to embark on that trip by himself, going home with both of the women. Mindless fucking with faceless sex was something he’d lost an appetite for a while ago yet continued out of frivolous sport. Women threw themselves at them and they welcomed the attention, enabled the interaction and fed from that superficial, shallow lust. But Lau had wanted more for a while now. Someone more substantial. Deep down, it pained him to admit that Lorra was a good girl and that his gut wanted him to believe her over his own twin. It had been the main reason of the discomfort, knowing something he chose to disregard. Larry would never forgive him – and he would never forgive himself, had he followed his hunch and backed a girl he’d only known for a couple of months.
For a couple of minutes, he rubbed his sore joints with care and as the pain there eased, his hand moved to his rigid erection, trying to handle himself. It felt awkward and juvenile, something he hadn’t done in years. His grasp moved firmly up and down the shaft, twisting the tip and envisioning Lorra as the recipient of his feverish want. He pictured the face she used to make as he entered her, the quiet gasp and shortness of breath once he fit himself snugly inside of her warm body. Just as he begun to hear the noises and moans she made, he heard instead the vibrating buzz of his phone. The screen illumined with Larry’s name. He pressed ignored and shut his eyes. He couldn’t even masturbate in peace, apparently.
Lorra walked around her condo in boy shorts and a sheer black tank top, humming a vintage Alicia Keys’ song. She was reeling in the feeling of freedom and newfound openness and the lucrative L’Oreal deal. This is what it felt like to feel good in one’s skin. She was radiating happiness even if a greater part of her was a little sad. She opened the fridge and began belting out the ambitious chorus, striving to hit the note as close as she could, feeling the lyrics in her soul as she sang them to her bowl of yogurt. It can only get better, she thought, enjoying a spoonful of fresh Greek yogurt. She smiled, imagining herself in a L’Oreal ad. Who would have thought?
A timid knock sounded at the door. She waltzed over, not missing a beat in her imaginary song. Feeling fairly confident it was either Julia or Dawn or another special delivery from Mr Shori, she unlocked the door, still holding her bowl of yogurt. She wasn’t sure whether she’d wanted to drop it or dash it when she saw Laurent standing before her. His first words were,
“Please don’t call security.”
She hadn’t even thought of that but she sure was now.
“Can I come in? I just want to chat,” His piercing eye contact did nothing to faze her but it did make her feel bad. She could see the sadness in his eyes. And though she may not have wanted to ever see him again, her heart was singing. Luckily, she’d been on cloud nine all day so she opened the door wider, silently inviting him in. It couldn’t hurt to hear him out. He looked around, his demeanor strong and confident, even if his inner person was feeling fragile and uncertain.
“Look, Lorra, I came to apologize. What I said, I should’ve never said. It wasn’t my secret to tell and I know it probably means nothing now but that’s not the type of person I am and I’m sorry.”
“Ok,” she replied calmly, taking another spoonful of her yogurt as if it were the most casual conversation.
Lau stood there, confused and unarmed. This hadn’t been the way he’d pictured them having this conversation or the reaction he’d expected. With her in her flimsy boy shorts, showing the curvature of her toned butt, and a loose tank top that could reveal her nude breasts at any point with the slightest effort in movement. But then again, he’d also known some pretty dramatic, hysterical and crazy girls in the past. Ones that liked to expose him on Twitter with personal pictures and exchanged texts, throw stuff at him not including or limited to vile, defaming insults, and especially the ones who tried to get back at him by sleeping with his brother. Well, now that he thought at it, maybe she wasn’t that different. She fell in the last category since she’d tried to sleep with Larry but that backfired. Remembering that angered him anew, stimulating the same disdain he’d felt so strongly, the strength of it pushing him to come forth and reveal her secret.
He came closer to her, close enough to smell the scent of her body lotion,
“Why what?” She looked at him, unnerved, still tasting the cold blob on yogurt on her tongue.
“Why did you hit on Larry?”
She gawked at him quizzically, wondering if this was some sort of sick joke, before realizing he was very serious. All of the sudden, it all made sense.
“Is that what your delusional head case of a twin told you?”
When he failed to respond, she shook her head sadly. Laurent was a victim of his own loyalty. He knew better yet he chose to believe what he was told instead of what he knew. What they both knew. She took a deep breath,
“I think you should go. We don’t really have anything to say to each other. Ultimately, I trusted you and you fucked me over. But it worked in my favor—OUR favor, so I should probably thank you. You apologized and I forgive you because I know why you did it. I didn’t but when you asked me that question, it just clicked so I forgive you. And I want to forget you. You know the door.”
She turned around and even though his brain was caught on the things she’d just said, he also caught a peek of the flesh hanging out of her boy shorts and felt that beast in him unleash. He grabbed his crotch boyishly, trying to hide his sudden growth but she looked so sexy in that little indoor outfit, mad and expressive. Perhaps it was the wrong thing to do but he got closer to her, this time, close enough to smell the yogurt on her breath and dug his fingers in her flesh, grabbing a handful of her bottom. She yanked him away by the hair, taken back yet slightly enthused. He breathed hotly against her neck, grabbing her chin a tad forcibly and stealing a kiss, engorging his tongue in hers, knowing deep down that if he wanted her that badly, despite her disappointment, she also wanted him. She relented, seeing the opportunity for what it was. Moving away, she stepped out of her panties and whipped off her tank, exposing herself to him willingly, recuperating her power and will. She pulled his hair back, forcing him to surrender and lower himself, until he was on his knees so she could push him back to lay on the floor. Once flat, his hands roamed eagerly on her surface, touching everything as if for the first time, as she slid down his sweats and boxers at once and hovered over him. She looked at his expression as she stroked him once, twice and then slid herself down, slowly at first then accepting all of him into her warmth, enveloping him tightly, readily. He drank the image of her naked on top of him and varied his gaze between that and watching himself appear and disappear into her. He grabbed her waist in an attempt to pump and drive himself deeper into her but with a firm hand, she pushed his pelvis back, stopping him in his track. Regaining control, she lowered herself again, slower this time so he could feel every crevice, corner and fiber of her, so he could remember he would never get this again. Her insides massaged every pounding vein on his hard erection, coating it with her natural lubrication, making sure she rose to the very tip before gliding down to the base. He held her with a painful expression of bliss on his face, grabbing on to her breasts and lustily wanting to bring them to his mouth. She did this a few more times, ensuring everything was on display when she felt him jerk. A slight one at first, fairly unnoticeable but she could see his body tense, his gaze getting unsteady and his breathing, rough and harsh. She knew she had him.
“Get off!!” He stated, alarmed. Before she even fully removed herself, he came all over her stomach and chest, groaning loudly, teeth sharply grinding down. She gave a little victorious smirk, remembering his snide comment.
“I may be better in bed than I am on stage but I can beat you hands down, any day, IN BOTH PLACES.”
Taking a second to absorb the sting intended behind the comment and the strength of his orgasm, Lau understood where that had come from. He understood everything. He yanked up his clothes and got up.
“I’m really sorry for messing things up between us. I mean that.”
He left and closed the door softly behind him, staying immobile in front of it for a few minutes before actually leaving.