Shaylene arrives at the Honolulu International Centre at ten minutes after noon, thinking about how good some noodle soup will taste. She looks around and spots a Japanese eatery, looking for a table with one person sitting. She spots an aging Asian man in a black kimono two tables away, looking as if she knows him from somewhere. She sits down across from him and says, "Master Abraham?"
"Ah, Miss Shaylene," Master Abraham says. "I am so happy you have arrived. Come with me and we'll order lunch. When we eat, I will tell you about how my family and I came to be."
Shaylene smiles, looking interested, and follows the sensei. Both order two udon noodle soups with beef. Minutes later, they are given two medium-sized bowls with beef, noodles and chopped vegetables. Shaylene offers, "I'll bring these back to our table," and picks up two spoons.
When they start eating, Master Abraham starts telling about his origins. "Many years ago, I grew up with two brothers in a small village in Japan. My father and many generations before him were skillfully trained in karate, taekwondo, jiu-jitsu and other martial arts disciplines. It was in our blood, and it was our destiny to become trained ninja fighters with the intention to protect our environment. When we were young, a group of enemy warriors came and ransacked our village. I watched as they slaughtered many people, and kidnapped their children. My father and his brothers gathered a tribe of skilled warriors, and they fought valiantly. But they were greatly outnumbered by their enemies, and they were slaughtered like the others and defeated. Then, they began to burn temples and huts and everything that we worked hard for. It is a sight I'll never forget to this day."
He consumes two spoonfuls of noodles and vegetables. "Luckily, one of the village priests spirited my brothers and me to a nearby city, where we travelled by boat to a new land. But in the middle of the ocean, we were capsized by a hurricane and our ship went down. My brothers and I were among few survivors, and we were directing a rowboat, unsure of where we would end up. When the storm cleared and we saw land, we found ourselves on an island consisting of a large city – the city of Crystal Isle. My brothers and I were on our own, but we fell in love with the beauty and the warmth, and we made a pact that we would make it here.
"Shortly after we settled, we heard that some criminal doings were happening in this fair city, and that is when we first heard about the Kensingtons. I believe this was King Vidor's father and grandfather, before Vidor himself took over operations. But this never wavered our love for the city, and we vowed to protect it with our martial arts talents. We settled in a small residence area with lots of shops and restaurants, and it is here that we decided to launch our first Golden Katana studio. I remained unmarried all my life, but my brothers married and had children – the nephews whom I now guard.
"One day, when the Super-Human Martial Brothers were quite young, the Kensington family gathered up a group of gangsters and other career criminals in a large crime spree. They hit the neighbourhood we lived in and robbed stores, banks, and people's houses, destroying everything, and even burning buildings and houses down. My brothers tried to defend themselves, and they used their martial arts talents to fight their attackers, but they were vicious and determined. I tried to help them, but they attacked me back harder and I was seriously wounded. I got the children away from the fray... just in time before they burned down the house that contained my brothers and their wives! Seeing that I had no other choice, I took all of their children and fled the residence area as it was being destroyed. That part of Crystal Isle has since been rebuilt, but all of my nephews have been orphaned. I have become their guardian, and it took a while, but I was able to relaunch the Golden Katana into what it is today. With the exception of Technie, I have trained them in the ways of the ninja with the intent to take down the Kensington family's crime organization."
They are almost finished their soup by the time Master Abraham finishes his story. He takes Shaylene's hand and looks gravely into her eyes. "Now, I understand that you and Nightvisor are now fighting for love the same way you would fight the Kensingtons."
"And you're afraid that if we can't win, we'll do something drastic?" she asks.
"I have been having nightmares about this, yes," Master Abraham answers. He then tells about the dreams he's had, where he watched helplessly as Nightvisor and Shaylene killed themselves. She gasps, frightened, wondering to herself what she should do. She can't ever fathom taking her own life over a love she might not have. Then she thinks about Nightvisor killing himself because of this. How can she survive this, the love of her life dying while she's forced to live on her own?
"I have lost too many members of my family in my life," Master Abraham tells her. "It will devastate me if I lose one of my nephews for whatever reason… including star-crossed and forbidden love. If you are to love Nightvisor, I urge you to proceed with caution. You must continue to see each in secret, and let no one with connections to your family or the Crystal Isle police detect you at my studio or anywhere else where you are together. When Nightvisor goes to see you, I will tell him to disguise himself. But I cannot live through another tragedy. Please think about this long and hard."
Master Abraham doesn't say any more, and they finish their lunches and part without another word, not even a goodbye. Shaylene drives back to Weiland and Ward, trying to concentrate on the road, but Master Abraham's story wants to formulate in her head. At a red light downtown, she makes a sudden stop and starts shouting to herself.
"No!" she yells. "Shaylene, you can think about Master Abraham's words when you get back to the office! When you get off work! Right now, try not to get into an accident or snagged by police!"
Back at the agency, Shaylene is at her computer writing a first draft for a pitch for a toothpaste print ad when she gets a surprise delivery. Two dozen roses, both in white and cherry red. Tsunami and Warriors colours, she can guess. She shakes her head and says to herself, "Only when Neil and Scott hear that I've been philandering with Nightvisor do they come out of the woodwork."
The flowers come with one note. Dear Shaylene, it reads. We heard that the Crystal Isle Police caught you in one of the battle vehicles owned by those dreaded Super-Human Martial Brothers. What is your passion with Nightvisor? You could have so much better. Enclosed with the flowers and this note is a complimentary ticket to the breast cancer fundraising gala this coming Saturday. Julia Winters would love to see you. As well, the Tsunami is playing a home game at the Tomapawa Island Field next Sunday, October 25. When the Tsunami wives and girlfriends heard about you, they wanted to propose something to you. Expect them to stop by your work sometime this week. We hope they will help. Love, Neil and Scott.
Shaylene looks in the envelope to see a ticket to the annual fundraising gala for the Mary Ruth Grace Breast Cancer Foundation. She inwardly accepts it, but gets the feeling she can't ask Nightvisor to be her date. She also sees a ticket to the Warriors home game that Monday night, and forty dollars as spending money. She sighs miserably. "Another football game I won't pay attention to," she thinks.
"That's too bad," she says to herself. "This would've been our chance for Nightvisor and me to be together."
She shows her bosses and co-workers her note, saying she will stay a little late today. She senses that she will get her visitors at the end of the day, so she stays until after five o'clock, polishing up the whole print ad assignment. At five-thirty, she sees four women approach her office, smiling at her. She sees two black women, an older one with permed hair, dressed in purple and white business chic, and a younger one in a long-flowing blue and green dress, the lower part of her hair dyed yellow. Standing next to them is a sandy blonde young girl, looking like a senior cheerleader, and a lovely redhead. Except for the woman in the business suit, all the women look to be under thirty.
The older woman approaches her and asks, "Are you Shaylene Goldsmith?"
"I am," she answers.
The woman extends her hands to shake it, and Shaylene does reluctantly. "My name is Francesca Sherwood, but everyone calls me Francie," she says. She turns to the younger black woman, the blonde and the redhead. "These lovely ladies are Janelise Jordan, Laurie Grant and Sierra Jeans. We're part of the Tsunami Wives' Organization."
Janelise smiles at Francie and says, "It's okay, Francie. I knew Shaylene when we were at the University of the Tropics."
Shaylene smiles and says hello to Janelise, then reflects on Francie and Laurie's last names. Sherwood and Grant. Are these the wives of Thomas Sherwood and Dominick Grant, the boorish players from the disaster dinner date, she wonders. But she's too afraid to say anything.
"May we take you to dinner?" Francie offers.
"Uh, sure thing," she says. "But I brought my own car. Can you tell me which restaurant you're going to, so I can follow you?"
Francie gives her directions to a dine-in chicken restaurant at the edge of Honolulu, just past an outer mall call Port City. "It's about two hundred meters close to the bridge to the western island," she says.
"All right," Shaylene replies. "I'll just stay on Honolulu until I find it." And then, to herself, "I just hope I don't pass the Golden Katana on the way there."
When they arrive at the restaurant, two cars park side by side in the lot. Francie opens the door for all of them, then asks for a table for five. When they sit down, Shaylene says, "So, Neil and Scott left me a note with some roses, saying that some women are going to propose something to me." Right away, she sees this is a ploy to get her closer to Neil, but something tells her to keep it to herself.
"Yes, and we're the women," Francie says with a hoot of laughter. A waitress comes by with five menus. "There's a fundraising event next weekend that all the wives and girlfriends of the Crystal Isle Tsunami football team are getting involved in, and as the potential girlfriend of Neil Jameston, we think maybe you should get involved."
A part of Shaylene tells her to leave the restaurant immediately. See if the ladies room has a window she can climb out of. But she decides these women are nice and professional-looking, and Francie Sherwood is nothing like Jamonica Parkinson. Janelise Jordan, however, hasn't said anything beyond ordering the soup of the day, and is looking like a frosty diva. She decides she should keep her eyes on her. Shaylene orders cream of chicken soup, then looks at Francie and asks, "What's the event?"
Janelise motions to let her explain, then says to Shaylene, "It's a night out just for the ladies. In honour of the team name, it's called Women Making Waves. The intent of the night is to help raise money to support finding a cure and bringing awareness to breast cancer. We've had a lot of women buy tickets; most of them either are battling cancer or have beaten it, along with their girlfriends and female family members."
Shaylene's eyes widen at this. "You mean it's all women at this thing?" she asks. "Is this one of those things where men aren't allowed? Not even your husbands can come?"
"Hey, all the women want is just some time to themselves, no men, no kids," Janelise says. "Anyway, you should come out and help us host. Among the festivities, we're also having a silent auction. Sierra and Laurie and I have been talking, and we're thinking maybe you can handle that."
"I'd like to get involved, but please don't think this is going to get me closer to Neil Jameston," Shaylene says. "So when you introduce me, please don't say that I'm the potential girlfriend of Tsunami quarterback Neil Jameston. They will, however, likely be interested in me being the mayor's daughter, so maybe you can mention that."
As their soup arrives, Francie says they're still deciding on dinner. Shaylene looks at her and Laurie as a certain memory comes back. She says, "I can still remember when your husbands, among other players of both the Tsunami and the Warriors, showed up when Neil and Scott were taking me to dinner and gave me this horrific show." She tells them every disgusting and impolite thing they did and said, including the vomit on the tables. "It was a nightmare, and that's why I didn't want to date them anymore."
The women all laugh and Shaylene is clearly upset and offended. "Really, you guys?" she says. "If you're actual, true ladies, you wouldn't stand for that behaviour! Say what you will about Nightvisor, but at least he wouldn't think of doing something so juvenile and crude!"
"Thomas told me all they did was yell out in the restaurant and pig out on lots of food," Francie replies. "Sure, it's a little less classy, but he told me it was Neil and Scott's idea of a funny gag. Somehow, I think you need to work on your sense of humour."
"Yeah," Janelise agrees. "I've seen you all around the University of the Tropics, especially when we met in the dining hall, and you were always so serious. Sometimes, I wonder if that's why you never had a boyfriend."
"Actually," Shaylene says, "I was too busy focusing on my studies to get a boyfriend. It's also why I never went to parties and other events, even if my parents did attend."
They finish their soup and look at their menus again. Shaylene is interested in a fish and chips meal, and decides on that before anyone else. She says, "Look, I'll be happy to take part in this 'Women Making Waves' thing if it'll help me do more for my community. But don't think this will get me into your little club here. I'm sure you girls are nice enough, but what if other players are married to, engaged to or dating women like that blasted Jamonica? I don't want to be criticized by any Tsunami wives for choosing to work, just because they can afford to stay at home with their kids and have rich husbands. All they're into is material wealth and social status. I have no respect for women like that."
"Does this mean you don't want to be married to a pro football player?" Laurie asks.
"I've never been interested in being a pro sports wife, not even in professional golf or tennis," Shaylene answers. "I don't follow football or league sports in general. Really, if it weren't for the fact that Breast Cancer Awareness Month takes place during the season, I'll bet a majority of women wouldn't even be interested. The reason why this league is all up in arms about this is so they can turn more women into fans. And it's not going to work with me, to be honest."
The other women all stare at her. "Now, I know what you all are going to say: 'Oh, that's spoken like someone who would call football totally barbaric.' But that's not true at all. I've always been very feminine; and logically, feminine women shouldn't take interest in sports originally designed for men to enjoy. Also, just because I'm the mayor's daughter, that doesn't mean I should associate myself with someone who's garnering instant fame and celebrity status by throwing and catching balls, putting out a few hit singles, or starring in some big blockbuster hit. It's the reason why I've never been interested in music or movie stars, either."
"So, you just want to marry some average person," Sierra guesses.
"And be some plain Jane working on ads for perfume and feminine products," Janelise adds.
Francie thinks about what Shaylene has said, then tells her, "You know, this is exactly why Karen Granger called off her engagement to Patrick Jameston, even though he loved her very much. She wasn't interested in garnering instant fame, either; all she wanted to be was just an average housewife. She hated being the centre of attention and standing out from the rest of the crowd. She didn't want to be married to a football, basketball, baseball or hockey star, or music or movie star, either."
"And you want to know what else? My father's decision to push Neil and Scott onto me had nothing to do with the fact that they play football. It's simply because they're Charles Jameston's son and nephew. If Patrick Jameston wasn't almost a decade older than me, they'd push him onto me, too."
The waitress comes back and Shaylene puts in her order quickly and frustratingly. Sierra orders a quesadilla, Laurie orders a small pizza, and the others tell her they haven't decided yet. When she leaves, Shaylene looks at all the women and says, "This wouldn't be an issue if Neil had decided to be a law enforcer like his father wanted. Or maybe if he and Scott ran a restaurant like this or something. But they are dragging me into something that's not going to fulfill me. I want someone who will treat me like a queen, and give me security and satisfaction, not necessarily someone who'll bring home a nice paycheque."
She shuts her mouth after that. She wants to say, "And that's why I'm with Nightvisor," but as far as she knows, they don't know this.
Moments later, the waitress returns, and Francie and Janelise take their orders, both classic chicken meals. While the women wait, Shaylene quickly starts talking about her work, her past successes and future career plans; the local news, art and literature; anything but football, what the football wives are doing, and other uninteresting topics. She doesn't care if the other women aren't interested, if all they want to talk about is their fundraiser; she doesn't want to depress herself with things she doesn't care for.
That weekend, Shaylene is at the Crystallite Convention Centre, attending what is now a gala for the Mary Ruth Grace Foundation. All the Warriors players are there, but they're all in dressy suits and ties instead of tuxedoes.
She looks around all the gowns, everyone staring at her dress, but it doesn't faze her. "So what?" she thinks. "What's the point of me spending so much money on clothes I'll only wear at special occasions?"
She looks at Scott Jameston, her surprise date, and says, "I know you're doing this for Taylor and Julia, but I still think this is just a publicity stunt for the team. I mean, you have to attend a fancy gala that goes until one or two in the morning and you have a game the very next day."
"It's a Monday night game, so we don't have to worry about anything," Scott says. "Coach is giving us the morning to sleep in, then we have last minute practice and PR interviews following lunch tomorrow. I'll take you to dinner on Sunday."
"So no energy drinks for you tonight, right?" she guesses. "I'm sorry, but I'm just imagining an entire football team downing Red Bull in order to prepare for an important night out and a football game back-to-back, and I'm not laughing."
"Just remember who's taking you home tonight, and you can sleep in tomorrow," Scott says. "If you want, I can call Dad tomorrow morning and ask him to take you to the stadium straight from work. You can take a bus on Monday."
As Scott and Shaylene go all around the room, she looks at all the other Warriors wives and girlfriends that she didn't see when Scott had his game films meeting. Only a few of them snub her, but others recognize her as Mayor Goldsmith's daughter, so they talk mostly about that. One woman asks her, "So, what do you think about the recent crime wave that's been going on?"
Shaylene freezes, trying to think of what to tell her. She thinks, "What does she want me to say about the Super-Human Martial Brothers? Should I defend Nightvisor to her?" She looks at Scott, wondering if he knows that she's thinking of Nightvisor right now.
But he just prompts her. "Shaylene, she asked you a question. You should answer it."
She starts to think of the arguments she's had with her family, and says, "Well, I know who's not behind this, and that is the Super-Human Martial Brothers. I've been here even before they became known for their crime-fighting skills. They managed to get them some of their victories into the news, so I think I know the real brothers. Now Scott here, I think his uncle has been blowing it all out of proportion with the sensational things he's said about them. With the recent theft at Wineland Department Store, thank heavens I don't have to watch his show tonight." She repeats what she's been telling everyone about Jameston's made-up story of the brothers cloning each other to pull this off, and Scott starts laughing.
"Shaylene, Uncle Charles may be a little bit cynical towards them, but I don't think he's so fanatical in his hatred, that he would make up a story like that," he says. "I don't think he even believes in cloning, and even if he did, he'd know that about three-quarters of the city wouldn't believe it."
"The point I'm trying to make is that I know the Kensington family is behind this whole operation," Shaylene tells the woman, ignoring Scott, "and Charles Jameston needs to focus his hateful energies on that instead of pointing the finger at a group of heroes just because they may be oversized and muscle-bound."
She is soon interrupted by a somewhat familiar friendly voice. She turns to see Julia Winters smiling as she approaches her. Shaylene reaches out for a hug, and Julia says, "I'm so glad you could come."
"Hey, I thought about it, and what you said about this when we first met at Scott's place, and I decided to donate my money to such a good cause," Shaylene replies.
"Actually, it was me who paid for the ticket, and the ticket to the Warriors game on Monday," Scott says.
Shaylene blushes a little bit, then says, "Gee, Scott, thanks."
He excuses himself when he hears several of his teammates calling his name. As she leaves, Shaylene starts thinking about Nightvisor, and how she wishes he could be here with her. She hasn't heard anything about the Super-Human Martial Brothers or the youth gangs for the whole week, and police still can't recover the stolen security system, all the monitors and equipment. That should be enough evidence that the real brothers were never behind the theft, she believes. She wonders if Nightvisor and his brothers had other crimes to fight that week. She wonders if Charles Jameston will have anything to report on Paradise Lost tonight. She longs to speak to Nightvisor and ask what he's been up to.
She is roused out of her thoughts when she hears another voice calling her name. She quickly turns and sees Elisa Chondo looking at her impatiently.
"Julia was talking to you, sweetie," she says.
Shaylene shakes her head and replies, "I'm so sorry. I was lost in thought. I was just telling another one of the Warriors girlfriends about the recent crime wave and what's going on with the Super-Human Martial Brothers. Surprisingly, it's gotten a little lighter crime-wise, yet except for when they go out to battle smaller stuff that has nothing to do with the Kensingtons, they still have to dress up in those monk robes with the hoods. When they don't have to, they stay out of public."
"Oh, Shaylene, it's a night to celebrate and spread awareness for breast cancer research," Julia says. "Let's not talk about the out-of-control crime wave in Crystal Isle."
"Still, you would think that the Super-Human Martial Brothers would be free to come out of their comfort zone, even if it is just for a little while," Shaylene comments.
Elisa suddenly becomes curious. "And how would you know about the Super-Human Martial Brothers?" she asks.
Shaylene looks back at Scott, his back turned to her. As far as they know, she and Scott are mutually exclusive. She knows this isn't the time to tell the truth about her and Nightvisor. She turns back to them and lies, "Uh, the Super-Human Martial Brothers and I are just friends." Then she steps back from them a bit. She prays that nobody has been keeping up on the brothers' affair, and that nobody tuned in to Jameston's reports of her and Nightvisor together.
She waits for Scott to come back, and vows to stay with him for the rest of the night. She notices they are still talking, and wonders what about. But her first thought, she says aloud: "Why are they talking football strategies at a breast cancer fundraiser?" She decides to approach them and wait for him to notice her. It's just a few moments before he does, and she smiles and says, "Let's go sit down at a table. I think it's almost time for our elegant dinner."
She notices Elisa and Julia are now sitting at the same table, close to the dance floor. Shaylene takes her date to the table and sits down across from them. She looks over at another table further away to see Jamonica Parkinson sitting with her back to her, her husband going to join her. She focuses on her poppy-coloured backless gown. Shaylene points at Jamonica and lowly asks Elisa and Julia, "So, how has she been behaving so far? I'm surprised she hasn't chided Robert for showing up in a blue shirt and grey jacket and pants. I was quite sure she'd expect him to dress up in a tux."
Julia looks back at what Parkinson is wearing and says, "Yeah, I know, right? I'm pretty sure those threads would ruin her classy affair."
"And let me guess, she had that gown ordered directly from Paris or Milan," Elisa says. "You know, one of these days, Robert is going to wake up and find she's only using him for his money."
Shaylene starts to feel better when Taylor Winters and Jessie Hacienda come to join them. "Oh, thank heavens!" she says. "Now the guys can talk about more than just football, and the girls can do more than just gossip." She starts to laugh out loud, but sees everyone else is staring at her.
Shaylene looks embarrassed. She thinks about the same things she was talking about with the Tsunami wives, but is worried that they might not be interested in those things, except for national politics. Finally, she says to herself, "Or maybe I should just keep my mouth shut for the rest of the evening."
Scott holds her hand and shushes her. "Now, now, honey," he says, "there's no need to talk like that. Just let others start the conversations, and join in if you feel you can contribute something."
A waiter in a pink bow-tie and jacket comes by to take orders: beef, chicken or fish. "All orders come with scalloped potatoes and steamed vegetables," he tells them. Hacienda, Julia and Elisa order chicken, while Scott and Winters choose beef. Shaylene thinks about the fish she ordered when she was taken to dinner; it was battered English-style fish. She asks the waiter what kind of fish is being served here.
"Salmon, and I think you'll like it," the waiter answers. Shaylene orders the fish.
She lets Scott and the other Warriors and their girls talk, feeling she has nothing to talk about. But Julia starts talking about one of her co-workers. "You know," she says, "ever since Natalie Macdonnell started dividing her time between the Mary Ruth Grace Foundarion and the Just Breathe Foundation, she's only worked as secondhand help. She's helped me decide on the hall, the live band, even gave ideas on the advertising, but I handled the meat of the tasks. She was able to help me with decorating, but she's attending a Just Breathe event this very evening. Oh, but she's going to be exhausted come Monday."
Shaylene looks around at the walls of the halls, all covered in light pink satin. Balloons and streamers in various shades of pink adorn the rafters and the ceiling. She even notices the cloth napkins and tablecloths are all in pink. But she just says a blunt, "It's very lovely."
Julia looks strangely at her and says, "Shaylene, you're awfully preoccupied this evening. Is everything okay?"
Then, she remembers something Natalie may have told her, something she may have found out about Shaylene previously. She asks how long before the food arrives.
"I'd say about fifteen minutes," Scott answers. Julia immediately excuses herself and takes Shaylene to the women's room.
When they're there, Julia and Shaylene stand at the sinks as Julia talks some more about Natalie Macdonnell.
"Look," she says, "Natalie Macdonnell told me something about the Super-Human Martial Brothers when this whole crime wave started breaking out. She told me that she knew one of them, Nightvisor, from many years ago, that he was awfully fond of her, but she couldn't be his girlfriend for some reason."
Shaylene stays silent, thinking. Nightvisor had never told her about Natalie Macdonnell or any of his past girlfriends. Then she thinks about his new love for her. "Am I the type of girl who would make a boyfriend forget his past when they choose me?" she wonders to herself.
"Natalie told me that she learned about you and Nightvisor when she watched that media conference as the top story on the news," Julia says. "She told me she can't believe what's happening to the Super-Human Martial Brothers now. She said they can't possibly be behind all the crimes that have been happening. She said she and her family know Nightvisor better than that."
"Do you believe the Super-Human Martial Brothers are behind this?" Shaylene asks.
"If I did, I never said anything about it," Julia answers. "But now with the surveillance evidence showing up in colour on the news, and the difference between the real brothers and their criminal counterparts in size and ability, I'm starting to have doubts. But Shaylene, Natalie told me that you and Nightvisor would be perfect together – if the Super-Human Martial Brothers could get through this. She doesn't think it's fair that your love is so star-crossed… and I don't think it's fair either, now that I think about it. Natalie says that Nightvisor should be married and a father, but she knows he would be wonderful."
Suddenly, a woman comes charging from one of the occupied stalls, walking straight to the young women, focused on Shaylene. "You!" she yells. "You're still cavorting around with one of the Super-Human Martial Brothers?! Those guys are dangerous! They've been going around stealing everything in sight, robbing people and picking their pockets. They're terrorizing all of Crystal Isle! And here you are, giving one of them your heart, your love. I think what you're doing is scandalous, young lady! You need to go to whichever brother you're going with and tell him it's over, to save your own reputation!"
Shaylene is shocked and speechless, so Julia hollers, "Is this any of your business? How dare you listen in on a private conversation that had nothing to do with you! Now you're going to go to whichever event you're at – hopefully, it's not our breast cancer fundraiser – and spread it around like bad gossip. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!"
The woman says nothing and leaves. As she does, two more women emerge from their stalls to the sinks. Julia asks them both, "Did you listen to what I was saying to Shaylene."
"Oh, I tried to tune out, sweetie," one woman replies. But she looks at Shaylene and says, "You must be Shaylene, right? I want you to know that I've watched the news, so I know about your little tryst with the Super-Human Martial Brothers. I just want you to know that what you do in the privacy of your bedroom is no one's business but you and your boyfriend's." She finishes washing her hands and leaves.
Julia and Shaylene leave the washroom last, Shaylene feeling flushed and humiliated. Scott sees this and can guess what they were talking about. He says, "I know all about Shaylene's love for Nightvisor, and frankly, I think she can do better than him. That's why I invited her here as my date, that's why I bought her the ticket for Monday's game. Despite all of Neil's talent, and the fact that he's Uncle Charles' kid, I want her closer to me."
Shaylene just smiles lightly at him, trying to make him happy, trying to look appreciative. She looks at Elisa and Julia again. She knows she will have some things to explain to him.
She is thankful when dinner service starts, and when her salmon arrives. She eats at a moderate pace without any conversation. She can't wait for the dance floor to open up after dessert and speeches, so she can enjoy the rest of the evening.
Two days pass, and Shaylene is sitting at the football stadium watching the Warriors play against the Liberty City Leaders. She is sitting in the front row, where Julia and Elisa are, along with many of the other wives and girlfriends. She looks over at Jamonica Parkinson, sitting five seats down from her. Shaylene is thankful she's sitting so far away. She wonders if Jamonica knows about her and Nightvisor, now that the romance she wanted to keep secret came out at the gala. She even wonders if she watches Charles Jameston every Saturday night. No, a woman like her makes sure her activity calendar is full.
Suddenly, she is shaken out of her thoughts, then she hears Elisa calling, "Shaylene, you just missed the snap! Scott threw the ball to Jessie, and look, there he goes!" Shaylene looks for Jessie Hacienda's number, Elisa tells her it's number twenty-four. She manages to spot him as he runs toward the twenty-five yard line. Suddenly, one of the Liberty City players tackles him just as he touches the goal line. Shaylene's eyes widen, her hand over her mouth, wondering if Hacienda is hurt.
"Is your man okay?" she asks Elisa, trying not to sound alarmed.
"I think so," Elisa answers. "I think it's just his knee or a bone in his lower leg."
Shaylene looks up at the scoreboard. The Warriors are still scoreless with seven minutes left in the first quarter, the Liberty City Leaders up by three points.
Shaylene decides she doesn't want to see Hacienda get carried off on a stretcher. She also realizes she hasn't had dinner yet. She excuses her herself and goes up to the concourse, exploring all around the stadium. She doesn't feel like hamburgers and fries tonight, but is attracted to a stand serving pizza and Italian. Just as she's standing in line, she hears a crowd cheering for Hacienda and turns. She watches him being carried off the field by two of his teammates, one on each arm.
She looks up at the menu, and is attracted to a meat calzone with two other ingredients of her choice. When it's her turn to order, she chooses just that and adds, "Onions and green peppers, please, plus a Diet Pepsi."
She comes back to her seat to see Scott huddling with his team on the field, strategizing a new plan without Hacienda there. She asks Elisa, "Well, what do you think the verdict will be?"
"He's very likely out for the rest of the game," Elisa says. "I think he'll be questionable for the next two weeks at least."
"What are you going to do? You've still got your work at Athlete's Alley. How are you going to nurse him back to health and keep him active? Oh, I would hate for him to gain weight as he has to elevate his leg every day. That seems very likely."
Elisa takes a drink of Dr. Pepper. "Don't worry, I work from eight to five each day, and all his nights off are spent with me. We're hoping to move in sometime next spring before we marry in the summer."
Shaylene looks interested, wondering how a summer wedding will fit in his schedule, when they're preparing for the new season. "Hopefully, it won't interfere with any practice sessions or pre-season games."
"Oh no, we're going for early July."
Shaylene doesn't pay any more attention to the game for the rest of the quarter, and going into the next. She spends much of that time concentrating on her food and thinking about Nightvisor. She thinks about how she would never go out on a Monday night, unless it was to a really nice buffet dinner. How she would be staying home writing romantic monologues and poems about Nightvisor if she had nothing else to do that night. She looks over at Scott, staring at him from afar, thankful he doesn't notice she's slipped into her own fantasies. Every other moment, she takes a look at the other women sitting with her. They seem to be fixated on their own men.
When Shaylene finishes her dinner, she gets up without excusing herself to find the trash disposal. As she climbs the steps she looks back at the Warriors wives and girlfriends and says to herself, "Oh well. You ladies have your fantasies, and I have mine."
When she gets back to her row, she starts to think about Nightvisor again. She imagines being engaged to him, being married to him, sharing a home in the living quarters at the Golden Katana. She imagines the two of them making over the whole building to make it warmer and more inviting, including the dojo of the martial arts studio. She wonders how she can renovate the studio to bring in more clients to learn martial arts. She thinks this is what Nightvisor would want after he takes over the studio, and hopes it would make Master Abraham proud.
Five minutes into the second quarter, she is distracted first by Jamonica screaming, then the crowd being uproarious. It forces her to concentrate on the game for a few moments. She scans the field to find Robert Parkinson running fast to the goal line, past the thirty, the twenty, the ten. The Warriors have scored a touchdown.
She sees Jamonica is the most excited about this, hopping around. Jamonica looks at Shaylene to see she isn't celebrating with the rest of them. Jamonica approaches her just as Shaylene jokes, "Jamonica, you shouldn't jump so high. You might break your heels and have a bad fall."
"Shaylene, this is for real!" Jamonica replies, nearly shouting in excitement. "Your man Scott finally, finally, finally threw the ball to my Robbie! And Robbie just showed that he still got it, the way he flew down that field like a skyrocket."
Shaylene looks up at the scoreboard. The Warriors are now leading twelve to nine. Jamonica laughs and says, "Okay, Shaylene, if you have any hope of being Scott Jameston's girlfriend, you should pay a little more attention to the games he's playing, and more of his plays. I always pay attention to what Robert does. It shows my loyalty."
Shaylene sits down, and resolves not to look directly at Scott during his time on the field. She reminds herself that it's Nightvisor, not Scott, whom she wants to be with. She focuses on the game long enough to see Greg Farmer kick the ball into the field goal.
Shaylene looks at the scoreboard again and smiles for her city. The Warriors score their thirteenth point.
"Hello, everyone, and welcome to our Women Making Waves night!" Francie Sherwood calls into a microphone. "Are we ready for a good time for a great cause?" Around her, more than five hundred women applaud.
It is that Friday night, and Shaylene is at the Prince Nafatu Community Centre. She looks around at the full bleachers, along with three hundred chairs set out on the large gymnasium floor. She is standing on stage with Francie and Janelise and about six other Tsunami wives and girlfriends. She listens as Francie give a five-minute introduction about how all the women in attendance has been touched by breast cancer, whether it's themselves, a close friend or a member of their family. She tries to be interested, reminding herself, "I'm only doing this for my community. I want to show all of Crystal Isle that I'm interested in great causes."
As Francie keeps talking, Shaylene wonders if she or any of the other hosts have had cancer themselves, or if they had a mother, sister, aunt, or other family member who's had it. She wishes she could have asked them when they were dining out the night she met them. She certainly doesn't remember anyone in her family having breast cancer.
Francie is already into introducing the hosting wives and girlfriends, and she steps up to Shaylene. "This is our newest member, Shaylene Goldsmith," she says. "You may not know her personally, but you may know her father! He was elected mayor less than a month ago!" She is amazed by the applause she's getting, and she tries to be grateful.
"Well, the Crystal Isle Tsunami also has a rookie quarterback–" she begins.
"Let me explain it, Francie," Shaylene says, then takes the microphone. She says, "As Francie Sherwood just said, the Crystal Isle Tsunami has a rookie quarterback named Neil Jameston. My father and his father are very good friends, and they apparently believe that Neil and I going out together, and falling in love, will bring them closer together. It's not exclusive yet, but you know, there could be some potential." More applause, and she suddenly feels a little more comfortable.
After the opening speeches, Janelise shows Shaylene around the event. There are many booths in the large hall outside the gymnasium. Two Tsunami girlfriends are serving a wide selection of foods – things such as salads, noodles and rice, and tacos in a bag – and sodas. There are also booths displaying beauty products and providing women with makeovers and manicures. Shaylene is awed at this.
"How nice that they're providing a chance to make women fighting cancer look and feel beautiful," she comments. "Janelise, do you still need me to help with the raffle tickets, because I feel like assisting in the makeover sessions."
"I'll ask them," Janelise offers. She walks over to the makeover booth, the one labelled Loveita Cosmetics, and asks if they would like Shaylene to help them, pointing at her. Shaylene watches them interact, and the makeover people start to nod. She turns to the manicure booth, and it seems the workers there are overhearing. They look at Shaylene with interest, then call at Janelise for another conversation. When she is through, Janelise comes back smiling.
"Shaylene, I've got great news," she says. "They want you working at both booths. Some of the attendants have said that they'd like you to give them manicures, then take them to the Loveita booth and put makeup on them."
"That's wonderful. I'd love to," Shaylene says. "But I'm probably going to need someone else to help with the manicures while I'm doing makeup. See if you can have Laurie Grant take care of the raffle tickets." She hurries to the manicure booth, where there is a relatively short line.
She starts with a woman wearing a pink bandanna on the top of her head. This woman looks to be in her forties, but Shaylene can tell she lost all her hair to cancer. Shaylene gets out five different colours of nail polish – red, orange, yellow, green and blue – and talks the woman into "rainbow nails" for both of her hands. As she finishes one hand and starts on the other, she says, "It's too bad we weren't born with six fingers on our hands. Then I would've given you a purple nail."
"You're so thoughtful," the woman says. "Mayor Goldsmith should be lucky to have someone like you for a daughter."
"I sincerely hope you do become Neil Jameston's girlfriend," the woman tells her. "Despite four losses so far, Neil Jameston does play some great football, and my husband says he's shown some real promise as a quarterback. Maybe if they win more games in November and December."
Shaylene looks up at her and starts to think. "I don't think the Tsunami are going to get to the Super Bowl this year. But what do I know, I don't follow football. Never shown much of an interest in it. Like I said when I talked about myself on stage, his father and mine are very good friends. Charles Jameston told me about him and Scott Jameston when he came over to our house, and this was when Daddy announced he was running for mayor. He said I should give both of them a chance." She finishes both hands and takes the woman to the makeup booth.
"Do you know which one you're going for?"
"I wish I could choose one, but neither have done much to impress me." That is all she will say. She keeps receiving "brain messages" the whole evening not to mention Nightvisor or the Super-Human Martial Brothers. As she does the woman's makeup, she talks about her successful advertisements that will be appearing in magazines and billboards. She starts to feel good about herself, knowing that she's at least showing promise at Weiland and Ward, impressing people with her flawless track record.
She spends two hours going back and forth between the two booths, giving eager women both a manicure and a makeup session. At different points, television cameras film her working. The workers notice how creative and colourful she is in her work, and compliment her endlessly.
"You do such nice work," says one woman working at the Loveita booth. "And I love what you do with the nails, too. You know, these rainbow nails may look like something high school girls would do, but I think you're starting a new fashion trend here."
The other Loveita booth worker examines her face and skin, the makeup job she usually does, then says, "You're so naturally beautiful and exotic. I wonder if that's your secret to knowing what works in this department. You should've gotten a job where you get to pamper people, giving women makeovers."
"I'm pretty sure my parents wouldn't approve," Shaylene replies. "When you're the daughter of a prominent man in politics, you have to have higher ambitions and expectations."
She ends up working at the booths all evening. She has already worked with around thirteen participants when Gloria Jameston comes out of the gym and calls to her, "Shaylene! Shaylene, we're about ready to announce the winners of the raffle prizes. We could use your help giving them out."
Shaylene is in the middle of putting makeup on a light redhead. She calls back, "I'll be right there, Mrs. Jameston. Just let me finish with this last woman."
A few minutes later, when the woman goes back into the gym, Shaylene leaves the Loveita booth and heads back into the gym, heading straight to the stage. She's been listening to music all evening and the acts are taking a break for the raffle winners.
She takes a few moments to examine the raffle prizes. It's a variety of items including a set of fine china and wineglasses, free chances to spend a day at the spa, weekends at hotels all around Crystal Isle. With this particular prize, she sees it's the hotel where the Tsunami and the Warriors stay during their home games, so she gives the women some advice: "If you truly want a peaceful and serene weekend, wait until the end of the playoffs at least, or whenever both teams are done for the season. Otherwise, you'll be treated to a bunch of overgrown men making ruckuses next door, probably see some animalistic behaviour in the ambassador rooms, or hear adult movies playing at a loud volume. And this is from players who don't even have wives and girlfriends." The women in the audience all laugh, and Shaylene looks over at the Tsunami wives. Some of them are chuckling, but Gloria Jameston looks both rattled and unnerved.
Shaylene turns away from her and gets more raffle prizes. Inwardly, she's preparing for a lecture.
It is twenty minutes before all the raffle prizes are given out, and the next act gets on the stage. When the music starts up again, she feels Gloria Jameston taking her arm, dragging her to the women's restroom and into a handicapped stall.
"What the hell possessed you to say that about the Warriors and the Tsunami?" she seethes. "You were talking about not only my son and nephew, but all of the players on both teams."
Shaylene tries to think of something clever. "Isn't that how most players behave when they're excited, anxious, or trying to get angry for games? And about the adult movies, I thought all 'man's men' enjoyed watching them, that and the shoot-em-up action movies that bring out the adrenaline in them." She tries to sound logical, but Gloria gets meaner.
"So you use this event to stereotype football players just because there aren't all that many here, right? There are players who act like classy gentlemen in hotels and other public places off the field. You may not have noticed, but my son, Patrick gave a little speech and took pictures with the women here while you were doing your little beauty sessions. You should be lucky he was out of the gym when you said that, or else you would've upset him. He was never like that when he dating Karen. Why don't you stop and think about what you're saying? You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
"Gee, Mrs. Jameston, it was just a joke." Shaylene leaves the stall and heads out of the bathroom.
In the hall, Gloria calls out to her, "You'll never be a football wife with that attitude, missy. You'll never be any kind of wife if you don't learn to watch what you say, and hold your tongue at times."
Shaylene looks at the manicure and makeup booths, and more women looking to be pampered. She decides to get to work again. She goes to the manicure booth and asks the woman there if she can do her nails.