There was no story, show, or movie which adequately prepared me for the real life feeling that two gorgeous girls were wanting me to bathe with them in the nude. I had heard of such things being common place in a few countries, but where my thoughts were headed ensured me that my mind was not nearly pure enough to casually enjoy a public bath with such attractive girls. A set of wet arms joined Mai’s around my body, and my mind gave into thoughts of how Ai’s body now pressed against me. “Ladies… um… please forgive me if this is truly insulting to you, but there is no way that my upbringing… uh… er… personal beliefs are going to allow me to um… bathe in such a manner. You might feel me…” Ugh. Their hands and arms definitely were feeling me tremble. “Er… believe me to be a prude, but I think bathing in the nude should be reserved for…” The twins shouted simultaneously “NUDE!? James Michael Somerset! Ai is in a swimsuit, you pervert!” Swimsuit? I peaked around to look and found that she truly was. “You know I’m actually the third, right?” The girls pushed me out of the room and slammed the door.
I tripped and fell to the floor but was so relieved that I could not refrain from laughing. Moments later, Mai stepped out of the bathing room wearing a towel, which surely concealed a wet, two-piece suit to match her sister’s strapless one, since Mai’s body was now dripping slightly with water. “I would like to apologize for Mai not warning you. I can see why you would think I was naked given the circumstances, but I was not trying to get you naked yet.” I smirked as I inquired “Is talking in the third person some manner of exceptionally formal Japanese apology then? What do you mean by yet!?” Mai’s face scrunched up as she stuck her tongue at me. “Ugh. You’re so annoying! Go watch T.V. till we’re done.” She slammed the door after she ran back into the bathing room, and I could hear her loudly tell her sister “It didn’t work!” Had the twins went through all that just to try fouling up my ability to tell them apart? Probably. I really needed to stop underestimating the extravagant lengths to which they’d gladly go for personal amusement.
I hadn’t even watched the last half of a Firefly rerun when the twins came back out of the bathing room, swimsuits and clothing in hand. Part of me hoped their towels would slip while the rest of my mind told the first part to stop right there. Ai told me “All of our product is in the dispensers around the tub. Towels and anything else you might need are in the closet. Don’t take too long. We still have shopping to do, even if you are picking on us.” I took my bag into the bathing room and set a towel near the edge before retrieving my own necessities from my toiletry bag. The enormous whirlpool tub could easily sit several people and was extremely relaxing with the warm water soothing my tired muscles. I felt I hardly had time to truly appreciate how magnificent the tub was when Mai knocked on the door and said, “Do you need us to come in and give you a hand?” I gave her an emphatic “No!” and grabbed the towel in case I needed to cover myself quickly. “Well, hurry up! We need to get to the stores!”
After a little time passed, I felt confident enough that I wouldn’t be intruded upon to finish with my bath. The twins were the picture of impatience as I left the bathing room, bag in hand. They sighed together and each started a separate diatribe as I continued past them, walking to the door. “Aren’t you girls coming? I thought we were going shopping.” I said with a smile. Seeing them walking by with their noses in the air as I held the door for them was most amusing, although I chided myself shortly thereafter when reminding myself that they were my clients and I was on a job. As we walked to my car, a notion struck me that I brought up as I drove to the first store they requested. “You two think of me as a friend, right?” I continued after they assured me they do. “I really do try not to mix my personal life with my work, so I probably shouldn’t be taking you two as clients for much longer. It’s not like we won’t be spending time together regularly with training and such. Plus I’d love to hang out when we all are free.”
There was a long silence that started making me uncomfortable as I looked between the two. Ai was sitting in the passenger seat this time, arms crossed and a thoughtful expression on her face. Mai was a mirror image in the back. “James, you advertise yourself as a ‘best friend for hire,’ correct?” started Mai. “Well, yes, and I try to make all of my clients feel that I am their close friend.” Ai placed her hand lightly on my arm as she said, “James, you can’t really keep pretending that your personal life is separate from your business. If you keep trying to maintain that separation, you’ll likely seem fake to people. No one wants a fake friend. They want someone who truly cares, like you do.” I needed a moment to think about that, but Mai continued “Have you considered that your clients having to pay for your company already puts you at a disadvantage for your friend persona, so increasing the distance will only detriment your position as a friend further?” This wasn’t going at all how I had planned. Then they spoke in unison, saying, “James, we are quite happy to pay for your time even as your friends, especially knowing that you can’t very well escape us like this.”
I was feeling all too trapped by their words, especially knowing how the twins never seemed to stop with their games. I couldn’t argue against there being a certain wisdom to their words, but how was I to know whether or not they were speaking candidly as they seemed out of true concern for my business? They obviously wanted to continue hiring me, likely to enjoy having me under their thumb as they said, and I couldn’t complain at all about how well they paid. If I did stop charging people every time they got too close, I could feasibly run out of clientele in the area when doing my job as well as I tried. I truly did want to treat every client as a close friend and would enjoy each of them treating me the same. Whether the twins were manipulating me or not, their words were worth consideration.
As we traveled from store to store, the twins were mainly buying clothes. Apparently, they donated most of their old clothing to charity before coming to the U.S. again. Considering how expensive most of their attire seemed, I had to inquire why they hadn’t just shipped everything here. “We thought about it, but fashions differ enough here that we felt a new start for a new area would help us begin our new lives on the right foot. Sticking out is only fun on our own terms.” I couldn’t really believe that very attractive twin sisters could go anywhere together without sticking out, but I didn’t want to shoot down their hopes. The twins decided to dine at the food court of a mall we visited for a particular store they loved, perhaps to demonstrate their desire to fit in. Seeing Ai and Mai eat something as ordinary as a hot dog was strange for me, and that realization had me lost in thought for a time. My life was truly an unusual mix of business relationships intermingled with casual relationships now. I was still planning on babysitting my secretary, who often seemed like a kid sister to me, as a “best friend” to her father, yet I worried about having the twins for friends, trainers, and clients? Maybe, I truly was in need of a more expansive definition of “friend” these days instead of limiting people to one type or another.
Ai kissed one cheek as Mai kissed my other. “You better be daydreaming about us.” stated Mai while Ai said, “You would prefer kissing us over those other girls, wouldn’t you, James?” My parents utterly failed to discuss how to deal with a girl on each arm wanting attention at the same time when they were raising me. Father would surely find the topic humorous if I remembered to engage him about it later. I avoided looking at either as I slowly stood with their bags in hand, allowing them to rise with me instead of forcing them each to let go of my corresponding arm. “Ready to continue?” I asked. We didn’t go to any of the other stores at the mall, since the twins were only interested in the one. Georgina Martin came to mind as we left; the memory of leaving through those same doors and walking to her red BMW was fresh even though a month had passed. Ai and Mai made me feel inept and uncomfortable at times, but I was far more at ease with them and my job than I had been when Georgina hired me. Despite all of my experiences since that day, I was certain that I wouldn’t fare any better if Alma came for the twins, though she would surely be in for a surprise facing them instead of a woman who was only dangerous as a flirt.
“What’s bothering you, James?” asked the twins as one. I told them of my job as Georgina’s bag carrier, and I went on to tell the twins of how I believed Alma somehow put me to sleep and killed Georgina. “I don’t know why she spared me if things happened as I believe, but I can’t defenselessly let people be incinerated when I have the potential to save them. I want to be able to make a difference when people are threatened, especially for my family and friends, even those who I meet through work.” I said with a wink at Ai, hoping to light the mood a bit. They each leaned against one of my arms and told me together “Don’t worry, James. You’ll get past the basics soon enough.” Mai then said, “You truly are doing quite well. Emma will be outstripped by you in no time.” Before I could protest, Ai amended her sister’s statement with “Well, you’ll surpass her in using residual energy for spells. I don’t think you’ll have much chance for a while yet in certain circumstances.” I looked at each of them, wanting to hear more, but they both seemed caught up in their own thoughts. I hoped with all my heart that they were right, that I would be capable of preventing more deaths like Georgina’s soon.