I wake up with Kipa and Darya hovering over me. I must’ve passed out.
“Wow, you’re really something.” Kipa says tossing a towel on my chest. Her manly features still surprising. Darya just shakes her head.
“What were you thinking?” She says tucking her long light brown hair behind her ear and sits down with her legs crossed. A large basin cradled in her crossed legs. My mouth is dry.
“You might want to clean this up.” Kipa gestures to the mess I made earlier. “You’ve been out for almost half of the hour.” My head is spinning.
“Give me a moment please?” I close my eyes to stop the earth from spinning.
“Fine.” She squats down and wraps her arms around her knees. Eventually I get up and begin cleaning my mess.
“I hope you learn quickly. Vel’s not usually so…merciful. However, she seems particularly hard on you.”
“Or fond.” Darya pipes up.
“What are you talking about?” I cup my hand over my eyes to block the sun. “I’d hate to see what she would be like if she hated someone.”
“Ya, they’re usually dead.” Darya says with a laugh as she puts the basin on the floor. I can’t help but smile. My thighs are shaking as I’m down on all fours cleaning.
“So are you here strictly to learn self-defense?” Kipa says.
“Yes, I’ve had…Problems with men in the past. Problems I would like to alleviate.” I say scrubbing the ground harder.
“Ah, I see. You know… We aren’t all prostitutes.” Kipa says twirling her thumbs.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Darya is strictly a dancer. She has entertained many diplomats before.”
“And I don’t offer any other services.” Darya’s face scrunches up.
“Leven, arranges flowers when flowers are available, Jepah…Well she…” Kipa’s voice trails off.
“She kills people for a living! Mostly men.” Darya’s happy personality makes the subject seem weird. It suddenly sinks in that I’ve managed to injure an assassin. I hope she doesn’t hold grudges.
“Now, most of us from Paradise do take part in prostitution, but not all of us. I don’t.” Kipa says. I’m not surprised. Kipa isn’t ugly per say. She’s well muscled, broad-shouldered, with a well defined jaw line. It also doesn’t help that she has short hair to her chin.
“What do you do then?” My curiosity gets the best of me.
“Well, you see.” She says proudly “I’m the muscle.” I’m still confused.
“She helps rescue, women who are held captive or stands in for our male figure when we need things that women can’t get.” Darya says rocking back and forth.
“I see.” I let that concept rattle around in my brain. “How interesting.”
“Ya, if you weren’t so small and womanly I would take you in as my protégé.” Kipa says smiling proudly. I am suddenly grateful for my womanly frame.
“Anyways, we got to get going.” Kipa says giving me a firm nudge. Darya nods. I look down and realize I’ve finished cleaning the floor.
“I have work to do today. Apparently there is a caravan of ‘dancers’ coming in tonight.” Kipa says standing up.
“By ‘coming in’ she means they’re being imported.” Darya says with disgust. “Women aren’t animals.” She huffs and tucks her hair behind her ear again. I nod silently.
“You better be going also. Vel probably won’t want to see you for the rest of the day.” Darya says over her shoulder casually. “Oh, and don’t try to apologize either. She hates groveling.” And just like that they were gone.