A/N: You may want to peruse the Dramatis Personae while reading this chapter.
The conference room was adjacent to the manager’s office. Cayo stood looking out the window as the room began to fill up. It was nearing rush hour, and he watched the cars zip up and down the highways and the pedestrians stroll the boardwalk on the Suva side of the Oriochi. It was a productive day, and this meeting was the last item on his agenda. Dominic made dinner plans for them at Nuovo Sachii.
Chef was the last to enter and sat next to Aquarius, whom he adored. Cayo took his seat at the foot of the conference table and chatted with the other employees while they waited for Madalyne and Macallan. They were running a bit late.
“Cayo, do we have a full house tonight? We haven’t seen the schedule.” This was Aries.
“We had to adjust for tonight’s meeting. The schedule is ready, and you’ll get it when they arrive.”
Scorpio twirled one of her ponytails around a finger and blew a bubble the size of her head. “I’m actually kind of tired.”
“Bullshit you are.” This from Capricorn.
She gave him the finger without looking. “I am tired.”
Taurus said, “That’ll last until that stack of paper lands in your lap. It’s payday, chiclet.”
Libra chimed in. “Thank God. I got bills.”
“Fuck kind of bills you got?” Sagittarius said. “We don’t pay rent or utilities.”
“Um, none of yours,” she sassed back.
“Children, stop squabbling,” Virgo said, as she carefully checked her makeup.
“Second that,” said Pisces. He looked down at the end of the table. “Hey Cayo, what’s taking ‘em so long? They not usually this late.”
Cayo shrugged. “Who knows? They keep tabs on me, not the other way around.”
The Gemini twins laughed. Castor said, “They’re probably fucking. Let’s not interrupt that. Mrs. Z is always in a better mood after Mr. Z breaks her off.”
Sagittarius grinned. “I would be too. Mr. Z is hella fine.”
Pollux nodded. “It goes both ways. He’s always calmer after she gives him some.”
Castor snickered. “Can’t believe they don’t have any kids.”
Aquarius rolled her eyes and shifted in her seat. “You guys are so…classless.”
Pollux made a clicking sound and Castor forked the sign of the evil eye. “You’re one to talk…or have you forgotten that this is a brothel? Everybody fucks in this place. Even the people who own it.”
Aquarius crossed her legs and stared at Pollux and then Castor. “You don’t have to be so disrespectful about it. Have a little class when you’re discussing the people who employ us.”
Castor leaned forward and slapped her hands on the glass tabletop. “Since when is fucking one’s spouse disrespectful, bitch? Get off your damn high horse and come on down here with the rest of us peasants!”
“Leave her alone, Castor.” Chef said. “Or I’ll poison your curry.”
Pollux chuckled. “To the rescue eh, Chef Save-A-Ho?”
Castor smirked. “That hoe is beyond saving. Chef’s just pussywhipped; though why is beyond me. Last I heard, Aq still hasn’t given him any.”
Aquarius facepalmed and sighed dramatically. She couldn’t stand the Gemini.
Taurus muttered loud enough for those around her to hear, “Probably because she’s not offering him a discount,” and Scorpio nearly spit her gum out.
If it were possible, Chef would have blushed.
“OMIGOD!!” Virgo said, exasperated with the bickering. “STOP!”
“For real,” Sagittarius said, while playing with his hair. “You girls really do need to get it together.”
Scorpio chided. “You’re one to talk, Sag! You're as bad as they are!”
“Y’all quit,” said Libra. “Leave ‘em alone.”
The Gemini glared at Libra. “Or what?”
Libra flicked her hand and out popped a blade. “Or I’ll cut my name into your cheek.”
“Bitch, we’d like to see you try!” The Gemini stood up and pushed back their chairs.
Taurus fanned herself. “Violence,” she said, clearly disinterested.
Libra got up, backed up by Cancer, who had a hand behind his back. “Let’s go, then!”
Aries was exasperated. “Can you all please shut the fuck up and sit your asses down? We don’t have time for this nonsense!”
“Second,” said Pisces.
“Third,” said Capricorn, leaned back in his chair. “You are all fuckin’ up my high.”
Leo watched silently, exchanging looks with Chef and Cayo. His expression was clear. Are you going to do something about this?
Cayo stood up. “Everybody calm down. Now.”
The bickering stopped and everybody sat down. Cayo continued. “Do you have your phones, tablets, or whatever? I’ll send you the schedule now so you all can have something to do. You’re getting on my nerves.” He whipped out his handheld and started diddling with it. Soon, notifications began sounding through the room as the Signs checked their schedules.
Cayo sat back down, grateful for the silence. He looked over at Leo and winked. Leo winked back. The Signs were like brothers and sisters. They picked on one another mercilessly, but against a common enemy, they united.
Just then the Zhous strolled into the conference room; Madalyne on Macallan’s arm. They were splendid in black and red Givenchy. Madalyne’s red dress had two gravity-defying splits and cleavage for days. She looked good enough to eat. Macallan wore all black with a red tie the same color as Madalyne’s dress. They always matched. Always. Cayo made a mental note to get to work extra early the next day. He knew from the look that they would be on the hunt tonight and would need him to take out the trash in the morning.
The Zhous took their places at the head of the table and greeted everyone.
“Hey, what took you so long?” asked Pisces. “A fight almost broke out.”
Madalyne looked amused. “Is that so?”
Macallan also looked amused. “Does it matter?”
Pisces smiled back. He recognized the look in their eyes. The Gemini were right. “It really don’t. Long as you’re here now.”
“Told you they were fucking,” Castor murmured.
Macallan ignored the comment and looked around the room. “I see you’ve gotten your regulars’ schedule for tonight. It’s good that they’re so reliable.”
“You’ll have to let them know that you won’t be available next Thursday,” Madalyne said. “We’re hosting a private party.”
This was met with curious silence as the Signs stared at their bosses. The last private party was years ago.
“Been a while since we did one of those, Mrs. Zhou,” Leo said.
“It has indeed. But we’ve been presented with an opportunity, and let’s just say Macz and I are eager for you to demonstrate once again why we employ you.”
“You’ll get to do what you like and what you do best.” Macallan said. “If you are in need of specific tools and/or equipment, just let Cayo know as soon as possible.”
Cancer asked, “Can we get messy if we like?”
“As long as you clean up after yourself.”
Cancer smiled and closed his eyes with a gentle pump of both fists. “Dibs on the dungeon.”
“Ohhh, can’t we share?” Taurus said, batting her eyes at Cancer. “I want the dungeon too.”
“You won’t need it the whole night, will you?” She pouted.
“Hell if I know. Who can say?”
Taurus turned her big brown eyes on the Zhous. “I told you we needed two dungeons. Cancer’s so damn stingy.”
Madalyne looked around the room. “The bathhouse will be unavailable the night before, and of course, the night after. Plan accordingly. Aries? Aquarius? Libra?”
They looked at her, but Aries replied, “Yes, Mrs. Z?”
“I think we should wait until afterwards to install your new poles. I hope that is all right.”
“It’ll have to be,” Aquarius said.
“That’s fine,” Aries said.
Libra merely shrugged while playing with her knife.
Virgo twirled a lock of hair around her finger. “What about the massage parlor?”
“Operational as usual.”
Macallan took Madalyne’s hand. “On that day, each and every facility will be fully operational. As far as your quarters, you arrange it as you need to, and be sure you clean it thoroughly afterwards. Of course, we will have our trusted friends at U-Serv come in on Sunday and clean the entire Zodiac. Just to make sure.”
Leo looked at his hands. “Afterwards?”
Macallan said, “Make sure everyone’s wearing everything they wore when they entered the building. Escort them down to the kitchen where Chef and his most efficient staff will do the rest. You have nothing to worry about. The outside cameras will not be recording on that particular evening, and of course…we’ll have the assistance of Suva Oriana’s finest.”
At least three people snorted. The Zhous couldn’t tell who they were.
“Make sure you get plenty of rest, darlings,” Madalyne said. “I want all of you to give these people the night of their lives. Whatever they desire. Anything they want. Chef, put on a grand spread. Add a little something extra to the dessert table. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right.” She smiled at her husband and they shared a look. “Like we always do. Any questions?”
Macallan nodded at Cayo, who got up and left. He played with Madalyne’s fingers and the room was quiet until the lawyer returned with a briefcase. Cayo opened the briefcase and pulled out what looked like bricks wrapped in paper.
“We’ve had an extremely profitable quarter. Last month was…incredible. Madz and I are very pleased with your performance. Included is a 20% bonus.”
There was a hushed silence as Cayo dropped a wrapped brick in front of each employee. After a moment, Capricorn broke it. “Damn it, I love my fucking job!”
Madalyne and Macallan replied at the same time. “Apropos.”
“Heard that,” Aries said, as she unwrapped her brick. “I heard all of that.”
“Second,” Pisces said.
“Third,” Cancer chimed in.
“Agreed,” said Chef.
The Gemini were eagerly cradling their bricks. “Mr. & Mrs. Z, is that all?”
“Yes,” Macallan said. “You have your schedules?”
“Yes,” they all said.
“Fine,” Madalyne said. “Go on and have a great evening.”
Cayo closed the door to the manager’s office. Madalyne sat on the couch with her glorious legs crossed while Macallan fixed drinks. She held an envelope out to Cayo. “I suppose we really should start converting your paycheck to direct deposit, darling. Yours as well as the rest of the staff. Of course, the Signs will continue to be paid mostly in cash.”
“I can start that process if you’d like, Mrs. Zhou.”
“Go on and do it, Cayo. Would you care for a drink?”
Cayo handed Madalyne some files. “No. Dominic and I have dinner reservations at that new tapas restaurant.”
Madalyne beamed as she opened the first folder. “How is he?”
“Fine. Frustrated. He still hasn’t found a job.”
Macallan went over to the couch with two glasses of champagne. He sat next to his wife, who put her legs in his lap as she took the stem out of his hand. “You did ask him if he wanted to work for us, right?”
Cayo nodded, blushing. “Dominic’s a bit old-fashioned, sir.”
“We don’t need him to work in the pleasure house, Cayo,” Madalyne said, putting the files to one side. “He could apply his skill set in any other area of the club.”
“I’ll ask him again, but I’m sure he’ll say no.”
“Then don’t bother,” Macallan said. “Madz and I don’t beg.”
“Yes, Mr. Zhou. Do you or Mrs. Zhou need anything else?”
“No, we’re fine, Cayo. Have a good night,” Madalyne said.
Cayo couldn’t help but grin. “I'm sure you'll do the same. I’ll see you first thing in the morning.”
When he left, Madalyne smiled at her husband. “Are we that transparent?”
Macallan rubbed her legs. “Cayo knows who we are, lovely one. You want to go downstairs and have dinner?”
Madalyne smiled as she finished her champagne. “Yes. I'm starving. Let’s go.”