Chapter 5: The Emperor
Lima had just finished serving the last customer in the queue at Brazilian Emporium. Estrellar turned to Lima and said: “Good work today, Lima”. “Thanks,” Lima replied smiling. She knew Estrellar meant something more than simply serving the après-work crowd of customers looking for gifts and gemstones to alleviate their stress.
In the three weeks that the store had been open, Estrellar must have sold rose quartz, smoky quartz and chrysocolla tumbled stones in their droves. She had gemstones to suit all clients’ needs – be it carnelian to boost creativity for the digital agency workers, selenite to protect all computer users from electromagnetic waves, rose quartz for those wanting to attract love, smoky quartz for the city stress heads, and amethyst for the spiritually aware. You name it, Estrellar had a stone for anyone and everyone that walked into the store, and with her compassion and maternal instincts, rarely had anyone walked out of Brazilian Emporium empty-handed. Even Leo. In fact Leo walked out of the store with more than just a black tourmaline stone under his belt. He’d just experienced a stirring of his Soul, thanks to a meeting in the physical of his Twin Soul.
“Lima,” Estrellar said. “You understand me now. What I’ve been trying to tell you?”
“Ehh,” Lima replied, emptying the cash register and putting the notes in to deposit bags for the bank. “I need some time to absorb it.”
“Honey, absorb what exactly?” Estrellar said. “The relationship belongs to your Soul and his Soul, which by the way, if you are still not getting it, let me remind you once again, you share the same Soul. That boy you just saw is the physical form of your Twin Soul. Just as you are the physical representation of your Soul.”
Estrellar had been trying to get Lima to spiritually open up for years now. She had seen that Lima was special – she could see she was a creative little bee even as a child – she enjoyed music, something she inherited from her mum who used to be a jazz singer, but she also loved making clothes and jewellery. Lima was also a powerful intuit and psychic, but she would often run away from her intuition because it didn’t fit in with the “regular” way of doing things. “It often went against the tide,” as Lima said, and she would freak out that she was going to go in unchartered territory, if she followed her gut, and that she wasn’t always comfortable with.
Estrellar was good friends with Lima’s father, Juan. It was through Juan that she met her husband, Ulisses, back in the 1980s. Ulisses came to London from Sao Paulo as a session musician. He managed to get a gig with a Brazilian jazz funk band that were touring Europe in the late 1970s. After their European tour ended, Ulisses managed to stay in London on an extended visa, where he did the club circuit. PizzaExpress Jazz Club in Dean Street, Soho was a regular joint for him. It’s where he met an aspiring jazz singer, Joyce, and a young, handsome, Ecuadorian man called Juan who had taken a shine to Joyce. Juan became a regular at the club, perched at a front table for many of her gigs, with Ulisses forming part of her band. Juan was a mature student – a law student at nearby UCL, who had a penchant for jazz music. He loved the whole rigmarole around the jazz scene – the smokey clubs, husky voiced singers and smoking cigarettes. He was hoping to become a Human Rights Lawyer and marry Joyce someday. That he did and he also made it possible for his friend, Estrellar, who he met through a mutual college friend, to hook up with the love of her life, Ulisses.
Juan and Estrellar were like brother and sister, and for that reason, she looked upon Juan and Joyce’s two children, Lima and Oskar, as her niece and nephew. The two also referred to her as Auntie Estrellar.
Lima had just finished “cashing up” and was now getting her bag and jacket out of the cupboard behind the counter. “Listen to me, Lima,” Estrellar said pulling Lima’s arm so to face her. “You are truly blessed, Lima. It’s time to stop hiding and get a grip with who you truly are. Stop running from your natural abilities and start using them. You are a gifted psychic, among other things. Look at Leo – his skills are coming to the forefront and his awareness is about to run sky high now. You are the one who can truly help him, not me,” Estrellar continued. “But first take heed of yourself, as that is the only way you can help him, ok?”
A gush of wind circulated the store. An older gentleman, dressed in a khaki trench coat and black suit trousers had walked into Brazilian Emporium. “Juan, what a pleasure!” Estrellar said as she walked up to her good friend, embracing him on both cheeks. “Pleasure to see you too Estrellar, always,” he replied. Juan had started to turn grey in his late 20s and now had a thick mass of white curly hair, and a coiffed goatee beard to boot. He could have gotten away with turning up to court without his barrister’s wig get-up because the dude had white curly hair that could have done the trick. Golden brown skin, like he’d just stepped off a plane from some exotic destination and was baring a constant tan. He’d grown into a handsome old fellow and Juan had a presence that turned heads wherever he went.
“Hi dad,” Lima shouted out as she put on her parka and grabbed her Mi-Pac Backpack. “See you tomorrow,” she said walking up to Estrellar, kissing her on the cheeks. “Come dad, let’s go.”
“Wait,” Juan said. “I have booked a table at Ceviche for dinner. Estrellar, would you care to join us?”
Lima was hoping Estrellar would say no. She didn’t want to continue the conversation she’d just had with Estrellar over dinner. Not that she didn’t want her father to know, just that she needed some time to ask her own inner being for some answers as to what she had just experienced with Leo. Estrellar had sensed Lima was a Twin Soul, a long time ago, probably since birth, Lima was convinced. But her and Estrellar had only had the conversation themselves in recent years. To be honest, Lima couldn’t quite grasp the concept – “two bodies sharing the same Soul” for starters. Estrellar had told Lima to work on her relationship with her own inner being, something that Lima hadn’t really been developing, mainly because she was scared of “swimming against the tide” which she said her intuition often wanted to do while Lima’s “sensibility” wanted to override her Soul. But since her dalliance with Leo that afternoon, she sensed it was time to stop ignoring her inner being and start seeking answers from within. She’d promised herself she would meditate that evening after her evening out with her dad.
Marcos walked back into the store, following his late afternoon break. “Mae,” he said. “Let’s lock up.” Marcos and Juan greeted one another with a handshake, before Juan extended the dinner invite to Marcos too. “Thanks Juan,” Estrellar said. “But we are going to lock up and then I have some things to do at home.”
“Where are you going?” Marcos asked. “Ceviche on Baldwin Street,” Juan replied.
“OMG,” squealed Marcos, clapping his hands. “I had the most sexy cocktail there,” he said, licking his lips seductively in a circular motion. “It’s a pisco cocktail with ginger and lemongrass. Spicy just like the man who took me there for dinner. I think it’s called the Nipponjin.” Marcos was on heat and he didn’t really mind whom he shared his stories of his conquests and dalliances with. “Wanna hear what we had for dessert?” he said crudely. “Marcos, that’s enough,” Estrellar said. “Come mae, don’t be such a prude,” Marcos whined.
Estrellar loved her son but he was such a “drama queen” and his behaviour often made her squirm. Not because her son had a tendency to be graphic and would often share his tales with his mother, but his flamboyant ways often made people feel awkward. On the contrary, Estrellar made everyone feel comfortable and welcome. Estrellar was now seeing Marcos in full action on the shop floor, using it as a pick-up joint. The guy who had taken him to Ceviche was some “fat cat” city worker “with loads of money” who was searching for a birthday gift for his sister. An amethyst geode later and Marcos and the city worker had already exchanged numbers and were going on a hot date that Friday.
Lima and Juan said their goodbyes and left the store. Father and daughter made small talk about each other’s day en route to Baldwin Street. Lima hadn’t told Juan about Leo yet. Maybe she would over dinner. She wasn’t sure how he would respond. After all, she’d been going out with Rick for two years now. Juan liked him. It’s not every guy you date that gets your father’s seal of approval, Lima believed. That for her was a good sign. But that’s not to say she felt Rick was “the one”. In fact none of the guys she dated ever felt right. But Leo on the other hand – aside from Lima having just met him for the “first time” in the physical – was most definitely the one. She knew that from her Soul. She wasn’t going to override her Soul on that one. Now sh e knew why she always felt empty inside when she dated other guys, Rick included.
Rick ticked all the boxes on the outside. He was also a creative – worked as a motion graphics designer for an agency off Great Portland Street. He was a trendy dresser, but uniformed in his look. The latest Puma trainers, G-Star jeans, North Face track jacket and 555DSL baseball cap was his usual get-up. Everyone at Rick’s agency dressed the same in fact – give or take a few clothing labels. Their clothes carried them rather than them carrying the clothes. All part of fitting into a mould, Lima believed. She met Rick in a local bar near Westbourne Grove, where she had been DJing. Rick came over and started chatting her up in between record changes. Rick’s creative side appealed to Lima. They exchanged numbers and started dating.
Rick took Lima to some cool places – they frequented bars, clubs and fancy restaurants in the capital. They took trips to the country where they would stay in hotels with spas. They also travelled to Barcelona and Miami together. But none of that ever mattered to Lima on a deeper level. Sure they went to some nice places together but Rick still wasn’t “floating her boat”. Lima, like many, found herself plodding along, following the normal conventions of life and love. Neither which catered to her Soul on any level.
When Lima hit 25, soon after meeting Rick in fact, she started to question what she was doing with her life. She worked for various magazines doing styling work for fashion shoots and also worked in retail to supplement her income. In the evenings, she would sometimes DJ. But even though she was doing creative things, Lima really wanted to set up her own business. She had dreams of running her own shop, something like Estrellar’s pop-up store, selling some of the clothes and jewellery that Lima made. Sustainable fashion in fact – that was Lima’s niche. She was into preserving the planet and found throw-away fashion a turn-off.
When Lima was growing up, she’d make her own clothes with the sewing machine that Juan had bought her for her 16th birthday. She’d start from scratch with shop-bought material or she would take clothes from her wardrobe, cut them up and reinvent them. She’d turn a black chunky cardigan into a gilet, add some belt loops with the material she’d just cut off from the arms, and then add a thick, gold belt. I t looked the lick – a classic cut with Lima’s own magic touch. She teamed it up with a pair of bell-bottom trousers she made out of two plain navy pashminas her mate Riza had bought back from India. The material was neither itchy nor thin, which made it perfect to cut a pattern into and create a pair of retro trousers. She wore that outfit with a pair of white Puma hi-tops. She received a lot of praise for her designs. Lima even pulled Rick in that outfit – it was what she was wearing the night he asked for her number.
Lima was trying to get more fashion magazines to take note of sustainable fashion and make it “cool” enough to be featured in the likes of fashion bibles Dazed & Confused and i-D. Hence her doing fashion styling work. It paid peanuts, sometimes nothing at all, but it meant that she could get some of her own designs profiled and put sustainable fashion on the agenda of fashion directors.
Lima wanted to create a boutique shop selling her clothes and jewellery. She’d also have a music system set up in the store – either decks or a laptop and mixer where she could DJ. Lima wanted to be a champion for sustainable fashion and intended her shop to be an outlet where other designers with a sustainable fashion edge could sell their designs at affordable prices. Lima thought it may have been a pipe dream – it wasn’t – but if she would stop overriding her Soul and “swim against the tide” instead, she would be there by now. It was still going to happen one way or another, as her Soul knew. And her Soul’s Twin Soul relationship was also going to happen one way or another. In fact everything that her Soul desired for Lima was going to happen.
Lima didn’t always grab the opportunity when her Soul first presented them to her, but she was about to be plummeted into some life-learning lessons and in a short space of time, courtesy of her Soul. A spiritual awakening and transformation was on the cards. Estrellar had tried giving Lima the heads up on several occasions. Lima, like everybody else on a spiritual journey, would inevitably find the way and make it her own.
Lima and her dad made their way into Baldwin Street. Peruvian restaurant, Ceviche, was housed in what was the Alexandra Trust Dining Rooms, once used to feed the working people of east London back in the 19th century. It had been restored to give way to an open plan kitchen – including a charcoal grill and a Peruvian rotisserie – where diners could view their food being cooked. Glazed brick tiles and high ceilings from the original foundations were teamed effortlessly with contemporary Peruvian artwork displayed on the walls. Where old meets new and marries delectably well, Lima thought. She loved London for its creativity. Lima found the restaurant an inspiring concept, not to mention its sustainable credentials. The restaurant had recently been voted winner of the UK’s Best New Sustainable Restaurant of the Year Award. It also went down a storm with her father Juan, who had recently taken his wife and the family there for her 65th birthday.
Lima and Juan were shown to their table. They both hung their jacket and coat up on the back of their chairs, before proceeding to take a look at the menu. The pair were so engrossed in the food choices that neither said a word to each other until the waiter showed up to take their order. Juan asked his daughter if she knew what she wanted. Turns out, they were both ready to order. Juan ordered the Entre Costilla y Membrillo – braised short rib with yuca and garlic mash. And Lima, the Pollo a la Brasa – a corn-fed rotisserie chicken with chips. Juan also ordered drinks – two pisco sours, and starters to share. With the order taken, Juan turned his attention to his daughter. “So how was your day really, my beautiful one?” Juan asked.
There wasn’t much that Lima could hide from either of her parents. Intuitively they knew exactly what was going on for their children. Lima was surrounded by intuits, Estrellar included. Juan had a strong sense of truth – he could see it, feel it, smell it, touch it and even taste it – which is most definitely why he made a darn fine human rights barrister. For the last 35 years, he had devoted his life to serving the greater good, working on a number of high-profile cases including miscarriages of justice.
Many of the cases that Juan had worked on made the news, and Juan became a media figure and often appeared on Channel 4 News, ITV News, BBC News and Sky News as a human rights specialist.
The most high-profile case Juan had worked on was the trial of a well-known Tory MP, Peter Robbins, who alongside his wife abused their housemaid, Sylvia Mendez, a middle-aged woman originally from Panama. Peter and his wife, Charlotte, had their housemaid wipe the kitchen floor and surfaces clean with her tongue, locked her in the wine cellar for days and turned her into their sex slave.
Sylvia did not initially report it to the police for fear of reprisals because of her employer’s status and his threats if she did. traumatized, Sylvia was advised by her family to seek legal counsel. A friend of hers had seen Juan on the news and the kind of cases he represented, and told her to get in touch with him. She was unsure she would be able to afford his fees, but Juan took on the case, as he did many without money being an issue. For him, it was about justice and seeing that the barbaric MP and his wife would be held accountable. Besides Peter Robbins would have to declare bankruptcy to pay Juan’s legal fees in the long run, he jokingly told his client to put her at ease, but of course he meant it.
After a three-month court case at the High Courts of Justice, Juan won the case. Peter Robbins and his wife were each given a sentence of five years imprisonment. They’d be out in two-and-a-half years on good behaviour. Peter Robbins was declared bankrupt, what with his own legal fees to pay as well. He’d end up writing his memoirs while banged up, and recoup his losses with book sales, that is if anyone was mad enough to buy the book. But that was usually the drill for MPs like him who had been exposed for wrongdoing.
Juan had retired earlier in the year. After more than three decades of burn out, Juan’s body started yelling at him to stop. Years of working day and more often than not, through the night, on cases, take aways, alcohol and cigarettes had taken its toll on his health. His family, especially Lima, started to begrudge the time he devoted to his work “instead of his family”, as Lima put it.
There were many weekends when her father had promised his children “the earth”, well a trip to London Zoo or the Science Museum. What that turned out to be was a trip to dad’s Barristers’ Chambers at Gray’s Inn Square. A quick dash for Juan to pick up some papers became a two-hour sit down with him going through some work. In the meantime, he sat Lima and her older brother Oskar down with pencils and paper expecting them to get busy. It appeared that Juan missed out on many years of fatherhood being chained to his workload, failing to see that an eight-year-old and 13-year-old would neither be pre-occupied nor bemused by having to draw. Slightly antiquated but Juan was an old-fashioned guy at heart.
The starters arrived at the table. “Tuck in,” Juan directed his daughter. “So are you going to tell me how your day was?”
Taking a bite into a croquette, Juan awaited for his daughter to reply. Nervously Lima decided to demolish a croquette as quickly as possible, so she could take her time before speaking up. “It was an interesting day,” she said. “Ehh, I met someone today. Actually I met a guy.”
“Aha,” said Juan. “And who’s this guy?” he queried, intrigued.
“His name’s Leo,” Lima said. “Estrellar was helping him. He has psychic visions and she was giving him advice. Apparently her friend, Claudia, sent him. Do you k now her?”
“Who? Claudia?” Juan asked.
“Yes, Claudia,” Lima said.
“I’ve met her through Estrellar,” he said. “They grew up together in Salvador.” Realising his daughter’s deferring tactics, Juan brought the conversation right back to Leo.
“So Leo then,” said Juan. “He left an impression on my little girl, huh?”
“Yes,” she boldly said. “Well kind of,” she then said rather shyly, not wanting her dad to get to the part where he said “what about Rick?”.
“I could tell something happened to you today,” he said. “When I got to the store, you were a bundle of excitement mixed in with nerves. What did your Auntie Estrellar have to say about it?”
“Ehh, she, she,” Lima stammered, unsure of what her father would have to say about what Estrellar had been sharing with her all these years. “She says he’s my Twin Soul. She’s been telling me for years that I have a Twin Soul. Then today he showed up.”
“Hmm,” Juan said. The main courses had arrived and there was a long pause before Juan questioned Lima again. He didn’t seem that surprised by what she had shared with him. Hold on, thought Lima, Estrellar and Juan were like brother and sister – maybe they’d already discussed it before.
“We both have the same Soul apparently,” Lima said. “I’m the female half, he’s the male half.”
“That’s ok,” Juan said softly. “You don’t have to explain.” He had a smile on his face before taking a fork-full of mash to his mouth. After eating the mash, he was still smiling. Then he looked up again and into his daughter’s eyes and said: “ I know what a Twin Soul is.”
“Ah ok,” said Lima, making use of the long pauses to savour her food for as long as she could. She was of course waiting for her dad to mention Rick.
“And so,” he said. “Rick, it isn’t,” Juan laughed. “You know,” he said, maintaining eye contact with his daughter. “I kind of liked Rick but he was never right for my baby. Nice guy, but not the one. Know what I mean?”
Lima was taken aback. She wasn’t really expecting that response from her father. That was all they said about Leo that evening.
They ordered desserts – pumpkin doughnuts with cinnamon ice cream to share and two Andes Mules, ginger infused pisco with ginger beer. Lima turned the conversation to her father. She asked him how his day at his old chambers was.
Juan had spent the day there helping his son, Oskar, who following in his father’s footsteps had joined the firm and was a practicing human right barrister. Oskar had called his father in to help with a case that had come up.
Juan couldn’t resist. But of course Oskar had promised his mum not to keep his father in the office for days and nights on end. Juan had been diagnosed last year with a floppy mitral valve, after an earlier heart scare. Joyce put it down to years of being chained to his work. Doctors said Juan’s condition didn’t require surgery but prescribed him medication to help with any symptoms. Estrellar said Juan did not need any prescription drugs, and offered to do energetic healing work for Juan. Juan was open-minded and agreed to Estrellar’s healing. So for the last few months, he’d been going to Estrellar’s for healing once a week. Sometimes she would do distance healing, but Juan preferred to go to Estrellar’s as he enjoyed their chinwags – Estrellar was like the sister he never had, and he the brother she never had. Both had come from a family of girls on Estrellar’s side and all boys on Juan’s side.
Oskar had been working on a case following the Paris terror attacks, which killed 130 people at multiple venues in the city. A 19-year-old Columbian male had boarded a Eurostar train at Paris Gare du Nord station. A paranoid old Parisian woman alerted the train authorities saying she’d seen a young male resembling a Tunisian man wanted by French police in connection with the Paris terrorist attacks. She’d seen a picture of a “brown skinned boy” in the Le Monde newspaper the previous day, and assumed the Columbian man who had boarded her carriage had resembled the Tunisian. To her, an ardent supporter of the right-wing Le Pen, since his political beginnings, “all foreigners looked the same”.
Both British and French intelligence services were alerted by Eurostar staff. The Columbian, Santos Diaz, spent the two-and-a-half-hour journey listening to music on his iPhone through his headphones. Mrs Parisian Busybody requested to be moved to another carriage as she feared his headphones were going to detonate a bomb.
When the train approached St Pancras International, the platform was lined up with armed police. They boarded the carriage Santos was on. The armed police were literally dragging passengers off to get to their target. Santos Diaz deep into his music with his headphones still on, was not aware of what was going on nor that armed police were after him.
An armed police officer threw Santos onto a table and pulled a gun to him. The remaining people in the carriage, who had not yet disembarked, were screaming. Santos was spread out on the table, with a gun to his head. Before another officer could handcuff Santos, Santos instinctively raised his hand with the intention to pull his headphone set off his head. The officer shot him in the head.
Oskar was representing Santos Diaz’s family. The Diaz family spoke little English but Oskar, just like Lima, had grown up in a household where their father made sure they also spoke Ecuadorian Andean Spanish, as well as English. Oskar was able to understand the Columbian dialect of Spanish easily.
Lima, for once, took an interest in the case that her father was assisting her brother with. Growing up in London, she attended a school where different ethnicities were the majority. She counted Muslims, Jews, Caribbeans and Latin Americans as her close circle of friends. The Paris attacks had caused much debate amongst Lima and her friends. The London they grew up in was rapidly changing, just like cities the world over. As was evident with the Paris attacks, the divide between ethnicities, religions and cultures appeared to be widening. Lima hoped that London would not follow in the same vein. As much as Lima loved her birthplace, she didn’t have any intentions of staying there in the near future. She just wasn’t sure where she’d be – but she had a deep-felt inner knowing that she would move away from the capital.
Juan paid the bill, leaving a substantial tip. Juan was a generous man. He had come from a poor family in Ecuador. Love in his family was always deemed more important than money. But there were members of his family who thought otherwise, and were willing to do anything for money. Juan left Ecuador with his mother and two brothers, fleeing to the USA and living illegally in New York at the turn of the 1970s. They arrived in the UK several months later. It was easier to move around back in those days. Now immigration had taken a life force of its own, not to mention the amount of news coverage they devoted to the issues on a daily basis.
Juan made money as a human rights barrister and his family were comfortable. But money was never important to him, and he brought his children up to believe the same. Love and justice were his destiny, as he put it.
Juan and Lima headed straight home to Willesden Green after dinner. Juan wanted to have an early night as he was going to Heathrow Airport in the morning with Joyce to pick up his older brother, Alfonso. He was flying in from New York and was staying at Juan’s for five days, before heading to Spain for a 10-day trek along the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.
Juan was looking forward to seeing his brother. After all he hadn’t seen Alfonso in years. But Juan was also pleased that his brother wasn’t staying any longer than five days. He loved his brother but they had different approaches to life. Alfonso was more traditional and fixed in his ways, and they would often differ sometimes bickering even.
Lima hadn’t seen her uncle since she was 17, when she went to New York with her dad to visit Alfonso and his family. She didn’t spend that much time with her uncle as Lima’s cousin, Alfonso’s eldest daughter, took her in her wings and showed Lima the sights in New York.
Once they got to Willesden Green, Juan headed to the off-licence to buy a bottle of whiskey. He knew Alfonso enjoyed a tipple or two, and Juan certainly knew he would need it during his brother’s stay.
All characters and events in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Twins At Work are a writing duo. ‘Tarot Tales: The Mirror’ is their latest book.
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