01 ] Vixen , Kaidyn
This is what a vixen is. A female fox; a scandalous, seductive, succubus-like female; a dominant, clever and overtly sexual female.
Her name is Kaidyn.
The definition of a vixen is the definition of Kaidyn, and vixens that are not Kaidyn should not be called vixens unless they have four legs and like to make a fucking racket in the alley outside when I'm trying to sleep.
They call her Lipstick Assassin. Actually, they don’t. I named her that. I named her that because I was naïve, bored, and kind of sad, but I admired her, and she was flattered with the title. What a strange relationship we had. I had always felt tame next to her outrageous charm, her outrageous flirting, her outrageous drinking, her irresistible allure when it came to guys. As it happened, she worshipped my eclectic tenancies, my sporadic sensibilities, my meek intellect – for the majority of my college life, we were inseparable.
Then Tally, Playgirl Savage, joined Kaidyn and myself, the Kiss Kiss Bandit. My adoration encompassed both of them, so I let them share my name as well. So the three of us became the KKB, like those adorable, dumb little girl gangs you make up at school. It was meant to be a joke. Of course, it didn’t stay that way for long.
No. Before long, we didn’t have much college friends left, because Kaidyn fully embraced and flaunted our new identity, becoming the face of the Kiss Kiss Bandits and projecting her traits onto all of us. So while various boys and men were flirting or taking the piss, other girls began to think we were either too much of a threat, too pretentious, or too damn weird. That’s how the drama began – it never really ended.
So... where shall I start telling my story?
Shall I start when misfits Kaidyn, Tally and I got our tattoos, and realised that with tattoos, comes great responsibility? Perhaps when suddenly, everywhere we turned, other ‘special people’ appeared, bringing chaos with them? Or maybe when my life was in peril, forcing me to step down from my own group and become the quiet mastermind behind the KKB, while Kaidyn and three new girls were at the forefront?
Well, it makes sense to start with the one girl who was there from the start and is determined to see it through to the end; Kaidyn.
Let me paint you a picture.
She was by the bar, surrounded by Saturday night drinkers and dancers and keeping them at a distance with a cold and fiercely beautiful scowl. In the glass she held, vodka shimmered and vibrated to the bass of hip hop music; Jay Z, Kanye, tracks that were starting to get just a little bit stale. Kaidyn liked to wear tight clothes, but then so would I if it made me look like Aphrodite. Her choice of the day was a black bodycon dress, with scarlet lips, cherry nails, and a metal-studded leather choker she had borrow-stolen from me, my ‘cat collar’, to which I used to point at and say “I am my own fuckin’ master.” just to illustrate the irony. A gold ring sat snug on her index finger, Kaidyn’s way of saying more of less the same thing. A tangle of black hair twisted down to her ribs. She didn’t run a hand through it. Most days, she didn’t run a brush though it. Super mega platform chocka-block heels were strapped to her feet to show that she could walk independently like a big girl, because all big girls walk on stilts.
And of course, the telekinesis. But you wouldn’t be able to see that.
She must have been pissed. Instead of telling her myself that I couldn't come, I had instead sent her an ineffectual text message. It did not impress her.
The VIP door she’d been watching the whole time finally opened, and a young man dressed in dull, monochrome colours swept through the doorway. It was so smooth and casual, the way he made his entrance, that nobody even noticed a celebrity was in their presence, even though his face being on a dozen billboards including the one opposite my flat. His outfit was casual, a simple shirt and jeans, which I know Kaidyn would have found hopelessly boring. Fourteen personnel made up the bodyguards. I mean entourage. I suppose the situation would determine their purpose.
Unfortunately, I know what Kaidyn is like, and unfortunately for Chris Black, no amount of entourage will stop a tornado.
She got up sharply, but then hesitated and didn’t leave the bar, which I wouldn’t have expected of her. Her hawk eyes watched him making his careful way over. Wealth dripped from him, despite the lacklustre clothes - it was the watch, the shoes, the very thin chain, and the ring that gave it away. He looked like a rich bitch. The type of bitch who owns a dog that wears a collar worth more than your car. The type of bitch who owns a car that probably turns into a boat. Who the fuck knows.
Finally, he glanced at her, and stared.
When Kaidyn flirts, she always flirts verbally. She’s chatty. She likes to play word games that challenge and tease. When it comes to raising eyebrows, simpers and flicking the hair, Kaidyn is not the one. So she simply stared back, being too far away to speak and be heard. I don’t think she intended to flirt anyway; this wasn’t personal, it was technically business. Why else would Kaidyn be there? Lipstick Assassin – sorry, I should say ‘Vixen’ now - knows how to party. Sitting in a lurid, neon downtown club that played music from a time when Diddy was Puff Daddy was not her idea of a party.
He tilted his head and frowned, trying to recognise her, failing. Clueless. Kaidyn sank back into her stool with her back to him, looking mildly disgusted.
“Doesn’t look like much of a celebrity,” she murmured, her lips against the rim of her glass, like she was speaking to it instead of herself. Sure, she could see the wealth, but hell, what an awkward man. There was no flourish, no pride. Not even the sly, half-embarrassed, half-smug expression of a star hiding and partying and drinking and fucking around doing stupid shit among simpletons.
She saw him approaching out of the corner of her eye, coloured lights flickering on his figure, but there was no ‘hey’, no tap on the shoulder, no hand on the hip, nothing. When she could take it no more, she rounded on him, her red claws on her hips.
“Do you intend to speak to me? If you’re going to stand there looking like a lost dog, please go. You’re making me look bad.”
The pause indicated an air of surprise. I don’t think he expected an unprovoked verbal attack from someone who looked like a supermodel.
“Somehow you got the impression that I wanted to speak to you at all.” he said unconvincingly. A stud glinted in his ear. She felt irked when he then ignored her to order a drink. The thin chain around his neck dangled as he leant forward. The cheek. Who wouldn’t wanna speak to Vixen? And that wasn’t even counting that that was why she turned up in the first place. I could’ve guessed her thoughts just then; ‘All these fucking men know how to do is drink alcohol and change their minds.’ A quick glance around her, and she was pretty sure she could see his entourage hovering around, trying to look disinterested. She smell of alcohol and blaring of this annoying music was grating on her nerves.
“Well in that case, you have no reason to be within an arms length of me.” Setting her glass on the countertop, she got up and swung her purse over her shoulder.
“Wait!” The shout turned the heads of a gaggle of girls dancing close by, chanting lyrics under the spell of alcohol. “I do know you. I’ve met you before...”
She snorted. “I know you too. I think I saw you on the front of a newspaper last week for something scandalous.”
His next pretentious words would have made me scream at him, had I been there. “Do you know who I am?”
“No. I’m still deciding whether or not I actually care. Do you know who I am?” Her face twisted into a sneer. “Wow. Let me say - I'm unimpressed. My best friend grew up with thee Nathanael Flores so I don't give a fuck how famous you are.” Despite his pretentiousness, if I’d been there, I would have been shrieking, ‘Oh God, you’re insulting Chris Black! The Chris Black! What the fuck is wrong with you, woman?’
Her eyes flicked up and down, distain in her eyes and smirk. “Oh dear. You still can't remember who I am. That is poor. Doesn't my pay come out of your pocket?”
The words clearly made some sort of impact on his mental register, because his face changed. He groaned to himself, dragging a hand down over a smooth chin. “I am... so sorry. I remember now. I said I’d meet you.”
“Uhhhhh... yeah. Funny how you forgot, and yet you’re still here.”
A sigh. “Yeah... coincidence, I guess.”
Kaidyn almost swore again. Was that the best he could come up with? Coincidence? “Poor baby. You're still struggling to remember my name, aren't you?” She laughed, patting his forehead in the most patronising way she could. “Poor you. I pity people like you, who have nothing better to do than mess up people’s lives and waste my time. I guess fame really got to your head, Mister Black. Is this how celebrities treat ‘normal people’?”
Maybe it was the choker, maybe it was the ring, or the red lipstick or the belittling way in which she spoke to him, but by that time she had finished speaking I’d be shocked if he didn’t ‘remember’ – if he ever forgot – exactly who she was, reputation and all. I’m surprised it took him so long. Even without knowing that Kaidyn led the new KKB, how could anybody forget the shock of dark hair and raging eyes, the scowl, the sometimes-smirk, the way she walked, making it clear that she deemed herself superior to everybody else? Chris Black, however gorgeous and-or wealthy, must be an idiot. With amnesia.
“Kaidyn.” he said finally, hooray - but her interest was already gone, her face turned towards the distant exit, shrouded in smoke. His icy fingers seized her arm to stop her leaving and her head snapped around. She scrutinised his hand on her arm, well prepared to stare until he let go. He didn’t. “Wait. Kaidyn –”
Then, she did something that made me furious, something she really should not have done. With a jerk of her chin, his hand flew off her arm and knocked over his own drink on the bar. He stared at his own hand in shock.
"The window of opportunity has closed," she announced, "- and don't touch me."
That was the first chance meeting I can remember. Seemingly innocent, yes? Let’s fast forward to a cold spring morning and a pair of Vixens wrapped up in long trench coats against the cold, large shades and chic little hats covering the whole face except for pale cheeks and red lips. They walked with haste, striding down the cement path that lined the river of Torino city. Their gloves, scarves and boots were matched to perfection. Even though they seemed to struggle against the cold with every step, the flair and magnificence in their walk was obvious. As usual, Kaidyn looked displeased with my recurring absences.
“Isn’t she coming?” she demanded.
“...she’s not coming?”
“No, Kaidyn. You should’ve guessed that.”
The ruthlessly cold expression that appeared on Kaidyn’s face stopped Tally from saying anything else.
The pair arrived at Riverside Studios, and nudging the revolving door with their fingertips – taking care of long red nails – they emerged in the reception area, professionally designed and decorated. Marble tiles made the floor gleam and towering plants stood against every wall and corner. Riverside Studios was home to an array of professional spaces, from luxury modelling studios for photo shoots, to a dozen or so recording studios fully equipped with the latest audio technology. The entire ground floor housed large rooms primarily used for music video shootings. The receptionist glanced at them from behind her computer.
“Let’s find my agent and get out of here,” Kaidyn sighed, whipping off her gloves, shades, scarf and hat, shoving all into her tote bag. “I’m sure he can get you some work. He always finds me a job when I’m stone broke.”
“Well good, because it won’t be long before I’m living off bread and butter, Kai.” Tally said grimly, checking her reflection in the glass of the nearest picture frame and fixing the strands of extremely curly hair that had shaken free. Kaidyn tutted to get her attention and made for the door leading to the offices, when the receptionist leapt from her chair to halt them.
“I’m sorry ladies, this facility is not open to the public.” Her smile was sickeningly sweet. “Have you got your ID’s with you?”
Kaidyn gave the woman’s outstretched hand a blank stare, seeing nothing but nails that weren’t manicured. “You clearly don’t remember who I am.” Kaidyn said with a clipped tone, and the lady’s smile faltered. “I was here two weeks ago - I was personally picked out for Chris Black’s music video two weeks ago.”
“You were?” Tally muttered, then gave the doubtful receptionist a radiant smile, sending out mental waves so subtle that the air barely rippled. Even Kaidyn couldn’t stop herself sighing peacefully. I only remember being under the influence of Tally’s powers once before, and it was as sweet as a dream. On this occasion, though, I didn’t think it was necessary for her to use them for something so trivial.
“I’m sorry, there’s been a misunderstanding.” Tally’s eyelashes fluttered up and down as she spouted her ‘nicey-nicey please-and-thank-you shit’, as Kaidyn always said when Tally used her powers. “We weren’t issued cards because we’ve only been called here at short notice. I’m sure we’ll get them today. Can we go ahead?”
The lady shook her head as if waking from a trance. “O-of course.”
Seeing as it’s been Kaidyn Kaidyn Kaidyn - let me tell you a bit about Tally. Like I said, Tally was one of the original Kiss Kiss Bandits. I met her through Kaidyn; they’d been best friends for as long as either of them could remember, and both worked as freelance models. Considering the qualifications they got out of college, I deemed it a poor career choice, although I wasn’t doing much better. Tally attracted Vixen stigma to her because she determined to win the attention of man much older than her. He was attractive, yes, but also about a decade or so ahead of Tally; I think Ice-T was on the radio when he was growing up. If radios had been invented. Okay, I’m kidding.
Tally and Kaidyn are often together, so it’s easy to get them confused if you don’t know them. As a general rule, the loud one is Tally, the glowering one is Kaidyn. The physical flirt is Tally, the verbal flirt is Kaidyn. Tally uses her eyes a lot, Kaidyn uses the f-word a lot. The one running around after men is Tally. The one with men running around after her, is Kaidyn.
Tally suddenly broke the silence. “Did you really?”
“Hm? Oh, the Chris Black thing? Yeah, my agent was involved in helping me get the job. Chris Black wasn’t even there.” The synchronised click of their heels rung down the endless corridor with every step. Tally readjusted her hat as Kaidyn spoke. “I ran into him later at the All Things Urban shoot. We talked a bit and he asked to see me again, so I thought why not. If I get more work through the star, more pay for me. But when I turned up to this shitty little club, the bastard just left me hanging.”
“So, hold on. So you were only thinking about getting work?” Tally gave her a funny look. “You’re weird, Kaidyn. You got to speak to Chris Black, of all people, and your only concern was getting paid?”
“I’m not at college any more, Tally. I don’t have time for these little Boys-And-Girls games any more.” I bet she wouldn’t be saying that if her little toyboy from CT was still around. “Yes, they’re still fun, but I would rather have money and be able to eat and buy clothes -”
“Than have a rich-as-fuck boyfriend who can buy you food and clothes.”
“No, than have an amnesiac boyfriend who can’t remember dates for shit. Not only did he forget about me but he was there anyway, so of course I saw him. How awkward is that. How embarrassing – for him. I bet he sees so many girls that he can’t keep up.”
“Probably fucking ‘em left and right.” Tally said casually, before her eyes widened and a giggle spluttered from her mouth. “Oops. Wasn’t meant to say that out loud!”
The faint sound of heavy bass music hovered in the air, getting louder as they walked. “I can’t believe she didn’t fucking come.” was Kaidyn’s cold remark. A lock of wavy black hair swung by her ear. “She can’t cut us out of her life.”
She meant me.
“She can do what she likes. We’ve all got our own problems, and honestly, she’s got the worst of it. Give her a break.”
The music grew to a thundering volume as they finally passed the studio emitting it. Kaidyn and Tally peeked in as they went by, did double takes and rushed back to the doorway to stare. It was like looking through a magic portal. The room was impossibly huge, and it was dressed up like a garage, with a row glistening cars sat stationary in the middle. People mulled around the vehicles, dancing, shouting, the camera crew whizzing around them on machines, the make-up crew dancing behind the camera men and making obscene gestures. The man who Kaidyn recognised as the director from a previous audition was looking at someone and pointing somewhere else while yelling. The live, raw atmosphere hooked Kaidyn immediately. She was tempted to walk right in and just vibe.
“I wonder what this is for?” Tally said in a hushed voice, peering around. “Oh God. Kaidyn! You’ll never guess!”
Squinting to where she was pointing, she almost groaned when she saw none other than Chris Black, sat on a red sports car that – like I said – must either turn into a boat or cook marshmallows or something. This was obviously his music video; he was in the middle of a verse, miming it with hand gestures to the nearest camera, and radiating a completely different persona to when Kaidyn had seen him last. His cool was effortless. Tally’s eyes were as wide as dishes.
“That’s the bitch I played like a straight dummy…”
Tally’s expression was sceptical. “For real? You played Chris Black like a dummy? He’s the star of the damn show, Kai, stop messing.”
Her response made Kaidyn kiss her teeth. “Ain’t no fucking star of any fucking show and I absolutely one hundred percent played him like a bitch.”
Tally sighed, almost with longing. “If you say he’s a bastard, he’s a bastard. But that doesn’t look like the face of a bastard to me, Kaidyn...”
“Oh, fuck outta here. If any guy smiles at you, they’re an angel in your eyes.” Kaidyn took off her coat and threw it at a startled Tally.
“Kaidyn - what - are - you - doing, you crazy girl!”
“I’m gonna be in his video for ‘Heartstopper’ soon, might as well see how he runs things. As for you – if you head that way, go up the first flight of stairs you come to and take the first right, you’ll find my agent in there doing nothing. Ask his lazy, no good, wonderful ass for a job. DO NOT flirt with him, Tally.”
Tally’s small mouth twisted into a half-smile, giving her Latina-influenced features a sassy flair; her cheek creased, her eyebrows arched slightly.
“Fine. Later.” She lazily waved and threw over her shoulder an old KKB catchphrase we used when we were still a joke college girl gang, “Kiss and kill, chica!” The fact that she still used it made it even more embarrassing than it would be out of context.
Kaidyn wandered into the studio and stood just behind the dancing make-up crew with a cheesy grin on her face. The set looked spectacular and, honestly, so did Chris Black. When the near-deafening music got to the chorus, she suddenly realised that she knew the song – it was ‘Little Miss Star’. It wasn’t Chris Black’s song, he just featured in it. It was actually a song by my old childhood friend-turned-superstar, Nathanael Flores. All of my friends knew exactly what it meant when they heard it. But nobody ever talks about it to me.
‘Little Miss Star’ was one of those songs that everybody got up and danced to when it hit the club and radio stations, even if they didn’t like it. The beat was on the fast side, and every eight counts there was a SNAP! that made it impossible for choreographers to leave it alone.
The music cut. Silence fell. Kaidyn could hear the Director give the simple instruction, “Go with the flow.” The camera crew readjusted their positions; the music ran again from the beginning.
Chris Black began to mime his bit, about to throw his arm around the nearest female when he caught her eye. He stared at Kaidyn just as he did before, though his lips never ceased with the lyrics, making him look like a zombie.
She bit back a giggle when she saw the director make a motion of frustration and gesture at the star’s lack of attention. Then he glanced around, saw Kaidyn, and did a double take, then leapt off his stool and rushed over to her. She expected to hear, ‘What are you doing here? Are you the press?’
“What are you doing over there?” he shouted in her ear, “Get on the set!”
She began to protest, “No, no – I’m in the ‘Heartstopper’ video, not this one.”
He didn’t seem to have heard her, as he continued to bellow over the music, “Did I stutter? Am I speaking Slovakian? Get on the set! Go with the flow! Improv! Hurry up!” He practically pushed her forward.
As the KKB know full well, when Kaidyn wants attention, she will turn every slightest movement into a spectacle. When she made a show of crawling over a glittering black car, it took only a few seconds for eyes to snap onto her figure and mouths to start falling open. The youth dancers on the set cheered her progress as she danced her way over to Chris, trying not to block any of the camera shots focussed on him.
I bet she wished she was getting paid for that little stunt. Kaidyn considered it easy money to throw your hair around and look pretty.
“Well well well! Look who it is! Mister Black.” she said as loudly as she could into his ear, and gently bit his earlobe in the hope that he would fuck up and forget his lyrics. He didn’t, but a playful grin was on his face now, looking straight at her. So she climbed up on the car and put herself on his lap, but he got right through to the chorus without a single mistake. Damn.
At the chorus, he cupped his hands over her ear, “Guess what. You’re in the wrong video!” he shouted into her ear.
“Don’t fucking care! Love this song!”
He laughed and placed his hands on her hips when she started to slip off his lap – she in fact felt herself sliding at that exact moment and quickly locked her fingers around his neck, pleased at having saved herself the embarrassment of falling on her derrière. An instant later, the shock of his cold skin hit her, like plunging her hands into ice-cold water after a hot shower. He was freezing; she was shivering in seconds. She didn’t want him to think she was shivering because she found him attractive, so with a half-hearted grin, she hopped off his lap and mingled with the crowd for the rest of the song.
Her body was gripped by sudden jitters, mainly because she wasn’t used to flirting in a physical way, but also because his skin and made her hands very, very cold. She rubbed them, breathed on them, slid them into her jeans pocket to warm them up on her thighs and wondered why the hell he wasn’t wearing more clothes with a body temperature of minus one.
When the song ended, cheers and applause went up from everybody on set. “Great work, everybody!” the director called. He pointed at Kaidyn. “You! New girl! Why were you so late?”
“I wasn’t contracted for this video.” Kaidyn said dryly. The man fixed her with eyes about the size of his glasses lens.
“Are you the press?” he barked abruptly.
“No no no no no,” was the voice of her agent, hastily appearing out of nowhere to handle it as he always did – easily one of the most stunning men in the room, with his bleach blonde hair and stark white skin making him appear an icy angel in a sharp suit. Close behind him was Tally, flushed with delight.
“KAIIII-DYYYYN!” she sang. “That was as hot as SHIIII-IIIIT! Go Bandit! Go Bandit!”
“Can you shut up, Tally?” Kaidyn bellowed, dodging the dancers as they jostled off set, chatting, grabbing towels and bottled water. Chris Black waited for them to move away before he approached, regarding her with a calm that unnerved her a little bit. She was still rubbing her hands warm.
“We meet again. Right?” He tried his cheekiest smile. Kaidyn deemed it average at best.
“Do we?” she said, feigning surprise. “I think this is the first time. Who are you?”
He laugh was awkward. “Okay, I deserved that.”
“No really. I have no idea who you are.”
He looked slightly embarrassed as he rubbed the back of his head. The face of his watch flashed in the light at the movement. “I love how you keep pretending not to have a clue who I am.”
“I fooled you the first time.” The corner of her lips turned upwards.
“Ignore her. I know who you are.” Tally said loudly, appearing at her side with a wink. “And I, sir, am single.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Kaidyn muttered, tossing her hair, leaning on one hip and folding her arms, somehow doing it all at once with little effort.
“Call me Tally.” She held out a hand, and he shook it with good humour.
A painfully thin woman with a clipboard and a pen behind her ear called with some urgency, “Chris, we need to get -”
“Tell me later.” he said briskly, repeating himself calmly when she persisted but not sparing her another glance. Kaidyn liked the way he handled it; it was exactly how she would have done it. She wiped the smile off her face when his eyes met hers again. Her chilled hands slipped back into her pockets. “And er, what did you say your name was?”
She couldn’t believe he had the nerve to try and play her game. “Stop fucking with me.”
His eyebrows raised. “Wow. What a mouth.”
Kaidyn was unexpectedly uncomfortable at his reference to her gutter language. The fact that she even cared what he thought made her even more agitated.
“Yeah, well. The first school I ever went to was a girl’s school. It set me up for life.” She stretched her arms up, and then out at Tally, who dumped her coat and bag on them. “Anyway. Seeing as I’m not getting paid for this, I’m going. Not everyone can make a fortune dancing in garages to average music.”
Tally spluttered at the implication but covered her mouth, silently directed an apologetic look towards Chris, and made to follow Kaidyn out.
“Hey, hold up.” He was on their heels. “If you stick around, I can set up something for you – don’t worry, you’ll get paid. You don’t have to just up and leave like that.”
Tally’s snapped her head to Kaidyn and made wide, meaningful eyes at her.
Kaidyn’s pout dripped with scorn. “Don’t look so sad, Mister Black. I’m sure you can sing soft enough to make other girls throw their underwear at you.”
“Kaidyn!” Tally pouted. “Don’t talk like a snob! Singing is a very special talent!”
“I don’t know who you throw your underwear at, because every Tom, Dick and Harry have been perfecting that talent since Luther Vandross. Ain’t no fuckin’ talent. If he’s special I’m a damn prodigy. Shit.”
Tally sniggered. “What, you make guys lose their Calvin Kleins with your angel-voice?”
“Yeah - I also make girls lose their hair extensions with my angel-claws so shut ya fuckin’ face.” Kaidyn shifted on her feet and rubbing her mouth with her icy hand when she saw Chris Black watching her with a smile. Since he’d mentioned the profanity thing, she’d suddenly become aware of how many f’s and b’s left her mouth on a sentence-by-sentence basis, and she did not like it one bit.
“Let’s go, let’s go!” she snapped, turning on her heel.
“Yo,” he tried once more, reaching for her arm like before. She managed to get out of his reach before he touched her, and glared at him, very conscious of her hands still refusing to get warm.
He looked a little put out. “Alright, I get it, you don’t like being touched. I just wanted to ask if you wanted to go for a drink sometime or – I mean, I promise I’ll remember... Kaidyn.”
She gave him her suspicious eye, but her mind fell back to her ice-cold hands. She’d been rubbing them non-stop and their refusal to get warm meant that she couldn’t stop thinking about them. In fact, it was slightly painful. The rest of her body was fine. From the moment her hands touched his neck...
“No.” she said shortly.