"They've been up for a little while, sir. I've already told them that you were here. They'll be down shortly."
Cayo looked around at the elegant, comfortable room. While he loved his employers and his job, he couldn't help but feel that there was something slightly odd about their home. He and Chef were the only two people welcome in the Zhous' Suva residence, and he got that same vibe every time he was in it.
He decided to ask his companion about it. Chef and Macallan Zhou served together in the Marines. If anyone knew the answer to that question, he would. "Chef, have you ever noticed that there aren't any pictures of anyone except Mr. & Mrs. Zhou?"
"Family members. Parents, cousins, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends. I've always found it odd that there aren't any pictures of any others anywhere. Just them."
"Mac and Maddy are their own society, Cayo."
Cayo nodded. "I get that. It's just odd, is all."
"What's odd?" Macallan asked, entering the room holding Madalyne's hand. He wore black sweatpants and a T-shirt, and sported a serious case of bed-head. That they'd just gotten out of bed was evident.
Cayo stood up. "Nothing, sir."
"Good morning, Cayo," Madalyne said. She wore a Suva Oriana Black Knights basketball jersey and it was debatable if she wore anything else. Her legs were long and bare and her toes flashed a vibrant deep red. Her hair was down and there was a light in her eyes as she sat in Macallan's lap and began smoothing his hair.
"Morning, Mrs. Zhou. How did everything go with Mr. Devinci?"
Madalyne looked at her husband and they both smiled serenely at Cayo. "It was a very entertaining evening. We thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Devinci and his friends." She closed her eyes, recalling the night. "Hey Chef," she said.
"Hello gorgeous," Chef replied, smiling at her. He got up and went over to Macallan and they gave each other pounds. "Hey Mac."
“How’s it hanging, Chef?” Macallan asked. It was a private joke.
“Low,” he replied.
"Will you be having breakfast with us, Cayo?" Madalyne asked.
"No. I have to get to the club when I leave here. Plenty of work to be done. I brought you what you need."
Macallan's hand moved steadily over Madalyne's legs as she continued running her fingers through his hair. "When will we need to leave?"
"Do you want to go to South America within the next month?"
"Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Peru."
"What has your research turned up?" Madalyne asked, her arm around her husband's neck.
"Before I tell you, I should inform you that a note was attached to the $3,000,000 down payment."
"Oh?" They spoke at the same time with the exact same intonation.
"It read, 'If at all possible, I want him to know it was from me.'"
Madalyne looked at her husband with glee. "She wants the heat, baby."
Macallan stared back with equal ardor. "That much is clear. Is it possible, Cayo? He's a preacher."
"Yes sir. He's having a series of stadium-sized revivals. So far, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires are sold out. Won't be long before the other venues are sold out as well. Pastor Hendricks is very popular. And very influential."
"Packed houses, eh?" Macallan said.
"Never stopped us before," Madalyne replied.
"If you were wanting to do a cold dose of adrenalin, it wouldn't be a problem. A hot shot...well, we'd have to get our hands on his day to day itinerary."
"Do it," Madalyne said. Then she looked at her husband. "Let's go for it, Macz. If we can't work it out, then we'll do a cold dose at one of the venues."
Cayo nodded. "Yes, Mrs. Zhou."
"Chef, how are we fixed in South America?"
"You'd be better doing it in either Brazil or Argentina, Mac. We're well-supplied there. Anything you and Maddy want."
"Then there you have it, Cayo. Focus on Brazil and Argentina. Please report back as soon as you can. Give us as many two-week windows as his schedule allows."
Cayo stood up and began packing up his briefcase. "Then I'll head on into the club. Will you be coming in tonight?"
"I don’t think so," Madalyne said. "We're actually kind of tired. Right, honey?"
"Yeah," Macallan agreed. "We...overindulged...last night. Madz and I are going to take a day. You can handle things without us."
Cayo smiled. "All right then. Goodbye, Mr. & Mrs. Zhou. See you later, Chef."
"Bye Cayo," Chef said from the couch.
After Cayo left, Chef looked over at the reclining couple. "Busy night."
"'Course not, Mac. My staff is as efficient as the club staff. And the Signs. Expert work with just slightly above minimal blood loss. Fuckin' Cancer and those pincers of his. U-Serv is going to have a time cleaning his quarters."
Madalyne examined a fingernail. "He so loves his toys, but I think he may have been kind of salty about not being able to play in the dungeon."
"Well, can't blame him for that," Macallan said. "We aren't pleased when we can't play, my love."
Chef settled into the couch and said, "After breakfast, then?"
"Yeah," Macallan said, twirling a lock of Madalyne's hair. "Can't do it on an empty stomach."
Chef stood on the edge of the mat, watching the Zhous face off. He had them fight each other once a week, as if to derail their natural, graceful in-sync movement. It was also because they were one another’s Achilles heel; especially Macallan. He absolutely refused to hit Madalyne with a closed fist and pulled his punches when he did deliver a blow. He couldn’t bear to hurt her or leave any sort of mark on her body. They sparred regularly under Chef's direction, but Macallan wouldn’t raise his fist to his wife, no matter how much Chef clowned him about it.
Madalyne held no such qualms. Chef wrapped her hands, taped her knuckles, and gave her customized kneepads. When she was able to connect, she fucking connected. She had a lethal left hook and could deliver a kick strong enough to knock the wind out of a larger opponent. She could knock her husband down repeatedly whenever she could get within reach. But Madalyne didn’t like hitting Macallan in the face, so she was never able to knock him out.
Their combat idiosyncrasies annoyed Chef to no end because he believed that the worst kind of enemy was the one who made you weak. He told them so and he knew that they understood it, but it didn't change their behavior. It didn’t matter though, for Macallan and Madalyne were the polar opposite of enemies in every way that mattered. Together, they were indomitable. They were a pair of total and complete no-fucks-giving classy badasses and Chef always gave himself props for his role in their invincibility.
Macallan was quick; far quicker than his wife. He incorporated aspects of jujitsu and taekwondo into his workouts, as well as other martial arts. He danced around her, bouncing like a boxer, eyes on her fists and feet. Macallan evaded Madalyne’s superior left hook and dropped low when she tried to administer a kick. He swept her leg out from under her and she popped back up and smiled at him.
“Why are you smiling, Maddy?” Chef sneered. “He just put you on your pretty round ass.”
“Because it’s been a while since he put me on my ass, Chef, at least in the ring. I’m giving him credit.”
“Do that on your own time, princess. Don't take your eyes off him.”
Macallan swung as Chef was speaking, and there was a loud SMACK!!! as his open hand connected with Madalyne’s bare midsection. She hadn’t been quick enough in getting out of the way, and the slap hurt. She backed away from him, wincing, refusing to look down at her stinging abs. She couldn't show any weakness; Chef would harangue her to no end.
Macallan wasn’t pleased; he hadn’t pulled that particular punch because he thought she saw it coming. Madalyne wasn't as fast as he was, and if she bruised, he was going to be furious with himself. His expression softened. “Madz? Baby? Are you okay???”
She smiled at him, licking her lips. She found him exquisite and impossible to resist when he was sweaty, half-naked, and apologetic. “This is nothing, Macz. You hit me harder than that when we're fucking.”
Chef groaned. He saw the way the road was turning. These two truly couldn’t keep their hands off each other. He'd never seen anything like it. They should have had a houseful of children. “Mac…Maddy..."
Macallan’s expression changed and he put his hands down. He no longer wanted to fight. Not after that comment. “Challenge accepted,” he said, walking towards her.
Chef folded his arms. “Mac, put your fucking hands back up! The fight’s not over!”
“It is as far as I'm concerned,” he said as Madalyne jumped into his arms and planted a giant kiss on his lips. Clearly, the same could be said for her.
Chef threw up his hands and walked away once they started tearing off each other's clothes. “I’ll be back in about an hour. That enough time for you two kids?”
He didn’t even bother waiting for a response.
Later, Macallan was on the mat again, this time against Chef. There was no bullshit here; they fought hand-to-hand, straight-up MMA. Madalyne always chided Chef whenever he left her husband with facial bruises.
"I do it because you won't," was always his response.
"We can't go out when you do him like that! The gel takes a full 24 hours to work!"
"Then he needs to either block or evade, Maddy. That simple."
Macallan took those instructions to heart, which was one of the reasons why he was so fast. Chef was enormous; six-six and 290 lbs. His fists were the size of canned hams, had a chest wider than an interstate, biceps bigger than baby heads, and a neck thicker than a stack of books. Taking a hit from him was risking a trip to the hospital, and Macallan didn't have time for that shit. He dodged Chef's blows effortlessly, keeping his eyes on the swinging nukes his friend called fists. Madalyne stayed out of the way whenever they fought; she didn't need for Macallan to get distracted and have Chef flatten him with one blow. She always watched them spar on a monitor in another room.
As they fought, they talked. Not shit, but pleasantries.
"How are things with you and Libra?"
"They're great. I love that damn woman." The Signs believed, erroneously, that Chef was in love with Aquarius. He adored her, but like a sister. It was the lady Libra and her lethal love that had The Chef by the balls. He couldn't get enough of her funky stuff.
"I keep waiting for you and her to get tired of the life and bail on us."
Chef moved cautiously, studying his opponent's movements. "Not gonna happen anytime soon. We're good. We like what we do."
Macallan ducked a punch that would have KO'd him. "Good. Madz and I aren't ready to lose either of you. We love you."
Chef kept his eyes on Macallan's dancing feet. The man moved like Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon. He and Macallan had been friends for a very long time.
"Love you too, broth--" Chef began.
Macallan delivered three lightning kicks to Chef's head in rapid succession. Chef stumbled back, dazed as Macallan jumped up and drop-kicked him in the chest, knocking him down. He then jumped on top of him and punched the larger man in the face three more times, effectively ending the fight.
From their bedroom, Madalyne smiled.