Monday, October 24, 2016

more Halloween shivers

Sean's nostrils flared, eyes darting wildly from side to side as he pushed through the dense underbrush. For the thousandth time he chastised himself, he'd been warned again and again about getting caught in these woods after dark. But it's the 21st century, his rational side countered. Everyone knows those stories are just old wives tales. One of the locals probably thought it would be funny to try and frighten me.
"Alright you've made your point.” He stopped running and turned to confront his pursuer. “Next time I won't scoff at your folklore.”
Sean found himself glaring at the center of a broad chest. They sure grow them big around here, he thought idly, tipping his head back to look the man in the eye. The figure in front of him had to be at least seven feet tall, wrapped in leather and fur with a massive bow and a quiver of razor sharp arrows. Time seemed to stretch, his mind scrabbling to process what he was seeing. His heart roared back to life when he realized he was looking at an elaborate mask. Or perhaps it's a helm, he mused. Above a sharp chin and smirking mouth, bronze wrapped the rest of the face, only the eyes visible as overly bright sparks in the motionless visage. Moonlight traced the twisted branches of the antlers that topped it, spreading at least six feet and curving forward to further obscure the man's face.
"That's quite an outfit,” Sean ventured. “Are you on your way to a party?”
"A party.” The voice immediately had his attention; rich, deep and slightly husky. The figure inclined its head ever so slightly, corners of the thin lips quirking upward before continuing, tone filled with cold mirth. “You could call it that. Now that we've met, perhaps you'd like to come along?”
"Thank you for the invitation, but I'm afraid I need to get home.” Sean refused to listen to the primal part of his brain screaming at him to run and hide. “Do you live around here? Maybe another time.” He turned to leave, staggering forward a few steps before a hard hand landed on his shoulder and squeezed.
"You'll only get lost wandering around out here. These woods can be dangerous for travelers.”
There was an ominous undertone to the stranger's words. Sean knew the pronouncement was a subtle warning meant to keep him by this man's side. It was then he noticed the hounds, monstrous shaggy beasts whose deep rumbling noises reminded him of the masked man's voice. “Are these your dogs?”
"I'm sorry. Do they frighten you?” The stranger muttered something in a language he didn't recognize and the pack grew still. Sean flinched when, as one, their eyes turned toward him, regarding him with an uncanny intelligence. After a long moment they faded silently into the dense brush, although his skin prickled and he imagined them lying in wait for unwary wanderers, ready to shred their flesh with razor sharp teeth.
A shudder ran through him at the thought and he didn't protest the guiding hand leading him back along his panicked track. In fact, he didn't even question it when he was yanked unceremoniously into the air to sit behind the masked man astride his wheeling mount. The tiny voice in his head began whispering that things weren't as straightforward as they seemed when they were instantly flanked by a silent company of masked horsemen.
"You're shivering. This will brace you for the ride.” Any other time he would have refused the flask. But tonight, Sean eagerly tipped it back, clinging to the familiar burn as the strong drink poured down his throat.
"Thanks,” he muttered as he handed the vessel back.
"It is my pleasure, I assure you.”
The softly murmured response left him struggling to see underneath the simple statement, hoping to figure out what was really going on. He was still trying to articulate a response when one of the hounds let out an unearthly howl, and the entire troupe set off .
Sean's head was spinning. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to form the words needed to ask even the simplest question. He fought to push past the exhaustion threatening to overwhelm him and figure out what, exactly, he'd gotten himself into. The world around him seemed to swirl, things taking on a preternatural clarity that left him debating whether or not the grass was really as soft as it looked.
"Let me help you.”
As soon as the words were spoken hands were there to help him dismount, a strong arm wrapping around his shoulders when he stumbled unsteadily. “I don't think I like this. I don't usually take drugs.” The words came out thick and slurred, and a small knot of panic began to unfurl in his abdomen, sending a frisson of terror running up his spine and nearly galvanizing him to take action.
"No drugs. I don't believe in them.” A hand encased in an elaborate gauntlet cupped his chin and Sean's skin tightened, trying to escape from the menacing claws gently dragging across his vulnerable throat. “After all, what would be the point of stifling all these wonderful reactions.”
The low chuckle should have put him at ease. Instead it spurred his sense of wrongness and he searched the masked face for clues to his rising sense of disquiet. “Take off your mask and introduce yourself,” he demanded. “I want to know who I'm talking to.”
"You are spirited.” The broad chest vibrated with another rumbling laugh as razor sharp talons delicately grasped the antlered helm and slowly revealed heretofore hidden features. “As for my name, surely you know who I am?”
"How could I possibly know you?” Sean snapped. “I've never laid eyes on you before tonight and you certainly haven't introduced yourself.” He summoned his best glare, mouth twisting into a frown at the mirth dancing in his host's eyes.
"You are a storyteller, are you not?”
The question hung, unanswered, as he struggled to get his sluggish reflexes under control, stumbling back a few paces and shaking his head. “I'm a librarian.”
"So, you're a keeper of stories. Do you read any of them?”
"Of course I read them. I love to read.”
"You really haven't figured it out? I am the Amadan na Briona.”
"The Fool?” Sean slapped a hand over his treacherous mouth as soon as the words passed his lips.
"Do I look like a fool?” the hunter growled. “I'm leader of the wild hunt and lord of the unseleighe court . . . and you are my new consort.”
"Consort? But, I'm a man.”
"The Fae have long taken humans for companions.” Broad shoulders lifted in a graceful shrug. “There is no disgrace in my choice.”
"I meant I'm male,” Sean explained. “We're both the same sex.”
"Yes? I'm afraid I don't understand. What, exactly, is your point?”
"Look, I don't know about you, but I'm not gay.”
Gauntleted hands wrapped around his waist and pulled him closer, steel talons tickling across his skin, leaving a trail of goosebumps in their wake. “I don't see why that's an issue.”
The normally calm librarian could feel his blood pressure rising. He tried to twist out of the claustrophobic embrace. “You can't just kidnap me and expect me to go along with your crazy bullshit. Now let me go, I need to get back.”
"I did not kidnap you.” That velvety voice had dropped back to a harsh growl. “There are rules. You agreed to come along. You drank willingly. I'm not a monster. I fail to see what the problem is.”
"I'm not into men,” Sean protested.
"No, of course you're not.” The silky tone in combination with the claws tickling dangerously across the bulge in Sean's pants finally broke the glamour he'd been under. A quick twist to the left, he decided. The miscalculation spun him tight against an armored chest. He lifted his gaze, and the protest died in his throat in the face of the madness spinning in those bottomless blue eyes.
"I don't want this.” The uncertain whisper seemed to come from someone else. Like it or not, a hot coil of arousal twisted low in Sean's abdomen and his erection twitched against his thigh.
"I do though. You want to please me, don't you?”
"I-I don't know. I don't feel well.” The sense of surrealism was back. Sean was certain the Fool was growing taller, leaving him feeling ever more vulnerable. “I think I need to lay down.”
"I agree, no reason for us to be uncomfortable.” As soon as the words were uttered the landscape around them seemed to twist on itself, and Sean couldn't help the panicked whimper that escaped his lips when he felt himself falling.
The reason for his disquiet suddenly snapped into focus. “Where are we? How did we get here?”
"You really need to make up your mind. Do you want to talk or fuck?”
"It's too warm for January, and the grass is too green.” Sean was determined to regain control of the situation. “Where have you taken me? And how did we get so far so fast?”
Arms wrapped around the librarian's back to hold him close and the Fool bent to lick across a sensitive ear. “We are at my home in Tir na nOg. Time runs differently here and the seasons don't change.” The words were punctuated with a trail of hard, biting, kisses. Sean hissed when a hot tongue avidly lapped up the blood spilled along the way.
A shiver ran up his back. The hunter's caresses were not the kind that should be arousing, but Sean found himself pressing into them. His hand rose to clutch at a hard shoulder as a talented tongue licked its way into his mouth. Strong hands twisted in Sean's hair as the kiss turned violent, teeth clicking together in their haste. Before he had a chance to protest the librarian found himself stretched out on the soft moss, wrists securely bound over his head, while sharp claws carefully sliced away his clothes.
"Hey, I need those,” Sean tried to protest .
"Are you telling me to stop?” Deft hands began to wrap him tightly in silky rope, elaborate knots making a pattern across his chest and abdomen before his hands were unbound and re-secured. “You look beautiful,” the husky voice soothed. “Wild and angry and so very helpless.”
When the coils began to wrap around his cock and balls a whimper escaped Sean's throat. He pushed down the terror threatening to rip through him and reminded himself that, so far at least, he hadn't been hurt. As frightening as the Fool's attentions were, they were equally exciting, and his cock began oozing precum the moment the rope touched it. A muffled squeak slipped past his lips when his legs were bent and secured, leaving him helpless and completely exposed. Even with the most wanton of women, he'd never felt this needy. His entire body seemed to be straining toward this dangerous stranger, eager for his touch.
He couldn't tear his eyes away as lubricant was smeared over a glittering metal rod. “Just relax,” the unseleighe lord crooned as he slowly began to thread the rod into the slit of his consort's penis. “Almost there.” When the rounded tip of the sound bumped against Sean's prostate he let out a startled whine.
"Now, don't you look inviting, all bound and stuffed for me.” The hunter dropped his head to lick across a tempting collar bone, smiling to himself at the lusty moan it produced. He slid two slick fingers deep inside the dazed man, scissoring them to stretch the passage for what was to come. When a third finger slid alongside every muscle in the librarian's body clenched.
Sean blushed when he realized the loud moaning sounds were coming from his traitorous mouth. Of course, he'd never felt anything quite like this before. His cock felt hugely swollen and insanely heavy, like it might explode at any instant. When the fingers teasing his entrance disappeared he tried to gather his wits.
"You need to get this good and wet.” The Fool stroked himself a few times before forcing the librarian's mouth open and shoving his intimidating erection deep in unsuspecting man's throat. Sean twisted and struggled, the lack of oxygen sending a surge of adrenaline through his system. He managed the occasional sip of air, but the bonds left him unable to do more. His thoughts grew even more muddled, and when he suddenly found his lips stretched around nothing but air, he focused on filling his lungs. After a few shuddering gasps he relaxed as much as he could, slumping limply in the tight embrace of the ropes.
Sudden comprehension of what was to come sent a cold spike of reality running through him, and he couldn't avoid tensing as the broad head of the hunter's cock pushed through his hastily stretched entrance.
When he was fully seated the Faerie lord paused. He wrapped a hand around Sean's straining erection, razor sharp talons scraping over the shiny swollen flesh peeking between the cords wrapped so tightly around it. He pulled his hips back until only the tip remained inside, then slammed forward, striking his captive's prostate.
Sean twitched and shook, unable to move as wave after wave of pleasure streaked through him. The hunter read the telltale signs, squeezing the base of his erection and blocking his orgasm. A hoarse chuckle sent shudders running up his spine. When his hard cock was pressed firmly into the librarian's prostate, the Fool reached down and carefully tapped the tip of the sound. He worried his lip between his teeth as he concentrated on the feel of the tight sheath rippling around him. “You're mine now,” he growled. “No one will ever possess you like this.”
The librarian abandoned himself to the feeling, concentrating on the pleasure coiling inside until his world exploded in a series of sparks, muscles tightening erratically as the sound shot out of his penis and seed splattered across his chest. The sight proved to be more than the hunter could resist and he let out a deep groan as he filled Sean's ass with his cum.
"That was entertaining.” The Fool's darkly mirthful voice roused him from his stupor. “Let me help you.” Once again strong hands took control of the librarian's body, efficiently loosening the intricate knots and rubbing feeling back into his limbs. After such tender treatment Sean was caught off guard when his arms were roughly twisted behind his back and tightly secured from elbow to wrist.
As if I felt like running right now, Sean thought indignantly. He turned his head, intent on saying so, when he noticed the ring of silent watchers. He blinked, then blinked again, and wished he could rub his eyes. It almost looked like their masks were moving.
"My companions aren't as lucky as I am.” The Fool repositioned him roughly, sprawling him across muscular thighs, pinned by hard hands and rising panic. “They find it hard to seduce someone looking the way they do. Not to mention the whole communicating in grunts issue. But they are very loyal to me, so I think it's only fair they share in my good fortune.”
Sean watched as a monstrous man with the head of a bull strode towards them. He marshaled his thoughts, hoping to come up with a plan, only to despair at the unseleighe lord's next words. “I'd relax if I were you, otherwise they'll tear you in two.”
If he'd had hopes the words were an exaggeration, the first thrust robbed him of them. The huntsmen were as animalistic in their desires as they were in appearance. One after another they roughly pounded out their frustrations and went on their way until only Sean and his captor remained.
"They don't lust often,” the Fool assured him. “Just on the equinoxes, when we ride. Most of your time will be spent with me. Perhaps you'll appreciate my attentions more, in light of the alternative.”
"Please, let me go.” The softly whispered words were the first he'd spoken since before the Fool had woven his seductive illusion.
"You can't go back. I told you, time is different here. In Tir na nOg the years can't touch you. If you go back all the years you defer staying here will manifest themselves. No one is waiting for you. Your name was forgotten long ago. This is your home now.” The Fool let out a sharp whistle and his hounds gathered, milling around the seated pair and breaking the silence with their bids for attention.
The ropes around his arms loosened and Sean let out a gasp when he was gently lowered into a warm pool. “Clean yourself up,” came the gruff command. “And don't try to run, my hounds would be only too happy to stop you.”
By the time he found himself securely spooned against the Faerie lord his mind and body were numb. When the hounds crowded tightly around them, settling down with soft chuffs and throaty rumbles, he barely noticed. “It will get better,” the Fool whispered almost lovingly. “Soon you won't be able to imagine any other life. Who knows, you may even come to care for me.”
No, I won't, Sean decided. He almost shouted it in the Fool's face, but held his tongue, merely curling more tightly in on himself. With luck he'd open his eyes on his own bedroom and this would all fade like any other nightmare.
But the days melted into weeks, and then into years. Against his wishes, he grew comfortable in his captivity, and the Fool's attentions gradually worked their way into his heart. Their interaction mellowed into easy amiability born of deep seated, if unexpressed, affection. Yet Sean never let go of his conviction that he would one day find his way back to the life he only vaguely remembered.
When his chance finally came he almost didn't take it. The same intuition he'd ignored to his peril insisted the hounds would wake and tear him to shreds. He'd never had much rapport with animals, but he swore the horse understood his need for silence, and he was mounted and away. As the ground fell beneath thundering hooves, Sean screwed his eyes tightly shut and prayed to gods he'd long abandoned.
The horse finally slowed to a walk, and he opened his eyes on a bleak winter landscape. I'm home. The realization galvanized him into action, and he slid from the saddle, eager to prove to himself that he wasn't dreaming.
Sean's feet hit the ground, and he sucked in a lungful of crisply cold air. He expected to be invigorated, the sensation of strength leaching out of him instead left him scrambling to climb back in the saddle. Without the energy to pull himself back into its protective influence, he could only cling weakly to the stirrup, and then he was still.
The Amadan na Briona poked the remains of his consort with the toe of his boot before turning away. The mournful sound of his horn floated across the fields. Tonight he would hunt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Halloween Season

Halloween is upon us, and although I tend to shy away from the more gruesome horror movies, I do, on occasion, write something shiver worthy. So, in honor of the upcoming frightful festivities, I have decided to highlight some of my stories with a more horrific bent. Therefore, without further ado, Here is the first of my tales of the twisted...


“Why are we doing this again?”
The wry, slightly aggrieved tone of the teacher's voice left Shou struggling not to laugh. “Because you lost our bet, sensei,” he purred. “My prize is your company on this little adventure.”
Aoshi cracked his eyes open just enough to study the man next to him. “I already told you, I don't believe in ghosts. If you're just trying to get a rise out of me you'll be sorely disappointed.”
“Oh my, sensei. If that was what I wanted I would have been much more direct.” Shou's deep rumbling chuckle sent goosebumps skittering over the teacher's skin. “It's supposed to be the most haunted place in all of Japan. I just want to see why it has such a dark reputation.”
“Weak fools who wanted to be scared,” Aoshi declared. “People see what they want to see.”
“So the thought of dinner with the devil doesn't even give you pause?”
“Devil, schmevil, can't be any worse than some of the human octopuses I've dated.”
“Let's hope you're right.” Shou pulled off the road onto a twisting drive. Conversation ebbed as he turned his concentration to the narrow rutted track. Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes had taken root in the pitted surface, churning to a slippery ooze under the tires. The vehicle slipped and slid, scraping against the encroaching underbrush until it finally burst into a small clearing.
The house itself was ordinary enough, wood faded to a soft grey, the surprisingly intact shoji tightly shut. If he didn't know better, Shou would have assumed it to be carefully maintained by a loving owner.
“Are you sure this is the right place?” Aoshi's question jolted him out of his daze. “It doesn't look haunted.”
Shou didn't reply, instead he busied himself gathering their supplies. He grasped the teacher's arm at the elbow and steered him up onto the engawa. “Last chance to back out.”
“As if I'd give you the satisfaction. Aoshi slid open the door and stepped inside, yanking his friend in behind him. “Looks harmless enough.”
Light filtered in through the yellowed paper on the shoji, giving the space a warm amber glow that was almost welcoming. The aged tatami creaked and rustled under their feet, each step kicking up a cloud of dust. The teacher shook out the blanket he was carrying, spreading it in the middle of the floor and pulling his companion down to sit. “This is as good a place as any. I'm starving.”
As unimpressive as the room looked, the tiny hairs on the back of Shou's neck prickled with danger. He rummaged in the picnic basket, pulling out three lacquered bento boxes, chopsticks, sake, and three tiny saucers.
“Three?” Aoshi asked. “Is someone joining us?”
“Can't have dinner with the devil and not feed him.” Shou poured sake into three saucers and lifted his in a toast. “To a most enlightening evening.”
“Kanpai.” The teacher took a sip, sighing as the warmth slid down his throat and started a glow in his belly. “That is nice. I just hope you didn't make these yourself. I've seen the glop you call food.”
“And risk insulting the prince of darkness? It's from that sushi place near your apartment, the one you always rave about.”
“Then let's eat.” Aoshi clapped his hands together. “Itadakimasu,” he murmured as he grabbed a pair of chopsticks.
“It's rather impolite to start without your host, don't you think?”
The surprisingly mellow voice grew closer. “It's been a long time since I've had guests, especially on this night.”
“What night?”Aoshi croaked. He kept his eyes stubbornly fixed on the tatami as bare feet and the hem of a man's kimono passed next to him.
“Why, All Hallow's Eve, of course. The night when restless spirits walk the earth. I tend to forget you don't celebrate it here.” The newcomer settled himself cross-legged, hands reaching for the waiting saucer of sake.
Shou idly noted the man now seated opposite him kicked up no dust as he moved. He clamped down hard on the nausea bubbling in his throat, lifting his eyes to the middle of the figure's chest. From the neck down he looked ordinary enough, a slight man in a simple dark kimono. A tiny part of his mind gleefully urged him to look up and disprove the myth once and for all, but his natural paranoia overrode it.
“Your companion is quite lovely. I can certainly see the attraction.” The deceptively simple statement triggered protective instincts Shou never imagined he possessed.
“He's mine.”
“Really? He doesn't smell like you.” The stranger inhaled deeply. “But he does smell sweet. Why don't you and I make a little trade. I'll let you go, and you leave him to keep me amused.”
“Never.” Shou leapt to his feet, pulling the teacher behind him. “Don't look. Just back out through the door.”
“You're being very rude.” Aoshi clamped his hand over his traitorous lips in an attempt to stop the words that flowed from his mouth, in his voice, but were certainly not his. “We intruded on his solitude,” he continued to mumble around the obstruction. “The least we can do is finish our meal.”
“That's an excellent idea.” The stranger reached to take the teacher's hand, but Shou pivoted, fingers digging into Aoshi's biceps before flinging him through the open door.
Cold seared through him, the outstretched hand now resting companionably on his shoulder. “It's amazing how often that works.”
“Wh-wh-what?” Shou stammered. The door shook as Aoshi pounded on it from outside, but the sound was curiously distant.
“I mean, think about it,” the stranger continued. “What would someone like me want with someone as nice as your friend. You on the other hand ...” Shou squeezed his eyes shut and prayed to all the deities he had never believed in, “ have possibilities.”
* * *
The police dismissed it as a lover's quarrel. A perfunctory visit to the caved-in ruin of a house guaranteed they would not believe him. Shou slipped out of conversation, then memory.
Yet every year on October 31, Aoshi returned with dinner for three. “I've brought our dinner,” he'd announce. “Are you tired of him yet? He really can be an asshole, sometimes. But, if you're done with him, I'd love to have him back. We never finished our date.” With a respectful bow he'd lay out two bento and pour two saucers of sake, then retreat to the engawa to eat his portion under open sky.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Time for a change...

I woke up this morning and decided it was time for a name change. Shadow Wolf is now Shinobi (its original title). A much shorter, snappier, title that lays out better on the cover.

 SLOWLY but, hopefully, surely, the name change is populating all the outlets. The website is updated, a new print preview copy will soon be on order. Is all right with the world?

Monday, June 20, 2016

It's Pride Month

And so I have had Sex Ray Specs on special for the duration - only 99 cents at all major retailers. It has been a rough month, but, perhaps, some short homoerotic tales will make it a little bit better. Be warned, though, some are sweet, some are sad, and many are dark...

But it is summer, and bite sized fiction is the best thing for filling in those lazy moments.

Amazon     Barnes&Noble    ARe     Smashwords      Kobo      iTunes

Thursday, April 28, 2016

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Life (well, pollen) has been kicking my ass the last couple weeks. Every time I sit down at the computer to try and write I either hack up a lung or sneeze a quart of goo all over the keyboard...thus the next chapter in Onna Bugeisha has been delayed by plague. But fear not, I feel semi-human today. Well, as long as I don't breathe too deeply, I think I broke a rib coughing last night :( 

To make up for the lack of new chapters I have put my anthology of short fiction, Sex Ray Specs, on sale for just $.99 for a limited time. Not a lot to pay for over 50,000 words and a dozen stories ranging from tender to transgressive. Okay, to be fair, most of them are fairly twisted...I am fairly twisted, so it just makes sense my stories would be as well. 

And, to sweeten the pot, I thought I would post a little unpublished snippet of flash fiction, just because I hate not meeting my chapter posting goals.


When the world is quiet and still he comes to me. Tendrils of power drift around him in a graceful, kinetic dance, arcing from his hands to my flesh, burning their way through my synapses, at odds with the frigid bite of his skin. The soft smokey murmur in my ear pins me as certainly as too dark eyes and all thoughts of protest dissipate. He smells of ginger and cloves, sharp, seductive, hypnotic. Glass, stone, metal and bone woven into shaggy locks sing their own melody and I'm drowning under the onslaught, sinking into a place only he can drive me. When the whispers turn dark he dances, twisting and twirling, horns scribing the text into my flesh as the heady tang of copper mingles with spice. Then he smiles, a slight quirk of his lip, the tip of a pink tongue flicking out to taste my fears, my dreams, my essence encoded in my DNA. I would run, I would hide, I would surrender my soul for words of pleasure and pain. The rustle of finished pages, the itch of newly healed flesh, the secret of my success, he follows his own path. As for myself, I live to sleep and dream of my other half, this cruel symbiote without whom I am lost.  

And, of course, the sale links...because what is the point of telling you about a sale without giving you the means to get in on it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Onna Bugeisha - Chapter Six

Sorry for the delay...real life decided to interfere with my twice a week chapters. So, a bit late, on to Chapter Six. For those who may be just joining us, you can start with Chapter One

Dai Sho Shou
Even the most skilled application of cosmetics left Jun shaking his head in disgust. His wounds had healed, but one side of his face still drooped like melted wax. There was no way he could go on stage looking like this. He'd end up cast as a crone or a demon. His hand shook with repressed rage as he penned a note to the theater explaining his extended absence. Even more disturbing, there had been no word from Hiroshi. His lover had abandoned him to his fate.
Jun knelt before his small shrine, clapped his hands three times, then bowed his head in heartfelt prayer. “Amaterasu, most beautiful of goddesses, you have abandoned me to a life of rejection and ugliness. Tsukiyomi you have turned your back on me, separating me from my beloved. Susanoo, I pray you heed my request. Give me revenge on those who have hurt and abandoned me. Where once I wielded beauty, now let me summon your powers of chaos and destruction.” He lit a single stick of incense as an offering, then turned away to plot the downfall of the house of Murakami.
* * *
Tomorrow stretched into a week, then into two, and Kenshin still found reasons to delay his trip to the pleasure district. His training with Hiroshi had settled into a comfortable pattern. Evenings in his formerly staid household now echoed with laughter, and early morning training now commenced well after sunrise. The nights, however, were no less torturous. His apprentice was a young man, with a young man's desires. Night after night he resolved to find himself a mistress before he snapped and spoiled the budding friendship he had grown to cherish. But each dawn he found an excuse not to visit the teahouses.
During his morning meditation Kenshin pondered the reasons for his hesitation. In part, it was fear he would be unable to perform with a woman. He had never felt the attraction to the opposite sex other men did. Even his master, who had so loving introduced him to the world of sexual pleasure, had a wife and a concubine as well. But the intricacies of the female mind were a puzzle he couldn't decode. If he were honest with himself, he also feared he would enjoy it. Far too many warriors squandered their time and money with the ladies of the willow world. And then there was Hiroshi. It was becoming more and more difficult for Kenshin to hide his attraction to the younger man. The last thing he wanted was to shortcut any chance of a relationship because he was too impatient to wait until his feelings were returned.
* * *
The folded envelope seemed innocuous. The seal of the royal family, much less so. Kenshin turned it over and over, trying to weigh the consequences opening it would surely entail. Finally he broke the seal and unfolded the delicate paper, pausing to appreciate the intricate calligraphy before concentrating on the message itself.
Hiroshi found him staring off into space, a sheet of paper clenched in his fist. “Yakushi-san, are you alright?”
Blank eyes turned in his direction, and his master managed a single strangled word. “Omai.”
"I refuse. My father might have been able to force me to come here, but he cannot force me into a marriage.”
"Not you, me.” It was clear the very thought horrified the samurai. “I knew this would lead to ruin.”
In all honesty it didn't seem like such a tragedy to the youth. After all, his master was a grown man with no family to push him into an alliance. He was free to decline in a way Hiroshi was not. “So say no, if it bothers you so much. I am sure she doesn't want to marry you either.” He pried the letter out of tense fingers, smoothing the page before scanning its contents.
"See? It is the emperor's sister. I cannot refuse.” Kenshin's whole body drooped. “I have to at least meet with her, and I don't know if I will be able to refuse after that. This is all your father's fault.”
"Most everything awful is,” Hiroshi agreed.
"Glad to know you hate me so much.”
"I didn't mean it that way.”
"You made it clear from the moment you arrived you wanted nothing to do with me. Your father's plan to pair us up was a mistake. I wish I had never agreed, then I would still be content being alone. Now I long for things I cannot have, and need to consider a match I never wanted.”
"You long for me?” The whispered query forced Kenshin to turn and face his student. The surprise on his face lit something deep in his soul, a feeling he fought to suppress before it undid him completely.
"How could I not?”
Hiroshi struggled to respond, but the words caught in his throat. And then the moment had passed and Kenshin was gone. Leaving him with nothing but the ill-fated missive as proof the encounter ever happened.
* * *
Jun pushed aside the mass of shredded garments until he uncovered his stored kimono, carefully wrapped in soft silk and nestled in cedarwood boxes. He sent up a small prayer of thanks, losing them would have been a blow he couldn't recover from. After much contemplation, he decided on his third best kimono, sorting through obi until he found a pairing appropriate for the season. Even in this, precision was key.
Having avoided it for as long as possible, he began to pick through the rest of the broken and scattered treasures, carefully packing up a few ornaments and a surprisingly intact box of face powder. Everything else would remain here, in this place of broken dreams. Once he left, he would not be returning.
The boxes and bags were transferred to a waiting cart, a veil carefully positioned to hide the mark of his failure, and Jun shut the door on his past.
Afternoons in the pleasure district are lazy, leisurely affairs. In this closed world of women the highlight of the day is gossiping the long hours away in the baths. From the outside the willow world appears to slumber behind its walls, recovering from the revelries of the night before. In reality, this is the most cherished part of the day, when hopes and dreams are laid bare and all eventualities are possible. The arrival of a curtained palanquin during these hours was unexpected enough to set all tongues wagging. When that palanquin stopped outside a teahouse known for unconventional sexual practices, curiosity overcame all rivalries. Women who normally passed without so much as a nod of acknowledgment put their heads together and whispered ever more outlandish theories. The only thing the pillow girls could agree on was no one recognized the heavily veiled woman who slipped from its curtained privacy into the teahouse. Her wealth was obvious, hair impeccably coifed and clad in a kimono worth more than all of them combined. Why such a person would visit that particular house was debated in ever rising voices. The most obvious answer, a husband with habits no decent woman could stomach, was almost immediately discarded. Such a refined creature would no more discuss such things than she would run naked through the streets. Most wives negotiated their husband's liasons through scrolls and servants, even the most mundane. The lack of subterfuge had all the women on edge. Something darker was obviously at work.
Inside the shadowed confines of the teahouse Jun proceeded to plead his case. Using all the skill he had acquired in his time onstage, he struck just the right balance between misery and vengeance, hoping to sway the proprietor to his side.
"He swore we were eternal lovers. And then he abandoned me.” A delicate handkerchief disappeared behind the veils to dab at watery eyes. “Now I am spoiled for any other.”
"Why come to me? There are many houses that would love to have a lady of your refinement. My customers have base appetites. Your delicate sensibilities will enflame them to greater outrages just to see your reaction.”
"I have no choice,” Jun's voice dropped to a breathy whisper. “I cannot allow another to penetrate my jade gate, and I have no wish to risk becoming enamored of any man. But, I am now without resources, and that means I must compromise. I will accept being used in the way men pleasure each other. Would you have customers interested in such things?”
"I have customers interested in all manner of perversion. I am sure I can keep you busy enough to forget your heartbreak. I assume you would prefer separate quarters?”
"It would be more comfortable for all of us, I'm sure. Still, beggars can't be choosers. I will take whatever you are willing to give me.”
The proprietress carefully packed a long iron pipe with tobacco, applying a coal to the bowl and puffing out clouds of sour smoke. “One of my girls recently left us to marry. Her lover kept her in luxury during her time here. Her house is empty now, I'll have the servants clean it in preparation for your arrival.” 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Onna Bugeisha - Chapter Five

It is Tuesday already - that means it is time for a new chapter! In case you are just joining us, here is the link to Chapter One...for the rest of you, Chapter Five awaits.

In his home under the ocean, Susanoo capered with glee. After centuries of searching the key to regaining his father's favor had finally appeared. In response to his mood the seas foamed, monstrous waves toppling fishing fleets and washing away villages. The people crowded into the shrines, praying to Amaterasu to calm her brother's ire and protect them.
The sun goddess stretched languidly. She was torn between her desire to save her people, and her aversion to spending time in Susanoo's presence. Duty won out and she reluctantly made her way to his underwater home to plead her case.
"Brother, calm yourself. You threaten to destroy all that our father created.”
"Like I care about those puny islands or the pitiful worms who inhabit them. My grand plan will soon take effect, then the people's hearts will turn to me and you will be forgotten.
"Unlikely. Beauty will always triumph over brutality.” Amaterasu turned her back on her sibling and ascended to her rightful place in the heavens.

Dai Go Shou
Dawn spread fingers of fire across the heavens, ribbons of rosy light painting abstract patterns on the shoji and rousing Hiroshi from a restless sleep.
"Time for morning kata.” Kenshin's too cheery greeting rattled the bones of his apprentice's skull.
"It's barely dawn. Why do we have to start so early?” Hiroshi groaned, pulling the covers over his face and snuggling deeper into the futon.
"The day is most productive when it starts with exercise.” Kenshin yanked the covers off his slumbering apprentice, prodding him off the futon with his foot. “We rise at this time every day, I'm sure in time you will get used to it.”
"I seriously doubt that.” Hiroshi scrubbed a hand across his eyes, squinting up at the mirthful face of his master. “You are getting far too much enjoyment out of this.”
"What do you usually do in the morning?”
"I sleep through the morning, like any civilized person.” The curt reply was a sharp contrast to the whirlwind hair and pillow creases marring otherwise perfect cheekbones. “Couldn't we skip morning practice and start after lunch?”
"And then you'll want to wait until evening. You've spent enough years dawdling in bed, time to actually do something.” A strong hand latched onto Hiroshi's rumpled yukata and heaved him to his feet. “Your father expects me to turn you into a warrior. Get dressed and meet me in the dojo. The sooner we start, the sooner you get breakfast.”
The strappy ties on his hakama were a puzzle he couldn't decode in his half asleep state. Forty minutes passed before Hiroshi entered the dojo, hair roughly scraped back into a bushy tail, hakama tied in an impatient knot barely restraining his crumpled yukata. The sight of his new master peacefully meditating, hair and garments perfectly arranged, was enough to drive him to despair.
"I see you finally made it.” Dark eyes opened to study his reluctant student. “Tomorrow I will expect you to join me for meditation. Clarity of mind is crucial for productive training.”
"Clarity of mind assumes I am actually awake,” Hiroshi quipped. “I'm not sure that is possible so early in the morning.”
Kenshin's laugh was open and unexpected. “Let's get started.” He selected a bokken from the weapons rack. “Show me what you know.” He handed the wooden sword to his student, ignoring the electric tingle that rushed through him when their fingers brushed.
Hiroshi wobbled through the first of the simple kata he remembered, conscious of the poor showing he was making. As much as he disliked the warrior arts he wanted to make a good impression on the man who was giving up so much to train him. His attention was focused on Kenshin's reaction, further distracting him from what he should have been doing.
"Just stop,” Kenshin snapped. “Obviously we need to start at the beginning.” He snatched the bokken from lax fingers. “Lesson number one, how to properly hold a sword. Like this, see, all the work is done by these fingers, the others are just a guide.”
He handed the weapon back and watched critically as his apprentice tried to duplicate what he had been shown. “Better, but more space between your hands. It's a lever, you get more power that way.” Calloused fingers wrapped around Hiroshi's pampered digits, sparking another frisson at the contact.
The next few hours passed in a blur. When Kenshin finally called a halt the bokken needed to be pried out of his student's hands. “I think I'll be doing that cut in my sleep,” Hiroshi grumbled.
"Just make sure you soak your hands after we eat. I wouldn't want you to be unable to practice tomorrow.”
"Are we done for today?” The hopeful look directed in Kenshin's direction had him feeling momentarily guilty.
"We're done for this morning. Let's get something to eat and then we'll work on hand to hand skills for awhile.”
"How many of hours do you practice each day?”
"That depends on my duties. Eight to ten hours when I'm home, less if we're in the field.”
"Just kill me now,” Hiroshi declared. “There's no way I'll survive the week.”
* * *
The daimyo stared at the captain of his guard in disbelief. “Yes, Hiroshi's assignation was unseemly. That does not give you leave to assault his whore. The issue was settled, but now...well, now I'm waiting for the backlash. If this turns messy it is on your head.”
"But if you'd seen him. All painted up like a geisha and proud of it. Vanity like that is understandable in a woman, in a man it's an insult.”
"At least tell me you didn't kill him.” The daimyo's hand clenched on the hilt of his katana. The urge to punish this man for undermining his plan was nearly overwhelming. Several deep calming breaths passed while he waited for an answer.
"He was breathing when we left. Do you honestly expect me to go check on the creature?”
"Check on him. Get him to a healer if need be. Hiroshi will fly to his defense if he finds out and then all my efforts to separate them will be for naught. If you need further incentive keep in mind I just apprenticed my son to Yakushi-san. I imagine he would react strongly to anyone hurting his charge.”
"How did you trick Kenshin into taking your brat under his wing? He's turned down a dozen apprentices that I know of.”
"It was a lifetime favor. Why do you think I'm so determined it works out? Now go find that actor and make sure he'll keep his mouth shut. And not by killing him.” The daimyo turned and strode out of the hall, leaving his guard to figure out how to undo the damage.
* * *
By the time night fell Hiroshi was more exhausted than he thought possible. The afternoon passed in a blur, 'falling training' mostly consisted of Kenshin throwing him into things at high speed. His bruises were bruised. All he could think of was a long soak followed by sleeping for a week.
When he failed to appear for dinner Kenshin went looking. The last thing he needed was his apprentice escaping from his home on the first day. When he went to check the bathhouse he found his wayward pupil sound asleep in the furo, head barely above the water line. His fingers hovered above black clouds and half a flower intricately inked on an exposed shoulder. Of all the secrets his student held, this was one he never expected. “Oi, wake up, time for dinner.”
Hiroshi woke in a world of pain. The hot water did little to relieve the ache of muscles pushed far beyond their usual bounds. “Huh, what?”
"I would not have expected you to have a tattoo. Such a rebellious student I've managed to end up with. Sakura at dawn, and done by an irezumi master.”
"It's permanent, of course I went to a master.” Kenshin's gentle teasing picked at his student's last thread of patience. “Is nothing in my life private anymore?”
"Not from me.”
The smug smile on his master's face pushed the normally reserved Hiroshi over the edge. “You have got to be kidding me. As if being relegated to this mausoleum isn't enough, now you're spying and prying for my father as well?”
"My questions are my own,” Kenshin retorted. “And what I find is for me as well. You flatter yourself. A boy like you isn't worthy of such a grand plot. Now get out and dress, our dinner is getting cold.” He reached out to give Hiroshi a hand, only to have his arm slapped away.
"I'm perfectly capable of getting out of a tub on my own. Now turn around, I don't need you ogling me.”
"You think an awful lot of yourself. Why sakura? I would have pegged you for a dragon or perhaps yokai. Something more obviously manly, in any event.”
"It was Jun's suggestion,” Hiroshi admitted. “He thought it suited my personality.”
"Indeed.” Kenshin stepped behind his student, tracing the pattern with calloused fingers. “It is beautiful. New life from the darkness. I approve.”
"Thank you, I guess. Not that I need your approval.”
"Sit.” Kenshin pushed his student down onto the bathing stool, then knelt in front of him. “I want you to be able to walk tomorrow.” Strong fingers began kneading tired feet, pushing into tender arches until they relaxed. “Next time tell me when I'm pushing you too hard.”
"I did. You laughed at me.”
"My apologies, I forget not everyone works themselves as hard as I do.” Knotted calves gradually eased under the insistent pressure, and Hiroshi groaned, curling into the painful bliss. “After we eat I'll give you some lineament for your hands. It will toughen the skin so it doesn't tear. For now we will alternate days, swordsmanship one day, hand to hand the next. Just until you get used to the routine.”
"I'll try harder, I promise.”
"You did very well for your first day. I just set my expectations too high. We will find a balance, I'm sure.” Kenshin stood and hoisted him to his feet. “Better? Do you think you can walk to the table?”
"I'll manage. Give me a few minutes to dress and I'll join you.”
Over dinner they spoke of inconsequential things. Their mutual disdain for the pageantry of rule had them giggling into their cups at Hiroshi's uncanny mimicry of some of the daimyo's advisors. For the first time Kenshin thought that, perhaps, this arrangement might work out and he let go of some of his lingering resentment over the change in his routine.
* * *
Hiroshi was exhausted, yet sleep eluded him. All his plans of sleeping for a week fled the moment he stretched out on the futon. Instead of wandering in the land of dreams his mind kept flashing pictures of his new mentor. His cock lay hot and heavy against his thigh, stirring to life at the thought of the corded muscles of Kenshin's back. Yet again he couldn't help but wonder if his new master's ass was as impressively sculpted. So he's attractive. Lots of men are. Jun is devoted to me. I owe him my fidelity.
Despite his internal monologue, the nagging thoughts of Kenshin unguarded, eyes dark with lust and twinkling with amusement, niggled at his control. Hiroshi's cock twitched against his thigh, filling with blood against his wishes. He wrapped his hand around his straining erection, a squeeze and a single stroke from balls to tip had him arching off the futon with a passionate sigh. Another slow stroke further inflamed his passion. The thought of his new master overhearing him masturbating evoked a strange mixture of lust and embarrassment, and he bit his lip in an effort to stifle any further suspicious noises.
His eyes fluttered shut, his cock swelling as he pictured Jun sprawled naked on tangled sheets. Despite his intentions, the man he pictured grew taller and heavier, sleekly feminine features growing more rugged the closer he came to orgasm.
* * *
Kenshin listened to the sound of his apprentice pleasuring himself, oblivious to the fact that paper walls did nothing to keep his actions private. The steady strokes and occasional low moan only served to remind him just how long it had been since he'd sought release with another. Hiroshi had made his displeasure with such an arrangement between them crystal clear. As unappealing as the prospect was, perhaps the time had come to seek out a temporary assignation. His friends had spoken highly of the local pleasure district. Anything would be preferable to spending his nights listening to the sound of masturbation.
He tried to remember the last time he had even thought about sex, let alone touched himself. In the first few years after his master's death it had been a common practice. But as time passed he found his thoughts turning in that direction less and less. As best he could recall, it had been at least a year, possibly more.
So it's settled, he decided. Tomorrow I will go and see if the willow world holds anyone of interest to me.