The characters in the story are a product of my own imagination and hopefully have no resemblance to any living persons. But if it does it is entirely coincidental. Some of the places mentioned are either fictitious and or adapted to suit the plot of the story.
Sex: This story contains sexual content of a graphic nature between consenting adult women, thus if you are not 18 years old and not allowed to read content of this nature, please move on to other suitable stories.
Archiving : This work is copy written and should not be posted anywhere else without the writer's expressed permission.
Thanks to rleef, my beta. I claim all the parts (typos, grammar, etc) that make you cringe.Feedback: Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated, so feel free to drop a line or two at email@example.com or sent me a friend request on Facebook .
The soft trickling sound of water nearby was so relaxing that she closed her eyes for a moment, soaking up the tranquillity of the garden. Sometimes she came here at night when she needed to feel human again. She also comes here to cleanse herself of the stench of death before she allowed herself close to her wife. Choko always fights with her over that particular practice. A slow smile formed on Lulu's lips. Her wife didn't disregard her need for seeking serenity, but according to her, as her wife, it was her job to chase the demons away.
Lulu pushed away from the tree trunk and reached for her duffel bag. She'd landed in Tokyo an hour ago and it was time to reunite with her wife. Her trip had put her in a strange mood. She had a lot to think about on the plane and what she'd realized had unsettled her even more. Not only had she seen the human side of The Mist, but she knew now that she was being sacrifice to the American authorities. Why, she will have to find out, because prior to the job she was completely inactive.
She walked over to the tube station and waited with the masses for the tube to arrive. In the meantime she looked around, watched every face, and memorized exits, ready for whatever might come her way. Her bosses had set her up and she doubted they would accept her failure. Failure in the Yakuza was tantamount to a death penalty. Luckily Choko was safe. She was the granddaughter of the Great Yoshi, of the Sumiyoshi-kai clan and the most revered Yakuza chief ever. Although she wasn't involved in the family business, she still carried the blood and was family. Family held great value in the clan and even with Yoshi gone, his legend lives on. Harming Choko would mean that the other two prominent clan family heads would come baying for blood. Choko was untouchable. She, however, was not.
The tube arrived and getting on, Lulu kept her eyes on a group of youngsters who entered the tube. They looked like a couple of youths messing around and aggravating the older commuters with noisy talking and crude language. But she knew better. As a juvenile she had started off the same way as them. Rejected by her parents when she revealed her gay status, she was disowned and cast from the family. At the age of fourteen she had nowhere to go and no one to look out for her. It was while living on the streets that she entered a gang with strong affiliation to the Yakuza. Suddenly money was no option anymore and wanting more, she worked her way up into the ranks and moved from street runner and dealer to collecting protection money. It was while collecting money that she was noticed by the Shateigashira, their local gang boss.
Her surprise was great when he invited her to join him at his table. Overwhelmed by the man's power and money, not to speak of the gorgeous women who sat with him, she could only stare in envy. So many nights she'd lain awake in her bed, craving more. She wanted to command respect, have money, and screw as many beautiful women as she could. Thus when he made her an offer, she accepted immediately. The agreement was cemented with the sharing of sake . She was now part of the Shateigashira's inner circle.
She was sent to Kyushu Island, where she had undergone rigorous training that would make her the syndicate's only and most prolific female assassin.
The tube stopped and Lulu noticed that her stop was coming up. She pulled out her cell phone and made a fake phone call, while surreptitiously studying the young men. They were better trained than most and were not even looking her way at all. Well, she'll have to see what happens when her stop comes up. The tube continued and Lulu moved closer to the exit. She caught the boys' reflection in an adjacent tube's window and found them looking at her.
She waited for the doors to open when the tube came to a stop and stepped out, not once looking back. Lulu made for the stairs hearing hurried footsteps behind her. This was what she missed when she had to do jobs in other parts of the world. Japan, especially Tokyo, is a congested city. Trying to chase someone down on the street was near impossible with almost every square meter occupied by a human body. In the open now, she used a shop window to see how far behind they were. Her phone peeped, signalling that a message had come through. She flipped her phone open and read the short message.
Dinner will be late tonight.
Bring something home with you.
Lulu swore under her breath. Their house was being watched. She'll have to shake off her shadows and find her safe house. There she will find cash, clean clothes and weapons. Once she had all these, she will engage in the deadliest battle of her life. First, she had to find out who set her up and why and then she would kill all of them. Taking out these guys who were following her will be the first step in her great battle.
She turned around and made eye contact with one of them. Letting them know she knew she was being followed before she ducked into an alley setting the trap.
Choko closed her phone and reached for her tea cup. The thing they feared the most was happening. Three years ago, she'd known who and what Lulu was when the assassin entered the restaurant where Choko was having dinner with her colleagues. Lulu immediately drew attention because of her height. She wasn't overly tall, but still tall by Japanese standards. Her short spiky hair was combed into an attractive Mohawk, which combined with her black leather outfit made her look amazingly sexy. Unblinking dark eyes had met hers and held her gaze until Choko was forced to look away before her colleagues started asking uncomfortable questions.
Homosexuality was not prohibited in Japan, but society still frowned upon it and discrimination still occurred. Choko was used to hiding the truth from a very young age. Being the daughter of a crime lord and the granddaughter of a legendary crime boss, she always had to watch what she said and to whom. When she turned eighteen she'd asked her father to send her to a university out of the country. It was there that she could, for the first time live as freely as she wanted. She had dated on and off and took many female lovers. She knew that once she was back home she was expected to conform to society's norms and live the life of a pious Japanese woman, waiting to find Mr Right or probably even be married off to a rival crime boss.
Lulu had grabbed her attention and Choko decided then and there she wasn't going to hide anymore. Even before they had officially met, she had called a meeting with her family and disclosed her sexuality. That night she had feared her father's wrath for the first time in twenty five years. He had gone berserk. Japanese people believed that raising a lesbian was largely the fault of the parents and Hitero Nakamura placed the blame squarely at her mother's feet. Choko could still remember the accusation in Keiko's eyes for placing her in such a position where her beloved husband had doubted the morals with which she had raised their only child.
It had taken many hours that night to prove her father otherwise and even longer to explain that her situation was not a deviance that could be fixed. At their question of whether she was seeing anyone, she'd been scared to mention Lulu's name, lest her father would have the woman killed.
Her parents had left without giving her any indication as to what they planned to do with the knowledge. Since she didn't live at home anymore, she felt uncertain on whether she was still allowed at home and had stayed away. A week later she'd come home to find her father waiting for her in her flat.
“Your mother misses you,” he had said, avoiding eye contact. She had carefully placed herself before him, looking at his feet.
“And you, father. Do you miss your daughter too?”
The silence stretched for so long that she'd thought he wouldn't answer her.
“I will always miss you, my child.” She'd raised her eyes to look at him and found his eyes were soft as he looked at her. “I have realized that I do not care much of what other people will say. As long as you are happy, I am happy. It just hurt to think that your life will always be an uphill battle, always having to fight for social rights and recognition. You do not want to be part of the family business and I respected that. This situation could put you more in the spotlight.”
Hitero had taken a quiet moment and she had indulged him. When he continued, she'd felt her eyes shoot full of tears.
“I promise you that anyone who ever says anything derogatory to you in the presence of any of my men will pay for it. You are Yoshi Nakamura's granddaughter and everyone in the business respected him and I will make sure they respect you too. I have one condition though.”
She had lowered her head, waiting for her father to deliver the bad news she'd expected all week. Everything he'd said up to now was good and nothing could come so easy.
“I will comply with your wish, Father.”
“I expect from you to find the right woman and bring her to me. Then I want you two to fly to wherever it is legal to do so and get married.”
Her head had jerked up to stare at her father in shock. A small smile played over his lips.
“I am not done yet.”
But by then she was already rejoicing inside. Getting to choose her partner and marry her was more than she'd hoped for and she doubted anything would dim that brilliant light in her heart.
“I promise again to comply, Father.”
“Your mother wants grandchildren.” He cleared his throat. “I would like to have a successor too, even though I know you want nothing to do with the family business.”
She slowly looked up at her father. He had managed to dim her light slightly. How would she be able to allow her child to take up the reins of the one thing she despised more than anything? Hitero had studied her coolly.
“You promised, daughter, and I will hold you to that. I have made a sacrifice and I believe I deserve one in return.” He got to his feet and helped her up to hold her in his arms. “It will be okay. That I promise you.” With a brief kiss to her forehead he stepped away. “Your mother wanted to know when you will come by the house again. You should give her a call.”
It was month later that she bumped into the mysterious assassin again. This time it was in a lesbian club. Lulu was having a drink with a beautiful woman who was basically sitting in her lap, her face buried in the assassin's neck. She had calmly walked over to them and waited patiently until the Assassin had spotted her. The dark eyes didn't give away anything, but Choko could tell that Lulu was intrigued by her presence.
“May I buy you a drink?”
The girl sitting with Lulu had shot to her feet. “Can't you see we are here together? Or are you blind?”
Choko had ignored the woman and only looked at Lulu. The Assassin had an amused smile on her face.
“I would be honored.”
The girl had swung around to give Lulu an accusing stare. “What's this?”
Lulu simply shrugged. “I was offered a drink and I accepted. Is that against the law?”
“Yes, especially when you are already with someone.”
Choko had watched the interaction keenly. This was a great opportunity to see what type of woman Lulu Chen really was. Growing up around the Yakuza she had seen the worst kinds of violence directed at women.
“You should probably just stop here before you cause an even bigger scene,” Lulu had said quietly, her eyes boring into the woman. “You found me here and offered to buy me a drink. I accepted and I bought you one back later because I didn't want you to assume anything more. I obviously failed.” The black eyes met hers. “I was supposed to meet her here and she was simply running late.”
The girl turned to give her a scathing look before she grabbed her purse from the counter and left. Choko had called over the bartender and placed her order. While waiting for their drinks, they were checking out each other.
“I am eager to know why the Sumiyoshi-kai princess would buy me a drink.”
She'd waited for the bartender to place their drinks before them before she took a sip.
“Because I wanted to, Assassin,” she had said softly, seeing shock register in the dark eyes. “Ah, you thought I didn't know who you were?”
“Well, I don't really go around telling everyone what I do for a living, but since you know the industry well, I really shouldn't be shocked.” The Assassin drained her glass and sat back. “So, why?”
“Why are you here—with me?”
Choko had looked at the strong, handsome face, taking in the dark clothing and the slender body. The woman was a delight to her senses. She took another sip from her drink. “At the risk of sounding too forward, I will be honest. I would like to get to know you better.”
A strange light had lit up the dark eyes as Lulu signalled for the bartender to bring another round.
“Your honesty is refreshing. I wish more people could be so upfront about what they want even at the risk of sounding forward.” A small smile pulled at the corners of her lips. “I feel honored, but I have to say no.”
Choko had felt her pain of rejection hitting hard and deep. She didn't kid herself about her feelings for the dangerous woman. She had a month to analyse her feelings. She was head over heels in love with Lulu Chen. She had always admired the woman from afar, but that first time their eyes had met in the restaurant had been the deciding factor. She wanted Lulu Chen and nobody else.
“May I ask why?”
Lulu had shaken her head. “Your father will have me killed simply for having wayward thoughts about you. You know how society feels about our situation. I can't imagine what your father's opinions are about it.”
“Is that it? You're worried about what my father would do to you?”
“You're a gorgeous woman, princess, and I admit that I'm more than a little attracted to you. But your father's not someone I would want to tangle with.”
Choko had finished her drink and had leaned back in her chair to look at the assassin. It was now or never. “If I were to tell you not to be worried about my father, will you come home with me tonight?”
Lulu's had turned to her slowly, her eyes eerily big. She had once again taken the woman by surprise. Lulu looked away. “You can have any woman you want, Ms. Nakamura. You're not only well-connected, but rich and very beautiful too. I don't think it wise to put my life and career on the spell for a simple one night stand.”
Choko was rattled by the woman's resistance. What had made her think it would be easy to seduce her in the first place? She had simply acted on impulse when she'd seen the woman at the bar.
“First of all, my name is Choko and secondly, who said anything about a one night stand?”
Lulu had looked downright confused. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I was hoping you can show me what you got and then I return the favour. After that we decide if we want to see each other again. I take you to meet my parents. If…no… when they give their blessing, we get married and live happily ever after.”
This time the Assassin's mouth fell open as she stared at her. Choko had to lean over to push her mouth shut. She came to her feet and called for the bill. All the while Lulu had been staring at her. When she had settled her bill, she placed a business card next to Lulu's hand.
“My address and phone number are on there. I'll wait until midnight. If you do not show by then it means you're not interested.”
She had left the bar on shaky legs, with a heart that thumped so hard, it blocked out the music and traffic sounds as she drove home. The three hours that she sat and waited for the doorbell to ring, was the longest three hours of her life. She had cleaned up her flat a little, tried reading a book, made herself a snack and watched some silly game show. But still the minutes unhurriedly ticked on. When the clock read a quarter to twelve, she'd left the lounge with a disappointed sigh and went about her nightly ritual. She had crawled into bed and switched off the lights. It was already midnight by then.
She had tried.
She'd turned on her side and closed her eyes tightly to stop the tears which threatened to slip out. This wasn't the first time she was disappointed. Next time she'll just have to make sure that the other party was genuinely interested before she made a fool of herself. A sob escaped her lips, followed by twin tears running down her cheek. She angrily reached up to wipe them away when her hand was caught mid-air.
“No need for that. I'm here now.”
At the sound of that familiar voice, she sat up and threw her arms around Lulu's neck. She was surprised to find the woman was completely naked. “You're naked.”
A husky chuckle sounded. “Your invitation implied that clothes would not be a necessity. You are also naked.”
Choko placed a soft kiss in Lulu's neck. “Did you drive over here naked? What if you had been pulled over?”
Lulu held her away from her and in the light of the streetlight shining into the room she could make out the tattoos on Lulu's body. From the sheer number of them, Choko knew she was dealing with a very dangerous individual. But so was her father and his father before him and yet she loved them all. The same will be with this woman.
“I was sitting on your balcony for more than hour. I came through there and undressed as I came to your room.”
“Oh my…you…you were watching me all that time?”
“Yes. I wanted to know if you were serious about the offer.”
Choko cupped the handsome face. “And?”
“I saw enough to let me believe that you were.” Lulu leaned closer and Choko almost wept the gentleness of the kiss. They broke away to look at each other. “Can we switch on the light? I want to see you while I make love to you.”
“You can do anything you want tonight,” Choko whispered as her fingers combed through Lulu's hair.
The older woman fixed her with a burning stare. “Then tonight I will spoil you for anybody else.”
Choko lips moved over one nipple and she pulled it deep into mouth, while the tip of her tongue flickered over it.
Lulu kept her promise and spoiled her for anyone else. After a short courtship of three months, she took Lulu home. Her father was pleasantly surprised by her choice and had his secretary make arrangements for their wedding and honeymoon. Three weeks later they were on a plane to Canada.
The ringing of her cell phone pulled her out of her reverie. She looked at the caller ID which showed an unknown number.
Choko came to her feet at hearing her wife's voice. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I'm okay. And you? Are you alone?”
“My mother sent someone over to stay with me while you were away. I would rather have you here.” It wasn't her intention to add to Lulu's problems by whining, but to have their lives disrupted at such an important time in their life was just plain unfair. “What about the appointment on Wednesday?”
The silence in the other side of the line was deafening. There was the clearing of a throat and Choko felt her heart lurch.
“Please don't cry, my love. We will get through this.”
“I am not so sure this time, Choko. I was sent to America to die by my own people. I don't know whom to trust.”
Choko sank down on the sofa, her hand over her heart. Before her flight out of New York, Lulu had told her there were some unexpected complication to the job and that she was coming home. The only thing that gave her reason to worry was when Lulu asked her to keep her eyes open. When Choko noticed an unusual amount of activity at the café opposite their flat, she called her father. He immediately sent men to check out the situation. But if someone in the organisation wanted her wife dead, it meant Lulu was in grave danger.
“Should I let my father know?”
“No, aiko , I don't want him involved in this. As my father-in-law, they might suspect him of aiding me.” Lulu sounded more in control of her emotions. “I was just looking forward to seeing you again.”
This time it was Choko who had to keep the tears at bay, “Me too, my love. I've been looking forward to it for the whole week.” She looked at the slender golden watch on her wrist. “I have to see for myself that you're okay. Give me a few hours to arrange things at work. I will take leave for a few days and move into the guesthouse at my parents' estate. Whoever is behind this will not be stupid to try and attack you there. Will you come to me?”
“Nothing will keep me away. I will come and visit you but I can't stay there. It could be too dangerous for your parents.”
Choko smiled. Lulu was crazy about her parents and the feeling was mutual. Keiko loved the fact that she and Lulu were both avid bonsai enthusiasts. Hitero was simply ecstatic to have the most celebrated Yakuza assassin for a daughter-in-law as well as someone whom to talk ‘business' with.
“I know, but just as long as I can see you.”
“Then I'll see you tonight. I love you.”
“I love you too. Please be careful.”
Hitero looked at the man sitting before him, sipping bourbon. If not for his plans to expand his organization, he would've been happy not having to deal with the man. He had his spies do a background check on the American. This was not the first time that this man had approached him.
George Purcell was as corrupt as they come. If something was rotting somewhere in the world, the man had something to do with it. He was born to be corrupt.
“So, Hitero-san, have you thought over my proposal?”
The Yakuza boss gave the man an unblinking look. For a man who has many business ties to Japanese firms, the man's understanding of Japanese etiquette was appalling.
“We will find time to discuss that soon. I hope you plan on enjoying the hospitality of my country some more. I have a number of meetings I have to attend to. I apologize for that.”
George shrugged and laughed. “Making money is hard work and attending meetings is part and parcel of that. I will keep myself entertained in the meantime.”
The warm water did wonders to her aching muscles and Lulu let out a sigh as she laid her head back and allowed her muscles to relax. Her clash with those thugs had been a quick workout. Two of them were really good at martial arts and she has quite a few bruises to show for it.
She had hoped she could get some information from them. In the end, it became evident that they knew nothing more than she did. What was really helpful was the name of their Shateigashira. As the local gang leader, the Shateigashira Akihiro Sato, was the one who authorises activities within the area. She was running out of time. Wednesday was but three days away and she needed to sort out this mess before then.
Lulu heaved herself out of the bath and shook her head at the sight of the large bruises on her abdomen. Choko was going to freak when she saw them. Maybe she should've told her about her run-in with the street thugs, but that was over now. All she had to do was to survive the confrontation with her wife. Choko would want answers and reassurances. Making sure that she was free on Wednesday was the best assurance she could give her wife.
She wrapped a towel around her and reached for the hairdryer. As she dried her hair, she mentally fleshed out her plan on how to get close to Akihiro Sato. A name flashed through her mind and she smiled. She was always keen to hand out favours as long as they were repaid in any way she wanted.
Ten minutes later she stretched out on the king size bed and closed her eyes. She turned her head to the side and sniffed. Was it possible that Choko's scent still clung to her bed a month later? A languid smile lifted the corners of her lips. She pulled the pillow close, grimacing at the cold touch of her gun. All amorous thoughts disappeared as she rolled onto her back. She was going to Choko later, but for now she will rest for a few hours and afterwards call in a favour.
Hitero strode into the guesthouse, his cell phone still in his hand. He threw up his hand when he found both his wife and daughter sitting on the patio.
“Why am I always the last one to find out?” Two startled set of eyes turned to him and he shook his head. “When were you going to tell me?”
When both mother and daughter looked at him with confused expression he pointed at Choko. “Why haven't you told me about the mess Lulu finds herself in? I had to hear it from a business associate.”
Choko quickly averted her eyes. “She didn't want you involved in this. She said that if you took sides in this, it might have an effect on your standing within the family.”
Hitero's eyes narrowed. “How?” He slowly made his way over to the only unoccupied chair. He was vaguely aware of Keiko getting up to pour him a cup of tea.
“She doesn't know yet who was trying to set her up. It might very well be someone in this family.”
“Nonsense,” he thundered. “No one in my family will be so stupid to go up against any of you, including Lulu.”
Choko lifted her eyes and the fear he saw in them, made him look away. “I know, father, but we can never be too sure. People driven by greed have no loyalty except to money.”
His daughter was right. They may not know about it but six years ago he was the target of an assassination attempt by one of the Triads. One of his men was their informant and they were almost successful, had the plan not been sabotaged by none other than the very woman he had accepted into his family. Now it was his turn to return the favour.
“Have you spoken to Lulu lately?”
“Yes, she called me earlier today. She will come here tonight.”
Hitero smiled his thanks when Keiko placed the tea before him. “Good. I want to talk to her when she gets here. In the meantime I will call in more men to patrol the grounds.” At Choko's worried look, he shook his head. “I don't know what she's done, but as part of my family, it is my right to offer my protection. She deserves it because I owe her for saving my life once.”
He took a sip from his tea. “It was a long time ago and I didn't want to worry you? Nor did I ever want you to find out.”
Choko came to her feet. “She never said anything.”
“Because it is not something to talk about. Only a handful of people know and they were sworn to secrecy.” He took another sip. “Now come sit with me and tell me everything so I can see what needs to be done.”
The restaurant was full, but Lulu managed to claim a table. She read the menu with genuine interest realizing that she was actually hungry. All she had after her nap was an energy drink. The steamed dumplings made her mouth water and she placed an order as soon as the waitress came over to the table.
She poured herself a glass of water from the carafe on the table and sat back to watch the people around her. She had her hair slicked back tonight as opposed to her trademark Mohawk. She didn't want to draw any unnecessary attention to herself. She glanced at her watch. For his own safety she hoped her informant was right and that her target would come right through that door any minute. He knew her well enough to know that she would skin him alive if he lied to her. She pulled out her phone and opened one of the games to while away the time as well as to seem less suspect. Her glass of water was almost empty when her food arrived. Still there was no Akihiro. She smiled up at the waitress.
“Could you tell me if there's a backdoor entrance. You see, my friend, Dan, is scared of getting mob by fans. I was wondering if there is a way of smuggling him in without anyone noticing.”
The girl blinked at her. “Are you talking about Dan Doi, the rock star?”
Lulu smiled as she looked around as if wanting to make sure they were not overheard. “Yes.”
“Oh my—Oh my—,” the girl exclaimed as she began to fan herself.
Holding up her hand, Lulu shook her head, giving the girl a disappointed look. “Look let's leave it. I was hoping this place would afford us some anonymity, but—?
“No, please. I can show you. I also promise not to tell anyone as long as you promise to introduce him to me,” the girl gushed. “No one will take your table while your plate's still there.”
For effect, Lulu appeared as if she was reconsidering her request. “Okay.” As she followed the girl through the kitchen and down a short hallway, they came to a stop and girl pointed to a door. “Thank you, miss. Uh…what's your name so I can remember to call for you when Dan gets here?”
“It's Abe. I am here until ten tonight. Ah, where's my head? Maybe I can even arrange a private seating for you. Just let me know.”
“Thank you again, Abe. Would it be okay if I waited for him out here? He promised to be here in a short while.” She gave the girl a charming smile.
“Yes, please. We're very busy tonight so I need to get back.” With a small wave she rushed back the way they came. As soon as she was out of sight, Lulu reached into her inside pocket and took out her gun. She screwed the silencer on and doubled back. She had spotted a door leading to the right off of the kitchen. Usually restaurants have private rooms for their most valued clients. She was sure to find Akihiro in there.
She hid the gun under her arm and slid the door open. She could immediately make out a number of male voices. There were four private partitions. She moved to the first one and peered in which an apologetic smile, only to see a group of teenage girls spending more time on their cell phones than on their food—rich socialites.
Lulu moved on to the next room. It was empty. She fingered the hilt of her gun as she cocked her head listening. There were only two more rooms left and both were occupied by boisterous masculine voices and laughter filtered from them. She crept closer, keeping the cocked gun behind her back. She peeked into the first room and found what seemed to be a group of male relatives dining together. It would seem that it was some sort of a family meeting. Giving them a curt nod, she moved on to the next room. She knew she had the right place, not only because it was, the only room left. She could make out the shapes of two men through the semi-transparent walls. Just as her contact had warned, Sato was always guarded. She took a moment to focus her thoughts. Lulu stepped into the room, sweeping it quickly to do a quick headcount. She lifted her gun and aimed it at a middle-aged man who sat at the head of the low table.
“If your men try anything, I will put a bullet in your head, Sato.” She said calmly as she watched the man's eyes widened in surprise, before a small smile crossed over his face.
“What is this?” Sato looked at his entourage of eight. “Who planned this?”
Lulu adjusted her aim and squeezed off a round. The man yelped as the bullet slammed into his shoulder. “Now tell your men to all get up and face the wall. They can keep their guns, because I want them to know that if any of them tries to shoot at me, I will kill you.”
The man was cradling his wounded shoulder and Lulu could see the hatred in his eyes. When the man still didn't issue the order, she shifted her aim again and shot him through the other shoulder. Sato groaned as he closed his eyes. His face was a pulled in a mask of agony.
“You decide where the next bullet goes. I just need some information and then I'll be off.”
Sato opened his eyes and barked an order in Japanese. Reluctantly, the men moved over to the wall.
“Now to make sure you don't get tempted, put your hands behind your heads.” When they didn't obey immediately, she shifted her aim again. This time the leader barked out a panicky order. The men quickly complied. “Good. Now we can talk. Depending on how quickly you answer my questions, the faster you will get medical help,” Lulu said to the injured man. “Who instructed you to have me followed?”
The man licked his lips and shook his. “I don't know what you're talking about.”
Lulu came to stand next to him and put her gun against his head. “You have five seconds to remember? One…Two…Three…Four….”
“I don't know. A messenger was sent over with a parcel for me. I simply pulled a few of my men to follow you as the message instructed.”
Lulu threw a glance at the men who stood with their backs to them. “If I find out you've lied to me, I will be back.” She pressed her gun against his forehead. “I'll burn your mansion down with you inside.”
The man nodded and Lulu got to her feet and slipped out of the room. She sprinted down the short hallway and out the back door. She was disappointed that the night was a simple waste of bullets and time. She was back to square one. Except— she knew now that she was indeed set up. She was going to work the hierarchy of the Tanaka syndicate from the bottom up until she found the person who wanted her dead.
If the Shateigashira didn't know anything, the next possible lead would be the Wakagashira. If she got nothing from him, she would move onto the second in command and then the head. If need be, she wasn't going to leave anyone standing.
For now she would go see her wife. She missed her so much it hurt.
Hitero tapped the envelope against his palm as he sat behind his desk, lost in thought. After Choko had told him everything she knew about Lulu's situation, he had called in a few favours. It had taken but a few hours for him to be supplied with a yet, unopened envelope, which possibly held the answers to Lulu's questions.
He knew as soon as he heard that Lulu had been set up that some old and dear friends could be involved in this. The whole thing actually reeked of corrupt bureaucracy. Someone higher up was selling the organization out to the Americans.
There was a soft knock on the door and at his invitation it was pushed open, revealing his wife. Keiko came over to stand behind him. Hitero groaned softly when she began to massage his neck and shoulders. She was good at it. That was actually how they first met. She used to work as a masseuse at a Spa frequented by the rich and famous. The moment he'd felt her small, but strong hands on his body, Hitero knew he wanted her—bad. But his father had taught him the value of a good woman. The next day he returned to the Spa and asked her out.
“You are tense, husband.”
Hitero threw back his head and smiled at her. They never indulged in public displays of affection. In fact, they appeared very cool and distant to each other when in the public eye. No one but their closest friends knew of their great love. This soft-spoken woman was the love of his life and he told her so every chance he got.
“That's why I have my own live-in masseuse.” He grinned when that got him a playful slap on the shoulder. “I know you'll take care of me.”
Soft lips brushed over his cheek and he sighed in pleasure. “And I always will. Are you still busy or would you like to come to bed with me?”
Hitero placed the envelope on the table. “I was hoping to talk to Lulu tonight.”
“Then you'll have to ambush her before Choko gets her hands on Lulu. I don't think she would let her go for the rest of the night.”
“I believe you, but I think they both would like to come to the bottom of this.”
“Did you find out something?”
Hitero tapped on the envelope. “Quite a lot it seems from the weight of the envelope.”
Keiko moved over and placed herself on her husband's lap. “What did you find out?”
“I haven't opened it. I think I'm scared of what I will find in there.” He placed a delicate kiss on Keiko's lips. “I think maybe Lulu was right. I shouldn't get involved. I could give her the information and let her decide what she wants to do with it.”
“What about this scares you?”
“I have the suspicion that some old friends might be involved in this. As much as I like and love our daughter-in-law, Lulu Chen is a very dangerous woman. She will show no mercy if she decides to clean house. She's believed to be the best assassin the Yakuza has ever produced. Believe me, her reputation hasn't been embellished.”
“And you are afraid for these friends of yours?”
“I'm terrified for them.”
Keiko pulled his head down and gave him a gentle kiss. “Then maybe you really shouldn't get involved with this.”
“Yes. Let's go deliver this…” Hitero tapped at envelope. “…to Choko and then we can call it a night.”
Choko shrieked when two arms slipped around her waist. She was immediately assaulted the familiar earthy scent of her wife. Her body relaxed in the familiar embrace. Lulu was alive and okay.
“I've missed you so much.”
Soft lips nuzzled her neck and she moved her head so she could expose more to the searching lips.
“Me too, aiko . Have you eaten already?”
Choko turned in the embrace, her eyes caught immediately by those deep dark eyes. They were calm as they looked at her, but Choko could see the tiny lines of tension around them. Her wife could hide a lot of things from other people, but not from her. She pulled the dark head down and placed soft kisses over each of Lulu's eyes.
“Whatever horrors you've witnessed today are now gone.”
Lulu gave her a brilliant smile. “The moment my eyes fell on you my true sight returned. Do you want me to fix you something to eat? The doctor was very strict about your diet.”
“Yes, I'm sticking to my diet.” Lulu was aware that she didn't need to cook for her, but Choko knew that her wife loved to pamper her. This side of Lulu was so contradictory to the one she led when she wasn't around her. It was only when they were naked in bed and all those deadly tattoos were revealed that Choko was reminded of the double life her wife led. “I could help you prepare something light if you like.”
Lulu smiled and pulled her to the kitchen. Choko was gently pushed into a chair as Lulu began to chop vegetables for a quick stir-fry.
“You are quiet tonight.”
Lulu looked up. “I just had a very unproductive day.”
“Do you want to tell me about it?”
Lulu grabbed a carrot and with deft strokes of the knife dissected the vegetable. “As soon as I landed I found that I was being followed. The men however didn't know much except the name of their Shateigashira. I approached him earlier tonight and found out nothing new, except that the order to send me to America came from higher up.”
Choko listened attentively. Lulu hated to involve her in the dark world she lived, but very soon in the beginning of their relationship, Choko had made Lulu promise never to hide anything from her. As the daughter of a Yakuza boss, she wasn't entirely blind to what transpired behind the closed doors of her father's study. Lulu kept her promise, but Choko knew she did so reluctantly.
“What happens now?”
Lulu tossed the vegetables in a sizzling wok. “I go higher and I will not stop until I find the person who sold me out.”
Choko caught a glimpse of Lulu's eyes and what she saw in them made her fear for her wife. This was a mini-war and could have a devastating outcome. If the order came from higher up, it means that many prominent individuals were caught up in this. The scariest part was that Lulu was willing to kill her way to the top. The risk of losing her wife was huge.
As scared as she was, Choko never nagged Lulu about her life or her lifestyle. She had known who and what Lulu was when she had approached her. All she could do was to hope and pray Lulu gets her answers fast so she could skip all the unnecessary channels of information gathering and get to whomever she wanted.
Lulu suddenly looked up from where she as busy stirring the vegetables. She must've caught the concerned look on her face. “I will be careful, Choko. I will not take chances unless I know I will be able to get out.”
Choko lowered her eyes as she slowly nodded her head. It was time to change the subject before she lost the fight and cried. That was the last thing Lulu needed at this moment. She felt a soft touch on her shoulder and lifted her head. Lulu stood before her, her eyes dark with promise.
“I will not get myself killed, I promise.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I have too much to live for.” Lulu pulled her to her feet and held her in a tight embrace.
“Then do me this one favour,” Choko lifted her head from Lulu's chest to look into her wife's eyes.
“I will do anything to make you feel better about this.”
“Then get someone to help you,” she pleaded.
The dark eyes widened slightly before Lulu stepped out of the embrace. She returned to the stove where she dished up two plates.
“Lulu, please.” Choko could see how tense Lulu's shoulders were. “I would feel much better knowing someone else is looking out for you.”
Lulu returned to the table. Without meeting Choko's eyes she put a plate before her. “Who do you have in mind? If it's your father then the answer is no.” Lulu picked up her fork and spooned a small bite into her mouth.
The silence in the kitchen kept for a long while.
“There is no one I can trust out there. They would just as soon put a bullet in me to claim bragging rights.”
Choko picked up her fork and listlessly began to nibble on her food. “There must be someone who would want to help you.”
Lulu sighed deeply. “Believe me there is no one.”
There was a soft knock on the door and they looked up to see her parents come in. Hitero walked over to Lulu. Lulu rose to her feet. Hitero reached out a hand to Lulu.
“I heard about your problem.”
Choko saw Lulu glance her way, a frown on her face. “I don't want to involve you.”
“I know, but I want to.” He held out the envelope. “This is as far as I can help.”
Choko came to stand next to Lulu. “What is this, father?”
“Information. I haven't opened the envelope, because I don't want to know who are involved in this. I don't think I will ever be able to forgive them for his blatant disrespect they show my family.” Hitero reached behind him and took Keiko's hand. “I believe the Americans are involved in this too.”
Choko watched Lulu's face and saw realization dawn on her wife's face. “We were both being setup.”
“What are you talking about, Lulu?” Choko grabbed Lulu's arm. “Lulu?”
“My target in America was Mystique's lover.”
“The Mist?” Choko watched as her father's face pulled into a mask of shock. “And you didn't know?”
“No, I didn't. I was sent like a sheep to the slaughter. Someone omitted that tiny detail. Someone who wanted me to kill the lover and have the Mist take revenge on me.”
Choko tightened her grip on Lulu's arm. “Who is this Mist person?”
Hitero shook his head. “She's every bit as good as Lulu.”
“Better,” Lulu said quietly. “When I broke into my target's house I walked right into the Mist's lair.”
Choko covered her ears and went to sit at the table. This was too much. She couldn't take it anymore. Lulu lived a dangerous life and even then she'd never been more afraid for her than at this very moment. That last night she's spent in Lulu's arms before her trip to America could very well have been the last time she'd have been in her wife's arms. She experienced a deep aching pain in her chest at the mere thought of Lulu lying dead somewhere in shallow grave so far away from her. She felt a hand on her head and lifted teary eyes to see her mother standing before her.
“This is too much for me, mother.” A deep sob tore from deep her chest. “I am trying to be strong, but I am so scared of losing her.”
The familiar earthy scent of Lulu surrounded her as she was pulled to her feet. “Shush, aiko , everything will be okay. I promise.”
She shook her head slowly. “It's just getting worse.”
Choko heard soft whispering and heard retreating footsteps and crawled deeper into Lulu's arms.
“You need to take it easy, love. Remember the doctor warned against stress and tension,” Lulu whispered in her hair.
“I am cancelling the appointment tomorrow.” Choko felt Lulu's arms tighten around her. “That is another pressure you can do without for now.”
“I…I don't know what to say.” Lulu's voice sounded close to tears. Choko looked up into Lulu's face. The anguish she saw there made her touch the pale face. “I am so sorry that this had come up now.”
Choko shook her head. “It's not your fault.”
They stood in silence, holding each other.
“I'll call her.”
“Who?” Choko rubbed her cheek against Lulu's shoulder.
“I first need to go through the file and then I will call Mystique and ask her to help me.”
Choko leaned back so she could see Lulu's face. The dark eyes were troubled, but the beautiful lips were set in a determined line. “Will you really? Do you trust her?”
“I will and no, I not sure if I trust her. But if she's in the same situation as I am, then I think we could combine resources.”
Choko studied Lulu's face for a long moment, before she smiled. She stood on tiptoe and kissed the soft lips.
“Thank you, my love.”
Lulu nodded, the anguish on her face almost too much to for Choko to bear. “Just don't you dare cancel the appointment.”“You have my word.”
To be continued...
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