Transcendence by DarkandLovely

The prison had been confined within their hearts but when... when would they truly be set free?




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Transcendence is a original work by CM and is intended for publication so please do not upload, distort, edit, or remove and place on any other site. Respectfully yours, thank you. 

Categories: Original Fiction Characters: None
Classification: None
Genre: Comedy , Drama, Erotica, Friendship, Inspirational, Romance, Suspense
Story Status: Active
Pairings: None
Warnings: Adult Situations, Original Characters, Racism, Rape, Spritualism, Strong Sexual Content , Un-betaed , Work in Progress
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 49 Completed: Yes Word count: 291391 Read: 223569 Published: September 13 2015 Updated: May 01 2020

1. introduction by DarkandLovely

2. characters* by DarkandLovely

3. That Girl by DarkandLovely

4. That Boy by DarkandLovely

5. Black Coffee by DarkandLovely

6. The Past by DarkandLovely

7. Search by DarkandLovely

8. Conclusion by DarkandLovely

9. Found by DarkandLovely

10. You by DarkandLovely

11. Leeway (Slow but Sure) by DarkandLovely

12. Cocoon by DarkandLovely

13. Visor by DarkandLovely

14. Revelation by DarkandLovely

15. Process by DarkandLovely

16. Soul Searching by DarkandLovely

17. Wading by DarkandLovely

18. Him by DarkandLovely

19. Clean by DarkandLovely

20. Her by DarkandLovely

21. Many by DarkandLovely

22. Genesis by DarkandLovely

23. New by DarkandLovely

24. Reunited by DarkandLovely

25. Step (One At A Time) by DarkandLovely

26. Explosion by DarkandLovely

27. Waves by DarkandLovely

28. Promise by DarkandLovely

29. Dense Blue by DarkandLovely

30. Bonnie and Clyde by DarkandLovely

31. Blue Wine by DarkandLovely

32. Everything Above by DarkandLovely

33. Homecoming by DarkandLovely

34. Saikai Suru by DarkandLovely

35. Fruition by DarkandLovely

36. Inflorescence by DarkandLovely

37. Entr'acte by DarkandLovely

38. Matrimony by DarkandLovely

39. Rivet by DarkandLovely

40. The So.u.nd by DarkandLovely

41. A/N: Reflection by DarkandLovely

42. Au Revoir by DarkandLovely

43. Return by DarkandLovely

44. Nucleus by DarkandLovely

45. Harvest by DarkandLovely

46. Mother(Okaasan) by DarkandLovely

47. Transcendence by DarkandLovely

48. Floret by DarkandLovely

49. Shin Sei Katsu by DarkandLovely

introduction by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


HI GUYSSSSS!!!! WOOHOO! Part two of Accordance! :D <3 I AM EXCITED TO BEGIN THIS JOURNEY WITH YOU ALL! hehe! I have a new poster, pictures and teasers for you all! Sure to be inspiring, life changing and absolutely amazing I pray that this takes OFF <3 Iwase Hiroto and Ebere Marshall are very dear to my heart and I am blessed that I have been able to bring them to life within the pages of Accordance. I pray that you fall deeper in love with them and their story as it will unfold here. Thank you to all who read Accordance and commented! Now, let's begin Transcending!  


Here is the official poster: 


** This story will not make sense without first reading Accordance, the 1st in this series. If you have not read it, please take time to read. I hope you enjoy it! As the story goes, now Rae and Hiroto are 28 years old, living very different lives. It seems as though the choices made out of pain have solidified and succeeded but when oh when will they truly be set free? When will they come back to each other and be able to love without contraint or problem? Soon my friends. :) Here are some teasers! Please enjoy them guys! Leave your thoughts below! <3 



Sakaguchi Kentaro as Iwase Hiroto (28) 



Natasha Kalos as Ebere Marshall (28) 










Here are the teasers: :D 





    The wind blew around them, the chilly air freezing her skin. But, it was nothing compared to the coldness that had risen up from her heart. 

    “It’s you.” The scent of a man so familiar drifted into her nostrils and she tightened her fists, wanting to despise it… to despise him. 

    “Hello beautiful.” She brought her eyes up to his. Her throat tightened. God, it was him. The man… who had hurt her beyond recognition. The man… the man who her heart still beat for. 

    “What are you doing here?” He licked his lips and cleared his throat. The expression on his face looked painful, as if it hurt him to even talk. 

    “I came to talk to you-” 

    “I don’t want to talk to you.” She replied quickly, cutting him off. He smiled sadly. 

    “I knew you wouldn’t.” 

    “Why’d you waste your time then Hiroto?” He sighed, his breath curling into a thin cloud of vapor. 

    “I was going to try and try again until you finally acquiesced.” She turned away from him, her hands shaking. 

    “I’m going home.” 

    “Let me walk you.” 

    “No. If you know where I live, you’ll never leave me alone.” There was silence. 

    “Tell me something Hiroto.” 


    “Was it worth it?” The time seemed to expand and it took forever until he finally spoke.     

    “No.” His answer was simple but held so much suffering. 

    “Hm.” She heard him step closer until his arms came around her, trapping her. Time ago, she would have melted in his captivity. But now… now it just hurt her. She reached up to pull him off of her but he tightened his grip. 


    “Let go of me.” 

    “Tell me something.” She felt unasked for tears well up in her eyes. She wanted to hate him. She had tried for so long. And she thought she finally had succeeded. But he had made her shatter into a million pieces with just a single glance. All these years later. Still, he had control of her. She hated it. 

    “What?” Her tone hard. 

    “Did you stop loving me?” His calm quiet question stung her and she gasped out loud. She gripped the sleeves of his coat. 

    “Hiroto…” He pressed his face into her hair and sighed loudly. 

    “It does not matter much to me.” 

    “Then why did you ask?” His warmth threatened to overwhelm her. 

    “Why? I suppose I wanted to hear it from your lips. That’s all.” He let his arms slide away from her and slowly, he took his body heat away too. She stood there shivering, clenching her teeth. 

    “Not a day went by that I did not miss you or want you. I realize that I am a stupid stupid man. I let you slip through my fingers and walk away from me… I chose to be silent. I chose to hurt you. For that, I am not sure I want you to forgive me. But, I will ask that you let me see you again. Even if it is just a glance.” The tears slid down her cheeks, cold as ice. Turning, she faced him. He watched as the tears fell, his fists tightening up. 

    “You are a fool Iwase Hiroto. A damn fool.” He hung his head, letting her insult wash over him. 

    “Yes. I am.” His voice was quiet, barely audible. 

    “You don’t deserve to even see me. Talk to me. Damn sure not to touch me.” 

    “All true.” 

    “Hiroto.” He lifted his head. 

    “Stand up straight damn it.” He blinked, his eyes watery. 

    “You’re not a little boy anymore. Stop standing like you want pity.” He stood up straight, his eyes growing hard with resolve. 

    “You’re right about that. I’m not a little boy anymore. I don’t stand here wanting pity from you Rae. I stand here because I want you.” 

    “It’s too late for that.” 

    “I’m prepared to wait.” His voice overflowing with pain sounded much stronger. 

    “Don’t bother.” She started to walk past him. 

    “Goodbye Hiroto.” His arm reached out and grabbed her and he pulled her against him, knocking the breath from her. 

    “Don’t say that to me. Anything but that.” She looked up at him, eyes wide. His fingers gently stroked her cheek. 

    “I do not expect you to forgive me so quickly. I am prepared for that. To wait. But, let me tell you one thing. I’m not going anywhere. Not until your heart heals and once again you let me dwell there. I let you go before. I will not make that mistake a second time. However long it takes Rae, I’ll wait for you.” He gently ran his thumb across her bottom lip, 

    “I love you.” He let her go and she stood there, still. Words didn’t exist as she watched him walk away from her. Deep within the recesses of her heart, she cried out for him. Deep within, her heart answered him. I love you too. 










    Lips crashed against each other, the hunger that existed only growing stronger. There were too many things in the room, too much in the way. Her hands pulled him closer, her breath becoming one with his. So dizzy… the room spun like a top and she found them on the floor, her back against the hardwood. Her chest lifted and fell against his, her heart beat fast. She looked up at him, her fingers fisting his shirt. His eyes spoke loudly to her before his lips found hers again. She wrapped her arms around his neck. Her mind was cloudy and the only thing she wanted was him. Despite everything within her telling her no. He lifted her up into his arms and she wrapped her legs around him as he stood. Her fingers tightened in his silky strands and she breathed against his Adam’s apple until she heard a crash. Glancing down, she saw plates and silverware scattered on the floor. He’d placed her down on her short dining room table. 

    “Hiroto…” He didn’t say anything, just gripped the linen under them in his fingers. His cheeks were flushed pink, his lips bruised a rosy red, eyes burning with desire. 

    “This is a mistake.” His voice was low and throaty. She gripped his shoulders. His hands shoved some more plates off of the table and leaned her back against the table linen. Fingers slid up the exposed skin of her thigh, bringing it higher up his waist. 

    “We’ve had plenty of mistakes.” She replied, her voice hushed. 

    “All ones I don’t regret.” She pressed her heel against his bottom, pushing him against her. He took a shaky breath against her shoulder. 

    “Rae…” He breathed against the tender skin. 


    “We can’t.” It was accurate to say they shouldn’t. It had risen until it exploded and she wasn’t sure when the bare skin of his back called her fingers so much. She wanted to let the desire between them bathe them until the dream of becoming one was made reality. She had fought but sometimes, she just grew tired. 

    “I know. But I want to…” He reached up and tangled his fingers in her hair. 

    “I wonder if this is a dream… if I open my eyes will you disappear?” She leaned up and kissed him. 

    “This is not a dream Hiroto. I’m real. Can’t you feel me?” How shameless… she was in this moment. She should be ashamed of herself, moving her hips against his in the way that she did. But… she couldn’t bring herself to care. He groaned and bit his lip, digging his fingers into her hips. 

    “I miss you… I need you…” She whispered, causing him to groan again, a low soft rumble. He slid a hand down to grip her waist, her legs spread slightly on the table. 

    “I want to take it away… this need.” 

    “Please.” He reached up to caress her cheek. 

    “We’ve played quite enough games Ebere. I am not in a playing type of mood this time….” She gripped his wrist. 

    “I’m not either.” He leaned down over her and she felt his lips press against hers. His hand on her waist pulled her down, closer until she felt him firm and warm against her inner thigh. She gasped against his lips. The gaze behind his sleepy lids, the way he seemed to be fighting, the messy strands of hair…all of it aroused her so much. 

    “I’m going to get up. I’m going to leave.” 

    “No… stay…” 

    “Staying will only make things worse. Believe me Ebere. I want to. I want to give you what your body is asking me for. But I won’t.” He let his hands slide away from her and he stiffly stood back, his fingers tight in a fist. She swallowed thickly and sat up, her legs closing. 


    “We’re not in our right mind.” 

    “I beg to differ.” 

    “You have someone right?” 

    “Yes but-”

    “No buts. I have someone too. We must respect this… for now.” He turned away from her. She got up and ran after him, wrapping her arms around his waist. 


    “Even if I do not love her, it remains that we are in a relationship. Allow me to handle that first. Work out whatever you need to with your boyfriend. I won’t touch you again. Not until I can call you mine for sure. Only when you are mine and mine alone. That is when I will let my body speak what my heart wants to say.” She slowly let go of him. He took a breath. 

    “When you are my wife… when your body belongs to me…we won’t have to wait. Or fight.” He turned around and smiled softly. He placed a hand on top of her head and gently ruffled her hair. 

    “That much hasn’t changed about you.” 

    “What do you mean?” A cheeky grin slid across his lips. 

    “You throwing yourself at me. My, you really want what’s in my pants hm?” She sucked her teeth and shoved him. 

    “Shut up Hiroto.” 

    “Ah you didn’t say no.”     

    “So… what if I do?” He chuckled lowly and pulled her against him. His hand slid down her body and playfully teased the skin of her inner thigh, bringing a gasp to her. 

    “I want you right here too. I want to touch you here and maybe… maybe even taste you here.”  Her cheeks grew hot as a summer’s day and she gripped his wrist. How easy it would be for him to just go for it. She kinda wanted him to. He was so close but so far away. 


    “Someday… someday I will.” He pulled his fingers away from her and slid them into his pockets. 

    “But, for now… for now… I will act like I should.” 

    “That’s impossible for you.” 

    “Not so. I’ve been good this far haven’t I?” He playfully winked at her and she rolled her eyes. 

    “Get out Hiroto.” He laughed before grabbing his coat. 

    “I thought you wanted me to stay.” She pushed his arm. 

    “Not no mo. Go.” He poked her forehead. 

    “I’m going.” She huffed as she tried to push him out the door. He walked slowly, nearly cackling at her feeble attempts before finally making it outside. She gripped her skirt and pushed it down, covering her thighs. 

    “Good night you jerk.” He laughed and shook his head. 

    “Good night beautiful.” As she watched him get into his car and drive away, she sighed. She’d missed their playful banter, his cheeky grins and laughter. Even still after 10 years, he managed to make her act like a blushing little school girl. Smiling to herself, she bit her lip. She was grateful at least one of them had a right mind. She was not a hormonal teenager anymore but whenever he was around, she went crazy. She needed to get her whole entire life. That man there… while she still had a ways to go in forgiving him… he was melting the ice she had built around her heart. Slowly, it was turning into the forgiveness they both wanted and needed. If she kept herself straight… maybe they could plant a new seed and start over. She think she wanted that. To start over. With the only man she think she would ever love.





End Notes:

A/N: hehe well? I hope you guys enjoy them! :) I have started to write of course but for some reason it is not flowing the way I want. Perhaps now with some teasers, I will know how to begin. I will see you all soon! Take care and God bless! 


Sunray into the sky, bright and yellow~ <3 


characters* by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:

Hey y'all. I wanted to use this chapter to introduce the characters :) 


As you know, there is Rae and Hiroto. 


But I wanted to include members of both families. 

The Marshalls: 


Kendrick Marshall (Rae's father) 


Shaundra Marshall (Rae's Mother) 


Tre Marshall (Rae's brother) 


Amee Marshall (Rae's sister) 


Adonis Bosso as Kwasame Jones (Rae's boyfriend) 



Rae's boss: Antonio Rossi 




The Iwase family 


Ken Watanabe as Iwase Shou (Hiroto's father) 

Ichiko Hashimoto as Iwase Eri (Hiroto's mother) 

Noa "Kiko" Miyamae (Hiroto's girlfriend) 

Yuzuru Hanyu as Nakamura Tobu


End Notes:

Thank you! You are free to imagine them how you wish! I just wanted to give a visual of them as they are in my mind :) <3 I am working on chapter three now :) <3 Take care and God bless! <3 

That Girl by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:

First chapter here we go! Wheee~







A girl sat in a chair bruised and thin. She scooped food up with shaky fingers and stuffed her mouth full, eyes voraciously searching for more. 

    “Shaundra.” A voice called out into the room. The girl disregard what was said and shoved all she could into her mouth, barely swallowing.  

    “Not another one.” 

    “Look at her. Poor thing. She must have been starved for days.” 

    “Where did you find her?” There was silence. 

    “Did you bring her in here from outside?” More silence. Then, 

    “Slow down honey. The table ain’t going anywhere.” At that, finally the girl looked up to meet the woman’s eyes. Wild almost feral into calm but sad. 


    “She’s staying here.”

    “Says who?”

    “Says me.”

    “This is my house.”

    “It is our house. I pay half the bills and keep my share. Last time I checked that ring on my finger gave me equal amount of say.” There was quiet. 

    “Look at her Kendrick. We can’t let her go back out there.” A long heavy sigh. 

    “Fine. She’ll sleep in our guest room. But only after she’s clean.”

    “But of course.” 




    That girl had showered and slept on a bed that felt like clouds. She had watched all the dirt melt off of her body and turn the water a rich dark color. She had sat still as fingers gently combed through her water softened matts and naps and when the comb ran through smooth, the fingers plaited her hair. She fell into the pillows and smelled the soft clean scent of freshly washed laundry. All the while stroking her belly. All the while eying the window, wondering. Fearing. Thinking it all was too good to be true and soon he would come through the door and pull her back out into the cold dark world. But he never came. One night turned into two. Two turned into four. Four into a month. Soon, she had been slowly accepted into the family of people who had kindly given her a bed and bath and plenty of food. That girl had gone through so much and met so many people. Traveled the world. Fell in love. That girl had had her heart broken brutally. And now… now that girl had grown up into a woman. 


    “Next stop: Bronx.” Fingers tightly held the handle as the train came to a stop. Letting go, she stepped into the open air and sighed. It was spring time and the birds chirped happily. All around her was green. Vitality and life, rebirth and regrowth. She had been the color of blue for so long but finally, she felt as if she too could be the color of green. In the midst of her thoughts, her phone rang. Plucking it out of her purse, she answered. 

    “Nug?” She sucked her teeth. Her brother.  

    “What’s up?” 

    “We still on for dinner with Moms later on tonight?” 

    “Yeah not unless anything changed.” 

    “Nah. Just wanted to make sure we were still on. You know how you be gettin busy randomly.” She chuckled. 

    “Yeah, thank my boss for that.” 

    “How is that dude anyway? Still tryna get with you?” 

    “As ever.” 

    “Do you need me to come up there and talk to him?” She laughed. 

    “Hold your horses. I’m good.” Tre snorted. 

    “Nah. Ion know… I wanna keep an eye on him.”

    “You mean lowkey creep.” Tre laughed. 

    “Well.” Sucking her teeth, she continued to walk. 

    “I got my boss. Don’t you worry bout that.” 

    “I can’t help but worry. Dude act kinda fast with the flowers and ish.” 

    “I can handle it. Besides, I’m not a baby anymore Tremaine. I’m 28 years old. I think your time as baby sitter has long since passed.” Tre snort again. 

    “It ain’t ever gon be over. You always gon be my baby sister.”  

    “I know. I can’t ever get rid of you huh?” He laughed. 

    “Nope.” She playfully rolled her eyes. 

    “Well guard dog, I’m gon to work.”  He burst out laughing. 

    “Guard dog… that’s cold. Well okay.”

    “Was there somethin else you wanted while you trailin me?”

    “Nah. We good.” 

    “Aiight then. Bye Tre.”

    “Bye Nugget.”     She smiled to herself. Tre was such a good brother even if he got on her last nerve. She stepped into her place of work and smiled at the co workers. Finally, it seemed as if life was coming around full circle. It had taken quite a while and she had been hurt for so long. But now, she felt she finally could breathe and return to normalcy. There were some things about her past that she still had to forgive… but for the most part… she was happy. She think she deserved happiness more than anything. On her way to the elevator, her phone rang again. Smiling at the name on the screen, she bit her lip and answered. 


    “Where are you?” 

    “Where are you?” She heard a small chuckle on the phone. 

    “I believe I am about to come to your floor in a moment. Will you be there?” 

    “I think so.” 

    “Well, I’ll see you in a moment.” 

    “How do you know I’m even in the building?” 

    “I saw your car in the parking lot.”

    “So you creepin…”

    “It wasn’t creepin.”

    “Mm. Well, I’m getting on now.”

    “All right.” The caller hung up and she felt her cheeks get hot. She sighed and couldn’t keep the smile off of her face. She anticipated the minute the elevator stopped and as soon as it hit her floor, she gripped the bar inside the elevator. The doors slowly opened and she peeked out only to see no one there. Hm… She walked out into the hallway and heard a clearing of the throat. She smiled, turning to see him standing there. Him. Kwasame Jones. Her baby. The company’s very own janitor. And oh how good he looked in the long grey overalls, the shape hugging the hard earned muscles of his body. Perhaps her treat was the button or two that was undone, showing the crisp white crew neck shirt and a peek of his neck. 

    “Hello there handsome.” He smiled and uncrossed his arms. 

    “Hello my Queen.” 

    “Did you make it here okay?” He nodded, a handsome smile on his face. 

    “Sure did. I wasn’t sure I was going to catch you.” His British-accented voice melted every syllable like a flame. 

    “I am here early.”

    “I don’t work this floor you know. I had to make up an excuse to even come up here.” She pulled him closer and pressed her cheek against his bicep. 

    “I’m sorry for makin things complicated.”  She sighed as he wrapped his arms around her. 

    “Says who? Besides, it’s worth it. Every time I can see even a peek of you my day is better.” 


    “Rae, don’t worry about it. This will be enough for now. I’ll have to see you later.” She tightened her grip on him. 

    “I don’t wanna let you go teddy.” He smiled against her and pressed his lips against her temple. 

    “Come on little lady. It won’t be too bad. We’ll see each other before you know it.” She let him go and he lifted her face in his strong rough hands. 

    “I love you.” He didn’t wait for her answer and gently kissed her lips before letting her go. 

    “Have a great day.” She waved as he slowly made his way back into the elevator. 

    “You too. I’ll see you later teddy.” She sighed and turned to come to two big glass doors. Stepping inside, she smiled at the co-workers and office assistants who had come in early. 

    “Morning y’all.” 

    “Mornin Rae.” 

    “Why you here so early? You come to see your janitor?” Rae rolled her eyes. 

    “Was it that obvious?” One of her co-workers Shelley grinned and peeked out from her cubicle. 

    “Is it obvious? Girl you practically run to him every time we pass him on the 5th floor. I know you wanna go that way just to get a glance at him.” She sucked her teeth. 

    “I do not.” 

    “Ebere, come on girl. You’ve been so stubborn with that man. He totally has the hots for you.” 

    “He better.” She grumbled under her breath but cleared her throat. 

    “Okay we aren’t going to talk about my love life this morning. Where is Mr. Rossi? Has he arrived yet?” Shelley nodded. 

    “You know he arrives earliest than everyone. Probably has his morning coffee already.” She nodded and sent a gentle smile her way before smoothing down her skirt. Today, this day, she was going to ask for a promotion. She felt it was due time. Overdue really. She had worked as an intern for his business firm straight out of undergrad and slowly but surely worked her way up to being senior executive assistant. She was almost like his right hand woman and held him and everything about this place together. She wasn’t sure how many years more he was going to expect her to be in this position but this was going to be her fourth year. Shelley smiled as she looked her over. 

    “Going in for the ask?” 


    “I’m waiting for you to pop up in one of our business meetings. Just walk in there and steal the show.” She laughed and ran fingers through her hair nervously. 

    “That will be soon I hope if this all goes well.” 

    “It will! You’ve been an Exec Assistant for so long Rae. You deserve it out of all of us.” She looked up at her. 

    “Shelley, you work harder than any of us. If anybody deserves a promotion, you do.” Shelley waved her hands. 

    “We both work harder than anybody in this whole place. But I have some time left. You deserve it because you have such a big dream. I want to see you succeed Rae.” She blushed, her cheeks warm and bit her lip. 

    “Thank you Shells. Truly.”  Shelley stuck up her thumb and winked. 

    “Go get em girl. You got this thing.” She took a deep breath and turned around, standing up straight. Shoulders back. Head high. It was time to go get her dream. 



    “Ms. Marshall, you may come in. He will see you now.” She got up from the plush chair in his lobby. Smoothing down her clothes, she calmly followed the receptionist back until she came to his office. Seeing him brought a polite smile to her face. He thanked the receptionist. 

    “Well hello there Ms. Marshall.” 

    “Hello Mr. Rossi.” 

    “Have you completed those assignments I sent you?” She nodded. 

    “Sure did. I always do.” 

    “So very well. Thank you.” 

    “It isn’t a problem.” He eyed her appearance, a small smirk coming to his face. 

    “You look especially beautiful today. Were you trying to impress me?” She rolled her eyes. 

    “May I speak informally with you Mr. Rossi?”  He playfully grinned and steepled his fingers together. 

    “Sure. We’ve known each other for a considerable amount of time. But only this one time.” 

    “Of course.” He leaned back into his executive chair. 

    “What is the matter?” She eyed him straight and direct. 

    “I ain’t come here to play games with you.” 

    “What game?” 

    “The one where we go back and forth about me letting you take me out on a date.” He chuckled. 

    “You still will not accept my offer?”

    “What exactly are you offering me Antonio?”

    “I can offer you seven or possibly even eight figures.” 

    “Ah. Why have you not thought of this offer before this morning?” 

    “It is perhaps a selfish reason.” 

    “Which is?” 

    “To be perfectly honest with you Ebere, I don’t want to promote you because I don’t want to lose you in the position you are in now.” She pursed her lips. 

    “You must like me in the position I’m in very much Antonio.” He chuckled, a faint redness spreading across his cheeks. 

    “I do. I like having you where I have access to you at all times. The thought of losing that is distressing to me.” 

    “So you don’t want to promote me because you like having control over me? Am I getting that right?” His dark eyes finally flickered up to hers, having been aligned with his fingers until then. 

    “Selfish I know. But you are a damn good employee. If it were not for you, I would be a mess. Both in business and otherwise. You deserve all of the good things I can give to you.” 

    “What is it you want? Surely, you haven’t pursued me outside of work for four years for nothing. There has to be something you want.” His gaze didn’t drop. 

    “I am aware that you are fraternizing with the help.” At that, she stiffened. 

    “I’m sorry?” He scoffed. 

    “Come now Ebere. You deserve so much more. Much better than a dirty janitor. You are a woman who should be pampered, clothed in gold. treated like the royalty you are. How can that man give you that?” 

    “How dare you!  How the hell do you know what it is I want? Do you think I can be bought with money and material things?”  His gaze was serious and intense and if she were not angry, it would have made her slightly uncomfortable. 

    “I do not think you understand what it is I am saying to you Ebere.” 

    “Spell it out for me cause clearly I must have missed it in between your flowers, chocolates and arrogant attitude.” He sighed and let his hands fall on the desk. 

    “I am in love with you.” She blinked, not quite sure if she was hearing correctly. Maybe she was dreaming and hadn’t woke up yet. She stayed still and blinked over and over, silent. Where was this coming from and why so sudden?

    “Have you heard me?” Quiet for the longest until she could provide the best answer she could come up with, 

    “You’ve fallen in love with the wrong woman.” 

    “Have I? Can not one night away from the office with me change your mind? Perhaps if you see me in normal clothes and house slippers you will have a change of heart.” Even in the seriousness of the situation, the corner of her mouth twitched in a smile. That would be quite the picture indeed. She wasn’t sure if she could mentally handle not seeing him in his business suit and quite unconventional messy bun. He was a young business owner and in that youth reflected quite liberal attitudes when it came to his appearance and business affairs. But for the most part, he was a genius and his business was and would continue to be very successful for many years to come. In her years of working for him, she had begun to know the personal side of who he was, as much as she tried not to marry business with personal. It wasn’t something either of them had expected but in the time together, she could call him a friend. However awkward it was to be friends with your boss. But even so, the only thing she could give him was her friendship and professional service. That was all she wanted to give him. 

    “Antonio, I have a relationship. Regardless of if you approve of him or even like him is not a concern of mine. He makes me happy and I care about him very much. As for your offer, if you want anything other than my friendship I cannot do it. If you desire to force me to accept your offer then I will not work here any longer. I understand that I am being very bold but I have stood by you, lifted you up when those around you sought to destroy you and helped you pick up the pieces of your life again. The truth is it has nothing to do with my boyfriend really. You don’t want to lose me at all. You need me. That is fine. I will be what you need as long as you understand that I will not jeopardize my relationship with my significant other. Ours is a friendship I treasure Antonio. Please do not make me choose.” 

    The man before her had hung his head and it looked so uncharacteristic of him. He always held his head up high, never defeated. She didn’t recognize him. He slid up and ran fingers through his hair. 

    “Rae…” He slowly stood up from his desk and came towards her. 

    “What are you-?”

    “This will be the only time you will see me like this…” He pulled her against him in a hug and she stood still. 

    “You’re an amazing woman.” 

    “Give me your word Antonio.” 


    “Give your word that you will not do anything to harm Mr. Jones.” His arms tightened around her shoulders. 

    “Harm him?” 

    “He works for your company. You don’t like me with him. Get it?” 

    “Ah,” He slowly pulled away from her and cleared his throat. 

    “I won’t do anything to get in his way. You’re a woman even I can not hope to be with. You are on a level simply your own and the man who reaches you there is a lucky one indeed.” She breathed a visible sigh of relief. 

    “Thank God.” 

    “Ebere… what has happened and what has been said will not leave this office is that clear?”     

    “Crystal sir.” Just like that, they had fallen back into the corporate vernacular. 

    “Good. Well then, you are free to go.” 

    “Go sir?” 

    “Yes. You are free until lunch time. I expect my next set of meetings and schedules to be prepared and left at my secretary’s desk by the end of the day.” 

    “You got it.” He sighed and sat back in his chair. She clenched her fists and tightly pursed her lips as she turned to go. 

    “One more thing.” 

    “Yes sir?” 

    “Congratulations. You’ve been promoted.”  She spun and eyed him, her eyes wide. 


    “You’ve been promoted. Congrats. You’ve earned it.” She barely contained her squeal and yelped for joy. 

    “Thank you… thank you sir!” 

    “It is nothing. You don’t realize I was testing you do you?”

    “I’m sorry?” 

    “I wanted to see how far you would go if I offered you what you rightfully deserve or more. Would you be like the other women and agree to go with me to dinner and later my apartment… or decline with your integrity. I am impressed Ms. Marshall.” She couldn’t stop the blush that warmed her cheeks. He sighed with a smile. 

    “So pretty. You better go before I think about Mr. Jones.” 

    “You wouldn’t. You gave me your word.” 

    “That I did. Damn that I did.” He said with a playful smile. She pursed her lips but opened the door. 

    “Thank you again.” 



    “I got it.” 

    “Oh my God! Congratulations!” 

    “Rae got promoted?!” 

    “Yeah! Finally. That man should have promoted you long time ago.” 

    “This deserves drinks tonight!” 

    “Yeah! Come with Rae!” 

    “Okay. Sure.” She laughed as the busy worker bees excitedly swarmed her. The light flying feeling hadn’t left her yet and she was happy. Finally. 

    “All right, let’s get back to work before Mr. Rossi comes out of his office.” They scurried to do their respective jobs and she smiled as she began to get started. The life of a worker bee never stopped. But in the end wasn’t it all worth it?

End Notes:

A/N: Hey y'all! First chapter! It took forever! Class and midterms upcoming and my flow was just not there for a minute. <3 What do you think of the girl who grew up into a woman? I have some characters I will add in a seperate chapter :) I hope you all enjoy it. I plan to work on the next chapter soon but no promises. I want to be able to keep my word. <3 Thank you for understanding! :D Love you! 

That Boy by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:

THANK YOU FOR RECOMMENDING TRANSCENDENCE FOR A FEATURED STORY! It was quite a shock to see, I had no idea that it even was on the radar like that. I am so honored guys and so blessed! Thank you! This really means so much! Thank you Chamber fam! *kisses and hugs* 

-D&L <3 



The wind howled, the crisp cold cutting straight it seemed to the very sinew and bone. All around was mist, thick and heavy. The moon was high and bright and the darkness of the clouds quietly moved. He stood in the middle of an empty road. Quiet. Still. Curling wisps of vapor teased his skin, bringing goosebumps. And in the time it stood still, slowly she would appear. Soft, almost dancing on the wind like an ember of flame. Her brown foot bare touched the ground and from it a burst of butterflies sprung forth, leaving warm sunny ground in its wake. She would come to him and he could do nothing but stare. He tried several times to reach out to her and touch her but found it wasn’t possible. She didn’t open her mouth but there sat on her full lips a smile. She smiled as though she was free of any and all pain. Her eyes didn’t hold the hatred he expected but rather only neutrality. Familiarity. The moment he would open his mouth to say, “Are you content? Are you happy?” the dream would end. And he would wake up, his body wet with sweat. Through the years, these dreams had come to him almost every night it seemed, tormenting him. He couldn’t live with the guilt of hurting the woman he once called his. But over time, the dreams grew less frequent and he had guarded his heart with an iron wall.

    Glancing over at the woman who laid in his bed, he tightened his jaw. The sight of her once brought the feeling of repulsion. He didn’t want to touch her, see her or even talk to her.  She was what a lot of men would kill for: Beautiful, smart and rich. And whether he wanted to or not, ten years with her had produced attachment. He couldn’t say he absolutely hated her… not anymore. He wasn’t a young man any more and reality had become more important than idle fantasy. Reality had a rather cruel way of sobering you up. He was 28 years old now. His biological clock was ticking and he was feeling the pressure. The pressure to procreate. To marry. He wanted children. He wanted marriage. Just not with her. 

    It was foolish to desire someone you couldn’t have, who had been long gone and more than likely had a good life. He had tried to move on with his life. But he couldn’t help and wonder about her. What was she doing now? What was her life like? Had she found someone else? Memories of her laughter fluttered in his mind like the sweetest melody.  He still could remember the soft press of her lips and the overwhelming sweetness that flowed from them like honey. Sensations and feelings that haunted him.  

    He sat up and moved the leg that had been thrown over him. Placing his feet on the cool floor, he made his way onto his balcony. The early morning was approaching, the sky starting to show signs of the sun. Running fingers through his hair, he leaned on the banister and let the cool air flow through his fingers.When he thought of his life, it was full of mistakes. Things in his past that he wanted to make right. If not for anyone else but for him. He wished he could live without regret. He wanted to live as he once did… Could he honestly fall truly and madly in love again? Could he trust that woman with his heart and soul, his body and mind? He wasn’t sure if there was another who could love so openly as the girl who still lived in his dreams. Was it horrible that he considered trying? Through the years he had grown tired. Worn down. So close to giving in.

    “Hiro?” A soft voice called out in the quietness. A voice so sweet and gentle yet nothing like… like hers. 


    “Is everything okay?” He took a deep breath, unconsciously fingering the tiny chain around his neck. It had been a source of pain for him but now he wore it as a sign of survival and of love. Once his heart was broken but it would once again be whole. Someday. 

    “Go back to sleep.” He heard sheets shift and soon felt arms come around his waist. 

    “What’s wrong?” 

    “It’s nothing.” He pulled her arms off of him. “Go back to sleep.”

    “Why do you do this? Why don’t you let me in?” He looked at her. 

    “I’ve said enough. I don’t think you need to hear anymore.” 


    “Would you like something to eat?” She sighed and pressed her cheek into his shoulder blade. 

    “We can have our maids fetch us something, Why must you dirty your own hands?”  He pulled away from her and started to head back into the bedroom. 

    “I simply asked you if you were hungry Noa.” Now she understood how she was starting to cross into a boundary he didn’t want to bother going.  Rarely had he ever called her by her given name. She gave up with a sigh. 

    “Do as you wish.” It had been discouraged but still he did it. It wasn’t becoming of a man to cook. It wasn’t becoming of an Iwase man to dirty his hands when he didn’t need to. But, his hands rather liked the dirt. He said not another word and made his way into the kitchen. She didn’t follow him. Alone with the pots and pans, he felt peace; like he could regain a little piece of himself that he feared he had lost along the way. 



    “Mr. Iwase? Mr. Iwase!” The voice of a woman screeched into the phone, making him stiffen. Clearing his throat, he licked his lips. 

    “What is it?” 

    “Were you listening to me?” 

    “No.” The woman sighed deeply. 

    “I was telling you that your mother has been sent to the hospital. Perhaps you will visit her?” Lips grew thin. 

    “I have work to do.” Surely, the woman on the other line was shocked, her silence stunned. 

    “You won’t visit your own mother?” 

    “She will live.” 

    “M-Mr. Iwase…”     

    “If you have nothing else to report then thank you.” 

    “Y-yes sir.” He hung up the phone and got up from his desk. He went to stand in front of the large glass window encasing his office. Down below, the tiny specks that were cars and people fascinated him. How high up he was. But, he wished he could be down there with the rest of the ordinary society. 

    “Hiroto?” Turning, he faced the woman to whom he was obligated to marry. Obligations, obligations. They were a funny thing. 

    “Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be at the hospital with my mother?”  Too hard. His tone seemed to cut right to her heart. She swallowed and looked down. 

    “I wanted to see you. I told Mother I would bring you.” A vein in his temple twitched. 

    “Noa, I have work to do. Please go back to the hospital.” 

    “Will I be getting in your way?” He sighed and walked past her to sit back down in his chair. 

    “Must you be so cold? I just wanted to see you.” 

    “Come. Sit.”  She took a shaky breath and sat down across from him. 

    “How is she?” He asked as he flipped through some papers. 

    “You should ask her yourself.” Her response was met with silence. 

    “Have you eaten lunch yet? I brought you something just in case you hadn’t.” At that, he looked up and to his chagrin, his stomach growled as if to thank her. She laughed. 

    “I’m glad I did.” He nodded, his expression cool. 

    “I will eat then.” 

    “Please.” He put the papers down and grabbed the outstretched bento she held in her hands. She suddenly looked ten times happier and smiled as she gave him some hashi. Opening a small container, she waited until he began to eat before taking a bite of hers. 

    “Can I ask you something?” He looked at her. 

    “Why must you call me by that name?” 

    “It is the name you were given at birth. Why would I not call you that?” She fidgeted, chewing slowly. 

    “Not many women in Japan are named Noa. Not any I’ve come across.” He continued,  chewing some vegetables. 

    “It’s so strange don’t you think? It’s not a normal name.” 

    “You would prefer then that I call you Kiko?” 


    “May I ask why?” 

    “I like it better. It sounds better. Normal.” 


    “Besides, you call me my given name only when you are irritated.” He kept quiet, his silence his answer. She sighed and they continued to eat in silence before he gently closed the box and returned it and hashi back to her. 

    “Thank you.” She smiled and nodded. 

    “It is nothing.” 

    “You should be going now. I’m sure my mother is waiting on your return.” She smiled softly. 

    “You are probably right.” She got up and got her things. 

    “Walk me to the door?” At her insistence, he got up and slowly walked her to the door. 

    “Thank you for coming.” She stopped and looked up at him. 

    “Are you really happy I came?” 


    “Well… then I’ll come by again.” 


    “I’m off then. Please work hard.” 

    “Of course.” She reached up and laid a hand softly on his cheek. He grew still. 

    “Can I tell you something? Truthfully?” He tightened his jaw but gave her a nod. 

    “Just once… One time is all I ask.” 


    “My lips to meet yours.” Her eyes grew watery and she sighed and let her hand fall from his skin. 

    “I know you do not like me much Hiroto. I have tried to convince myself  in these past ten years that you would open your heart and let me take all the pain you feel away. But in truth, I am still a woman. I have feelings. It breaks my heart to know you don’t… you don’t want me. So I think… what must I do to make him notice me? Is it my figure? Is it my hair? It hurts to think about it. Please tell me what it is so I can fix it…” He swallowed thickly and reached up to wipe the tears that had fallen from her eyes. Such big brown eyes they were. 

    “Kiko…I am a difficult man. I cannot promise you the happiness you desire. I cannot promise that my heart shall open to you.” She bit her lip and more tears fell. She gripped his wrist with her dainty fingers. 

    “I love you Hiroto. I love you so much. Even if you never fully love me… could even a portion of it be mine?” 

    “Look at me.” She brought her teary gaze to his. 

    “The pain I have caused you… I am sorry. Your eyes should not be full of tears…” She sighed. 

    “I will do whatever I have to… I won’t lose you…” He pulled her against him in a hug. She blinked, shimmery tears wetting her eyelashes. 

    “I will try. I cannot promise you anything. It cannot be the love you want.”  

    “I don’t care… I just want to be with you.”  He looked at her fingers which gripped him. 

    “Kiko, I do have affection for you.” She lifted her head and looked into his eyes.

    “Can you show me? Please… this once Hiro..” He sighed heavily.

    “Will it help soothe the pain within your heart?” She nodded once and gripped his suit jacket as he took her face in his hands. He leaned down and breathed against her lips, hesitation making him stop. He had come to realize that indeed Kiko was a fragile woman. If he didn’t handle her carefully, he might shatter her. Another woman’s heart destroyed from his doing was something he didn’t think he could take. He pressed his lips against hers. His eyes remained open yet hers fluttered closed so easily. A sigh left her. He looked at her, his lips not quite as soft against hers. She tried to deepen the kiss but much too soon he had had enough. Everything about it felt wrong. Pulling back from her, he straightened. 

    “You should go.” She blinked, a pretty blush highlighting her cheeks. 

    “Ah… y-yes…” She bit her lip as she bowed and walked away from him, a dreamy expression on her face. Once he was alone, he wiped his mouth with his fingers and sat back down at his desk. That was somewhere he couldn’t go with her. It may break her heart but he couldn’t let the loneliness with them both bust from the seams and overflow. That would be a mistake.



    The waves were familiar to him and they seemed to be happy to greet him. The sand still warm from the hot sun. He heard a sigh behind him and turned to see Tobu. Out of all the people who had come and gone in his life, Tobu remained one of his closest friends. While all else sought to destroy him, he had been there to hold him up. Tobu too had aged and he wore it well. The scrawny kid had grown up and into his body, the muscle he worked hard for adding to the leanness. He was bigger than he was in high school but that wasn’t all that had changed about him. He still blushed a lot, especially when he was drunk. But the shyness that had consumed him as a teenager had disappeared. He had let the world teach him a few things and now he was one of the most outspoken people he had met. It was quite a contrast from their high school days but it was a welcome one. Even still, Tobu was still Tobu. Flirtatious when he felt like it and boyishly charming. His brother. Brothers until the end. 

    “What are you doing here?”

    “I came because you needed me. Right?” 


    “I was deciding on my way here if I was going to beat your ass.” He snort. 

    “Why so violent?” 

    “Don’t ask me stupid questions Hiroto-kun.” 


    “How have you been?” 

    “My days are the same. There is no change.” Tobu kept quiet and watched the waves lap at his feet for a while. 

    “It has been a while since we’ve had time to hang out. I haven’t eaten really good food and drank good sake in a while.” He smiled. 

    “Same here. Perhaps we can soon. I need to look at my schedule.” 

    “Your schedule huh? Man, who knew that you would actually grow up to follow in your father’s footsteps. When we were kids… I thought you would do something different. Be someone different. Now… now you’re the same as every other man out there.” 

    “Except you.” Tobu grinned. 

    “The business world and I don’t mix well Hiro-kun. You know that. I’m more of a free spirit.” 

    “Well you need to free spirit yourself into an actual career.” They shared a laugh. 

    “You sound like my father.” 


    “I suppose I’ll figure it out.” 

    “Mm.” Things grew quiet and he closed his eyes. 

    “Hiroto, I need something from you.” He looked up at Tobu, who looked at him seriously. 

    “What is it?” 

    “I need you to stop playing games.” He blinked.

    “Playing games?” 

    “With that girl. With yourself.” 


    “I don’t like her. I never liked her and I never will. She’s not the one I envisioned getting married to you.” 


    “But we’re both getting too old to be playing kiddie games. Pining over a woman you let go is wasting your time. And your life. I can’t stand to watch you anymore. You have two choices. Marry Kiko and do what your family wants or stay out of it and forge your own path.” He was quiet. 

    “It’s been ten years Hiroto-kun. You’re not getting any younger and you’re not as lively as you used to be.” He swallowed tightly. 

    “You’re really giving me this advice?” 

    “I’m your best friend. Even if I still want to kill you for what you did… at some point… I just… I want to stop this. It’s time you made peace with it.” 

    “With Rae you mean.” It had been so long since he had actually said her name out loud and the sound of it on his tongue was rough and unused. 

    “You said it not me.” 

    “But what is what you implied.” 

    “I will never accept you with Kiko. She was never the right one for you. But that’s none of my business.” 


    “You’ve let your mother suck you dry and kill who you are. You may not be a child anymore but will you let yourself die without a fight? Where was the boy who looked at me with such determination and fire? Has he died too?” He clenched his fists together. 

    “One of the things Rae did for you was set you free. She covered you with such light that you dared to stand up and speak for yourself. Will you rest in the shadow of your mother or will you be bold once again? Think about it my friend.” He gently slapped his back. 

    “This time…. do it nice and soft. Don’t be so rash and impulsive. These things take time and much careful planning. Whatever it is you do, let it be strategic and effective.” He looked at his friend, who grinned boyishly and felt a smirk come to his face. 

    “I don’t think that boy was dead. I think he was just sleeping. Now he’s ready to reappear. As a man.” Tobu grinned wider. 

    “That’s what the hell I’m talking about. I’m with you Hiro-kun. Till the end.”


End Notes:

A/N: Hey guys! Chapter 2 is up! Man, the creative bug has bit me lol. Woo. Another chapter written right after the first one. I hope I can keep this up. I will have to stop for a while though. Midterms are next week and I have quite a bit of studying to do. I hope in that time (or after) I can write more. I believe I have a break coming up too so yasssss! You know what that means lol. First and formost, my babyy Hiroto is back y'all. *sniffs* He (unlike Rae) has not had the best life after LOL. He wasn't going to anyway. I was not going to make his life easy peasy. He is riddled with memories and has really struggled to move on with his life. I think this is a wonderful introductory chapter because it shows the struggle he has had. The relationship with Kiko is another that I wanted to emphasize. Originally, I was going to have him hate her and treat her like crap LOL. But, realistically I think that after 10 years of being around her and at some point living with her, he would form attachment and even affection to and for her. It's normal, it's something we can't stop or prevent lol. I think instead of trying to look at Kiko as this crazy woman, I'm trying to show her in a more humanistic light. She really does love Roto. Now, a question to ask and keep for later is: 



Another thing is I encourage questions! Please ask them, as many of them as you would like. I like when you guys are thinking about it! I really enjoy when you guys leave comments and reviews so please make sure to do that. They not only make me happy but they give me an idea of a direction I can take the story, concerns and comments to add or factor into the story and criticisms I can use to improve my writing, etc. Reviews are more important than you may be aware! :D <3 


Two: MY BABY TOBUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Okay so I really see Tobu as the brother Hiroto never had and I had to hold off on introducing him too much lol. That might overlap into his own story and I reallllly cannot wait to write about bruh man here lol. I love the way he has matured and grown and how deep he is down for his bro Roto. I think Tobu's shyness as a teenager was so cute and I think that it is only appropriate that now as a man he is less shy and more direct. He definitely showed signs of being direct when addressing Emi so it was there. <3 *sighs happily* Tobu don gon and grew up into a very sexy attractive man. I couldn't be more proud. Now, I need Hiroto to glo up too lol. <3 He gon come up on that glo glo y'all. Trust and believe lol. 


Till next time, 


God bless and thanks for reading! <3



 (Yuzuru is so cute y'all <3)

Black Coffee by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:








India.Arie- Brown Skin 



Drink glasses clinked together and laughter was loud and plentiful. 

    “I can’t believe you got promoted!” Her mother exclaimed, still in shock. 

    “Why is that so hard to believe?” Her father asked her, taking a sip of his beer. 

    “I know Rae can do anything. But she had been exec assistant for so long. I was starting to think he wouldn’t give it to her.” 

    “He probably wasn’t. But my girl went in there are demanded it.” Tre cheesed hard like a proud father. She snort. 

    “It was about time. Besides, I couldn’t work as an exec assistant forever.” 

    “Tell us how it went!” Her sister Amee asked, an excited grin on her face. 

    “Not much to tell. I went in there, asked him to give me a promotion or else I would leave the corporation. He’s really benefited from me these four years so he knew I was a big asset.” Tre chuckled. 

    “Damn straight. You been wiping that man’s ass for four years. The least he could do is give you what you deserve.” They all laughed. 

    “So Rae,” She looked up into the face of her father.

    “Where is Kwasame?” She put her glass of wine down. 

    “He couldn’t join us. He work late so he sends his regards.” 

    “Kinda unfortunate isn’t it? Your boo couldn’t be here…” Amee commented. 

    “I’ll have my time with him. Right now it’s all y’all.” 

    “Well good. I think I’d have a problem with any man takin my baby girl away from me.” Her father said with a grunt. 

    “Daddy please.” He chuckled. 

    “How are things with Kwasame?” She blushed and tightened her lips on the rim of her glass. 

    “Things are good.” 

    “Oh come on, tell us more than that Rae.” Amee exclaimed, her face full of nosiness. 

    “What? Things are good.” 

    “Okay so if I were in a happy relationship with a man as fine and foreign as yours things would not be good. They would be absolutely life changing.” She cut her eyes at her sister. 

    “Pardon me if I don’t want to share all my business with y’all. Y’all some of the nosiest folks in New York.” Amee clutched her heart and feigned hurt. 

    “Excuse me. No we are not.” 

    “Mm. Tell that lie to somebody else.” Tre chuckled. 

    “Well, regardless you look happy. I like that guy.” Rae snort. 

    “You sure you don’t just like him because he is black?” 

    “He’s better than that Japanese fellow you were infatuated with in high school.” Her father spoke up, calmly taking another sip of his beer. She looked at him. 

    “Dad!” Amee said sharply, softly hitting him. 

    “Kendrick, what are you talking about?” Her mother said, a stern look on her face. He sighed. 

    “Sorry baby girl. I meant nothing by it.” 

    “What was wrong about him being Japanese?” 

    “Nothin Rae. Forget it.” She took a deep breath and leaned forward on the table. 

    “Nah. You mentioned it so I wanna know why.” He had everyone’s attention. She tapped her fingernails on the table, waiting. 

    “It’s just that I don’t have a high tolerance for men who hurt the women in my family. Especially those who know nothing about our culture and the way we do things.” She bit her lips before replying. 

    “But it was you who sent me to a place where no one knew of my culture or of me period.” 

    “Rae!” Her mother exclaimed, looking at her, her eyes wide. 

    “You did. I was entirely too young and you shipped me off without so much as a goodbye. What was I supposed to do? Remain by myself for four years because there were no black people around?” 

    “Ebere.” Her father gripped his mug. 

    “Rae, I apologized.” She smiled. 

    “And I’ve forgiven you.” 

    “Then why are you bringing it back up?”    

    “Because you must have forgotten that my falling in love with a Japanese man was a result of you abandoning me there. I just wanted to remind you.” He grunted and set his mug down. 

    “I did it because I wanted to protect you.” 

    “I know Daddy. And for a time, he took your place. I was safe with him.”    

    “For that I am thankful.”

    “All I’m saying is that I don’t want you to get caught up in skin color and ethnicity. That can be dangerous.” Things had grown tense and she sighed. 

    “I have a good life now. And an equally good man. That’s all there is to it.” She reached for her glass and took a sip of her wine. 

    “I’m sorry if I upset you baby girl.” Her father said, reaching across the table and squeezing her hand. She smiled. 

    “You’re right. Kwasa is better than him. Much much better.” He smiled in return. 

    “I’m glad to hear that.” 

    “Okay then enough talkin about the past. I believe our food has got here. Let’s thrown down.” Tre said with a clearing of his throat. She sat back and watched as her family attacked their plates, passing around appetizers. Smiling to herself, she began to eat. 




    “Congratulations sweetheart.” Arms wrapped around her as they sat on his couch and she smiled against his chest. 

    “Thanks teddy.” 

    “I’m proud of you.” She looked up at him and gently run fingers across his high cheek bone. 


    “Yeah darlin?” 

    “I wanted something for my congrats.” 

    “That is?” She pulled his face towards her, bringing his gaze to hers. 

    “It’s a big something.” 

    “Is it?” His lips felt so smooth pressed against her palm. 


    “Name it.” She slowly got on top of him and wrapped her arms around his neck. His eyes widened only slightly and then a sexy little smirk slid across his full lips. 

    “Ah. I see.” 

    “You’ve yet to touch me or anything. What’s up with that?” He slid his hands down to her hips. 

    “I’ve wanted to take things slow. That’s all.” She pouted and slid her hands up his chest. 

    “It’s been two years slow. I wanna speed things up some.” She leaned down and kissed him. He smiled against her lips and slowly moved her so that she pressed closer to his groin. She gasped and pulled away, panting against his cheek. 

    “If you’re ready. I’ll catch it and throw it back to you.” 

    “I’m so ready.” He brought his dark alluring eyes to hers and she laughed as he nearly fell trying to get to his bedroom. 




    His skin reminded her of black silk. Smooth black sand. All black everything. His hands big as mountains came to hold her so tenderly, his lips soft and plush kissed her as if she would disappear. Her breath was deep and her skin tingled with want. Clothes left her body and soon, soon the language he spoke to her was the most beautiful one of all. He threw her out into the clouds, passion written so delicately, so loudly in that space. Hands gripped sheets and sweat wet bodies. He felt so good. Fingers curled underneath her chin and brought her lips to his. She let the reaction of his love free from her belly and he responded so elegantly. She pushed. More. She needed more. 

    “Throw it back teddy.” She breathed against his skin. 

    “Catch it for me baby…” Hips rolled and stroked, making her weak. He moved like he was trying to merge with her and she wanted to become him, inside of him until she didn’t know who she was. Only him. Just him. She cried out, her body singing such beautiful notes.  He gripped her hips and brought her hips back hard, her breath taken smoothly, sharply.  

    “Kwasa…oh God…” Her teeth bit her lips as she gasped for air. The heat covered them in its shade and she wanted to be burned. He groaned, a deep intoxicating rumble against her shoulder. Just a little more… He reached up to take her breasts in his hands, pulling her back against him flush. His hips drove her over the edge and she let the heat swallow her. He found her lips, groaning into her mouth. Quickly, he pulled out of her and grunted as he came against her lower back. She sat back into his lap as he softly kissed her cheek. Weak, she tried to catch her breath, eyes closed. She felt his lips smile against her jaw line. 

    “You did good little lady…” He whispered, his accent more pronounced. She laid her head back against his shoulder and smirked. 

    “You’re not too shabby yourself teddy.” She turned her head to look up at him and he gently caressed her cheek. 

    “We should have been more careful.” He commented, his voice low and gentle. 


    “I should have-”

    “I wanted to…. like this.” 

    “I’m glad I was able to in time.” She playfully pouted. 

    “You don’t want kids?” He kissed her nose. 

    “I’d love children with you darling. There’s nothing I want more. But not now yeah?” She let him pull her underneath his covers and felt him drift to sleep. But she couldn’t sleep as peaceful. She stared at his hands on her waist and swallowed. For some reason, something didn’t sit right with her. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Maybe she was tripping. It wasn’t like she wanted to have kids now anyway. Snuggling against him, she stayed still until sleep finally whispered sweet lullabies to her.  




    When she woke up in the morning, she smelled coffee. Getting up, she pressed the sheets against her skin. Glancing down at them, she smiled to herself. Love was made here last night. Sighing to herself, she got out of bed, taking the sheet with her. Going into the bathroom, she tied the sheet around her and lifted her hair out of her face. The sweat had made it curl up, making it look like she hadn’t spent hours getting it bone straight. Sucking her teeth, she turned her head to look at her neck and shoulder which had pale red love marks. Kwasame was a cheeky boy indeed. She bit her lip and turned on the faucet to splash her face with water. It was then that she noticed that the ring normally on her finger was gone. She stared at her naked finger and for a moment couldn’t place how she felt. She shouldn’t have still been wearing it to be honest. But at the same time, she felt like he had invaded her space. Sighing, she reached for her stay over toothbrush to grab empty air. She blinked and the once minor irritation blossomed into full anger. Where the hell was her toothbrush? She opened the bathroom door and walked into the kitchen where he was making breakfast. 

    “Kwasame?” He flipped some bacon and turned his head back at her, a handsome smile on his face. 

    “Well, good morning little lady. Did you sleep well?” 

    “Yeah.” She lied. That wasn’t important. The important thing was why her toothbrush was gone and her finger bare. 

    “I’m making your favorites. Cheese grits with extra sharp cheddar, bacon, sausage and the fluffiest pancakes you can imagine.” Her stomach growled and she placed a hand on her tummy, silently telling it to shut up. 

    “Thank you. Uh… I have two questions.” 


    “One: Where is my toothbrush?” He didn’t turn his head as he kept cooking, that action alone bumping up the intensity of her anger. 

    “I threw it away.” 

    “I see that. Why?” 

    “I wanted to clean out some clutter. That’s all.” 

    “So my toothbrush was cluttering up your space?” 


    “I got chu. Two: where is my ring?” At that, he finally turned around. The thing that pissed her off the most was that he didn’t look the slightest moved by her antics. 

    “I don’t like when you wear it.” 

    “So that gave you the right to take it off my person?” He sighed. 

    “I don’t see what is the problem little lady. You’ve let me into your personal space before. Why is this any different?” 

    “Because you didn’t ask me to remove it.” He turned back around and finished breakfast. Walking past her, he set their plates on the small table. 

    “You need to let him go Rae.” He said softly but firmly. Her mouth dropped open and she blinked at him. 

    “W-what do you mean I need to let him go? I have let him go.” 

    “You’re wearing the ring he gave you when you two were together. From what you told me, he proposed to you with it. Ten years later, you still wear the damned thing. How do you think that makes me feel Rae? You wearing another man’s jewelry?” She swallowed thickly and looked away from him. 


    “You no longer belong to him.” Silence. But she could hear his breathing that had grown faster.     

    “Am I right?” She licked her lips and looked up at him. 

    “Right. You’re right.” 

    “I do not want to appear like a possessive asshole. But I cannot help it. Please Rae. I don’t… want you to put that ring on again. You’re not his woman anymore. You’re mine. Is that clear?” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. 

    “Y-yeah. Crystal.” 

    “I’m sorry about your toothbrush. I wasn’t aware you were going to stay over. I would have gotten you a brand new one.” She kept quiet. 

    “Rae say something.” Still nothing. He sighed and sat down. 

    “Sit and eat with me baby. Come on.” Slowly, she gripped the chair and pulled it out. Slowly she sank into it and stared at the food in front of her. 

    “I hadn’t realized…” She said quietly, holding up her hand. She looked at her finger, the indentation of the ring once symbolizing the greatest love she had experienced still on her skin. 

    “It seems you two definitely experienced something great. But as far as I’m concerned, he wasn’t worthy of you. A man who lets the love of his life walk away from him without a fight is not worthy of being with you.” 

    “All true.” 

    “You spent four years with this fellow. I can understand. But it’s been ten years. A full decade.” Slowly, his rough yet gentle fingers slid across her hand, covering the indentation. he slid his fingers through hers and brought her hand to his lips. 

    “I want to be the only one who lives in your heart Ebere Marshall. I won’t accept anything less than that.” He kissed her hand and smiled at her. 


    “Do you want to know why I’ve waited so long with you? I’ll tell you. It is because you are the woman I want as my wife. I want to get to know all sides of you. The good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted to know this without making love. And still. I want to learn every part of you, what makes you tick.” She smiled softly at him and tightened her grip on his fingers. 


    “Yes love?” 

    “You’re a good man…” 

    “I may not have much. I may be living in this dump of a place. But I want to give you the world.” 

    “Does it bother you? That I make more than you?”  He chuckled. 

    “It does not matter. I think we both know who really wears the pants here.” She sucked her teeth but couldn’t stop her smile. 

    “So I’m the bread maker and you’re…”

    “I’m the wife maker absolutely.” She snort and started laughing. 

    “Wife maker. I am completely done with you Kwasame Jones.” He chuckled again and kissed the back of her hand again. 

    “Now, eat some food. And then perhaps we can work some of this food off.” 

    “Will you be naked again? I like you naked.” She teased. He grinned and licked his lips. 

    “I’ll be whatever you want little lady.” 

    “Good.” She pulled her hand back and they began to eat their breakfast. She eyed him as he chewed his bacon. He was like black coffee. Strong and solid. Bold and straightforward. When she felt like falling, he was there to comfort her and soothe her and he always kept her straight. She truly had a good man indeed. 
















End Notes:

A/N: Well well, Kwasame Jones y'all. To be honest, I don't know how to feel about him. It's like... I like the whole being there for Rae and everything and he does seem to love her. But I still have a problem with him throwing outher toothbrush. Like something as simple as that sends a loud message. But then he's like... don't wear that ring and you're mine and... I don't know. lol. Over all, I like him... butheain'tIwaseHirotoso.... Can the real soulmate of Ebere Marshall stand up please? *looks at Roto* lol. They are cute together and everything but they just aren't meant to be together... *sigh* I hope you guys enjoyed it! :) Chapter 4 is in the works <3 Thank you for reading! Take care and God bless! 


Sunray into the sky, bright and yellow~~


The Past by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:

“There you go again.” She looked up to find her sister Amee leaning against the doorway. 


    “You gon work a hole in your finger the way you spinning that ring around.” Her fingers stopped. 

    “Oh. Um…”     

    “Don’t know why you even kept that damn thing.” She looked down at the ring on her finger. She twisted it and took it off. 

    “Girl, by the time I realized it was still on I was already on the plane.” Amee chuckled. 

    “Why you keep holdin on to somethin that’s dead?” She shrugged. 

    “It’s pretty.” 


    “What, get out my business. Regardless of what happened, I like the damn ring. It’s pretty.” Amee chuckled. 

    “Mm okay. If you say so.” She sighed. 

    “You won’t believe where this thing was.” Amee blinked. 


    “Kwasame threw it in the trash. After he took it off my finger while I slept.” Amee pursed her lips. 

    “He did?”

    “Pissed me the fuck off.” Amee came into the room. 

    “I get where bruh is comin from but damn. It’s like that?” She took a slow breath. She was still pissed about it days later. One of the reasons why she was straight up ignoring him. She could see why he did it. But for him to do something like that and then make a big deal about her being his was a whole other thing. She may not have said it, she may have been in shock but she had felt a real way. 

    “He started talkin bout some you belong to me shit. What the hell is that…” Amee balled up her lips. 

    “Rae, you have been dating him for two years… I mean… don’t you kinda belong to him? He is your man.” She looked at her sister like she had grown two heads. 

    “Are you crazy? Ebere Marshall belongs to no man. I belong to my damn self. Point. Blank. Period.” 

    “Except that boy you loved in Japan…you did belong to him at one time right?” Her face grew sour and she sighed. 

    “What is with y’all? First Daddy now you. Why are y’all bringing up the past all of a sudden?” Amee sighed and sat down on her bed next to her. 

    “He was all you talked about Ebbie. Your whole entire world revolved around him.” She scoffed. 

    “Yeah back when I was young dumb and brainless.” 

    “I remember when you came home from Japan. You ain’t want nothin to do with nobody. All you did was stay in your room and cry out for him. You didn’t even eat or sleep. It was Hiroto this, Hiroto that…” 

    “What’s the point of trying to remind me the absolute mess I was in A?” Her sister smiled softly at her and gently framed some of her curls around her face. 

    “I’m just trying to get you to stop being stubborn. You can’t lie to yourself. He played a big part in your life and you have to admit that.” She was quiet for a while. 

    “Do you miss him Ebbie?” Her sister watched her fingers, which had started to unconsciously twirl the small ring around her finger again. 


    “It’s okay if you do honey.” 

    “I don’t. Y’all tryna make me get in feelings that are dead and ones I long since buried.” Amee pressed her forehead against her shoulder. 

    “In any case, what Kwasame did was not cool under any circumstance. I get where he’s comin from. But there was a better way to handle it. All he did piss you off and he better be lucky Tre don’t know about this.” She smiled softly. 

    “Tre would set it off.”

    “He don’t play when it comes to you.” 

    “You too A. All of us.” Amee shook her head. 

    “Nah but he’s never been as protective of me as he was of you. You were the favorite little sister.” 

    “Oh girl please. Hush.” They shared a laugh and Amee lifted her head. 

    “So you got your ring back. And your dignity. Now what chu gon do Ms. Marshall?” She grinned. 

    “Stunt on all them muhfuckas.” 


    Her first day back at work, she felt like royalty. She had went shopping the previous day. She had never been able to afford red bottoms but honey she had bought some of those bad boys and felt damn good walking out of the store. Those babies she was saving for later. But, she had paired some long wide legged pants, smooth and silky and a crisp white shirt with simple black pumps. She hadn’t bothered to straighten her hair today, deciding her hair needed a much needed break from it. Her curls which had been swept up in an up-do smelled like sweet papaya and coconut. She wore some small Chanel studs she had thrifted and a sleek black wrist watch. Grabbing her black clutch, she blotted her bold red lips and checked herself in the bathroom mirror before heading into the office. It was like as soon as she stepped in, jaws dropped and eyes followed her. She blinked and smiled at some of the men that had gathered in a nearby cubicle. 

    “Mornin y’all.” One of them stuttered, 

    “G-Good m-mornin.” Her brow creased and she pursed her lips as she set her things down on her desk.     

    “What is up with y’all today? Y’all act like you ain’t never seen me before.” 

    “Well gaaaaaah damn Marshall.” She sucked her teeth and turned to look at Peterson, the cubicle playboy. He looked her over once, twice and shook his head. 

    “What happened to you? You come in here lookin like a million bucks.” 

    “A girl feelin herself. Somethin wrong with that?” He licked his lips and his eyes slid down her body one more time. 

    “Nah. You good. Feel yourself more often.” 

    “You can look all you want to. You’ll never touch it.” She said lowly as she passed him. Men like him made her blood boil and skin crawl. His eyes followed her all the way back to Mr. Rossi’s set of cherry wood double doors. She took a deep breath and entered to find him standing by Ms. Jenny, his administrative assistant. At the sight of her, he smiled. 

    “Good morning Ms. Marshall.” 

    “Good morning Mr. Rossi.” 

    “Are you ready?” 

    “Ready sir?” He smiled deeper. 

    “You’re going to accompany me today.” She blinked and looked at Jenny who kept her gaze down. 

    “I’m leaving the office?” He nodded. 

    “I’ll be preparing you to take over when I’m absent. That’s one of your main duties now.” She blushed and felt a rush of happiness fill her body. 

    “Yes of course.” 

    “Get your things. We’ll leave in two minutes. I have somewhere to be.” 

    “Of course. I’m ready now.”

    “Then shall we?” 

    “Yes sir.” He turned to Jenny. 

    “Take every call and don’t make any mistakes Jenny. Write down everything and get clarification on everything.” 

    “Y-yes sir.” He turned to face her and began to walk towards her. She straightened up and began to walk beside him. When they entered the main room, everyone stared. It was unusual to see Mr. Rossi walking with a fellow employee anywhere much less towards the exit. 

    “One moment Mr. Rossi.” She went to her desk and grabbed her clutch. As she was about to join him, she heard Shelley whisper sharply.  



    “Where you goin with Rossi?” 

    “Girl I don’t know. He wants me to come with him.” 

    “Oh. Oh…” 

    “Girl bye. I gotta go. We catch up later.” She straightened up and soon rejoined him with a smile. 

    “Shelley, take over Ms. Marshall’s station while she is gone.” 

    “Yes sir!” She piped up, her voice tinny. 

    “Let’s go.” He began to walk ahead of her and she swallowed as she followed him. 


    “You look beautiful this morning.” She turned to look at him, his face turned towards the window. She sat across from him, her clutch tightly held against her thighs. 

    “Thank you.” 

    “No problem.” She let out a breath. 

    “Are you nervous Rae?” At the use of her name informally she looked at him. 

    “A little.” His lips smiled and he brought his dark smoldering gaze to hers. 

    “Don’t be.” 

    “Well you ain’t tell me where we were goin so…” He chuckled and cleared his throat. 

    “Today is the first part of your training. It’s very important that you pay attention and listen.”

    “I got that part. You still ain’t told me where we’re going.” 

    “We’re going to a gala.” She eyed him so quick. 

    “A gala? Me dressed like this?!” 

    “What’s wrong with the way you’re dressed?”

    “You said gala. Gala means expensive clothes and jewels.”

    “Not necessarily.” She pursed her lips. 


    “You’re dressed appropriately. It’s an informal gala.”

    “Hm.” He sighed and the silence that ensued was comforting to her. Yes, no talking. She needed to figure out what she was going to say to these people. These were some highly important people, she couldn’t talk any type of way. She softly licked her lips, careful not to get too much lipstick. Who all would be there she wondered. 

    “We’re here.” At his voice, she looked up and swallowed tightly. 

    “Okay.” The door to his limo opened and he got out. Outstretching his hand, he helped her out. As she was about to pull her hand away, he tightened his grip on it. 

    “Rae, relax.” She took a deep breath. There were people inside this building that would and could help her get what she wanted. 

    “Let’s go.” He squeezed her hand and let it drop. He offered his arm. Gingerly sliding her hands around him, she let him lead her into the building. 


    “My, is that you Antonio?” A woman called as she walked to them. She took her hands off of his arm and pressed them against her stomach. He smiled and hugged her. 

    “Maria, you look absolutely gorgeous this morning.” 

    “Oh please. Your flattery is going to get you nowhere.” They both chuckled. She pushed him aside slightly. 

    “Who is this young lady? Is she your date?” She pinched her fingers tighter and smiled. No. I am not his date. 

    “She is one of my most promising executives. She is accompanying me yes.” She let her hand extend and she firmly gripped the woman’s. Stand tall Rae. Appearance and confidence is everything. You got this. She coached herself as she straightened up. She cleared her throat. 

    “It’s quite a pleasure to meet you. My name is Ebere Marshall.” The woman looked impressed, her eyebrows almost all the way up into her hairline. She knew about that. It was always a shock to hear black folk speak intelligently. 

    “It is equally a pleasure. How long have you been working for Antonio?” 

    “About four years Ma’am.” 

    “Ah. What have your years looked like?” 

    “I interned with him while still in undergrad and once out began to work there full time as an administrative assistant. I worked under him all the way up to executive assistant.” 

    “I’ve just promoted her.” Antonio said proudly with a smile. 

    “Impressive. Antonio does not promote often especially assistants. You must have made a very good impression on him Ebere.” She felt a sharp stab in her chest. What was Maria implying? 

    “The only impression I hope I have given to Mr. Rossi is one of hard work, determination and utmost professionalism.” She said with a polite smile, watching as Maria pursed her lips. 

    “She is quite the worker bee. I am proud to have her.” Antonio said, gently placing his hand on her back. She stiffened. Maria seemed to be watching it under intense scrutiny and smiled thinly. 

    “Antonio you sure know how to pick your assistants. They’re all so very pretty.” He laughed, a blush coming to his cheeks. 

    “Maria what ever are you saying?” She smiled. 

    “Don’t bother the talk of this old woman. Ebere, it was a pleasure to meet you.” 

    “It was a pleasure to meet you as well.” She shook hands with her one last time before she briskly walked away from them. She let out the breath she had been holding. 

    “So you tricked me into being your date. I should-”

    “Not now Ms. Marshall. Too many eyes and ears.” She shut her mouth and growled lowly under her breath. 

    “Drink. Mingle. Now is the perfect time to network.” He whispered against her temple before leaving her standing in the middle of the room. She sighed and eyed many of the business women and men who stood talking to each other. 

    “Have you heard about the young man who is running that business pretty much by himself?” 

    “No, who is he?” 

    “Some son of a really big businessman.”

    “That so? What’s so impressive about this kid?” 

    “Word has it that he has overseen all operations overseas and has successfully launched a branch of his company here in New York.” 

    “By himself?” 


    “How old is this young man?”

    “28 I hear.” 

    “For someone to pick up business so well so young that is mighty impressive.” There were so many more conversations but for some reason the one nearest her caught the most of her attention. Who were they talking about? She cleared her throat and walked up. 

    “Hello, pardon me. I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I wanted to know more about this man you speak of.” They smiled at her and moved to include her in. 

    “I hear his name is something foreign. Chinese or something like that.” 

    “He’s run this business by himself?” She asked. 

    “Pretty much. But you know how the Chinese do things.”

    “I don’t think he’s Chinese… I think he may be Japanese.”     


    “Yeah Iruko something…”

    “No James, Iwase.” She looked at the woman who had spoken. 


    “Yes. Iwase Hiroto I believe… quite a fellow.”

    “You’ve… met him?” 

    “About a year ago. His English was impeccable. He’s very elegant and passionate about his work.” A sudden pain hit her in the stomach and she gripped her clutch. 

    “And you say he has a firm here?” The woman nodded. 

    “He’s been working on it for quite a while. He picked a very good city.” 

    “I see.”

    “Are you interested in his line of work?” She swallowed and smiled. 

    “I’m not familiar with his work.”

    “Oh darling you must acquaint yourself! Those who do well know of others who do well in the business world. He is a good person to keep in your camp.” She nodded. 

    “I will definitely read up on him.” 

    “You are?”

    “My name is Ebere Marshall.”

    “Oh Rossi’s favorite.” Her eyebrow twitched but she kept that smile on. 


    “Darling he talks about you all the time. In his eyes, you can do no wrong. He thinks and speaks very highly of you.”

    “I am honored but I am just an assistant.”

    “Word of advice dear: Keep powerful men close. Rossi might look young but he has a lot of influence and power. He’s sweet on you. Use that to your advantage and you’ll succeed.” The woman winked and grabbed James. She eyed Antonio who watched her leave. She went into the bathroom and slammed her clutch on the counter. Damn it. She looked at herself in the mirror. It was like the past had hit her all over again. She was feeling so many things. When she left his sorry ass in Japan she hadn’t looked back. It had taken quite a while to stop bowing when she met people or in general and saying ‘itadaskimasu’ at dinner. All the mannerisms she had learned to survive in a foreign land for four years had been strong. And she had been able to let them go. And she thought she had let him go too. He didn’t deserve her near crying in the bathroom ten years later. She was not going to let him do that to her. Eying her finger which normally had his ring, she sighed.     

    Truthfully, she thought about her life there a lot. She missed Hana and little Hisae, though she doubt Hisae would be little by now. She also thought about Tobu quite a bit. Her baby Bu… She wondered how his life had turned out. Tears welled up in her eyes and she hung her head. She missed them greatly. Others like Shinju, Rie and Momo she thought of fondly. If she could, she would thank them for the kindness and genuineness. Those like Minako would always remain in her heart. She wished sometimes she could go and visit them… but by now they probably had forgotten about her and moved on. So why was it so damn difficult for her? She was clinging to a man who had damn near pulled her heart out. A man she had loved with her soul and her spirit.

     She had had many relationships since him but maybe the thing she couldn’t let go was how they had loved. It wasn’t physical. It had never gotten a chance to be that way. She had loved his spirit instead, the person he was in his soul and had embraced him 100. Though she thought it had been enough, he had decided to push her out of his life. Maybe it was best that she was cut out. She didn’t belong in his world anyway.  Even so, she had never loved anyone before him in such an almost spiritual way and hadn’t since. Not even Kwasame…She let the tears fall down her cheeks. She had to let him go. She had to close that door and end that chapter of her life. She couldn’t continue to hold on to him.

     It had taken her a while to stop seeing him as a boy… facing the fact that the boy she once loved was now a man. It had taken a while for it to become easy to envision him married to that girl his family had set him up with and by now they probably had a couple kids. She wondered… had he been able to find happiness? Had he forgotten about her and moved on with his life? These things she had to let remain in the past. Answers to questions she would never receive. And that was fine.  She stood up straight and grabbed some tissue. She gently dapped at her cheeks, careful not to smudge her makeup. It was time to go out there and stunt. She couldn’t be boss up in the bathroom crying. Taking a deep breath, she smiled at her reflection and opened the bathroom door. It was time to continuing reigning. Her Queendom wasn’t going to be built by herself. 











End Notes:

A/N: Rae, don't fight it honey. You're still very much in love with Roto and guess what, he is in love with you. Don't worry your man comin for you girllll but I'ma need her to be strong and make extra hard on him lol. Don't let bruh see you sweat. Kwasa better get out the way and Antonio better kick rocks too cause once Iwase come everything shuttin down LOLLLL. Okay y'all, I'm playing lol. Sort of lol. Okay, Six chapters in already?! LAWD. I can't believe it!! I just want Hiroto and Rae to meet like..... *happy sigh* Leave your thoughts, comments and concerns as always you guys! Thank you for reading thus far! I hope you are enjoying it ^^  :) Till next time (watch it be tomorrow lol), 

God bless and have a wonderful night!

Search by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


“We have arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Everyone, welcome to New York.” After 14 hours, he had reached his destination. Smiling, he sighed to himself. The sun was beginning to break through the clouds. The visage was still smoky. His body was exhausted but the excitement that coursed through him was enough to keep him up a little longer. The plane came to a complete stop and soon he as well as the other passengers exited the plane. Kiko would arrive in a few days. He wouldn’t be able to stand being on the same plane. He almost left her but decided against it. He was clearing the board so that nothing stood in the way of him getting to his Queen. Even if that meant putting up with her. As he stepped into the main terminal, he saw a sign with his name on it. He nodded at a bulky man who waited. 


“Good evening Mr. Iwase. Welcome to New York.” 

“It is a pleasure.” 

“I’ll accompany you to your car. From there you should be escorted to your place of residence.”

“Thank you.” The man grabbed his bags and they walked out into an awaiting limousine. 



He pressed the electronic key to the pad and the door to his new home opened. Everything smelled fresh and new. He took off his shoes before stepping into the open space. Rolling his bags in he looked around. It was quite a spacious room and the pieces of furniture and masculine color scheme created a good balance of the atmosphere. He liked the clean lines. He’d picked quite an appropriate home, one that could be comfortable and entertaining should he need it to be. Sighing, he walked around until he found the bathroom. There was a round bean shaped tub, white on a platform in front of a large window overlooking the city. That was something that had attracted him to this place. The large windows that looked over all of New York it seemed. Even in the living room and kitchen, it was surrounded by windows. So much natural light. 

Further down the platform was a large step in shower. He considered both a shower and soaking in the tub. That would be the perfect conclusion to his travels. Playing with the American knob he figured out how to turn it on until water came out. He left it running until he found the temperature he liked and stepped into the shower. When he got out, he stepped into the tub, the water still hot. He sighed and leaned his head back against the rim of the tub. Closing his eyes, he let the water soothe his tired stiff muscles. He went underneath the water for a while, letting the warmth bathe him in its entirety. 

He lifted, steam rising around him. Smoothing his hair back, he leaned against the side of the tub and looked out at the city below him. There were tiny people who walked in the streets. He wondered if they were laughing, joking and felt happiness. He was sure they talked about family, friends and love. A soft smile came to his face. All things he would someday talk about too. He wondered what Rae was doing at this very moment. Was she getting ready for bed now? He wondered how her day had gone. Closing his eyes, he pressed his cheek against his forearm and felt himself drift to sleep. 




“Mr. Iwase! Mr. Iwase!” He jolted awake, gripping the edge of the tub. 

“What is it?” 

“Your neice has called.” A voice came on over the intercom. He yawned and lifted up. The water had grown lukewarm. He got out of the tub and grabbed a towel. Wrapping it around himself, he came out into the hallway to see a man standing outside his door. He recognized the man as his driver. Pressing the button, he spoke. 

“Thank you Daiko. I will take the call from here.” 

“Yes sir.” He came into his bedroom and picked up his phone. Sure enough, there was a missed call from his little princess. Smiling to himself, he redialed the number. On the second ring, a young voice answered. 

“Uncle Hiro?” He grinned. 

“Hello hime.” Her voice grew excited. 

“How are you? Did you make it there safely?” 

“I did. Thank you for asking.” She giggled on the phone. 

“Is it night time there?” He nodded as though she could see him and caught himself with a smile. 

“Mm. It is late here.”

“What time is it?”

“About 11 pm.”

“Ahh. It’s noon here.” 

“I see. Are you at school?”


“Shouldn’t you be in class young lady?” She sighed. 

“Mm. But I had to know you got to America safely.” 

“Yes I am fine. I am going to go to bed soon. I have a big day tomorrow.”

“You do?”


“Well I guess then I’ll talk to you when it is day time here.”

“Perhaps I’ll be better rested by then hime.”

“Okay Uncle Hiro. Please take care and rest well!” He laughed softly into the phone. 

“Thank you hime. Do well in your studies!”

“I will.”


“I love you Uncle Hiro!”

“I love you too.”  They hung up. He fell back against his bed and pressed his phone against his heart. Hisae was such a sweet child. She brightened his days. Now with her worry at ease, he could rest. Curling up, he felt the gentle pull of sleep cast him into a sweet dream land. 




In the morning, he got dressed. It was right to work. He had an interview with an American program this morning and then it was off to see his building. He opened his many suitcases and grabbed a razor. Shaving his morning shadow, he washed his face and smoothed some moisturizer into his skin. Brushing his teeth and combing his hair, he put on his freshly ironed shirt and pants.  Grabbing his suit jacket and briefcase, he slid his key into the inner most pocket in his suit. He stepped outside after entering a security code. He was ready. 




The lights blared down on him and once again, he felt hot. The woman who was putting unasked for makeup on his face dapped the small beads of sweat that had formed at his temple. 

“Not too much please. I don’t want my skin to feel heavy.” She blinked at him, her cheeks already starting to turn red. 

“S-sure. Your skin doesn’t need much of anything anyway.” He gripped the chair as she moved her fingers against his cheek. Whether intentional or not, it was starting to irk him. 

“Miss, I would appreciate it if you didn’t do that.” Her fingers stopped. 

“S-Sorry M-Mr. Iwase. Um, let me comb your hair.”

“I’ve already combed it.”

“I know but it’s apart of my job.” He sighed and let her comb his hair. She gently moved the comb to manipulate the hair to curve to the side of his face, giving him a small bang. 

“All done.” He nodded, his expression calm. 

“Thank you.” She stepped back and watched him get up, nearly towering over her. She cranked her head back to look up at him. 

“Have a good interview M-Mr. Iwase…” 

“Thank you.” He left the poor girl standing there and went to join the host. 

“It is so nice to have you Mr. Iwase.” He gently shook the woman’s hand. 

“It is kind of you to invite me.”

“We’re going to start filming in a few. Are you ready?”

“Yes.” They took their seats. As soon as they were given the cue, they began. 




Hours later he got home and unpacked some of his suitcases. He huffed as he sat down on his couch. He had a plethora of things to unload and a lot of things still arriving from Japan. He considered using an American car but decided against it. His Japanese car was just fine. He’d learn about the ways of the American road but was not going to inconvenience himself by purchasing a car that was not needed. His phone rang, interrupting his rest. 

“Mosh Mosh?” 

“Mr. Iwase?” He cleared his throat. 


“Hi. I know you are probably getting settled. But I wanted to notify you of an upcoming gala in Times Square.” He pressed the phone against his shoulder. 

“Is that so?”

“Yes. I think it would be a great opportunity to introduce yourself and get to know your competition. It will be in November.”

“Ah.” Three months time.

“Yes. It is best to RSVP early to secure seats and travel plans.”


“If you are interested, I can send your acceptance.”

“Do so please.”

“Of course. On another note, I’m happy that you have finally arrived sir.” 

“I am excited to begin great things here.”

“Yes sir.”

“I will see you tomorrow.”

“Yes sir.” He hung up and leaned back against the cushions of his couch. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath. He had schedules, meetings and visits to keep the rest of this entire week alone. His days were not going to be lax by any means. But in that time, he wanted to find the time to see the new city he would be living in. He had only seen New York in movies and television shows. He had never been outside of Japan before. He smiled. It wasn’t too late. Perhaps he could now. Getting up, he grabbed a coat and his key. Sliding on some shoes, he stepped out into the hallway. Zipping up his coat, he let the lights of the city lead him. 



“Excuse me?” On his way in exploration he was stopped. Turning, he faced a short woman who stared at him. He blinked, staring down at her. 


“Um…May…may I ask what is your name?” He knit his eyebrows together. 

“Do you know me?” She grew closer and felt her cheeks grow warm. 

“You look like someone…” 

“I’m sorry. I’m not who you are looking for.” He bowed his head and began to walk away from her. Who was that woman? He continued, lured by the lights of the many establishments and the smells of food. He sighed in contentment. He should have brought his camera. It was just as busy at night as it was during the day. With the neon lights and bright glow, it reminded him of mid day. People were out and about as if it were not night. Truly, it was the city that never slept. Everywhere it was motion, colors blurred and fused into a kaleidoscope of movement. 

Food truck vendors called out tasty specials and the sight reminded him of Japan. At the thought of food his stomach growled. 

“Hot footlong dogs 2 for $5! Two pie slices 2 for $4!” His stomach protested and he sighed. He walked up to the man who had hollered out and cleared his throat. 

“I would like the hot dogs please.” The man nodded and prepared them in a hurry. 

“Five dollars.”

“Ah.” He reached into his small wallet and pulled out a bunch of American money. Fives…. Abraham Lincoln. He sorted through the money until he came across the bill that had the face of Lincoln. He handed it to the man and in turn he was provided with his reward. 


“Enjoy.” He nodded and bowed his head slightly before continuing on his journey. Taking a big bite out of the long hot dog. Before he knew it, it was gone and he had eaten half of the second one. Full, he headed back to his apartment. Exploring done for the night, he took a bath. All the while his mind drifting to Rae. He was about to begin his search and he only hoped that when the day came, it would begin their future, a future he wanted to seize. He smiled to himself as his eyes closed and his breath grew calm and deep. Rae was not going to make it easy for him but he was ready; ready to reclaim what was his. 

End Notes:

Evenin! Midterms are over and I am so happy! I have an extended break so I will probably be sleeping lol. I wanted to upload tonight. I am lowkey irritated cause I had typed a whole bunch and had to refresh the page and start over lol -.- I will keep it short this time... Shortest chapter yet... really wanted to get y'all ready for what's comin. I might upload another chapter tonight. If not, soon. I need rest lol. Because I feel like it, I wanted to tease you guys with a picture of Kentaro. Just a visual... that we both don't need but lol. Hey. Y'all probably don't need it and I probably didn't need to look it up but I did so lol. Okay y'all. Good night, good morning, peace! God bless and take care! 









P.S- This is a still from a youtube series called FUROZUKI (The Colors of Japan). It's about traveling through Japan and seeing it through lens not typically known. I love the series and really enjoy it (other than the fine men that are in it lol). Japan is so gorgeous and they do such a beautiful job of documenting the many travels and journeys one can explore in Japan. There are 10 episodes so far and the last one (10th) was uploaded last week so it's pretty recent. I will put the link to the website as well as the first episode for anyone who wants to watch it :) It's a very great series. I hope they continue to make them. <3 In some of the episodes, Kentaro travels to some place that has hot springs. So in this picture I think he's in an indoor one. <3 He's in the first few episodes. 

On the website, there are colorful tabs in English, I'd click each but if you want to see all the episodes, click the 'Movie' tab :)


[FUROZUKI] The Colors of Japan Vol. 1:

Conclusion by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


She had been restless when she woke up and for hours just sat in bed. She wasn’t sure why she had started to reflect on how she had lived her life up until now. She had thought about everything. Leaving Japan, coming home. The path she had taken to get to where she was now. These things she tried not to think about… the things pertaining to him… But the memory of the young heart broken girl still came easy to her. She remembered it like it was yesterday. She had only been home for a couple weeks. And she had had such a hard time readjusting to American life. 



    “Rae, come eat dinner honey.” Her mother was met with silence. 

    “I said come eat honey.” She sat inside her room, knees pulled up to her chin. Licking her dry lips, she answered softly, 

    “I ain’t hungry.” She heard her mother sigh. 


    “I said no. Go away.”

    “I don’t know who you talkin to but I will break this door down. I ain’t Minako.” She hid her face in her lap. 

    “I don’t want no food Ma.” Her mother leaned against the door. 

    “Well what do you want?” Tears welled up in her eyes. 

    “I want Hiroto. I miss Hiroto.” Her mother sighed again and shook her head. It had been weeks and still this child cried for that boy. 

    “You have to come out of that room Ebere. Bein in there is not going to make it better.”

    “If I come out will he be there?” 

    “That boy is in Japan. You’ll never see him again. I tried to tell you honey. I knew this would lead to heartbreak. Falling for those foreign boys always leads to disaster. I told you you were moving too fast and you did not want to listen to me.” 

    “Ma…. you don’t get it…” 

    “What I get is that you said you was gon live happily ever after with him. And what became of that fantasy?” There was silence. 

    “Rae, you have to accept the fact that he only dated you because you were a foreigner and it was exciting to him. Accept it and move on. There is nothing more you can do. Sittin in your room weeping over some boy who wasn’t deserving of you is not the Marshall way. Nor is not eating.” 

    “You’re wrong.” 

    “Sweetie, he gon back to his own kind honey. It’s time you get back to yours and leave that boy and all the misery he left you with in the past. It’s time to rebuild.” 


    What her mother had said had broken her heart. She had expected her to take her side but instead she had hurt her with her words. Because of that… because of how her family reacted once she came back… she had cut them all off. Tre. Amee. The rest of her sisters and brothers. Her parents. She had stopped talking to all of them for a while. She couldn’t deal with it all. The heart break. On top of layered past pains. 

    She had started counseling once she entered college. And while there had met a fellow short girl by the name of Leah Williams. Lee as she called her was just as spunky and unbeknownst to others had a story too, just like her. Through college, they had become really good friends, almost sisters. She smiled. Speaking of Lee, she hadn’t talked to her in so long. She was long overdue for a phone call.  Maybe some time when it wasn’t too late. She got up and went into the bathroom to wash her face. She wondered how long she had slept. Her phone blinked in the next room, probably 100 missed calls by now from Kwasame. She sighed and returned to bed. Sure enough, when she glanced at her phone there were 50 missed calls and about 30 voice messages. Rolling her eyes, she pursed her lips. This man was acting like he was a high schooler. If she wasn’t still tired, she’d be irritated at the fact that he actually called her this many times. The clock read 2:15 am. She’d slept pretty good till now. She laid her head back down, tightened her scarf on her head slightly and closed her eyes. She deal with it all later. 


    After she woke up later that morning, she showered and ate some breakfast. Sitting in the silence, she sighed. Did she honestly want to be in a relationship right now? She felt like she was up and down… all over the place. A part of her couldn’t blame Kwasame for having such a problem. She was holding on to a man she was no longer involved with. But a part of her was almost defensive about it. At the very least, she had to talk to him. It was time to make a choice and make the best one for herself at this moment. Picking up her phone, she decided to call him. Taking a deep breath, she waited until he picked up. 

    “Little lady?” 

    “What is up with you blowin up my phone 100 times last night?”

    “I hadn’t heard anything from you in weeks.”

    “For a reason.”

    “I know sweetheart. I know.”

    “What do you want Kwasame?”

    “I want us to stop acting foolish.”

    “Look, I am not in the mood to go back and forth with you this morning. I don’t apologize for my actions, they were rightfully justified.” She could hear his breathing pick up. 

    “I’m… I’m sorry.”

    “You seem to be saying that more and more lately.”

    “I didn’t act like a mature adult. I apologize for that. But you not talking to me is immature too Rae.”

    “To be honest, I wasn’t going to call you but I decided it was time to quit playing games. This is not going to go away if we don’t talk about it.”            

    “You’re right.”

    “We’ll talk once I get to work. Meet me there?”

    “As always.”

    “I’ll see you then.”

    “All right.”



    As she was getting out of her car, she saw him standing outside. Shutting her car door, she walked up to him. 

    “You couldn’t have waited till I actually got in the building?” He swallowed. 

    “I’ve missed you little lady.”


    “You haven’t missed me?”

    “Not entirely.” 

    “I don’t blame you.” 

    “Is there anything you have to say?”

    “I just want to say I’m sorry. I said some things I didn’t mean.”

    “I’ve grown tired of this Kwasame. It’s not good for you or for me.”

    “What are you saying…” She looked up at him. 

    “I’m saying that I think we should break up.” He tightened his fists and his jaw grew tight. 

    “We’ve been together two years and you want to just throw in the towel?” 

    “I barely knew you when we met and two years later I still know close to nothing about you.” 


    “The truth is I don’t feel sustained anymore. I don’t feel happy and I don’t feel appreciated. I feel as though you’re dragging me and I’m dragging you. Why continue to do that to ourselves?” He stood there and this time, those two buttons weren’t unbuttoned. It was quiet for a while before he spoke, 

    “I don’t think I’m ready to let you go.” 

    “I’ll telling you I’m done Kwasame.” He swallowed again and looked into her eyes, the expression unreadable. 

    “I was willing to wait for you Rae.” 

    “You’ve been complaining about it so if it bothers you leave me.” She grabbed her bags. 

    “I’m going. See you when I see you.”  As she began to walk away, she felt an unexplainable feeling that hit her so sharp it took her breath away.


    “Ms. Marshall. It is nice for you to join us.”

    “It is a pleasure Mr. Rossi. Thank you all of you who have attended this meeting.” She smiled politely and sat down next to him. 

    “My executive Ms. Marshall shall be sitting in with us from now on.” Mr. Rossi announced to the room. They all looked at her, some approving. Some not. 

    “We hope she is as good as you say she is Rossi. You’ve pumped her up quite a bit.” Rossi smiled and looked toward the man who had spoken. 

    “I assure you she is. Don’t underestimate her just yet.” She cleared her throat. 

    “Thank you Mr. Rossi. But I prefer to speak for myself.” 

    “By all means,” She locked eyes with the man.     

    “I am aware that you do not think that I can live up to the high standard of this company. If I may be so frank, may I ask how you think I got this position?” The man paled and a few of the other executives cleared their throats. 

    “I am not sure what you are implying Ms. Marshall.”

    “I will clear it now for you ladies and gentlemen. I did not have to be propositioned, bribed or talked out of my clothes to get to where I am. Surely you think much better of Mr. Rossi. And if you don’t think highly of me now, by the end of this meeting you will.” There was an uncomfortable silence in the room and Mr. Rossi chuckled. 

    “The fair lady speaks and very well I might add. Now, if there are no more misunderstandings may we proceed with this meeting? Time wasted is money wasted and we all wouldn’t want that would we?” 


    “You made the right decision in staying Ms. Marshall.” 

    “And you were trying to ship me off to California.”    

    “I wanted to see if you would take the bait.”

    “Not in a million years. Besides, what would you do without me?” He chuckled. 

    “I would be entirely too miserable.”

    “Yeah I’m sure.” 

    “Why don’t you accompany me to lunch?” She lowered her cup of coffee she was about to drink from. 

    “I don’t think that’s appropriate. Especially considering the meeting we just had and the subject matter.” He grinned. 

    “I suppose not. When did you start to care about them?”

    “I care about my job and the reputation for this company.” He smiled. 

    “Good answer.”

    “The only answer.”  He sighed and started to walk towards his office. 

    “Good job today Rae. In all seriousness. You impressed the hell out of me.”

    “That’s what I’m here for.”

    “Ah, one more thing before I return you to your duties. There is a gala coming up in about three months.”

    “You tryna trick me into going?”

    “No. This time I’m actually notifying you ahead of time.” He joked, leaning back against his office door. She sucked her teeth. 


    “Will you accompany me?” 

    “Why can’t you find someone else to go? Why it always have to be me?”

    “Because I want to take you.” She rolled her eyes. 

    “I don’t know.”    

    “You should be jumping for joy Rae. These are the best opportunities to network and get in the know. That’s another reason I take you. You have the same passion for entrepreneurship as I do. I recognize it in you. That is why I want to open as many doors for you as I can.” She sighed and smiled at him. 

    “I’m appreciative Mr. Rossi.” 

    “So is that a yes?” 

    “It’s a yes.” He grinned and turned without a word and went back inside his office. She was going to get him for being so persuasive one of these days. Smiling to herself, she went back to her desk. Antonio Rossi definitely knew what to say to get what he wanted. But so did she. 


    After work, she had stopped by her parent’s. As soon as she walked in, one of her sisters who sat on the couch called for her. 



    “Somethin on tv I think you might find interestin.” She yanked off her shoes and set her purse on the counter. In passing, she gave her mother and father a greeting kiss as she came into the living room. 

    “Today we have the honor of introducing a young man who has accomplished many incredible things.  His business which has done so well overseas is now pursuing a new feat on American shores. He comes all the way from Kyoto, Japan and his family is quite well known in Asia. Likened to the Imperial House of Japan, their family history spans many centuries. Ladies and Gentlemen, let us give a warm welcome to Hiroto Iwase.” She gripped the edge of the couch and stared at the television screen. The audience cheered as a tall slender man stepped up on stage. He bowed, his hands straight at his side. The lady clapped before sitting down. Some of the women catcalled as the program began. 

    “My, Mr. Iwase it seems you have a fanbase in America already.”

    “Rae, you okay?” 

    “I’m cool.” She sat down and glanced over at Amee who had been watching her. 

    “What?” A pursed her lips. 

    “Nothin.” They turned their attention back to the television as he began to speak. 

    “I am very flattered. I am grateful to be here. Thank you for having me.” The voice touched something deep inside her and she inhaled deeply. It was his voice. The voice from the past… but deeper. More mature. Her younger sister Erica blinked. 

    “This that guy you was datin in high school? His English is as good as ours. Ain’t he from Japan?” 

    “Yeah. He learned early.” Erica nodded and turned her eyes back on the screen.

    “He cute…”  It seemed even her younger sister had been taken by his charm. The woman started to talk again.

    “You are quite young to own a business but it is a feat nevertheless worth mentioning. What made you want to reach America?” The camera finally showed his full profile. 

    “You gon fall off the couch Erica.” Her sister cut her eyes and slid back up on the couch. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him herself. He looked so different… and yet just like she had known him. He had grown even more handsome, his hair cut short and professional. His eyes held confidence and he had that oh so familiar bland look on his face. But she had seen him behind that. She knew… it was a mask he had been forced to put back up. He showed no emotion, not even in his voice.

    “So this was your man huh? He fine but he dry. He like a robot.” Amee jabbed, grinning as she cut her eyes at her. 

    “America is a country with which we as Japanese aspire to model in many ways. What I seek to do is reach across borders and extend a international hand in the face of adversity.” She closed her eyes. His voice seemed to cut deep into her soul. She forced herself to open her eyes. This was a man that had chosen to let her go. She was not going to give him the satisfaction of her emotions. She watched the television, a focused neutral expression on her face. 

    “That is a wonderful aspiration Mr. Iwase. I hope that we can achieve that together.” He nodded and slightly smiled, the corner of his lip curled up. He looked so uncomfortable. 

    “I’m sure everyone is buzzing about this. And I’m sure you’ve received quite a few questions about it but word around town is you’re getting married.” He cleared his throat and smiled tightly.     

    “That is such a hot topic these days.” The interviewer laughed. 

    “You can relax Mr. Iwase. We won’t ask details.” He sighed and sat back in his chair. 

    “Too many people are concerned with my personal life.” 

    “I’m sure. You were once an eligible bachelor and now you are taken. Tough day huh ladies?” The audience whined. He only cleared his throat. 

    “Well I look forward to seeing you again and many well wishes for you and your new business endeavors. May America treat you well.” He nodded.

    “Thank you.” 

    “Mr. Iwase everyone.” The whole audience, mostly women, stood and cheered as he bowed low again before leaving the stage set. Soon after, the show went to commercial. She sat back and gripped her fingers together. That was certainly a surprise to end my evening. So Hiroto was in New York. After all these years… he’d come. Turning, she found everyone’s eyes on her. 

    “Oh come on y’all.” They exchanged glances with each other. 

    “How are you feeling about it Rae?” She shrugged. 

    “What is there to feel? He had an interview. Big deal.” 

    “Is that really what you feel?” Her father asked gently. 

    “Yeah. It is. I refuse to live in my past. It was a shock to see him on our television screen. But he sounds like he’s doing well for himself. That’s great. I’m not going to let you guys treat me like some damn sympathy card. I’ve grown up and I’ve moved on from him. He’s moved on from me. Leave it at that.” Her mother sighed with a soft smile. 

    “Okay then. I’m proud of you.”  She stood up and smiled. 

    “I’m gonna go y’all.”

    “Okay then sweetie.”

    “See you guys later.” 


    As she drove home, she came to the conclusion that if she was going to fully take her life by the reins she would have to completely leave what was dead as dead. The truth was that she missed him sometimes.. thought about him sometimes. She was trying so hard to forget him and what she once felt. But she realized just as hard as she had been trying to let him go, she had been fighting for him. Still, after all this time she was still fighting for him. Their love had been so raw and real. Something she wanted to experience again. Things hadn’t gone their way and for that she accepted it. That was how life was. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.         She had made the best of her life after him. And she would continue to do so after he left New York, got married, had kids and went back to Japan. Her life was not dependent upon him. And at the same time… what did lying to herself ever get her? At the end of the day… She was going to let him do him. And she was gonna do her. With her crown readjusted, she could focus back on her throne. There was that one person that touched a Queen’s heart so much she would forever be in love with them. But sometimes, that Queen had to move on and do what was right for her Kingdom. Sometimes, the matters of the heart had to be put behind her. 














End Notes:

A/N: So... first lemme say that I am so glad Raebae broke up with Kwasame. He was a loser. Jerk. And everything in between. Nobody care about that British accent. Thinkin he can charm his way nawl bud. Two, what do you think of Rae seeing Roto on tv? :) ;D It's comin y'all. They gon see each other for the first time in ten years... Next chapter ^^ :D Let me know your thoughts as always! I'm off to continue editing and I'm probably going to call it a night. I've been up since 8:30 this morning. Funny cause it's not 8:30 pm lol. haha. Good night. Love you. God bless. <3 


Found by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


Three months had come upon him quickly and with the acceleration came the cold and snow. Before he knew it, Hisae had come and gone, leaving him with lots of pictures, laughter and warmth. She had enjoyed her first American Holiday visit and already was planning to come back. He had gotten everything squared away with the leasing contracts for his business space and had established a clientele. Already, within four full months of being here he was doing well as expected. Soon he predicted it would be just as big as it was back home. He heard the door bell ring and sighed. Unlocking the door from his keypad, he let the visitor in. In she came and she swallowed thickly. 

    “Hiro…” It had been at least a month before he had had any interaction with her. In the amount of time he had allowed her back, he had really tried to understand her. Was she not a victim of his mother as well? When they had met, they both had been young and impressionable. Both eager to please their respective loved ones. While he still saw Iwase Eri when he looked at her and he hadn’t forgiven or forgotten what she had did to him, he was willing to put that aside. For now. Tonight, a much more important matter was at hand. The gala.  He had made clear that if she touched even a hair on his head without his permission, she would be on the first flight back to Japan. She stayed in a separate apartment and was not too close to him. 

    “I don’t want to be late. Let’s go.” She swallowed and he walked past her. 

    “Hiro, your bow tie…”

    “I will worry about it.” She tightened her fists and followed him out to the awaiting car. Inside the limo, he reached up and finished tying his bow tie, having rehearsed how to do so previous times before. 

    “Of course you would not need a mirror.” Kiko said with a soft smile. He didn’t respond and let his hands drop from his neck. 

    “You understand what you are to me tonight yes?” She tightened her lips. 

    “I’m just an arm piece. Something to make you look nice.”

    “To the world we are to be married. I think by now you know that will not happen.” She lowered her head. 

    “I regret touching you Hiroto. I should not have done it. Now your heart towards me is cold and unyielding. I have ruined us.” 

    “Perhaps if I am feeling up to it we can reconcile.” She looked up at him, her teary eyes wide. 

    “You mean that?”  

    “Perhaps.” She nodded and smiled softly. 

    “Your heart however cold is tender.”

    “Tender to those who deserve it.” Her smile waned a bit. 

    “I see.” The rest of the ride was silent. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, turning away from her. This was a crucial stepping stone for his American foundation. He hoped Kiko did not ruin it with her personal emotions. The sound of faint music and laughing sounded from outside. They were here. 

    “Mr. Iwase, we have arrived.” 

    “Thank you.” He sat up straight and waited until his door was opened. As soon as he stepped out of the car, blinding light flashed, stunning him. His driver came around and raised his voice at the photographer. 

    “Please allow Mr. Iwase to get to the building before you take any pictures!” He tightened his jaw and turned, holding out his hand. Kiko gripped it softly as she stepped out of the car. He gently slid his arm around her waist and drew her close as they began to walk. As they made it to the door, it was pulled open and they stepped inside. Lush red carpet, sparkling candeliers and pictures of old American money covered the walls. 

    “Mr. Iwase! Mrs. Iwase! Please turn this way.” He kept his expression calm though he wanted to correct him. Turning, they looked at the camera. Kiko formed a small smile on her face and wrapped her arm around his waist. The camera snapped rapidly. He placed his hand on her wrist and gently gripped. She kept that smile on her face but she loosened her hold on him. More flashes. He pulled her arm off of him and took a calm breath. 

    “Can we get some of you alone Mr. Iwase?” He nodded curtly. 

    “Yes you may.” He looked into the camera and waited until they said he could go. Sighing, he turned to see Kiko standing stiff as a board, hands pressed together against her thighs, such an elegant formal hand pose if it wasn’t so tense. He didn’t say a word. She came to stand beside him, not touching him and together, they went into the ballroom. 


    They sat next to some nice people and they began to engage them in polite conversation. 

    “How are you young man?” 

    “Hello. I am well. Thank you for asking.” He smiled a bit. A older woman smiled and sighed. 

    “You’re quite the handsome one aren’t you? What is your name?” 

    “My name is Hiroto Iwase.”

    “You’re the newcomer!”

    “Yes.” A man who sat next to the woman nodded. 

    “It is good to see you here. I’m sure the cameras were all over you huh?” He laughed a little. 

    “Yes they were. But it’s okay. This is a big event so I’m not surprised.” The man smiled and glanced at Kiko. 

    “How are you young lady?”

    “I’m well. Thank you.” She answered with a polite smile. 

    “You look beautiful tonight. Truly you two make a show stopping couple.” He just gave a smile and reached for his glass. Once everyone had been seated, a man came to stand in the center with a glass. 

    “Hello esteemed guests! Thank you for attending the 30th Annual Aspiration Gala. I would like to introduce myself! I am James Kelley, the VP of Key and Greene. It is a pleasure to be hosting this event this year and on behalf of Key and Greene I welcome you new and old! We will be served dinner and spend the first half of our evening with some leisure and then the latter part will be to network, drink, eat and enjoy yourselves. We pride ourselves on providing young business owners with an opportunity, the right one. Without further ado, have a wonderful evening.” Glasses clinked and soon men and women dressed in black and white came to place their first course in front of them. 



    The evening was going well and by the time they had all stood, he had come in contact with several promising partnerships. Many of the women and men he conversed with had been in the business world for years and had enough experience to carry them easily. He wanted to learn and grow from them. He stood against the wall, a beautiful chandelier hanging overhead. With a flute of champagne in between his fingers, he sighed and took a sip. His eyes found Kiko who was aways from him, talking with a woman. She said something and they laughed. His eyes went to the woman she was talking to and lifted his glass to take a sip. She had lovely skin, a smooth brown. She was considerably shorter than Kiko but had a more womanly figure. He took another sip of his champagne and couldn’t help but admire her. She was beautiful. He wondered who she was and who she had come with. Where could her date be? 

    He took his eyes off of her and looked around at the other faces which seemed to blur together. In a sea of white, there were two distinct colors that he found curiously interesting. That of his tone and that of the woman. Like him, she was the only one in the room who was of a color. He smiled to himself. How few and far between those of their kind succeeded in this world. He took a breath and as he was about to place the glass back on a nearby tray, he caught another glimpse of the woman. She had turned towards him and was searching the crowd. He froze, his hand in mid motion. Those eyes. Lined with black eyeliner, they looked around him. That nose. Those lips. Covered with a classic shade of red. His heart began to beat faster against his will.  She seemed to command his very blood and he was powerless to stop it. 

    “Sir?” He tore his eyes away and met a young woman who held out her tray. 

    “Are you finished?” 

    “Yes. Thank you.” He set the glass down and was glad when she walked away. His eyes found her again and they roamed her from head to toe. He felt his palms grow moist and slid them into his pockets. How was she here? The black dress she wore seemed to melt against her skin and it hugged her hips just right. She wore a daring yet tasteful plunge line and pressed the small black clutch against her stomach. He couldn’t seem to get enough, his vision hungry for the sight of her. 

    “Hiro?” He heard Kiko come up to him but didn’t look at her. Instead, he traced the delicate slender lines of her neck and the way the loose curls of her hair teased the skin. 

    “Who is that woman?” She followed the path of his eyesight. She tightened her lips. 

    “You’ve been looking at her this whole time.”

    “Who is she?” He asked again, finally turning to look at her. 

    “Why do you want to know? You’re here with me. Not her.” He frowned deeply and his eyebrow twitched. 

    “You are in no place to be jealous.”

    “She has a date.”

    “Who is she.” She rolled her eyes and sighed. 

    “Her name is Ebere Marshall. She works for the man who is all over her right now.” He almost broke his neck trying to look only to find a tall man standing behind her with his hand gently pressed on her back. He leaned down in a dangerously flirtatious manner and whispered something to her. He lifted his glass and took a slow sip as he watched him. He couldn’t describe what it was about that man but he did not like him. He didn’t want his hands, lips or any other part of him anywhere near her. 

    “Any more and you’ll combust Hiroto.” He cleared his throat and glanced down at her. 

    “Why are you so interested in her?” It was a long story, one he was not going to get into right now. He finished the flute and gently placed it on a tray as it came around. As much as he wanted to go and remove that man’s hand himself, he refrained. He needed to calm down. Everything within him screamed for her. But, he had to keep composure. He hadn’t come here for anything other than to connect with future business partners. He’d have his chance soon. Very soon. 


    After everyone had had their fill of food and drink, they talked. Kiko sat next to him starting to irk him with her exasperated sighs.

    “You’re free to leave if you have gotten tired.” He said, making eye contact with her. Her cheeks flushed pink. 

    “I wouldn’t want to leave you here by yourself.” 

    “Don’t be concerned about me. I’ll be fine.” 

    “The way you’ve been staring at that woman the whole evening I’m not so sure.” 

    “I think it’ll be best if you go. You should not want to stay if you are unhappy.”

    “I don’t understand how one look at her has you so flustered.”

    “It’s complicated.” Her blush grew red and she clutched her dress tightly in her fingers underneath the table. 

    “Complicated hm?”


    “I don’t trust you alone with that woman.”

    “I don’t need you to parent me.” He stood, pushing his chair back. As he placed it back in place he leaned down and gently pressed his lips against her ear. 

    “Go home.” He whispered and pressed a kiss against her temple before he walked away. 


    “You have a fresh face. May I ask who you might be?” He looked up to find the man who had damn near been breathing down Rae’s neck earlier standing back against the wall. He took a deep breath and finished washing his hands. 

    “It’s nice to meet you.”

    “You didn’t tell me your name.” He turned to look at him straight in the eyes. 

    “Hiroto Iwase.” 

    “Ah, the new kid so far from home.” He chuckled. 

    “I take it you’ve come to welcome me. Quite a funny way you’ve chosen to do so.” 

    “What do you mean?” He grabbed some paper towels and wiped his hands. 

    “You’ve chosen to isolate me in the bathroom. I must assure you sir I do not like men.” The man’s face grew red and his nostrils flared. 

    “I beg your pardon!” He looked at him with a rather bored expression on his face. That made the color spread into his neck. He was looking at him for just what he was. Insignificant. 

    “I saw you looking at my date. You’ve been drooling over her the entire evening. What kind of gentleman are you when you have such a beautiful woman as your date?” 

    “I did not know that it was a crime to admire beauty.” He replied in an uninterested tone, looking him over. “Is she your romantic partner?” It honestly did not matter if this man was or not. Sooner or later, she would be with him. He’d make sure of that. 

    “No. Not yet.”

    “Quite possessive of her aren’t you?” The man glared at him. 

    “She is someone I am interested in.” He almost sneered but kept his mouth in check. 

    “I see.”

    “Your date is very beautiful.” 

    “Ah, so you were looking at her just the same.” The man tightened his jaw. 

    “Regardless of that, I came in here to tell you that the woman I am with is off limits to you.” That’s what you think. He threw away the paper towels and turned to look into the mirror. 

    “My, all of this because I’ve looked at her? Do I intimidate you so soon?” The man balled up his fist. 

    “I don’t think we should have such animosity on the first night we’ve met. Do you?” He faced him and extended his hand. 

    “Let’s try again hm? I’m Hiroto. It’s nice to meet you..?” The man shook his hand much too firmly. 

    “Antonio. Antonio Rossi.” 

    “Pleasure Antonio.” He let go of his hand. 

    “I believe we should get back to our respective dates.”




    The last few people chatted in the soon to be empty room.  It was getting late and most of the guests had left. Kiko had decided to leave and for the first time since the evening started, he could think clearly. He had his back turned as he chatted politely with an older gentleman. A small burst of wind blew across the back of his neck and he turned. Rae. 

    “I’m going outside.”  Rossi tried to keep her around him. 

    “Antonio, stop. I’m tired and my damn feet hurt. Talk to your people. I’ll be outside.” 


    “The solarium.” 

    “All right. I’ll try not to be too long Rae.”

    “Mmhm.” She waved as she walked right past him into the hallway. He watched as Rossi turned to continue to talk to those around him. His chance had come. He calmly excused himself from the man and walked into the large hallway. The faint scent of perfume led him down the hall and to the left was a door. He opened the door. The cold hit him instantly and he inhaled sharply as he to stepped outside. Why had Rae decided to come out here by herself dressed like that? For a moment, the memory of her standing for the train in her uniform replayed in his head and he smiled. She hadn’t changed. He looked around in the dark, the moonlight streaming in through the glass windows. From here, you would see the stars and they twinkled as if to encourage him. As he went around the corner, he found her standing there, looking up at the same stars. She sighed and wrapped her arms around herself.

    “Damn, why the hell did I not bring my coat?” She exclaimed in frustration. He couldn’t stop himself and replied with a grin on his face.  

    “You do look cold.”


End Notes:

A/N: It's hereeeeee!!!!!! What do you think? The next chapter should be up soon :) I wanted to post a picture of Rae's dress. <3 Y'all know I'm visual :) I thought it would be the perfect dress to kill Iwase wit lol. Any whoo, I hope you guys enjoy! <3 God bless and take care!



Here it is for you folks: 







You by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:















"It's... you." 






The entire evening had long since gotten on her nerves and she didn’t think she could handle any more of the prim, proper and snooty. Antonio surely was having a ball. He was taking full advantage of the fact that she couldn’t do much and because of that he had put his hands all around her. He was lucky they were at this event or else she woulda gave his ass a beating. Sighing to herself, she shivered in the night and her breath nearly crystallized in the air. So much for some not pursuing her anymore. Bruh was not slick. At all. She closed her eyes and tilt her head back, letting the cold air caress her neck. She couldn’t stay out here too long or else she was fixing to catch a cold. But this place had to be her favorite discovery about the whole building. She had found it by accident as she was trying to get back to the gala from the bathroom. The starlight had bathed her in its brilliance and for a moment, she felt as though she was in a magical mystery that only she knew of and here she could have all the visual beauty she wanted. As she was getting ready to turn back around and leave, she felt a cold chill. 

    “Damn. Why the hell didn’t I bring my coat?” She expected silence. But what she got instead was a deep voice that replied. 

    “You do look cold.” The voice startled her and she spun around, eyes wide. She stared, mouth agape. She couldn’t believe who was standing in front of her. He smiled softly and she felt her heart begin to pound in her chest.

    “Hi-Hiroto…” He stood there, his hands in his pockets.

    “Hello beautiful.” She felt tears suddenly well up in her eyes. 

    “Why are you here?” He sighed, the cold curling in the air. 

    “I am here for a lot of things.” His voice so familiar and warm was making her dizzy suddenly and she didn’t like that it was making her react like this. 

    “Things like what?” The wind blew around them, the chilly air freezing her skin. With the wind, it brought his scent and it drifted into her nostrils. She tightened her fists. It was absolutely ridiculous how good he smelledShe brought her eyes up to his. Her throat tightened. How dare he stand there like he hadn’t ever left? He acted the same way she remembered in her memories and she grew more and more pissed how easy it came to him. 

    “I do have a business here. It is my place to be here.” She rolled her eyes. 

    “Why are you out here with me is what I meant Hiroto.” He licked his lips. 

    “Am I not allowed to be?” She sucked her teeth. 

    “No. You don’t get to stand there and act like you been out of my life for five minutes.” 


    “What?” He was quiet. The expression on his face looked pained, as if it hurt him to even talk. Good. It should hurt him to talk. 

    “I came to talk to you-” 

    “I don’t want to talk to you.” She replied quickly, cutting him off. 

    “This was my chance and I took it.”

    “You shouldn’t have.” He looked into her eyes with a small smile. 

    “You still have that spunk. I’m glad you never lost it.” The intensity from his gaze was making her want to look away but she stared at him head on.

    “Look, it’s cold and I’m getting ready to leave. Whatever you have to say say it now Hiroto.” He sighed, his breath curling into a thin cloud of vapor. 

    “I missed you.” She sighed, her hands shaking. 

    “Good to know. I’m going home now.” 

    “Let me take you.” 

    “No. If you know where I live, you’ll never leave me alone.” For some reason, her body wasn’t moving. She told it to walk away but it stayed put. Her heart twisted but she bit her lip and inhaled through her nostrils. 

    “I don’t know what to say or where to start with you. I wasn’t prepared for this.” 

    “It’s quite a shock for me as well.” It grew quiet and she shivered, tightening her arms around herself. 

    “When did you get here?” 

    “Three or so months ago.”

    “You’ve been here this whole time. And tonight is the night I have to run into you huh?” He didn’t reply, just looked at her with that intense gaze. She lifted her head. Don’t back down. 

    “Tell me something Hiroto.” 


    “That woman I talked to earlier. Was she your wife?” He swallowed. 


    “So you never married her?”


    “Hm. Ten years with her and not a ring for one. Don’t sound like you are happy to talk about her. You didn’t seem happy to be around her at all tonight.” 

    “Quite observant as always.” She pursed her lips. 

    “Was leaving me worth it?” The time seemed to expand and it took forever until he finally spoke.     

    “No.” His answer was simple but held so much suffering. 

    “Sad you had to go ten years before you realized that.” She watched him step closer. Still her body didn’t move. 

    Slowly, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her flush against him. She let out a breath, the tears threatening to overflow. 

    “I wasn’t strong enough then.” She fought against the urge to lift her arms and press her hands against his chest. She wanted to hate him. She had tried for so long. And she thought she finally had succeeded.

    “I’m much stronger now.”  He spoke against her temple, his breath warm. His scent was so dizzying. Why did he feel and smell so good? So warm.  All these years later…he had control of her..

     “Let go of me.” She reached up to pull him off of her. There was a time she would have melted in his captivity. His arms once brought her peace but now it just hurt her. She didn’t want to be under his captivity any longer. 


    “What?” Her tone was hard. 

    “Tell me something.” She didn’t reply, keeping her mouth shut as she waited for him to speak.

    “Have you completely closed your heart? Have you used up the last amount of love we shared and turned it into hatred?” His calm quiet question stung her.

    “Hiroto…” He pressed his face into her hair. 

    “If that’s so, I understand. But, I’ve never stopped loving you.” His warmth threatened to overwhelm her. 

    “L-Let go…” He let his arms slide away from her at once and slowly, he took his body heat away too. She stood there shivering, clenching her teeth. The unshed tears slid down her cheeks, cold as ice. He watched as the tears fell. 

    “You are such a bastard.” He stood still, letting her insult wash over him. 

    “I deserve your anger.” His voice was quiet, barely audible. 

    “I haven’t seen you in ten fucking years. And you come out of nowhere…. telling me all the shit I don’t need to hear right now…” He remained quiet and let her continue. 

    “I’ve tried to hate you. Do you understand? After all the shit I had to deal with you were just another traitor.” Her body shook almost violently and she tightened her fingers around herself. 

    “That’s great, you’re strong and everything. That’s great you’re going places and doing big things. But in the midst of that… did you ever think about me? Did you ever stop to think how hard and long it took me to pick my life back up?” 

    “More than you know Rae.” She scoffed, the anger within her tears turning her cheeks hot. 

    “You don’t deserve this… my time. My space. And keep your damn hands off of my body.” 

    “If that’s what you want.” She eyed him from head to toe. 

    “Look at you. Standing there like you were then. You’re not getting any pity from me.” His eyes grew hard with resolve as they flickered to hers. 

    “I do not want pity. I want your heart.” The ferocity of his statements took her back and she was at a loss for words. The man in front of her… the one she tried to see from her past… was no longer there. Her lens had shattered and in front of her was a warrior. Who wasn’t not taking any prisoners. Even so, her mouth opened and the words just kept coming out. 

    “You lost out on that chance.” He tightened his fists and the look in his eyes took her breath away. 

    “I’m prepared to wait.” His voice once overflowing with pain sounded much stronger with determination. She reached up and wiped the tears from her face. 

    “Don’t bother waiting for me. It’s too late for us. Us died a long time ago.” She gathered herself and stood straight, holding her head high to look up at him. 

    “Goodbye Hiroto.” Her voice was as cold as her skin. As she started to walk past him, his arm reached out and grabbed her pulling her against him. The breath whooshed out of her.

    “I will never give up on you Rae. Don’t completely rule us out.” She looked up at him, eyes wide. His fingers gently stroked her cheek. Against her will, the tears continued to flow, leaving paths of ice in its wake. 

    “I let you go before. I will not make that mistake a second time. This time, I will fight for you. However long it takes, I’ll wait.” He gently ran his thumb across her bottom lip, 

    “I’ll wait until love fills your heart once again.” He slowly let her go and she stood there, still. Words didn’t exist as she watched him walk away from her. She trembled, her skin tingling. Anger still dwelled in her chest but her heart weeped. It cried out for him. Deep within, it answered him.



    “Rae,” Hands gently rubbed her back. 

    “Come on boo. It’s time for you to get up.”  She groaned and turned over in her bed. She opened her eyes and looked to see Amee. She sighed. 

    “I just need ten more minutes.” 

    “No, come on Ebbie. You’ve been shut in this house all weekend.” She sucked her teeth and groaned again. 

    “What happened at that gala? You’ve been in space ever since you came back.” She blinked and tried to orient herself. She had been in bed all weekend. And had definitely been ignoring calls. Anger flared up in her chest, making it feel like a burning fire. Damn him. How dare he? Who the hell did he think he was? 

    “Never mind that. Where’s my phone?” Amee sighed and pulled it from under the blanket. Glancing at it, she scowled. 

    “Guess who…” 

    “You don’t even have to tell me.”

    “He’s confusing me. One moment he complain about everything, the next he crying wanting you back.” She shrugged. 

    “I don’t have no time for a nigga that don’t know what he wants.” 

    “You’re better off without him.” 

    “Good damn riddance.” She sighed and turned over before slowly putting her feet in the carpet. 

    “You gunna get up now?”


    “Why don’t you call Lee? Maybe we can all go to lunch.”

    “Sounds cool.” She got up as her sister closed her door, leaving her in privacy. Stretching, she sighed deeply. Iwase Hiroto had hit her like a tidal wave and she hadn’t been prepared. She had spent the rest of the weekend in bed… reflecting… crying…all things she couldn’t stand that he had made her do. Ten years ago hit her in the face all at once and she had been cast out to sea. Too many things had happened. Her break up with Kwasame and then BAM Hiroto came. She hadn’t known what to do. But, she would figure out what to do. 

    She got in the shower and massaged her scalp. It would be time for a co-wash soon. She washed herself and got out. She came into her bedroom to find her sister staring at a picture she had on her small bookshelf. 

    “You look so happy here…” She tightened her towel and looked at it from her side. It was a picture of Hiroto and her with Tobu and the old gang. She had kept it pressed face down for years. 

    “I was.” She looked at Hiroto. 

    “He looks different here. He looks like he actually smiled.”

    “He did.” Amee smiled sadly. 

    “I remember the pictures you showed me of him… on your phone. The one you took on your birthday. The smile that kid had on his face was bright enough to light a thousand galaxies.” Her throat was tight suddenly. 


    “You saw him didn’t you?” She looked up at her, eyes wide. 


    “At that party. He was there wasn’t he?” She bit her lip. 


    “Now I know why you been actin like this.” 

    “Like what?”

    “It may not be any of my business but… you’ve tried to make it work with someone else…. but it hasn’t.” She glanced back at the picture. 

    “You still wear his ring. You still have his pictures. You even still have some of his clothing. You’re not ready to let go of him are you?” Silence. Amee took it as an opportunity to continue. 

    “I know you mad at him. I know he don’t deserve to come back and pick up where y’all left off… right away. But…I love you so I’ma keep it real.” She faced her. 

    “You’re still in love with him Ebbie. And somethin tells me he’s in love with you too. The way all this shit been goin down with Kwasame and everything else… it was meant to happen. After all this time. Y’all don tried to move on but y’all can’t. Y’all ain’t supposed to.” She felt tears well up in her eyes and she couldn’t contain the small cry that had come from her chest. Amee pulled her close. 

    “Sweetheart, what you had with him…you can have it again. Just let it run its course. I want you to look and be as happy as you were then.”

    “He’s such a jerk I can’t… how dare he just…” Amee smiled. 

    “No one is gunna rush you. Forgive in your own time. But Ebbie, you need to forgive him with him. Maybe he can forgive himself when he’s with you. You can’t do it by yourself.” 

    “I wish I could.”

    “Ebbie, don’t act like that.” She groaned and lifted up, wiping her tears. 

    “Why did he have to come now? I finally got my life together and he had to come and hit me from the side.” Amee grinned. 

    “He came right on time too cause you just broke up with ol dude.” She sighed heavily.

    “Just take it one step at a time. You were friends before anything else.”

    “Yeah yeah yeah…” She sniffed and chuckled at her sister who was trying not to laugh. 

    “You know you miss him as a friend…” She nudged her and got a playful hit on the shoulder. 

    “Who told you to come to my house and get all wise on me? Dag. I ain’t ask for non this.” Amee finally let out her laugh. 

    “I’m your sister. You was gon get it anyway. And you know Lee probably would say the same thing.” She laughed softly. 

    “Yeah except she might say it like, “Make that nigga suffa.” Amee nodded. 

    “You know your friend is crazy.” 

    “Gotta love her.”

    “Okay so you good?”

    “Yeah. I’m good.”

    “Now, get dolled up. We’re going out. You, me and Lee.”

    “Well alright.” She was determined to make this upcoming so much better. 


    At work the next day, she found that Mr. Rossi had not come in which as very unusual. The man never missed a day of work in his life. For him to call in sick was something of an eyebrow raiser. She supposed this was her time to shine and put what she’d learned in all those meetings and fancy smancy galas to work. She smoothed back her hair and put it into a bun and sat down at his desk. Feeling the wood beneath her fingers, she retracted her them quickly. This was weird. Sitting at your boss’ desk in your boss’ office when he was not there. She felt so out of place. Sit up straight and stop worrying. Rossi left this to you on purpose. She could handle this. She cleared her throat and gently pressed the intercom button that went out to Jenny’s desk. 


    “Yes Mr. Rossi-I mean Ms. Marshall?”

    “Are there any packages, mail or messages for Mr. Rossi today?” 

    “One moment please.” She heard ruffling in the background. 

    “He has one package from his business partner in California. Two letters and there seems to be something else.” She waited for her to speak. 

    “It is addressed to you Ms. Marshall.” Poking out her lips and scrunching up her eyebrows, she stared at the intercom. What?

    “A package for me?” 

    “Yes ma’am.” 

    “Could you bring it all here please?”

    “Yes ma’am. Right away.” She soon heard a knock on his door. 

    “Come in Jenny!” Jenny stepped in and gave her first the things for Mr. Rossi. The last thing she had to bend down to get and when she stood back up, her arms were behind her back and her face was pink. 

    “Jenny?” She blushed harder and smiled. 

    “I think you’re going to like this one.” She pulled a single stemmed red rose from behind her back and handed it to her. Attached to the beautiful red wrapping paper was a small note and a small box also was given to her. 

    “Is that all ma’am?” Jenny asked, a smile on her lips and blush still in her cheeks. She blinked and nodded. 

    “Thanks Jenny.”

    “It’s no problem ma’am.” When the door was closed, she stared at the rose. Could Antonio have sent her this rose? With his hooky self, she wouldn’t be too shocked. Kwasame? Him tryin to butter her up wouldn’t be a surprise either. Honestly, the man needed to gon somewhere. Her mind raced and she reached for the note, fingers trembling. Opening the small card, she saw the message and felt her heart speed up. 

    I hope this eases your mind and makes you smile. R. 

    Opening the small box, she found five wagashi, all different colors of pink, blue, green and purple. Sighing, she placed the box down on the desk. So, he hadn’t wasted no time making a move. So like him. Picking up the small pink treat, she glanced at it. It made her remember a time underneath the cherry blossom trees. Taking a small bite, she sighed again and placed it back in the box covering it with the lid. If he thought sending her sweets would make her acquiesce, he had another thing coming. He’d have to do better than that. Nevertheless, it made her smile… as intended. As she continued her work, she ate one until they were gone.









End Notes:

A/N: After ten years, finally Hiroto and Rae meet for the first time. There is so much pain within Rae's heart... and so much love in Roto's. No matter what, she can't fight what is in her heart for him. So, she'll come around. I near swooned writing this chapter lol. Hiroto know how to talk man. *dreamy sigh* Next chapter is still in the works :) Let me know your thoughts! Hopefully, it was a chapter worth waiting for! :) Take care and God bless! 


This how I imagine it would be if made into an anime (if my story was made into an anime I would freak out lol):

Yes I would make them make the girl brown and like legit brown.. not that "tan". BROWN. And she would have natural hair and would have a button nose and full lips and look like like a real black woman would look like. *sigh* That would be amazing. To see a love like this with a non Japanese character. 

Leeway (Slow but Sure) by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:



    Christmas had come and gone and it had been much harder on Kiko than on him. He had long been used to spending holidays alone. But she had had these grandeur ideas of what Christmas was supposed to be like. She had called him the day before and asked if he wanted to do something. To which he replied no. Instead, he had spent his holiday in his apartment working. He hadn’t allowed himself a break during this time and because of that was currently exhausted. He sighed and looked out of his window upon the snowy city. It was nearing January, how quickly the time was moving. It seemed he had blinked and just got here.


     His phone buzzed as he put his computer down on the living room table. Going to look at it, he sighed. Let’s go to lunch. His stomach growled and he quickly typed an answer. No, I’m not hungry. But that was a lie. He was starving actually and his stomach served to remind him of that. He had been showing her the cold shoulder the whole time they had resided here. For that he wasn’t regretful. But the emotion did tire him sometimes. Today, he would allow it. He erased his answer and typed a new one. Be ready in 30 minutes. She replied back quickly. Okay. 


    He got in the shower and brushed his teeth. Putting on a warm sweater and jeans, he slid into his boots. Grabbing his coat, wallet and key, he put his phone in his pocket as he left. On the ride, he pressed his forehead against the cold glass. New York was truly a beautiful city when it snowed. But even so, there was something even more beautiful about Japan covered in snow. He was starting to grow homesick. 


    “Sir?” His driver called from the front of the car. 




    “I was wondering if I could ask you something.”




    “Could I be permitted to take a leave for the Holiday?” New Years Eve was approaching.


    “You have family here Daiko?” 


    “Yes. I have a brother who resides in this city. Though it is not my wife and children, I am happy I have someone to be around for this holiday.” He was quiet for a while until he spoke again. 


    “Would you like to see your wife?” 


    “Very much sir.” He stared out of the window at the large white piles of snow that was covering cars, sidewalks and roadways. 


    “I’ll purchase a ticket for you to visit them.” Daiko smiled, he could feel it. 


    “Sir… That is quite a bit of money. Please reconsider.”  


    “It’s no problem. It is not good for a man to be away from his family.” 


    “How long will I have to be away from you sir?” 


    “You can spend a month or so at home. I’ll pay you for that time.” 


    “You’re so gracious Mr. Iwase.” He smiled. 


    “You deserve it Daiko. I will arrange for your trip later on.”


    “T-thank you Mr. Iwase.”


    “It is I that should thank you.” 








    As he stepped up to the door, he sighed. When he looked at Kiko, he wanted to see her. Not the face of the woman who had for so long tortured him. If he was going to try, he needed to be a little bit nicer. Licking his lips, he knocked on the door and waited until she came to, a soft smile on her face. 






    “Would you like to come in?”


    “Yes.” She opened her door and stood aside as he came into the house. The house had been paid for by his mother and all of her expenses had been taken care of. When was she going to decide to live for herself? At some point, she had to desire to live in her own shadow, not any one else’s. 


    “Are you ready?” He asked. 


    “Yes. Let me get my purse.” He stood, watching her as she grabbed the small handbag. He sighed and did something that shocked her so much she stood still. He’d placed his hand gently on top of her head, in an affectionate manner. She looked up at him, eyes wide. 


    “I am trying Kiko. I am trying to be nice.” She smiled and a blush came to her cheeks. 


    “Thank you for trying.” 


    “Do you want to know why I’ve brought you with me?” She blinked. 


    “I never thought to ask you.” 


    “The reason has changed tremendously. At first, it was a cruel reason.” She gripped her purse. 


    “A cruel reason?” He might as well be honest with her. 


    “I came here to find someone. Someone dear to me. I brought you because I wanted to make you watch as I became happy with that person.” She swallowed tightly. 




    “No one has told you the real reason you were matched with me. It’s unfair to you to keep you in such darkness.” She looked up at him. 


    “What are you talking about Hiro?” 


    “We’ll talk on the way.”  






    “Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in the world, a boy who full of misery and hate. One day, his life changed and the flutter of a butterfly touched his heart. A girl came into his life and with this girl came freedom.” She was quiet as she listened. His eyes caught the greens, blues and white of snow from outside his window. 


    “It’s a freedom I sacrificed…in order to please those who didn’t deserve it.” 




    “I chose to let her go. The greatest love I’ve ever experienced. For bondage. In hopes I would finally be what they needed…wanted me to be.” She swallowed thickly. 


    “That girl you speak of…it’s that woman isn’t it? That black woman.”


    “Yes.” She sat across from him, her fingers tightly clutched together. 


    “Why did it have to be her?”


    “I can’t answer that.”


    “What does she have to do with me?”


    “My family came into agreement with yours. Or rather… your half sister.” She grew still. 


    “My half…sister?”


    “She couldn’t have me. So she decided to use you to come between that girl and I.” Kiko shook her head. 


    “Hiroto stop. Aiko…Aiko isn’t like that. She would never…”  


    “You don’t know her or what lies within her heart.”


    “Impossible! She’s married… with a child on the way. How could she plot something so evil so young?” He closed his eyes and leaned back against the seat. 


    “Your family sold you to mine. And in return, they sold me to yours. It was an agreement made out of selfish manipulative gain. By now, we should have gotten married and had the heirs they wanted.” Kiko blinked and bit her lip. 


    “I can’t believe… it can’t be true.” He finally turned his gaze on her. 


    “The reason I have brought you now has changed as I’ve said before. I want to use this as a chance for you to seek your freedom.” 


    “My freedom?”


    “Perhaps you will get to a point where like me, you wish to no longer be a slave to anyone, even family. If and when you get to this point, I will help you.” 


    “What will you do with that woman?” He looked her straight into her eyes. 


    “I will make her my wife.” Kiko bit her lip harder. 


    “Do you realize what you are saying? You’d marry her… her of all-”


    “You feel you are superior to her?”


    “No… I…it’s not…”


    “It was time I tell you the truth Noa. Here and now. Do with the information as you please.” The rest of the ride was silent and he sighed. He had Daiko take them to a Japanese restaurant, one that was not too far. He was glad that they were still open, considering that New Years was approaching. He glanced over at Kiko and she had laid down, her face covered by her hair. 


    “Do you still wish to eat?” She slowly looked towards him. 




    “Come on.” He helped her out of the vehicle and together they entered the establishment. 








    Their meal had been silent and a bit awkward but nothing out of the ordinary. He had dropped her back off at her apartment. He hoped that she would desire to seek the truth on her own. Kiko’s emotions were something that would ruin her if she was not careful. He had decided to take a walk around his area to work off the food that he had eaten. As he started on his way, he took in lungfuls of crisp cold air. The burn in his lungs made him smile. Call him crazy but this was actually good weather to run in. By the end, the chill he felt would be long gone. He passed shops, the warm light emanating from them making him feel bright. 


    “I don’t know why you don brought me out here. What is it?” He continued on his way, looking and observing. 


    “I told you no! What more do you want from me?” 


    “I told you I would never let you go. Now you’re coming with me damn it.” 


    “Get the hell off me!” The voices in the background soon rose enough to draw his attention. He stopped and turned to see a man grabbing a woman. He proceeded to drag her. 


    “Let me go Kwasame!” The woman pushed against the man but he lifted her much smaller body into his arms. 


    “Put me down!” He watched as everyone who stood by only watched, no one did anything. The man quickly started to walk away and he tightened his fists. Why was it that society seemed to watch and do nothing in the face of danger? Were its citizens so frightened of what would happen to them if they decided to help another? He turned around and began to follow the man. 


    “I saw him on television. The pompous wanker. I won’t lose you to him. He’s not worthy of you anymore. Let me show you I can change. I can do better.” The woman balled up her fists and began to hit him in the head and shoulder. 


    “You gon have to do better than that if you want me bitch.” She hissed, grabbing his head in between her fingers. She leaned down and bit into the man’s ear. He cursed and reached up to pry her hands off of him but she held on, tightening her teeth. 


    “Rae, let go of me!” 


    “You shoulda thought about this shit before you tried me.” She replied, grabbing onto his ear lobe. He stiffened. Rae? That was Rae? For a moment, he was in awe at how ferocious she was, the fight that was in her. He couldn’t help but be proud. The moment ended as soon as the man yanked her away from him and threw her against the thick powdery snow. 


    “Oh hell nawl…”


    “Rae, listen to me…I don’t wanna hurt you. Just hear me baby.”


    “Get the ever loving fuck off of me. I swear on my life Kwasame.” He used his body weight as an advantage over her and pinned her arms into the snow.     


    “It’s not fair that he gets your attention. I’ve spent two years of my life with you and you drop me all because I didn’t fuck you right. What kind of shit is that?” 


    “Kwasame!” She yelled, growling. He’d seen just about enough. She certainly hadn’t lost the knack to get herself into situations. He came up slowly. 


    “Hey.” The pair froze. He eyed the man, cracking his knuckles. 


    “What the hell-”


    “It’s rude to force a woman when she doesn’t want you.” The man scoffed. 


    “You’re the asshole who made her like this. Before you came, everything was good.” 


    “Who are you talking to?” She asked, her breath heavy. 


    “Your boyfriend…” 


    “Why don’t you get off of her? There are other ways to handle this situation than to use force.” The man eyed him with hatred. 


    “Piss off.” He sighed. 


    “I didn’t want to do this but…” He grabbed the man by the back of his coat and yanked him back until he fell backwards into a pile of snow. The man groaned and got up slowly. 


    “She was mine. I’ll never let her go.” 


    “Shut the hell up Kwasame.” He turned to find she had sat up. 


    “Need a hand?” He asked, reaching down for her. 


    “Not from you.” She got up on her own and pursed her lips. 


    “What are you doing here Hiroto?” 


    “I believe I’m saving your ass.” She sucked her teeth. 


    “Ain’t nobody ask you to do that though so…” 


    “I was supposed to let him have his way with you then?” She shut her mouth, not making eye contact with him. He sighed and felt a rush of air as the man came towards him. He dodged a punch and sighed again. He wasn’t worth his time. He lifted his fist and punched the man square in the jaw, making him stumble. 


    “I don’t have the patience to fight you. Just leave her alone.” He said in a bored tone, eying him as he got up. 


    “You think you’re better than me? You think you’re such hot shit eh?” 


    “Get a damn grip on yourself Kwasame. Don’t try him.” She spoke up, her voice tired but angry.


    “Now you’re defending him?” 


    “Listen to me. Go home.” He spoke up, silencing them both. This whole thing was starting to give him a headache. And his once calm demeanor now was starting to become irritated. 


    “Gon withcha punk ass! Best believe Tre gon hear all the way about this shit.” The man would have paled if he could. 


    “You still have your brother fight your battles for you? You’re a grown ass woman.” 


    “The wrong woman to mess with. As you’ll find out. Now, go home before bruh man here stomps your face into the ground.” He inhaled and cracked his knuckles again and the man took a step back before running away like some frightened kitten. The sight was enough to make him laugh. He gripped his stomach and laughed until he felt tears well up in his eyes. 


    “Oh God…That was funny.” He stood up and wiped at the tears. She stood there, lips pursed looking beautiful and irritated. 


    “Glad you found this all entertaining.” He grinned, a laugh bubbling up in his stomach. 


    “How could I not? He ran away like a scared little girl. That was your boyfriend? Come on Rae, the least you could have done was find someone worthy to replace me.” She sucked her teeth. 


    “You’re an asshole, just like him.” The grin slowly slid off of his face. She shuddered and  bent down to grab the hat that had been on her head out of the snow. 


    “Great. I should have stayed home.”


    ‘You do seem to find yourself in such trouble when you’re not.”


    “Shut up Hiroto. Who the hell are you lecturing?” He put his hands up in defense. 


    “No one.” 


    “This night couldn’t get any better. First him. Now you.” 


    “Perhaps I should not have followed you.” She looked up at him, those big gorgeous brown eyes of hers shimmery. 


    “I’m sure that would have been better. I think we both know what he was going to do to you. Yet you would want that than for me to help you.” She swallowed thickly. 




    “I’m going to go now. Forget we even saw each other hm?” He turned away and started to walk away. 


    “Wait!” He stopped. 


    “T-Thank you.” He turned to look at her. 


    “You’re welcome.” She sighed deeply and bit at her lips as she came towards him. 




    “What is it Rae?”


    “We’re not that close yet….Ebere to you son.” He felt his lips twitch in a smile. 


    “Yes ma’am.”


    “I don’t know why I’m even considering this…”


    “Considering what?” She nearly gnawed at her lips before she balled them up. 


    “A-Are you… hungry?” He blinked. She was asking him to eat? 


    “I could go for something yes.”






    “Let’s grab something…quick I mean. Nothing where we have to sit down or nothin.” He smiled to himself. 


    “I see.” She rolled her eyes. 


    “Look, I’m only doing this because you did kinda save me just now.” He lifted his eyebrow. 




    “Take it or leave it buddy. If not, I’m going home.” 


    “No… I’ll take it.”




    “Where to?”


    “I don’t know…let’s walk till we find somethin.”


    “If that’s what you want.” She walked past him grumbling and he felt his heart flutter. He was slowly starting to work his way back in there. He had a long way to go. But this was a great start.

































End Notes:


A/N: Slow but surelyyyyy they're getting closer. If even it's a rough start. So, pause. All the way pause. Kwasame has lost his mind. Dude gon get all them hands. Roto was just a warm up and he barely hurt him when he really could have. Now, I know y'all may be like dag all these years later and Rae still can't do nothin for herself? To that, I answer you with this... wait and see. <3 The woman ain't as weak as y'all might think. :D <3 I love their interaction (any really) but the awkwardness and tension is just so real like *sigh* Roto got hims a way to go but the trust will be mended. I can't get over Kwasame.... in the words of one of you guys, "He has to go." I'm feelin a WWE smackdown between Hiroto and him if he keep this up. Roto ain't about to let nobody put hands on his woman. OOH he get on the nerves lol. Just dancin on them lol. We get the answer as to why Roto has Kiko with him. A lot of y'all been askin why lol. So, bam there it is. lol. I think it's a noble reason, despite the situation. He's really trying not to let hatred enter back into his heart. Even trying to forgive her for what she did to him that night. Hiroto for the win! <3 :D  Okay, I'm off to continue writing! Enjoy! <3 

Cocoon by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:



This was not what she had in mind. Sitting in some cozy little Japanese spot across from Hiroto Iwase. Not what she had planned. Sighing, she couldn’t relax the purse her lips were in and she was starting to fidget a bit. Man this was uncomfortable. She tightened her fingers underneath the table and looked to the side, watching people walk to and fro past the window. 

    “Is there something you would like?” His voice brought her gaze away from the window and she twisted up her lips. 

    “I would like to go back to my house.” 

    “Not before you’ve eaten something. You’re cold and hungry. Not to mention the ordeal you just went through.” 

    “Man, you sure know how to read me huh?” She retorted sarcastically. 

    “I’m just concerned.”

    “Keep your concern to yourself.” She caught his fingers tighten on his cup of coffee. 


    “Don’t. Just… don’t. Let me get something so I can get outta here.” She looked down at her menu and picked something random. Katsudon…. whatever that was, she hoped it was good as the waitress came to take her menu. 

    “Good choice.” Looking up, she found his eyes on her and felt her cheeks flush. 




    “Thank you.” She moved in her chair. 

    “For what?”

    “Letting me have your time.” She swallowed. 

    “Well, you did save me so I guess you’re welcome.” 

    “Mm.” She licked her lips and looked around, away from him. Things were awkward and tense which made her even more uncomfortable. 



    “Was that man like that with you when you were together?” She turned her eyes on him, his expression serious. 


    “I want to know.”

    “What would you do with such information Hiroto?”

    “It’s important to me.”

    “Is it?”

    “Mm.” Her face grew warm. 

    “Why?” She asked again, eying him.  He leaned forward, his elbows on the table. 

    “You deserve the utmost respect and tenderness. Regardless of how you feel towards me, I do care for your well being. With or without me.” 

    “I don’t think you deserve an answer to something that ain’t your business. Since you askin questions…how was it with the girlfriend you never married?” She asked, her tone haughty. 


    “Wasn’t what?”

    “I didn’t do anything with her.” 

    “In ten years you’ve never touched the woman you supposed to love?”

    “Who said I loved her?” 

    “Hm.” She let the subject drop and sucked her teeth. 

    “How long does this damn thing take to make?” 


    “This whole thing is making me mad uncomfortable.”

    “May I ask why?”

    “What you mean why?”

    “What have I done?” 

    “Everything. Just… everything.” He grew quiet and lifted his cup. She observed him in that moment. Up close, his skin was a pale vanilla, the same beauty marks she’d once wanted to kiss still there, littered across his neck like dark tiny stars. She saw the shadow across his chin, some hair that was trying to come back. She couldn’t help herself as her eyes roamed him. His lips still so pouty and soft molded against the brim of the cup he held. His hair was short but still somehow, some strands fell away from the bang, going towards his eyes. His eyes turned down, a small trace of lively color in his cheeks. His shoulders were still broad and though he looked frail, she knew better. His once thin arms held some bulk to them, just right for his body. Bulk she knew was dangerous. He was still deadly. Still stoic. Still so beautiful. 

    “Your food is here.” He spoke quietly before their eyes met. She grew still, caught. He’d let her look… without so much as a word. 

    “Oh.” She looked down to find the plate had been placed in front of her. When had the waitress come by? 

    “I hope you like it. I’ll treat you.”

    “I don’t want you to pay for me Hiroto.” 

    “I want to.” Her eyebrow twitched. 

    “I don’t want you to though.”

    “Let me. I insist.”    

    “Whatever.” She rolled her eyes and grabbed the hashi next to her. Closing her eyes, she said a quick prayer and before she could catch herself, uttered a soft ‘itadakimasu’. Popping her eyes open, she looked up to find him looking at her. 

    “You still-”

    “It just came out.” She interrupted with a sigh. He nod and cleared his throat. She began to eat and wiggled in her chair. 

    “It must be good.” He mused, leaning on his elbow, his palm pressed against his cheek. Ignoring him, she continued to eat and soon, finished the plate. Sighing, she sat back, gently rubbing her belly. 

    “That was good.”

    “Glad you liked it.”


    “It’s nothing.” She found his gaze on her and the softness within was too much to handle so she looked away. 

    “I should go.” 

    “Should I accompany you?” 

    “What for?”

    “Do I need to list the many reasons?” He asked, his tone careful. The corner of her lip twitched. 

    “Fine but not all the way. Can’t have you knowing where I’m at.” 

    “Whatever makes you comfortable.” They got up and left after he paid at the front. 



    They walked in silence and he couldn’t help but smile to himself. She was purposely keeping her distance from him, her arms tightly wrapped around herself. Tsk, she was always cold. 

    “Are you okay?” He asked, watching as she looked at him. 


    “Would you like my gloves?”

    “Nope.” He grew quiet as they continued to walk. He gripped the inside of his pockets with his gloved fingers. Being with her again like this brought a warm feeling to his chest. Even though she was stiff and unmoving… he realized that any time with her was a gift. He could see the irritation and anger that tightened her body and facial features. Though he was happy to see her again, his heart was breaking. He’d caused this. He’d do anything to soothe the pain within her heart.

    “Hey.” He looked down at her, who had stopped moving. 

    “What is it?” 

    “I can walk from here.” He looked around at the surrounding area, dark and quiet, white snow everywhere. 

    “Are you sure? I can go just a little bit more.”

    “I said I’m cool.” He swallowed and sighed. 

    “All right.” 

    “Thanks for dinner.”

    “You’re welcome.”

    “See you.” He watched her walk off, his hands tightly in his pockets. 





    She buried her hands in her deep pockets and bit her lips which still tasted like the gravy from her meal. And that meal tasted like Hiroto’s money. Why’d she let him pay for her? She didn’t want him getting no ideas. It was good though. Sighing, she felt the irritation from this whole evening turn into anger when she thought about Kwasame. She had had enough of that man. To think she had put up with him for two years. She had tried to force herself to love him but it hadn’t been possible. But this was a whole new level of disrespect. The anger she felt almost glowed around her and she found her hands shaking. Who was he to pick her up like she was a rag doll and force her to go with him? She had made it clear she was done. Men don’t listen. They hear what they want to hear. They do what they want to do anyway. She’d handle this right now. Grabbing her phone, she called Tre. 

    “What’s up Nug?” His voice answered warmly. 

    “Tre, I got a problem I need you to handle.”

    “Who is it?” 

    “I need you to keep an eye on ol dude I broke up with.” 

    “What he do?”

    “If I tell you everything, you might kill him so I just want you to shake him up. Bruh might need some hands.” 

    “Rae, what did he do?” She sighed. 

    “He thought it was smart to follow me in public and damn near kidnap me. Like I said… he need them hands.”

    “Oh he lost his mind…”

    “I don’t know what’s wrong with him but I need that taken care of.”

    “Don’t worry. I got you baby girl.”

    “Don’t go crazy Tre. Just enough to get him to act right.”

    “Don’t worry bout it.”

    “Thanks bro.”

    “Anytime Nug.” She hung up and sighed in relief. Dude needed to know she was the wrong one to mess with. If she had to make a second call, it would not be so nice. Coming to her apartment, she opened the door and got comfy. Once she was calmer, she laid back against her pillows. Now it was time to deal with the other problem. Hiroto. She felt like they had gone back to square one, numero uno. It was like they had regressed and the whole  four year process they had endured had been for nothing. Ten years later, she felt as though she was just seeing and hearing him for the first time all over again. She felt as though her beautiful wings had been clipped and she had closed herself back into a cocoon, safe, warm and free from outside harm. 

    He could easily slide back into her life and with her emotions all thrown out of whack, she could let him. That was unacceptable. He needed to feel just how she felt all those years. If he felt miserable then good. While his life may have been bad… being with a woman he didn’t love… her life had been shit. She’d tried to pick up every single piece of herself he had shattered. Forgiveness would not come easy. He was such a warrior man…He’d have to fight for it. She’d make damn sure of that. 

    Taking a shaky breath, she felt angry tears well up in her eyes. She wasn’t prepared. How could she have known that he would wind up in the same damn city… how could she have known that time and time again, no matter how much she tried to avoid him… they would always come together? He was everywhere all at once and no matter where she went, he would be there. Not to mention the dreams she had started to have of him since that night at the gala. The dreams tormented her, provoked her. Times of a happy Rae. A happy Hiroto. Two beings deep in love’s throes. Deeply intertwined. She’d wake up crying. The visions of laughter, bare feet slapping upon the wet concrete and warm nights fluttering behind her eyelids. It would get worse. Moments she expected to have with him… only him. In her mind, different versions of the same thing happened over and over. She became him and he became her. They became one, their very breath conjoining. Skin hot and sticky, fingers tightly gripping each other, sheets, anything they could. His very presence had done something to her and now she was a mess. Late at night, she pushed away the yearning she felt for him. Only to be reminded in sleep. It made her sick. So sick. 

    “Rae?” The voice of Amee brought her to the present. It hadn't been too long since she had called her to come over. Tears streamed down her face and she sucked in a breath, turning her face away. 

    “What’s wrong Ebbie?” She asked, sitting down on her bed next to her. 

    “Nothin. I-I’ll be al-alright.” 

    “Ebere,” Gripping her covers tightly underneath her, emotion spilled forth like the ink of a fountain pen and from there it could not stop flowing. Cries deep and raw exhaled on her breaths and big tears splashed her legs. 

    “Ebbie…” Amee pulled her closer against her. She gripped her sister, her body shaking. 

    “I…I can’t do this…” 

    “Do what?” Her sister was soft and gentle…slowly massaging her scalp. 

    “I can’t do this. With Hi-Hiroto…I can’t.” She pressed her face against her sister, the tears soaking her shirt. 


    “I…I love him Amee….I fucking love him…” 

    “I know babe…I know.” She shook her head, more coming up from her belly. Amee began to rock her and after a while she grew tired. She pressed her lips against her forehead. 

    “It hurts right now… I know Ebbs. But…”    

    “No. I hate him. I love him. But I hate him.” 

    “You sure it’s hate?” She slowly lifted and pushed some hair that had gotten stuck on her face out of the way. 

    “All I know is that when I see him… I wanna beat his ass. I wanna make him hurt just like he hurt me. But I wanna kiss him and let him make me whole again.” 

    “You weren’t whole before?” She took a deep breath, tears refilling her eyes. 

    “I was empty for a long time. Instead of letting the right thing fill me, I looked for it other ways…”

    “Kwasame…” Her sister voiced. 

    “And others. I thought maybe if they filled me, it would fill my heart. But… I’m just as empty…” Amee took a deep breath. 

    “Ebbie, the only one who can fill you like you need…”

    “I know. I been neglecting Him. I got so out of touch with my faith. I stopped talking about Him. I stopped spending time with Him. I just left Him and tried to do it my own way…” She bit her lip, regret hitting her in the chest. 

    “The good thing about Jesus is that even when we treat Him like dirt… even we turn our backs and try to do it our way… He still loves us. He still wants us. Jesus has his arms wide open…He’ll take us just as we are, as dirty and messed up as we are. Let Him make you whole. Let Him show you how to forgive.”  


    “It’s time you really decided for yourself Ebbie. What will you do? Who will you become?”

    “I need to get back to-”

    “Being you! Who you are at your core. Find her and bring her back.” Amee dapped at her nose and smiled as she got up from her bed. 

    “I feel like busting this guy in his mouth. Look how he got my sister. He dry and look like bland spaghetti noodles. Is he really this great Ebere?” 

    “You did not just call him bland spaghetti noodles. I am all the way done with you Amee.” She pursed her lips. 

    “Well. Bruh has has your heart for over ten years so I guess he must be something. But, you do need to do like Lee suggested. Make that nigga suffa honey. Make him sweat till he can’t sweat no more. Don’t make it easy for him.” She grinned.     

    “You soundin more like her the more y’all hang out.” 

    “Thanks to you.” Her grin grew wider. 

    “Well.” Amee sucked her teeth. 

    “What you gon do about Hiroto?” She felt a flare of anger flash in her chest but inhaled deeply. 

    “I’m gon stunt on him too shid.”

    “Make him wish he’d never let you go Ebbie.”

    “Oh I plan to.”

    “There we go.” She got up and stretched. 

    “I’m going to get myself together. And I’ll be okay.”

    “Yes you will.”

    “I feel better now that I don cried…”

    “Good! If you have to cry in front of him…do it. Let him see just how miserable he made you.” She bit her lip. 

    “Now, I’m gonna pop us some popcorn. And we are gonna have us a movie night.”

    “Thanks A.”

    “Cheer up Ebbie. It’ll be all right. Someday soon, you’ll be with your man again.” 


    “Okay enough talk about him and love. Let’s watch some movies about femme fatales or something.”  She playfully shoved her sister out of her room. 

    “I’m done with you. Gon get that popcorn started.”














End Notes:


A/N: This chapter was emotive for me :) Rae's emotions are so raw y'all. She loves him so much. But the feelings of anger and bitterness has took the place of warm love. In life, we go through seasons. We all at some point drift away from Christ. This also is Rae's story of finding herself again and coming back as a prodigal daughter. <3 She's done wrong. Experienced wrong in her life. And she will get the ending she deserves. <3 My baby! <3 I had a dream today y'all about Transcendence and in the dream... Rae's emotions were seen by Hiroto and it was so moving and powerful. I was just like wow. I have to put that in the story lol. So, it's gonna get real with them. <3 I hope you enjoyed! 

Take care and God bless! 

Visor by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:

** A slight time skip has occured! It's been a few months after the last chapter! :)** 






The voices of the associates and executives droned around her but the only one she had in her hindsight was the one sitting right across from her. He had his head down and his fingers held a pen as he wrote against the paper. She tightened her fist underneath the table. 

    “Ms. Marshall?” She turned her eyes on Mr. Rossi who was seated next to her. 


    “Is something wrong?” He asked in a hushed tone. 

    “No. Not at all.”

    “You seem to be finding Mr. Iwase very interesting.”

    “Not really.”

    “I see.” She cleared her throat. 

    “Excuse me gentlemen, if I could have your attention.” They all turned their attention to her. 

    “I propose we all take a short intermission. If it is all right with you all, we will conclude our meeting at 10:30 pm.”  They agreed and visibly relaxed some of them. Getting up, she gathered her materials and pressed them to her chest. She ignored the eyes on her and looked at Mr. Rossi. 

    “I will be in the break room.”

    “Go right ahead Ms. Marshall.” Without another glance in his direction, she walked out of the board room. 




    As she reached for a cup, she heard a soft knock on the door. Turning, she saw Hiroto standing there. Scowling, she sighed. 

    “You love following me huh?” 

    “You’re not the only reason I came in here.”

    “Oh really?”


    “Sure whatever.” She pursed her lips and filled the cup up with water. 


    “Not now.”

    “Yes now.” He stepped into the room. 

    “Did you receive my gift?”

    “I received plenty of things from you over the past couple months.”

    “What did you think?” She tightened her grip on her cup. 

    “I shouldn’t be surprised. You are a persistent man by nature. But nevertheless, I was irritated that you sent them.” He softly grinned. 

    “I thought you would be.” She looked up at him. 

    “You sent them knowing I’d have an attitude?”



    “In all honesty, I just wanted to make you smile.” She scoffed. 

    “Nah you wanted to piss me off. Seems you still to this day love irritating me.” He bit his lip, the dimples in his cheeks deepening with the grin. 


    “Allow me…” He spoke up first. She pursed her lips and waited for him to speak again. He licked his lips and sighed. 

    “I have to be perfectly honest with you. I can’t stand right now is to be away from you.” She gripped her cup tightly. 

    “Please allow me moments… with you. Even if it is like this.” He continued, his gaze growing more and more intense by the second. GET. A. GRIP. She took a breath and looked into his eyes. 

    “No.” Taking a small sip from her cup she then tossed the water into the sink. 


    “You heard me the first time Hiroto.” 

    “I understand.”

    “You don’t get brownie points for sending me gifts sweetheart. That don’t get you time with me.” She turned around and walked up to him. 

    “You gotta earn that right buddy.” She said, poking him in the chest. He smiled to himself. 

    “You are right. My intention was not to win you with material possessions.” 

    “Hm. I can’t tell.” She took her finger away from his person and stood up straight. 

    “Well this was great and all but this little meeting is over. We gotta get back to the real thing.”

    “Wait a minute.” His gaze drew her in and warmth flushed her cheeks. Danger. DANGER.  

    “What is it?” He smiled softly. 

    “You do realize that at some point, we are going to have to talk about everything.” 

    “There’s nothing to talk about. I said everything I had to that night at the gala.” 


    “Discussion over. Move.” A vein in her temple throbbed when he didn’t. 

    “There is so much yet we haven’t said. Keeping it inside is not healthy.” She rolled her eyes. 

    “Don’t make it harder than it has to be Rae.”  

    “Don’t make me seem like I’m the one with the problem! You’re the one making this difficult! No one asked you to send me anything. No one asked you to play detective and track me down. And no one asked you to even be here.” Before he was given a chance to reply, she left him standing there in the break room, the smell of coffee and refrigerated lunches giving her a headache. 



    It has been months since that gala. Winter had come and gone and by now tiny flower buds were trying to spring up from the earth. He had been here for almost a year now, in the United States. He had come to see the old year pass away and step into the new one. And he felt as though the heart of the woman he loved grew ever colder towards him. Even more so now that she had been regularly attending meetings with him and other executives. Rossi had taken a short leave sometimes, placing her in command in his absence. She couldn’t stand being in the same room with him for more than she had to. It hurt him. But, he pushed on. Someday, the pain in her heart would no longer be there and that was when he could breathe. 

    “Mr. Iwase?” He lifted his gaze to find her looking at him. 

    “Ms. Marshall?”

    “Did you hear what I said?” He cleared his throat. 

    “If you would be so kind as to repeat it I’d appreciate it.” She nodded. 

    “I was speaking with everyone on how we can improve this new year. Do you have any suggestions?” He sat up straighter. 

    “Within our respective ventures?”


    “If she asked you about our business you wouldn’t be able to give any suggestions Iwase. We are after all opponents.” Rossi spoke up behind her, a smug grin on his face. He set uninterested eyes on him. 

    “That’s completely irrelevant to the question asked Mr. Rossi. And respectfully, please address me as Mr. Iwase. Now, I do believe instead of looking at each other as opponents we should look at each other as members of the same community. We all are trying to succeed. Instead of pushing the next man out of the way, my suggestion is to work together to achieve the overall goal at hand.” A man who sat next to him sniggered. 

    “A typical response from the Oriental population. Listen newcomer, in America, we don’t do that here. We strive to be the best.” It grew hushed as everyone stared in shock. He turned to him, cool and collected. 

    “Pray tell John, how is that working out for you?” Some of the guys laughed under their breath. John grew red in the face. 


    “As I thought. Perhaps you should remain silent before you further make a fool out of yourself.” 

    “Gentlemen,” John grew beet red and his lips drew up tight. He however turned his eyes back on the lovely woman who eyed them with a stern look. 

    “If you want to act like children, go do that somewhere else. We are in a meeting.” 

    “Hm.” John grunted and looked away. 

    “My sincerest apologies.” He spoke softly, slightly bowing his head. She sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. 

    “I think we’re done for today. That’ll be all for now.” She got up and stacked her documents. Rossi stood and soon followed her out of the board room like a lovesick puppy. 

    “Way to shut him down Hiro.” A nice fellow by the name of Darius said with a small grin. He occasionally accompanied him for drinks after late nights at the office. 

    “He most definitely had it coming.” Darius snickered. 

    “He’s known to be the office prick. Always looking down on others who he feels isn’t “American” enough.” 

    “That was unacceptable how he humiliated you in front of everyone Hiro.” Another one of his drinking buddies spoke up, coming to stand next to Darius. 

    “He may have intended to humiliate me but in the end, only he was.” Darius slapped him on the back. 

    “Good job holding your own! Most of these guys are seasoned vets. You’re the underdog.  I guess you were prepared to take some shots. Always happens to the best of us just starting out. Hopefully, it lessens.” He nodded with a small friendly smile.

    “Will I see you tonight at the usual place?” Darius chuckled. 

    “You know it man.” As they all began to leave, he gathered his things. He would continue to hold it together around Rossi. He knew he did it to get on his nerves and assert himself around Rae. As he would learn, all that effort would be wasted. 



    “What is wrong with you?” 

    “What do you mean?”

    “Why are you purposely throwing shade at Mr. Iwase?” Rossi sat back in his chair, hands folded behind his head. 

    “Throwing shade?” She sucked her teeth. 

    “Don’t make me act unprofessional today Mr. Rossi.” He grinned. Oh, this was funny to him?

    “Tell me why you insist on publicly humiliating him every time he comes to a meeting?” 

    “Are you defending him Ms. Marshall?” She snort and rolled her eyes. 

    “Who said anything about defending him?”

    “I noticed you staring at him today. Quite intensely I might add.” 

    “Okay you are trippin. You act like he was the only man in the room.” 

    “It might as well have been that way.”

    “Okay listen..first of all you are my boss. Not my man. I do not need you to monitor who I look at and how many times I do it. Second, whatever you got going on with him is your business. For the sake of Affinity, I implore you not to show face in front of competition. Keep it together.” That silenced him with the quickness. For once, he was quiet. 

    “I’m going to excuse myself.” She turned around and walked out of his office. She had about had it today. First she had to look at Hiroto all morning and then for Antonio to be tryna act like her damn daddy…

    “Rae?” She looked at Shelley who had come down the hall. 

    “Hey. What’s up?” 

    “How did the meeting go?” 

    “Girl. Do not get me started. Rossi was throwing shade at Mr. Iwase and then him and some other executive got into a tiff and… it was too much.” 

    “He’s been doing that a lot lately. What is it with Iwase and him?” She knew what ‘it’ was all right. And it was irritating the mess out of her. 

    “You know how men are. They always gotta compete with each other. Get on my nerve.” Shelley sighed. 

    “Well speaking of Iwase…He’s standing by your cubicle.” 

    “Say what?” 

    “He’s not looking at anything. I don’t even think he knows it’s your cubicle.”     

    “Gotta go.” She near flew into the office room and sure enough, there dude was standing right there. Take a breath. Don’t lose your chill. 

    “Can I help you?” She asked, coming up behind him. He turned to face her. 


    “Ebere to you.” He bit his lip. 

    “What do you want?” She asked next, irritation rising in her chest. 

    “Is this where you work?”


    “I figured because of how fast you rushed over here.”

    “I don’t really want you over here.” 


    “ gonna move?” 

    “Not entirely.” She eyed him with the quickness, the irritation growing into anger. 

    “Hiroto,” She said under her breath. 


    “Are you trying to piss me off?” 


    “You are working your way there. Now, I’m gon ask you again to move.” 

    “I will. Only on the condition that you let me take you to lunch.” 

    “I refuse to go anywhere with you.” 

    “Then here I stay.” She rolled her eyes and scoffed loudly, drawing eyes and ears. It had grown deafly quiet. They was listening for a single word. 

    “Come with me.” She grabbed his suit sleeve and near dragged him out into the hallway, past the elevators to a small enclave. 

    “Do you not understand that I want absolutely nothing to do with you?” She hissed softly, looking around for persons who might pass. He slid his hands into his pockets and stood there like some damn marble statue. 

    “Do you not understand how much I need you?” He replied back with a calm tone. 

    “You don’t get to do that. Walk out of my life for 10 years and then expect me to cater to your needs. I don’t give a damn about your needs Hiroto.” His jaw tightened but otherwise he didn’t speak. 

    “I put up with you because I have to. But outside of work, I don’t want to see you, hear you or even be near you.” She continued, her eyes starting to fill with hot angry tears. 

    “It breaks my heart to witness just how much I have hurt you.” 

    “Good. Let every piece shatter.” She spit out, the tears starting to fall. 

    “Rae…” She lifted shaky hands to her face. 

    “Damn it. I was not going to cry at work… in front of you…”

    “Rae,” She heard voices and quickly looked for a restroom. Not here. Why did her tears have to come now?! Before she could say anything, she felt Hiroto grab her hand and pull her away from the small cluster of chairs. They stepped into the elevator and soon exited the building. 

    “Where the hell are you taking me?” She protested, yanking against him. 

    “To a place where you can be free to cry in the open and not fear those around you.” 


    “Look, right now I’m not trying to be anything but of help.” 

    “But I didn’t ask for your-” She shut her mouth as he gently moved her into the passenger seat of his car. He didn’t say a word as he got in and drove off. 




    His heart was pumping hard against his chest. He knew he had taken a huge risk by doing this. But, he knew how stubborn she was. He knew that she needed to release the pain she held in her heart. And whether or not she asked for his aid was out of his concern right now. He wanted to take care of her… He tightly gripped the stirring wheel and once he came to a red light glanced over at her. She had her hands gripped tightly together in her lap and she was looking out of the window. He swallowed thickly and opened his mouth to speak. 

    “Perhaps you should call your boss and let him know you’re gone.” She didn’t respond. 


    “Stop talking.” She said softly, her tone hard. He turned his eyes back on the road and began to drive again. As they drove, they came across water, its blue coloration rich and wide. He came into a parking lot and soon shut off his car. They sat in silence. 

    “Rae I want you to get out.” 


    “You need this.”

    “Need what? You kidnapping me?” 

    “You know damn well it’s not kidnapping.”

    “Last time I checked I didn’t consent to going with you so what the hell is it?” He sighed and got out. Opening her car door, he leaned over slightly into the car, his gaze on her. 

    “Come on.” 


    “You’ll see.”

    “I don’t wanna see. I want you to tell me.”

    “I brought you here because you need to start your healing process Ebere.”

    “I’ve healed.” He gently lifted her chin which quivered underneath his fingers. 

    “No sweetheart. You haven’t even begun.” Tears welled back up in her eyes. 

    “I was fine. Before you… you came.” 

    “Be honest with yourself. Were you really?” She closed her eyes as tears continued to flow. 

    “Take my hand. Come on.” He said softly, extending his hand. She sniffed and tightened her jaw before slowly letting her fingers touch his. He tenderly grabbed her hand and lifted her out of the car. Together, they began to walk onto the pavement, the water down below crashing against some rocks. She had long ago let go of his hand and instead chose to wrap her arms around her waist. 

    “Do you want to get closer to the water?” He asked, looking at her. 

    “I don’t know.” She answered noncommittally. He would get her closer. They walked until they stood in the tan sand, the waves of the lake lapping at the shore. Leaning down, he slowly slid out of his socks and shoes and let the warm sand sink between his toes. He watched as she soon did the same and took a deep breath of the air.     

    “You never understood no.” She said after a while of silence. 

    “I understood quite well with you. And I never went against it.” He replied. She shifted her gaze away from him. 


    “I give you permission…” She sucked her teeth. 

    “Permission to do what?” When she brought her eyes back to his, she grew still. 

    “Permission to let out any frustration on me. If you must, hit me. Yell at me. I’ll stand here and take it.” She blinked, those beautiful brown eyes of hers growing watery. 


    “I can’t even begin to express how deeply regretful I am Rae…but… this is something I must let you do.” Before he knew it, she was pushing him. 

    “Let it out…” He said as she began to cry suddenly. 

    “I…I…can’t do this…” She weeped, gripping his suit jacket. 

    “Yes you can. Forget about me. Do you want to continue your life this way? Hm?” He gently wrapped his arms around her shaking form. 


    “To move on, you must release it. Not for me or for anyone else. Do it for you.” She lifted her eyes to his. 

    “Fine.” She pulled back from him and slapped him hard across the cheek. Pain shot through his jaw and crept down towards his neck.

    “Since I saw you again… I have wanted to beat your ass.” He inhaled deeply and tightened his fists.

    “I would let you.” 

    “If I could take all the pain you caused me and give it back to you I would.” She balled up his jacket. 

    “I was ready to give you my life…I would have waited for you. I would have done anything… to be with you Hiroto.” He tightened his jaw as she stood in front of him, trembling with the raw emotion of pain. 

    “I’m sorry…”

    “No!” She pushed him and hit him again. 

    “Sorry is not good enough! You chose some dry clueless bitch over me and for what?! All because Mommy told you to?!” 


    “Shut up! I’m talking!” Hurt was making her dizzy… she swayed in it. It was then that he realized that she had kept over 10 years of emotion inside. All of it had to come out. 

    “You promised me you would never hurt me… but you cut me deeper than any blade. Out of all the men I have been with… you left the most painful scar. And it doesn’t make sense…. I never made love to you… but you got in my damn soul Hiroto… You rested there in my spirit. You were a part of me…” He was beyond words. 

     “I tried to compensate… over the years and it never worked. Person after person… body after body… but I never felt full. And here you come and…and…” She fell to her knees and silently shook, tears making the sand dark. 

    “Rae…” He came to his knees and gently held her. 

    “After all this time… I still can’t let go of you. How can you just come back in my life and completely ruin and brighten my world at the same time…” He couldn’t say a word and held tighter onto her. She pressed her face against his chest. 

    “I don’t know when I’ll be ready to let you in again…”

    “I’ll wait. It doesn’t matter when.” She took a shaky breath and looked up at him. 

    “We were so in love. We deserved better than this. Why must we continue to hurt each other?” She asked, her tone broken. 

    “In our youth, we made decisions that were not wise.”

    “And now?” 

    “Now, we’re older. We know better.”


    “Do you feel better?” She sighed and closed her eyes. 

    “A little. I still have so many emotions.”

    “We have been apart from each other ten years…” He leaned down and pressed his cheek against the top of her head. 

    “I missed you baby.” He whispered against her. 

    “I… I missed you… too.” She leaned up and slowly slid fingers into his hair. He closed his eyes and sighed.

    “I haven’t done this in ten years… God… I missed it.” He couldn’t help but smile. 

    “Me too.” She took her fingers out of his hair and clasped them in her lap. 

    “I guess you want me to thank you.”

    “No thanks necessary.”

    “Good cause you wasn’t getting one.” She reached up and wiped the tears from her cheeks. 

    “I think I’m done. You can take me back now.” 



    She felt a way about it all. Crying, losing her cool and everything. But, if she were honest… it felt good to let it go. And he needed to see just how much damage he had done. Even though she wouldn’t say it… she was the slightest bit thankful he had brought her. By now, the tears had dried on her skin and she knew her makeup was a bust. When she got back to work, in through the side way it was for her until she could slip into a bathroom. As he made a right turn, her phone buzzed. Uh-oh. Antonio. With both of them gone, it wasn’t hard to tell they had been together. The last thing she wanted was for nosey co workers to start asking questions. Picking it up, to her surprise she didn’t see Antonio’s number. Instead, it was Amee. Scrunching her eyebrows together, she answered. 



    “What’s up? Why’re you callin this early? I’m at work.”

    “I know…” Something about her tone was off. 

    “Amee, what’s wrong?” 

    “Can you meet me somewhere?”

    “I’m at work I can’t just leave.” 

    “You’re out…” How did she-

    “I just called the office and they said you stepped out…”

    “Yeah but… only for lunch…”

    “Ebbie, we need to talk… it’s important…” Again, her brows furled. Everything from her tone to the way her stomach felt in that moment said WRONG. 

    “O-Okay… um… where you wanna meet?” 

    “Let’s meet at Joe’s.”


    “Fifteen minutes.”


    “What’s this about Amee? You’re startin to scare me.” It was silent for a while before she answered. 

    “It’s just time you took your visor off.” 


    “I’ll talk to you when you get here.” 

    “S-sure.”  Hanging up, she gripped the phone. 

    “Is everything alright?” She bit her lips as she put her phone back in her purse. 

    “Can you take me somewhere?” He nod before turning his eyes back on the road. 

    “Where to?”

    “Do you know a place called Joe’s?” 


    “I’ll show you the way. We’re not too far.” 

    “All right.” Visor… what did Amee mean by time to take the visor off? What was going on? By the feeling in her stomach, something was telling her the talk she was about to have with her sister was not going to be a good one. As she gave Hiroto the last set of directions, they pulled into the parking lot of Joe’s. She waited until he turned off the car to speak. 

    “I don’t know what’s getting ready to happen. But…”

    “I’m coming with you. I’ve left you alone far too many times. This time, we’re going together.” She sighed and got out of the car. Here she went…


    She looked so nervous. It was starting to make him grow a tiny bit anxious. He found himself sitting across from a woman who called herself Rae’s sister. And as if they had taken a time trip back into the past, Rae was currently squeezing his hand underneath the table. More than likely instinct. He observed the woman across from him the entire time and was careful not to speak unless absolutely necessary. They had only been there five minutes but Rae had yet to calm down. 

    “So, you’re Hiroto I take it?” She spoke, looking him from head to table length. 

    “I am.” 

    “It figures you two would be together… even now.”

    “Amee…” This was the first time Rae had spoken since getting there. 


    “What is going on?”

    “I had to do this. I couldn’t stand you not knowing any more.”

    “Not knowing about what?” 

    “I’ll get to that in a minute. But first, let me finish with Mr. Japanese Freeze over here.” 

    “Excuse me?”

    “Nah, you don’t get to talk. If we weren’t in a public place, I would kick your ass. I don’t think you understand just how much you messed my sister up. She’s still in love with you… broken heart and all. Even I don’t want to forgive you and I never met you a day of my life till now. I got the biggest problem with you Mr. Hiroto Iwase. If you think Ebbie is going to just come flying back to you think again son. She’s not going to make it easy by far.” If things weren’t so serious, he’d have laughed. She was just like her sister. He could clearly see that the spunk she had ran in the family of women. 

    “I am well aware.” 

    “Hm.” Slowly, Rae was letting go of her death grip on his hand. 

    “Amee start talkin…” Her sister took a sip of her water and tightened her jaw. 

    “Ebbie… the… the family’s… they’ve been lying to you.” 

    “Lying to me? About what?” Amee looked down. 



End Notes:

A/N: Hey y'allll!!!!! *hugs you* I've missed you all! It has been a while! Merry belated Holidays to you all! I hope that you all had a great one with your families! For those of you reading that have lost a loved one or didn't have a family/place to call your own, please know that my thoughts were with you and prayers as well and will continue to be!! So, what do you think of this new chapter? I think that it is time for everything to be laid out on the table for Rae. Her family has kept enough from her. What will "everything" be? My aim for this chapter was to create a sense of awkwardness between Hiroto and Rae. A sense of tugging back and forth. As always, Rossi is irritating and does not know his place. How much of a child is he to speak about him in front of others... and John? Oh yeah he is a major jerk! *deep sigh*Anywhoo, my intention for this story is to write through their lifespan so that's quite a bit to cover. Being so, I am not going to spend too much more time in this place. Please expect a few more "time skips". I will execute them in a way I hope that does not mess up the flow of the story! If they do, don't hesitate to let me know and I can re-work it :) Thank you for reading and see you next chapter! <3 

Love, blessings and peace, 


Sunhalo17 <3 

Revelation by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:





Her heart fell into her stomach. A cold wave breezed across her skin and she sat still. For a moment, she forgot that Hiroto was there next to her.


    “What are you talking about Amee?” Her sister took a shaky breath, tears starting to form in her eyes. 


    “They wanted me to be quiet. But, I can’t do it. You’re my sister and I love you.” 


    “Amee…” She reached across and grabbed her hands. Amee gripped back tight, tears in her eyes mirroring hers. 


    “A… what did they do?” Amee glanced up from under her wet eyelashes and looked at Hiroto who had been softly caressing the back of her hand with his thumb. 


    “I wonder if he’s ready for it.” That got his attention and he looked at her. 


    “I’m only here for Rae.” 


    “But for ten long years you were nowhere to be found. Why now are you here for my sister?” The thumb that stroked her skin paused. Swallowing, Hiroto let go of her hand and folded his hands in his lap. Taking in his reaction, Amee reached up to wipe some of the tears that had fallen from her eyes and sat up straighter. 


    “The story everybody told you where they said they shipped you off to Japan because of a bad deal with the mafia… not all of it was true.” She grew stiff. 


    “What do you mean?” Amee took a shaky breath. 


    “The real reason was… was because they… they no longer wanted you to be in the family.” It grew silent. 


    “I’m…I’m sorry?” Amee licked her lips. 


    “Ebbie, Mama and Daddy didn’t want you anymore. They had reached a place where they felt they could live without you…” She gripped Hiroto’s hand again instinctively and inhaled sharply.


    “I don’t understand…”


    “I’m sorry Ebbie…”


    “When did this happen? When did they suddenly decide they didn’t want me around?” 


    “That I don’t know sweetie. I only know so much. What I’m tellin you I found out by being nosey.” She let go of Hiroto’s hand again and sat up straighter. 


    “What else can you tell me?” Her sister sighed.  


    “Do you know of a man named Peter Lugiano?” She grew still, her breath sharply drawn in. Amee reached across the table and softly gripped her hand. 


    “Ebbie?” She jolted, bringing her eyes back to her sister.     




    “Are you okay?”




    “Well? Do you know him?” She licked her lips and lifted a hand to tousle her hair. 


    “I know him. Why?” 


    “A year before you left for Japan, he showed up at our house. Seems he had been looking for you.” Her hand began to quiver against her thigh underneath the table. 


    “Looking for me?”


    “Yes. He said something about you being his ward. Said you ran away from home and that he had been looking for you ever since.” She gripped her fingers together in a tight fist. 


    “He’s lying.” Amee tightened her grip on her hand. 


    “Ebbie he convinced Mama and Daddy to give you to him.”


    “No…” Tears started to well in her eyes. No… it wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be possible. 


    “Amee stop it. Please. Let’s just stop.”


    “Ebbie listen to me…” Turning watery eyes on her sister, she bit her lips. 


    “What Amee?” 


    “Is it true that… that you were…were pregnant?” She felt Hiroto’s thumb glide across her rigidly closed fist. 


    “….yes.” Amee’s eyes widened. 


    “Is it true that you ran away from him?”


    “I did. But… it wasn’t because of anything he told you.” Amee smiled sadly. 


    “I believe you Rae… I didn’t like him then and something about him rubs me the wrong way even now. Our parents ate it up like white on rice. Tre, Drew and I overheard them arguing one night…this was right before you left…”


    “What’d they say?”


    “Mama said she couldn’t take you being here anymore. She didn’t like how Daddy was always concerned about you and focused on you… Tre and the other brothers either. She even went so far as to accuse Daddy and Tre of being in love with you… said it was unnatural how much they fixated on you.” She felt vomit arise in her throat and gripped Hiroto’s hand, fingers tight. 


    “Sweetheart,” He had spoken next to her… but she couldn’t… she couldn’t open her eyes in that moment. She had too many people touching her… Drawing her hand back from her sister, she placed it back underneath the table and gripped the edge of the seat, eyes still closed. She opened her mouth to speak. 


    “She thought her husband and son were in love with me?” She heard Amee draw in breath with a shake. 




    “What did Daddy say to all this?”


    “He told her she was crazy for even thinking that. That he and Tre had done nothing but try to be a great father and brother to you.”




    “She told him to prove it.” She slowly opened her eyes and her vision focused on the woman she had called sister for so long. 


    “How?” She asked, now her voice empty, devoid of any other emotion. 


    “By agreeing to let Lugiano have you.”


    “I was in Japan. How was he going to get me?”


    “Mama and Daddy completely wiped their hands clean and never looked back. They agreed that they would send you to Japan and from there Lugiano would do the rest.” 


    “He was going to come get me?”


    “All they had to do was hand deliver you there.”


    “They wanted to be rid of me that bad huh?” She laughed bitterly and let go of Hiroto’s hand for the last time. 


    “The truth finally comes out huh…” The hurt that had risen in her voice was so strong it stung.  Everything was making her head spin and her heart twisted painfully in her chest. Amee swallowed. 


    “They told us that you were a complication to the family and that we had to try our best to forget you. They made us promise that we would keep quiet about it if in the event that you did come back.” 


    “How could they do this to me?” She lowered her head and felt the tears that had welled up in her eyes slide down her cheeks. 


    “I’m sorry Ebbie. What they did is horrible and I can’t imagine how you feel right now…It makes me sick to my stomach Ebere. You are my big sister. Always will be. And no matter what, I’m never going to betray you or leave you.” She smiled and pressed Amee’s hand against her cheek. 


    “Amee…thank you…”


    “We’re sisters. That’s what family is for.”


    “Has anyone seen Lugiano recently?”


    “Not in a while. None of his connects know where he at.”


    “Amee,” She looked at her, her own tears creating trails of pain upon her cheeks.     


    “Yes Ebbie?”


    “After all this time… you didn’t once think to listen to them? Be honest.” Amee sat up in her seat and bit her lip. 


    “At first I went along with it. All the while feeling something wasn’t right. I was young and these were my parents. How could I disobey them? I didn’t know what to do or how to protect you. As I got older, I listened to the feeling in my heart instead of the hatred and jealousy Mama spewed every time she talked about you. This time, I’m going to protect you. Our parents couldn’t do it…and that’s fine if they didn’t want to. But to me Ebere Marshall you are family. And family sticks together.”


    “I’ll be here as well.”  He spoke up next to her, gently squeezing her hand. She sniffed softly and reached up to wipe her eyes. 


    “Thank you Amee. Thank you.”


    “Any time! That’s what I’m here for!” 


    “Are you okay?” She heard his voice gentle and soft ask next to her. She didn’t meet his eyes but nodded. Amee twisted up her lips and looked at him just as intently as she did at the beginning of the conversation.


    “We see about you Mr. Freeze. You gotta work your way into this here family.” Amee spoke, eying him. 


    “I intend to. In the meantime, I want to make sure nothing happens to Rae.”


    “Okay buddy… we’ll see.” She said, taking a sip of her water. 


    “I think we should go Hiroto.” He nodded and helped her out of her chair. Amee placed her glass on the table and got up. 


    “Whenever you’re ready to tell me the real, I’ll be here for you big sis.” She said with a smile. 


    “We’ll need a hell of a lot of popcorn for that.” She replied, a small smile on her lips. 


    “Go ahead Mr. Freeze. Get my sister back safely.” She pointed at Hiroto. He bowed his head. 


    “Of course. It was nice to meet you.”


    “Mmhm.” A hand carefully on her waist, she let him lead her out of Joe’s and into the car. 






    The ride back was quiet. Her mind ran a thousand miles a minute. The details of the conversation she had just had spun on loop in her head. All of what Amee had told her…It was still hard to believe. How… how could her parents do this to her? How could they live with the fact that they too abandoned her? 


    “This is all bullshit.” She spoke out loud, tightening her fists.


    “I’m sorry sweetheart.” 


    “Your sorry ain’t gon do anything so you can keep it.” She turned away from him, an angry expression on her face.


    “You wasn’t even supposed to hear all my business…” She muttered under her breath.




    “Just drive…” He closed his mouth and focused back on the road. She felt like an open wound that was getting more and more infected. And nothing was getting done about it.     


    “Jesus. ” Even in the depths of her hurt, she knew she hadn’t made it in another land by herself. The things she went through there… only reason she survived was because of Him. After a while, she spoke again,


    “I apologize…” He looked at her as they pulled up to a red light.     




    “Being a bitch.” 


    “You aren’t-”


    “Yes. I am. I’m sorry.”


    “It is I who should be apologizing.” 


    “Look…” She turned to face him. 


    “You gotta give me time Hiroto.”


    “I’ll give you as much time as you need.”


    “I can’t do this right now. With you.”


    “I understand completely.” Things were silence before he spoke again,


    “We were first friends right?” She bit her lip. 




    “Promise me one thing.” 


    “What is it?”


    “You won’t do it alone.” 




    “No matter what, I will be here for you.” She shifted in her seat and didn’t speak for the rest of the time. 








    “Nug? It’s 2 in the mornin. What’s wrong?” A gruff voice asked. She gripped the phone as she sat in bed, a small lamp on. 


    “There a lot going on that I need some help understanding.”


    “What’s up?” 


    “I just been thinking lately… somethings ain’t seemin right. With how everything went down sendin me to Japan.” She heard a shuffle. He sat up. 




    “Yeah. I wanna know the real reason y’all sent me there.”


    “The real reason?”


    “Why did I have to completely leave the country? We don dealt with the mafia before. I never had to leave the state of New York.” He was quiet.


    “Tre?” Still… silence…


    “If there is something you wanna say, say it now.” 








    “Can’t? Or you won’t?” 


    “I don’t want to hurt you…”


    “You not telling me will hurt me more Tre.” He sighed heavily. 


    “What is it you wanna know again?”


    “Why did they send me to Japan?” It was quiet before he spoke again. 


    “They tried to erase you. They stopped talking about you. They even made us promise not to mention anything to you if you came back. It was crazy…” She flared her nostrils. 


    “I see.”


    “Baby girl-” 


    “I can’t believe it…”


    “I’m sorry Rae…” 


    “Thanks for tellin me…”


    “No matter what they tried, I’m still your brother.” 




    “I’m here if you need anything Nug.”






    “Yeah. Night.” She hung up and threw the phone on her bed, getting up. Grabbing her keys, she got in her car and went for a drive to clear her head. All of this was entirely too much for her to handle. At this point, she didn’t know who to turn to or who to trust. How much more heartbreak could she handle before she shattered past the point of no return?

End Notes:

A/N: (** Upset cause it's currently 4:33 am and I literally had to retype my whole Author's note *sigh** Okay! :) Calming in 3..2..1!) Poor Rae! My heart just hurts and I can't even imagine how she feels! To know that both her adoptive parents and birth mother abandoned her and the love of her life Roto...How much more heartbreak can one woman take? The things we go through sometimes in life, the pain we suffer... sometimes we ask God why... we get angry at Him and blame Him. We criticize him for things... but see y'all... if we knew... if only we knew that the things we go through aren't in vain! They aren't a waste of time! And that God never places more on us than we can bear! He knows we can handle whatever comes our way!! How? He gave us His son Christ Jesus and through Him we can do ALL things!! Just like God never leaves us astray or forsakes us... never desires anything horrible, bad or evil to come our way... Rae will get through this. She'll have to be broken before she can be crushed into that diamond! <3 I believe now more than ever that her healing process will start. And the journey back to her love will soon follow! :) <3 That's all for now guys! Love you! Please review as always! Constructive criticism is always welcome and much appreciated! Till next time, be blessed!! 




Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

I Corinthians 15:58 (KJV) "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 

Revelation 21:4 (KJV) "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Process by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


** Some time has passed since the last chapter. The time frame being now a few months later. :)**

You’ve been in the States a whole year this month!” 

    “Mm. Time does fly doesn’t it?”

    “I miss you.”

    “You sure you don’t miss the free sake?”

    “Please. Japan is so empty without you Hiroto-kun.”  He chuckled. It had been quite a while since he had talked to Tobu and it was conversation that he so badly needed. 

    “So… how is she?”



    “Ah…she’s…she’s fine.”

    “I don’t know where you stand with Kiko but I’d be on my knees kissing the ground Rae walked on for forgiveness.” 

    “Trust me, I am trying.” 




    “I…I really hurt her.” A thoughtful silence came and then, 

    “Yes. You did. I can’t imagine how she has felt all these years.” He was quiet so he continued, 

    “Hiroto…you know you would’ve been happy with her. Even if you never saw Japan again at least you would have had her. You were both so young then…You would have made it work… you had time to make it work! I don’t doubt it would have been a struggle… but wouldn’t it have been worth it to be with the woman you loved?” He gripped the phone, his eyes growing teary. 

    “You would have been free Hiroto-kun! Free from your parents and free from everything that would have held you down! In America, you could have started over… started fresh with her.” 

    “I know..I know that.”

    “You guys have gone back to square one. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe this is the chance you will get to know her all over and discover new things.”     


    “How is Mom?” He lifted his hand to wipe the small tear drops that had rested on his eyelashes. 

    “Getting better I hear. No doubt she is giving the nurses and doctors hell though.” Tobu snickered. 

    “Yeah let her get all healed up. I can’t wait to see her face when you bring Rae-chan back here all wifed up. My life will be made.”

    “You’re an idiot.”

    “No. You are.” They shared a laugh. 

    “I better go Hiro-kun.”


    “Yeah. Wouldn’t want to keep the busy businessman from his subjects.”

    “Nakamura Tobu is quite the jokester hm?” He laughed, biting his lip. 

    “Well if you insist Tobu…I’ll talk to you soon hm?”


    “See you.”

    “See you later.” 



    “Is anyone sitting here?” She looked up to find Hiroto standing in front of her, a small box in his hands. 


    “May I sit?”

    “I don’t care.” He pulled out a chair and sat down, placing his box on the table. She ate some more as she looked at it briefly. She recognized it…a bento. She hadn’t seen one in so long.  Her tongue was fixed to ask him what goodies he had inside but she just cleared her throat and pressed it against the roof of her mouth. He popped open the box and picked up his hashi. Whispering a soft ‘itadakimasu’ he began to eat. It was silent and the lack of noise was starting to make her uncomfortable but she pinched her toes together inside of her shoes and kept eating. A knock at the door made her pause. 

    “Hey! Mind if I join y’all?” Shelley. She let out a breath and smiled. 

    “Come on in girl.” Thank God. Shelly beamed and sat down next to her. Grabbing her paper bag, she paused as she watched Hiroto eat. 

    “Um… what is that box thing he’s eating?” He lifted his eyes and upon meeting Shelley’s, a blush broke out on her skin. She looked flustered. An effect only he could have on members of the opposite sex. She rolled her eyes and continued to watch them. 

    “It’s called a bento.” 

    “B-Bento?” Shelley stuttered in a reply. He grinned. 

    “Yes. It is a lunch that we have in Japan. It’s quite the normal. Like here you have…well…paper bags?” She nodded. 

    “Yeah. We tend to put our lunches in anything really…I guess we have containers too shaped like that! B-but it’s not as pretty looking as yours. Right Rae?” She turned to look at her. She shrugged and continued to chew her fruit. Shelley cleared her throat and began to eat. 

    “Mr. Iwase?” She asked after a small bite. 


    “I don’t know if Rae told you but…this is employee break room only…I didn’t want to tell you while you were eating.” His hashi paused. 

    “Ah is it?”


    “Where are the others located?”

    “Uh…well Affinity does not have a place for guests to eat their lunch. Most of the execs that visit go out to lunch.” He slowly placed his hashi on the table and sat back. 

    “I see. Well I appreciate you for telling me.” He covered his lunch with the lid. 

    “That doesn’t mean you have to go.” Shelley spoke up, looking at her for backup. She sighed. 

    “You’re already here Mr. Iwase. You might as well stay.” His gaze was intense and his lips smiled. 

    “All right. I appreciate it.” And so soon they all were eating again. Even though it had been forever since she had eaten in the same space with Hiroto, it was actually kinda nice.The tiniest bit nice. She was grateful for Shelley, it made it less awkward. Shelley sighed next to her and crunched up her paper bag. 

    “I think it’s time for us to get back to work now Mr. Iwase.” He nodded with a small polite smile and wrapped up his empty bento. 

    “Thank you for letting me eat with you two. It was a pleasure.” 

    “No problem!” Shelley said with a smile. But his eyes had drifted to her and she swallowed. 

    “Have a good day.” She said quietly, slowly lifting her eyes to his. 

    “You as well.” He got up and left them sitting in the room. It had grown quiet again before she heard Shelley twist in her seat to face her. 

    “Okay, spill it.” She said, a smile on her face. Blinking, she stared blankly back at her. 

    “Uh… spill what?” 

    “Is there something going on between you and Iwase?” She felt her cheeks grow warm and clutched her fists together. 

    “No! Why would you say that?” Be cool Rae. Be cool.

    “Did you see the way he was looking at you?” She shrugged and got up to throw her container in the trash. 

    “What are you talking about? That man could give two squats about me.” She knew better. But see, Shelley didn’t need to know that. 

    “Girl, stop while you’re ahead. The man was looking at you like he was…dare I say it… in love with you!” She snort but gripped her container tightly. 

    “Shells, you trippin.” Shelley clucked her tongue and got up. 

    “I saw it. Maybe you ain’t feelin him. But he damn sure is feeling you. Big time.” Sighing deeply, she let the container fall from her hands and turned around to look at her, a small scowl on her face. 

    “So what? He better stay in his lane.” Shelley sighed. 

    “I don’t mean to be nosey Rae but.…everyone in the office is talkin about you two. That day you went missing… you were with him weren’t you?”  For the first time, Shelley was actually getting on her nerves. Pursing her lips, she replied in a cool tone, 

    “I don’t know why you wanna know about my being around Mr. Iwase so much but your diggin for info ain’t workin. Leave it alone.” The expression on Shelley’s face grew stiff with hurt. 

    “Rae..I’m…I didn’t mean anything by it…”

    “Please Shells. Stop asking questions okay? There is nothing between that man and I.” She gave a apologetic smile and returned to her cubicle. 


    “Mr. Iwase?” 


    “Your fiancee is here.” He paused, the conversation he had been having with an executive in France interrupted. 

    “If I may, could I call you back Mr. DuPonce?”

    “It is no problem Hiro. Call me when you are available.”

    “Thank you.”

    “Good day.”

    “Good day to you as well Mr. DuPonce.” He hung up the phone and sighed. 

    “She’s here you said?”

    “Yes Mr. Iwase. Should I escort her in?” A headache that had disappeared for a while suddenly came rushing back. He pinched the bridge of his nose.

    “Please.” He stood up and gripped his desk and soon the last shred of peace left him as Kiko entered. She bowed to his assistant and waited until the door was closed. 

    “Hi Hiro…” He took a deep breath. 

    “Hello.” She looked around. 

    “It has been a while hasn’t it?” He hadn’t taken his eyes off of her yet and replied, his tone neutral, 


    “You’ve stopped calling. I was worried.” She said softly, finally meeting his eyes. 

    “I have been busy.”

    “I see.” Her eyes dropped and she licked her lips. 

    “Have you been with her? Is she the one who has been taking up all of your time?” His fingers were starting to tingle with how hard he gripped the wood of his desk. 

    “Yes I have been with her.” There was no reason to lie to her. If she asked, he would tell her. 

    “Your busyness has no doubt been…pleasurable then at least.” Whatever it was she assumed, he wasn’t going to correct her. 

    “Have you thought about what we discussed during our last conversation?” The change in subject made her jump. She blinked, hurt welling up in her eyes in the form of tears. 

    “How can you just change the subject like that? Is it so easy for you?” 


    “No… I have endured this time apart from you and every moment it has hurt me. Please do not forget…whatever you think you have with this woman… she is not your fiancee.” He licked his lips and finally let go of the desk. 

    “Kiko listen to me. If you cannot understand then I cannot explain it to you. There is nothing I can offer to you.”

    “You told me about what our families did… and the pact they made. While my feelings on this matter are still unclear… what I do know is that… my feelings for you will never go away Hiro.”  

    “That may be. But one thing remains and that is my distrust of you.” She gripped the straps to her purse tightly and brought her eyes to his, watery and unclear. 

    “I’ve apologized to you.”

    “This is not enough.”

    “What more must I do?” She cried, one by one tears falling down her cheeks. 

    “Give me time. Apart from you.”

    “While you spend it with that woman?”

    “Whether you like it or not, I will rebuild the relationship I have with that woman. She is the one who truly deserves the Iwase name. She will be my wife.” 


    “There is nothing you can do to change my mind.” 

    “Please think it through…more. Please.” She replied in English before bowing. Sniffling, she briskly walked out of his office. The headache intensified and he sat down with a groan. He had to figure out a way to get her to see his point of view. Whatever circumstances that had occured between them, he honestly did not want to hurt her. If things had been different… he could have called her ‘imouto’ fondly. What he wanted to do now more than ever was make right not just the damage done between Rae and himself but Kiko. He felt responsible for his family’s actions. It was simply a thing no one but Japanese could understand. And being so, he wanted to make it all right. To do this however… he had to begin the process. Pressing his forehead against the cool surface of the desk, he slowly exhaled. It was time…and truth be told… he was a bit scared. But it was something he couldn’t and wouldn’t run away from anymore. If he didn’t have Rae beside him… it still was something he had to do. 

    “Right then.” He whispered and pushed back his chair. He opened the small side drawer and pulled out the same documents he had been going over the entire time he had been here. He would do this. He could do this… 


    “Rae?” She looked up to find her younger sister Erica standing in front of her. 


    “What were you saying?” 

    “I was sayin somethin?” Erica looked at her like she was crazy. 

    “Uh… yeah?” She licked her lips and glanced down at her hands which laid on the kitchen table. She must have zoned out.

    “Sorry honey, I must have spaced out. What was the last thing I was saying?” Erica sighed and grabbed some greens and ran them under warm water. 

    “You were talking about a break.” A break? 


    “Yeah.” She gripped her hands together and smiled to herself. A break. She needed one so very badly. 

    “What brought this on all of a sudden Rae? Why you wanna leave so soon?” She watched as her sister began to shred the greens. 

    “I just need time away from the office.” 

    “Then come home! Rest up here.” She bit her lips. 

    “I don’t think that would be a good idea. I was thinking maybe more alone…and away from everyone…” Away from you. Erica snort. 

    “You ain’t making any sense. I don’t get it.” It’s not for you to get. 

    “I’m thinking Seattle. For a couple of weeks.”


    “Yeah.” Erica stirred the greens in the pot, the smell of the ham hock making her mouth water.     

    “It rains there all the time I hear. You sure that’s the best place for you to go?” She flared her nostrils. 

    “I’m sure Erica. You don’t have to agree with me.” Erica stopped stirring and turned to face her. 

    “I don’t mean to sound unsupportive Rae…I just don’t know where this sudden urge to leave came from! You talkin about leavin your job and all of us…to go do Lord knows what by yourself in another city!” She got up and gently slid a braid behind Erica’s ear. 

    “It’s my decision sweetheart. It may not make sense to you… but I have to do this okay? Just tell me you’ll be here when I get back.” Erica pouted, sighing. 

    “You make it sound like I’m going to abandon you or somethin…” Smiling, she pressed a kiss to her forehead and went to grab her purse. 

    “Keep cookin kiddo! It smells delish!” She winked at Erica before closing the door behind her. 


    “Moshi Moshi?” 



    “Ebere please. And yes. It’s me.” Fingers gripped the phone tightly, the language once familiar now bitter with disuse. 

    “What’s wrong?” His voice was a bit surprised and she couldn’t blame him. It had been so long since they had conversed in Japanese. Hers was more than rusty. 

    “I’m calling because I want to see you.” There was a silence on the other end for a while. One minute, two minute, three minute, almost four…


    “Ah, yes! Yes, I’m here.” He replied quickly. She took a breath and brought her mouth closer to the receiver. 

    “Are you available?” 

    “Ah…I have an appointment in the morning. I was just about to head to bed.” She bit her bottom lip. 

    “I see. Sorry for interrupting. I’ll just see you later then-”

    “Wait. W-where are you?” She inhaled slowly. 

    “I’m currently at home.” Again, there was quite a long pause in between his next reply, 

    “You want me to come to your home?” She pulled the phone away from her ear, muted the sound and pressed it against her lap. Her breathing was growing heavy and tears were making her vision misty. What was she doing? 

    “Ebere? Hello?” She lowered her head and took a shaky breath. She had to try. She had decided that she was not going to run away from this painful process of healing. It hurt her, cut deep to the bone. But…on top of everything that had happened to her… she deserved to be free. And happy. Picking up the phone, she sniffed and unmuted herself. 

    “Yes.” Her voice was soft and full of tears. 


    “I…I want you to come over. Just for a little while. We need to talk.” He grew quiet for a while before, 

    “Okay. Whatever you’d like.” She nodded, holding the phone tightly. 

    “I’ll… I’ll text you my a-address.” 


    “Okay…” She left it at that and hung up. She text him her address and placed the phone on the couch. Going into the bathroom, she washed her face. Looking at herself in the mirror, she  paused. Before anything else… before loving him… she had first been his friend. She could do this right? It scared the hell out of her to be honest. A big part of her wanted to be angry and spiteful still. But then… would that make her no better than her mother? She eyed the smooth skin on her face and neck and sighed. She was far from it… far from perfect. The scars that still existed on her stomach testified to that. But with time they too had faded… even a little. Even they had gotten a chance to heal. The scars that ran deep on the inside had never been touched. All these years she had just bandaged them and kept going, not stopping to properly treat them. 

    “All the people who haven’t loved me…have they made me not want to love myself?” She asked herself quietly, looking down at her bare stomach. That would not do. That was not who she was. And she refused to continue to mistreat herself. Clearing her throat, she wiped some tears that had fallen and pulled her hair up into a ponytail. A knock at the door made her hands pause. Breathe. It’ll be alright. Putting on a shirt, she clasped her shaky hands together and went in the direction of the door. 


    He stood outside, hands sweaty. Gripping them on his pants, he tried to calm his breathing. His thoughts raced and jumbled together and at the moment he couldn’t think straight. He heard the lock to her door slide back and slowly the door opened. Her face appeared and it seemed the very breath had been taken from his lungs. She gripped the door and brought her gaze to his chest. 

    “I shouldn’t have called you so late. I’m sorry about that.” Her voice was low and quiet. 

    “It’s no problem. I don’t mind at all.”

    “Um… do you… um…” He pried his hands off of his pant legs and cleared his throat. 

    “May I come in?” He asked, careful to keep his voice gentle and soothing.

    “Oh… y-yeah. Sure.” She opened the door enough for him to enter. Here goes nothing… He slowly stepped into her house and was shocked to find how small of a space it was. He looked around, eyes trying to take in everything at once. 

    “It’s small I know. I don’t really prefer to be flashy.” She explained closing the door behind him. 

    “Ah…I don’t mean to criticize…” He said, hands held up in defense. She shook her head and came closer. 

    “No offense taken Hiroto. You’re fine.”  He stood near her table, a small quaint piece of furniture that didn’t take up too much space and looked just right for her. 

    “You can take your shoes off.” She said softly, walking past him into the kitchen. He jumped a little, fists drawing tight. 

    “I’m sorry. I hope I haven’t tracked in any dirt.” Was he growing so Westernized so quickly? 

    “It’s fine.” She said again, opening her cupboard. He leaned down and slowly slipped his shoes off before placing them by her door. Somehow, it felt strange. Intrusive. But there was also a sense of belonging. 

    “I don’t have much for you if you’re hungry…” She spoke over her shoulder as she poured a beverage into two stemless glasses. 

    “Ebere…” She stopped pouring and grew still. He watched her, memories flooding his mind like a film reel. 

    “What?” He sucked in a breath, his lips suddenly dry. 

    “Why am I here?” She didn’t reply as she resumed pouring and soon set the glasses down on the table in front of him. 

    “Sweetheart…” He tried. Nothing. She wasn’t saying anything. She was stiff and wasn’t looking at him. 

    “Ebere say some-”

    “I have an announcement to make…” Slowly, she brought her eyes up to his. He stood quietly, waiting on her next word.     

    “I have decided something. And…I…I wanted to tell you… what it is.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. 

    “It’s been a year now…since we’ve met each other again. I thought it would be much longer. The time has seemed to grow long and short at the same time. And I…well I…”

    “Take your time…” He said softly, though his ears were eager for what she had to say. She puffed out some air and looked up at him, her eyes a bit stronger. 

    “I am going to start my healing process. From everything that has happened to me. I grew overwhelmed at first thinking about how much of time needed and how long it would take to do it. But I am going to split it into parts. I am going to deal with my parents too. Everything. But first… I wanted to start with you.” He couldn’t describe the feeling that spread into his chest. He couldn’t open his mouth just yet so she continued. 

    “I can’t tell you how long it will take before I fully forgive you Hiroto. But, I’ve grown tired of trying to hate you. It exhausts me. I’ve done it for 10 years. And now I just want it to stop. I don’t have it in me to do it anymore. I decided that it would make me too much like my mother. Truth be told…I miss having you as a friend. So we can start there first. Friendship.” 

    “Yes of course!” He blurted out, his cheeks growing warm. She picked up her glass and took a sip. 

    “I have so many more things I have to let out of me. Things pertaining to you…”

    “Let them out. I want you to.” She placed her glass down on the table. 

    “First thing’s first: Delete my address from your phone. I don’t want anyone knowing where I live. If it gets out, I will kick your ass.” His throat grew dry and he nodded. 

    “No problem. Thank you for sharing it with me.” She looked into his eyes. 

    “Second thing: Even though you’re the biggest jerk to walk this planet…I want to… I want to thank you for being there for me… through what’s happened these past few months…” He visibly relaxed and smiled softly. 

    “I’ll continue to be here for you as long as you allow me to Ebere.” She rolled her eyes and grabbed her glass. 

    “You sound thirsty. Go ahead and drink.” He gently reached for the glass and the taste of the beverage made him sigh. It was so refreshing. 

    “It’s chilled green tea with lemon and honey.” She spoke up, the tiniest trace of a smirk on her lips. He smiled back. 

    “Ah.. I see. Thank you.” 

    “No problem.” The silence was still uncomfortable between them but it had grown less tense… less hostile. He finished the tea and put the glass back on the table. 

    “Ebere…I should be going.” She took one last sip from her cup and licked her lips. 

    “Yeah. Come on.” They walked towards the door slowly…almost as if they wanted to make the time last a little bit longer. 



    “I’m going on a trip.” 

    “A trip?” 

    “To Seattle.” He glanced at her. 

    “Seattle?”  She had started to gnaw at her lips. 

    “I wanted to let you know.” He smiled. 

    “I appreciate you for telling me. How long will you be away?”

    “Truthfully…I don’t know.” One step…two steps…

    “I see.” He felt his heart melt as those beautiful eyes looked up at him. 

    “I am going to ask Rossi for an extended leave of absence.” He nodded as they came to stand in front of her door, the time ending too soon. 

    “I think you should.” 


    “Mmhm.” He slid his fingers into his pockets and sighed. Turning from her, he put on his shoes. He heard her voice speak behind him. 


    “Yes sweetheart?”     

    “Before you leave…there’s something else I want to do real quick.” Standing up at his full height, he turned to face her. Hands slid back into those pockets, his fingers gripping the material tight. 

    “What is it?” 

    “Remember when I said I have a lot left to let out from what you did?” He licked his lips. 

    “Mmhm.” She came up to him and reached up to entangle her fingers in his hair, drawing every last wisp of breath he had. He couldn’t move as she leaned up to stand on her tip toes and her fingers brought him closer to her. 

    “I won’t do this again…until we’re ready for it. But…right now I have to know something…” Her breath was warm and sweet on his lips. His heart began to beat faster. 

    “What’s that?” He asked, his voice soft. She didn’t reply but instead, pressed her lips against his. Stiff at first, slowly… gently their lips molded to each others and his eyes fluttered closed. Her lips sent sparks through his body and the sweet taste of her once again flooded his system. The reunion ended swiftly as she pulled away from him, her breath labored only slightly. 

    “Does she kiss better than me?” She asked as the tips of her fingers massaged his scalp. He took a shaky breath. 

    “No…not by far.” She sighed and pressed her lips against the corner of his mouth.     

    “Good.” Her fingers grew still and slowly they slid down to press flat against his jacket. 

    “Did it feel like our first kiss?” She asked, her voice having grown whispery. He felt as though the ground was spinning and gently grabbed her wrists. 


    “No?” She asked, looking at him. The pain that looked back at him stabbed him like a sharp dagger straight to the heart. 

    “It wasn’t the same feeling.” She pouted to his response, honestly looking confused as to how. 

    “This one time… allow me…” He whispered, silently praying he held it together. 

    “Go ahead.” He reached out and cupped her face in his hands, the smooth skin melting into his palm. 

    “The first time we kissed it was different. We weren’t apart from each other. And nothing had happened yet. It communicated nervousness and love.” 

    “And now?” 

    “Desperation. Despair and sadness.” She blinked, her throat growing tight. 

    “I agree that we should not do this again Rae… not… not so soon. But I will give you the answer to the question you asked me one more time.” He brought her lips to his one last time and this time… he let a little bit of his heart come through. Perhaps it was a bit too much because he felt wetness touch his hands. Tears. This was the only chance he was going to have so damn it he would take it. In their time apart, her mind had been consumed with thoughts of Kiko and convinced herself that she was better. But she was wrong. His thoughts had been only on her… only the feel and press of her  alone satisfied him. He slowly…painstakingly began to deepen the kiss…. not too much… but just enough. Cries had risen in her throat but the sounds of yearning within spoke to him louder than the sorrow. His breath had run out and he forced himself to pull away from her. 

    “Let me tell you something. You were and will continue to be… the only one whose lips will bring me to my knees.” He whispered, his breath heavy. She bit her lip, trying to quiet the sobs that had escaped from her. 

    “I’m…sorry… that I put you in a position where you ever had to doubt what you meant to me Rae. Hopefully now… it’s loud and clear…” He brushed the tears away with his thumbs. 

    “Thank you for inviting me over. It means so much to me that you did.” As he pulled his hands away from her face, she opened her eyes and looked at the ground. She swallowed hard and opened the door without a word. 

    “Good night Hiroto…” He smiled gently. 

    “Good night beautiful.” He felt so many things as he went to get in his car. Pain. Love. Overwhelming love. Patience. Desire. Respect. But the last thing he treasured most. Hope. There was hope for him. For her. And for them. That was all he needed. Now, he too would begin his journey of healing. He hoped that when they next met again… they would be ready… ready for a fresh beginning. Together.

End Notes:

A/N: Woo. This chapter was raw! So emotive! These two are now getting ready to transition to their own respective journeys! They are going to be separated for a few chapters to work on themselves individually! :) I think this chapter speaks VOLUMES to just how much Hiroto loves Rae. And such a contrast to the male interaction Rae has had since she was a child. Every man she came in contact with took and took and took from her. Didn't ask if it was okay. Robbed her. Of her spirit. Joy. Identity. And then there's Hiroto who is not perfect by any means. He knows he f--ed up and is willin to do what he can to mend the broken bridges... but all the while... still being the supportive pillar Rae needs right now. These two are going to be a POWER COUPLE when they come back together y'all. I call this time apart "preparation" for them both! Healing and everything else they need alone in order to be together! <3 I'm excited! Rae's chapter is currently being written :) I've written a lot lately lol. It feels amazing since I hadn't done so in such a long time haha. I am going to be heading back to school Friday and I start work again on Sunday. :) So, I hope this keeps y'all for a little while. I hope you enjoy this chapter! I'll see you soon my loves! 

Soul Searching by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


“Tell me about your mother.” The voice of a woman brought her thoughts away from the sounds of the early morning. The birds chirped and the smell of rain drifted in through an open window. 

    “What about her?” Her voice was like the soft cool breeze that permeated throughout the room.

    “What kind of woman was she?” Eyes drifted away from the woman looking intently at her and focused them on the window. Such freedom existed out there in between the many limbs, branches and green. It was a while before she spoke. 

    “She was the one who began the cycle in my life. It all started with her.”  



    It had been three weeks since she had relocated to Seattle, Washington. In that time, she had been adjusting quite quickly. She had been blessed to come across a small studio apartment that didn’t require too much furnishing and had a lovely view for a reasonable price. And even more so, she was grateful that Rossi had been more than lenient with her. He had noticed that she had been slipping to the point where he had asked her to sit out on a few meetings. Quite unlike her, he had asked what was the matter. 

    All the information that swam in her head… about her family… Lugiano…everything… it had gotten to be too much. She found herself like a ticking time bomb and with no place to release it, she was bound to explode. With this, Rossi had agreed to let her have some time off. He had put Shelley down as a fill in for her and agreed to give her overtime pay. The agreement with the stay was that she could spend up to 8 weeks in Seattle before she had to come back.

    The counseling had started the very same week she had landed in Seattle. She had put it off the first couple of days while she had unpacked her things. On the third day, she knew she needed to go. She hadn’t known where to begin and traveled to a few spots until she found the current office she was going to. Her clinical psychologist was a Dr. Atmikha Gupta and she was by far the only woman in the clinic that understood her. She was the only woman of color in an office with no color on the walls and she had been interested in talking to her to see what her experiences were, aside from her own. And so, she had found herself coming back to talk to Dr. Gupta and two weeks into her stay, here they were. 


    “Can you paint the picture for me? Take me upon your journey.” Dr. Gupta’s voice was calm and soothing and she took a deep breath. 

    “I’m not sure you want to go on my journey.” Dr. Gupta smiled softly. 

    “I do Rae. ” She swallowed and closed her eyes. The personal between them was still a little disconcerting but she was growing used to it. 

    “Okay then…brace yourself Atmikha.” 




    “We’re going to your grandma’s today.” She blinked.

    “Will you be leaving me there again mama?” 

    “I gotta go somewhere today. You gon stay with her for a while.” She looked down at her fingers. It was always the same. By now, she had gotten used to it.

    “I’m gon go get us some food. You wait here. Then we gon go to grandma’s.” 

    “Okay mama.” The woman she called mama got up and she turned her back to her. Before she knew it, she was standing at the train station watching the doors to the train close behind her. That was the last thing she remembers before the train rushed past her like a bullet. She had stood there for hours… cold… fingers nearly frozen off. Waiting. Eyes looking in the direction her mother had went. Her once dry eyes grew wet with tears and soon the trails of sadness left trails of ice. 




    She gripped her fingers together. She remembered it like it was yesterday. She had stood at that train station for hours until it grew dark. She had been scared. Scared to leave the train station. Scared to stay in the train station. So, she had decided to go look for a nearby place… anywhere untouched by snow… to possibly lay her head. And when she was unsuccessful, she found herself right in front of the bench she had been standing in front of all day. Slowly, sniffling… she had crawled on top of the cold hard stone slab nearest the wall and folded herself up into a ball, tightly gripping her winter coat. 

    The next morning, she had been awakened by the sound of people going to and fro and her eyes never stopped searching the crowd for her mother. At any moment… surely she was going to come back. So she thought. So she believed. That belief too would grow cold and it was a few days later that she figured out her mother was not going to come back. It was then that she figured out that she was by herself. 

    “That is inconceivable…” Dr. Gupta’s voice was saddened and she sucked her teeth. 

    “Who you telling…” Tears slid down her cheeks and she bit her lip. How… how could a mother do that to her child? Lifting her fingers, she dapped at her eyes and took a deep sigh. 

    “I can’t imagine a mother leaving her child… so young and innocent alone like that. Wow.” Like so many times before, she had sucked up her tears and kept going. Not not this time. This time she would face it. She took a deep breath. 

    “I’ve never healed from that Atmikha. I’ve carried it for 28 years.” Dr. Gupta gently placed her pen and pad down on a nearby table and reached across to grab her hands. 

    “It’s going to be my job to help you heal from this Rae. From what you’ve shared with me… despite your mother leaving you… you’ve turned into a beautiful woman with a mighty big purpose. You have such a inspirational message. And I want to help you discover that.” She smiled, her eyes watery. 

    “Thank you D-Dr. Gupta.…” Gupta clucked her tongue. 

    “In here, it’s just Rae and Atmikha. Okay?” She nodded. 

    “Yeah.” She took her hands back and reached up to wipe the tears that had fallen. 

    “I know there is so much more about my mothers I haven’t shared…” She said sheepishly, eying Dr. Gupta. 

    “That’s okay sweetie. We’ll take this as slow as you want to. It’s not about me. It’s all about you! Whatever you are comfortable with sharing… that is where we will go for the day.” She nodded again and stood up. 

    “Thank you Dr- I mean… Atmikha…” Gupta stood as well and warmly embraced her. 

    “If no one else listens to the stories we have as women of color then who will help us restore, rebuild and relive?” She whispered into her ear as she pulled away from her. 

    “Your assignment for this week is to go home and journal. In our first meeting you mentioned that as a young girl you journaled. Write as much as you want. In our next meeting, I want you to share something that you wrote. Understood?” 

    “Yeah. I got it.” She smiled one last time before grabbing her things and left, leaving her in the dimly lit room. Talking, thought hard, was easier than this assignment. In this assignment, Gupta wanted her to share her very soul. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She grabbed her keys and soon made the drive home. 




     The shrill hiss from the kettle made her jump and she got up to turn off the stove. Rain droplets slid down her windows and fog misted up the clear glass. There was a chill in the air and it felt more like winter transitioning into spring than spring itself. She slipped into her house shoes and made her way into the kitchen, running fingers through her hair. Today was the perfect day to sit down with some warm tea and journal. She hadn’t journaled in so long. As anxious as she was… she felt a little bit excited. It had been a long time and she needed an outlet. She had to go back to the only freedom she knew. As she brought her tea to the table, she looked out the window at her favorite view of the city. One of the things that had drawn her to Seattle was the water and the bountiful nature that surrounded the city. The pictures looked so beautiful and she decided that even if she never lived here, she would have to visit sometime in her life. It was a blessing that she had come to pick this place as her temporary home. She had chosen a place appropriately near the water and everyday the wind brought the fresh scent into her space. Taking a sip of her tea, she sighed. Water. It had taken a while before she had grown comfortable around it again… after what had happened so long ago in Nara. 

    She thought she could erase every memory of her life there, the people she had met and the man she had fallen in love with but it hadn’t been so easy. Japan had played such a significant part in her life. She had experienced so many firsts there. First true friend. First true laughter. First family. First love. First kiss. First heartbreak. That land had shaped her and she had a longing to go back. She couldn’t explain it. But… in the time she had spent there… she had felt like it was home. It was where she belonged. 

     Taking a sip from her cup, she covered her legs with a blanket. Rain droplets melted against the window and in the stillness of the quiet, she slowly closed her eyes. She missed so many people. Tobu. She thought about him so much and longed the most to see him again. She wondered how he was… how he had grown. A smile came to her face. Was he still lanky or had he finally grown into his body? Was he still the adorable blushing mess or… or had he decided that the shyness was no longer a fit for him? Thoughts of the man she once considered her brother and the woman she considered her mother plagued her for years. Hana and Hisae…by now she was a big girl and Hana was taking Japan by the reins. Minako. Swallowing, she bit her lip. Minako. She couldn’t forget about her. At first, she had been angry at her. Convinced that she had been in on the whole Lugiano operation. But when she thought about it… wasn’t Minako just as blinded as she was? Minako couldn’t have known more than what her parents had told her. She did her best with what she was given and tried her hardest to raise another family’s child all on her own. To even agree to do that was something she couldn’t fathom. She wondered so many things. Like how did her parents know Minako? How far did they go back? That was something she would ask them when it was time. But for now, she would write it all down with the pages that once brought her the most solace.




    In my dreams, a hand presses gently on my hair, fingers gently sliding through the curly strands. A voice, soft and gentle… it whispers to me with a tone of love. Speaking words that no other has spoken. In my dreams, arms surround me, encircling me in light, warmth and intimacy. I press my fingers against flesh, muscle, bone and sinew just underneath my touch. When I close my eyes, I feel the intangible invisibility of liquid, the substance floating all around me… around him. Clothes are wet… stuck to skin. Breath is warm and cool at the same time. Memories. Just him and I… in the large sea of water… together. 

    I see a life that could be… could have been. And yet, I wonder… what happened to us? Why did it have to happen to the both of us? In my mind, I find myself at a crossroads. Two arrows leading in two different directions. But which one will I choose? One says: Love. Life. Another says: Hate. Death. Could it be that I really have to choose? What does my heart say? What does it want? I’ve lived 10 years listening to what my body wants. Hatred. So then it was. Anger and bitterness. So then that was. A false sense of security, a false copy of what I thought love was.

     Tangled somewhere between the black limbs and the lying hurtful lips I was… my soul I thought damaged. But somewhere…somewhere inside there was a tiny light flickering. Through all, it dimmed but never burned out. Now… now I want to find it. Make it grow again. Let it fill my entire being. The touch of fingers and the warm press of arms… the scent of the one my heart desires… I can’t lie to myself. I miss it. I want it. Again. Someday. It might take a long time. Maybe it won’t. I won’t be happy again until I clean the muck that had lived inside of me for this whole time. I’ll return to him… I’ll fly back to him when and only when I’m clean….





    “You look much freer today Rae.” She looked up into Dr. Gupta’s kind gaze and smiled a bit. 

    “Yeah.” She tightly pressed her fingers against the small purple journal she had against her lap. Dr. Gupta eyed her movement and sat back. 

    “Mind sharing some?” She playfully sucked her teeth. 

    “You ain’t wastin no time huh Atmikha?” Gupta grinned. 

    “Surely not when there are so many jewels to behold in there.” She pursed her lips but felt a small grin poke through. Sighing heavily, she licked her lips and slowly gripped the edge of the journal. 

    “I’ve never read any of this to anyone…” Not even Hiroto. The new level of personal she was getting ready to embark on had her fingers damn near cramping and sweaty but she just closed her eyes and took another deep breath. She opened the journal and flipped to the one she would read. 


    White space. White noise. Dreams filter like a projection across the expanse of my mind. Many colors, many moments… some good and some bad. In this journey, I feel the pain of yesterday and days past more intensely. Right now, the joy and peace I once had in my bosom is gone. So many people. So many hurts. So much pain. Can one individual handle this much? Instead of putting a bandaid on it… I guess I have to stop running and take it off. So, into the white I go, one foot bare and shaky in front of the other. I wonder what awaits me at the other end? 



    Once she was done, she took a deep breath. She watched and waited until Dr. Gupta finally spoke. 

    “You are a visionary.” She blinked and pursed her lips, not sure what to say. At her silence, Gupta continued, 

    “Quite a beautiful piece. It expresses your fear of the unknown, trials but also a sense of hope.” She smiled and sat back in her chair, looking at her. 

    “Rae, how do you feel after sharing?” She shrugged. 

    “I don’t know…okay I guess.” 

    “Just okay?” 

    “Yeah I guess.” Gupta nodded and cleared her throat. 

    “I’m proud of you. I have absolute faith that you will make it through this journey and that you will come out strong! Now, let’s talk some more about Mom.” She sighed and looked down. 

    “You mean Moms…” 

    “Yes. The floor is yours sweetie.” She felt a burst of fiery pain shoot through her chest and clutched her shirt, tears starting to well up in her eyes. Too much. She had to release.  

    “After my first mother I came to meet my second. But the way that happened wasn’t the way you think. It was far from flowers and candy…” 



    “What is this? You dealin with kids now?” Hands shoved her onto the ground. 

    “Does she look like a kid to you?” 

    “How can something so small look so good? Bitch look grown.”

    “Exactly why I told him this was a good deal. Think of how much money we can get off her.” 

    “I wonder if she’s touched.”

    “He said he got the first bite.”

    “Sweet as candy huh?”

    “Whatever man. I got kids at home. I ain’t down for this shit.”

    “Don’t be such a pansy J.”

    “Nah. I got a girl her age. Would kill the first son of a bitch that ever looked at her wrong much less wanted her for this type of thing. There wouldn’t be any men left by the time I got done.” She kept her face pressed into the cold wet ground and bit her lips. A foot nudged her. 

    “Well suit yourself. She got ass for days.” 

    “Let’s get ready. This’ll be a wild ride.” 



    She gripped her fingers tight. 

    “Rae?” The cries were rising up in her throat and she felt at any moment she wouldn’t be able to control them. 

    “Rae?” She looked up at Dr. Gupta, her vision blurry. She couldn’t speak for the moment… the memory left chills that traveled through her entire being.     

    “That’s how you-” She nodded. 

    “It started with him. First my mother. Then him. I don’t want to talk about him… not… not now.” Her voice was weak and quiet. 

    “Okay honey. We can save that for when you’re ready. We’re talking about second mom now right?”

    “Shaundra. Yeah.” 

    “Okay… tell me about her.” She breathed slowly until she felt herself calm down. 

    “Shaundra… for the longest I thought she was more of a mother than my first. But… I’ve found out that she’s a backstabber and a liar.” 




    “Kendrick, what is it about that girl?” 

    “What are you talking about?” She could imagine the woman she called mother sitting on their bed, a form fitting chemise on her body and fingers twirling the sheets around in a nervous habit. 

    “You and Tremaine. All the boys. You all are so gung-ho about Ebere. What is it about her that you like?” She could imagine her father turn around from loosening his tie with a look of disbelief. 

    “Shaundra. Do you hear yourself? You think I want a child?”

    “Well. Considering where she came from that is pretty popular nowadays.” 

    “Stop it. Get a hold of yourself.” 

    “Do me a favor. Stop looking at her so much. Better yet, tell Tre and all the others not to pay any attention to her.” 





    Dr. Gupta bit her lower lip, her brow furled. 

    “You don’t know exactly how the conversation went correct?”

    “Yeah I don’t know… that was more of a speculation.” 

    “When will you know for sure?”

    “I’ll know when I talk to her.” Bitterness was hot on the tongue and she gripped her fingers together. 

    “This is all-”

    “Hard to believe… I know.” 

    “And you mentioned a third mother?” Her heart tightened with longing. 

    “Yes. The best mother anyone could have asked for.”

    “What was her name?” She smiled and lifted to tuck a loose curl behind her ear. 

    “Minako. Her name was Hifune Minako.” 




    “Rae-chan, come here for a moment.” She put the book she had been reading down on the table and slowly got up. 


    “Wash your hands. Help me with dinner.” Minako said softly as she cut some scallions. 

    “Hm.” Once her hands were clean, she grabbed a small knife and began to help her chop. 

    “Rae?” The crisp sound of the scallion brought a small smile to her face and she blinked, looking up at Minako. 


    “I’m glad.” She blinked again and paused her knife. 

    “Glad about what?” Minako didn’t say anything for a while. 

    “Mina-chan?” She laid her knife on the cutting board and sighed with a smile. 

    “I’m glad that I have you here… with me.” 


    “I am just thinking. How blessed I am to call you daughter. You see…. I am not entirely too old. But I…I once had a family too. A daughter and a husband…” Prior to that point, she had never known anything about Minako other than that she was the only guardian she had in Japan. Her ears perked up and she laid the knife flat against the countertop, waiting for her to continue. 

    “My daughter would probably be a few years younger than you now. And now would be the time my husband would be getting home from work.”    

    “What happened to them Mina-chan?” Minako sighed again and bit her lip. 

    “They…they died.” Her heart grew tight with pain. 

    “Minako…” She shook her head. 

    “It’s been 10 years now. I’ve moved on.” She watched her as she began to slice again in silence, all the while her heart growing more sad. 

    “I’m glad that you have been here to bring me joy. I am glad that you call me Mina-chan. And I’m glad that I have been able to see you grow into such a beautiful young lady.” She gripped the handle to the knife in her hand. It became all too real in that moment. That soon she would be leaving her and the life she had made for herself here…to return to the place she had once fondly called home to people she had called family. The sadness in her chest was spreading and growing deep. She couldn’t help but feel as though she was leaving to go back to a foreign land. Weren’t these people her family too? 


    “You’ll have to call me and tell me what goes on with you okay? Don’t forget about me hm Rae-chan?” But the happy tone had small sniffles mixed in. She slowly leaned to her side and placed her head on her shoulder. 

    “I will never forget about you.” Minako smiled, her gaze having grown watery. 

    “Good. Let’s add these scallions now.” 




    “That was the last time I cooked with her. Soon after that… I came back to the States.” Dr. Gupta nodded and smiled. 

    “Do you miss her?” She licked her lips.     

    “Yes. Very much.”

    “I am pleased to hear that out of every woman, Minako was the one to show you motherly love.”

    “Yeah. She was a hell of a woman.”

    “Why don’t you call her?”

    “I don’t know…I haven’t in almost ten years…by now…she’s older and has probably forgotten me.” Gupta shook her head. 

    “You’d be the last person she’d forget I think Rae. I think she thinks about you and misses you just as much as you miss her.” She turned to look out of the window. 

    “Yeah.” Gupta sighed and stood up. 

    “This was a great session. Good job. I’m proud of you.” She began to stand and slowly smiled. 

    “We’re making progress! I thank you for sharing with me.” She nodded at her and turned to get her things. 

    “I’ll see you next week then Dr. Gupta…” She smiled at her. 

    “You’ll see her again Rae. I just know it.” She felt tears well up in her eyes but just smiled. 

    “Take care.”

    “Till next time Rae.”






End Notes:

A/N: HI GUYSSSSSSSSS!!!!! I MISSED YOUUUUU!!!! I've been gone far longer than I would have liked! Life got goin and many things happened which needed my priority and attention! If you guys don't know, I was being asked to leave my College on the basis that I do not have the money to pay the balance from last semester! I have some very extenuating circumstances and because I don't have any fam support, it was really hard and tough. Folks from members of my immediate family to faculty and staff at Spelman were trying to talk me out of completing my last two semesters here and go all the way back home and start over at another four year (less expensive) institution. But even still through it all, I NEVER compromised, acknowledged defeat or gave up on what God promised me! Glory to God I have been able to stay on campus, attend my classes and written agreeance from Spelman to help me this semester! I am so happy that FAITH WORKS! And FAIH WITHOUT WORK IS DEAD. I am actually going to be putting my gofundme link below please share, etc!! I am trying to raise enough money so that for next semester, I will not have to worry about any of this!! I am so grateful for you guys!! Now, on to the chapter! :) 


A/N (2): I know that in the past spoken words between characters hae confused readers and for that I apologize. I literally type it as I see it in my mind. It is like how characters talk in movies. That is how I structured the chapter this time around. I'm happy to see that Rae is finally starting to deal with her deep seated pain!! She has gone to therapy before but not for very long and not this intensive! Rae is going to be in Seattle for two months almost. And every week, she will attend Dr. Gupta's counseling sessions. Can you imagine how much growth mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually she will have in two months time?? I will not stop it at two months though. I'm actually thinking of both Roto and Rae attending therapy well after their respective breaks. Possibly even together?? :) I have missed this story and writing! Thank you for your patience and warm reception! <3 God bless! Love you Fam! <3 


Sunray bright and yellow, into the sky! 


Be set free by the renewing of your mind! <3 


D&L <3 (Sunhalo17) 

Here is my link: :D


Wading by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:









Sometimes, I feel like a duckling. A baby who hasn’t fully gripped walking yet. So, I move my feet and waddle to and fro.. to and fro. Frustrated that I can’t walk like Mama Duck. But… shouldn’t it be enough that I’m trying? Even if I make mistakes? 


A few weeks later….

She set the bags down on the table and unzipped her coat. A quick trip to the local market had turned into a few hours while she bought food items for the whole week. It was chilly outside today and she was glad that she had her winter coat. Course, it didn’t beat New York but it was a close second. Before she began to take the items out of the bags, she flicked on the small nearby television complementary of her apartment complex.  A news reporter appeared on the screen and she sighed and reached into her bags. Tonight, she thought she’d make some Mediterranean salad with a homemade vinaigrette and some fruit salad. Tomorrow, something more hearty since it was still very cold outside.

She was proud of herself. She’d continued going to the weekly scheduled sessions with Dr. Gupta and was amazed at the progress she felt she was making. Sometimes, they would just sit in her office and laugh. She’d tried to get Gupta to share bits of her life and to her surprise… she had managed to get some tidbits out of her. Dr. Gupta was a young 33 years old and already a practicing clinical psychologist. Not only was that impressive but she also had a boo. While Gupta tried to skirt around that subject, she tried every time to bring that up. She was not going to let up until she spilled the beans. Smiling to herself, she sighed. As she laid the contents of the bags on the counter, the thought about the first time she had tried cooking came across her mind. Tightening her jaw she gripped the bags. Why when she was thinking about all the good times did a bad memory have to come up? Swallowing tightly, she felt the memory come forth and squeezed her eyes tight. She could never forgot her firsts. 



“Sweetheart, do you like Daddy?” A gruff voice asked in the darkness as fingers slid across her skin. She buried her face into the mattress and tightened her legs together, the feeling of something sticky still in between. 

“You playing shy now baby?” His touch made her shiver and she wanted to bite his fingers off. 

“N-No…” At her tone, the man smirked. 

“Daddy’s hungry.” His breath was rank with the smell of cigarettes and booze and it made her eyes water. It didn’t phase her anymore. Hungry was a code word. A word meaning he wanted more sex. More of her being. She felt empty as she slowly sat up and turned to face him. His eyes grew a glow with lust and his fingers skimmed down her breasts, still forming and growing. 

“You’re such a good girl Ebere.” 

“Thank you Daddy.” She said in an almost robotic tone before pressing her small hands on his course chest. 

“I’m glad we have this time to spend together. Don’t you?” She gently climbed on top of him and looked into his eyes, not truly seeing. 

“Yes…me too.” The man had become a blur. She’d come in contact with so many of them that after a while they blurred together into one big blob of a face. 

“Pete trained you well. You know just what to do without even being asked.” He was one who she had come to think secretly envied the man he called Pete. When he would request her, he always made her say such strange things… things that made her feel dirty. Things about how she liked him better and the thing between his legs better than Pete. It was always Pete with this one. 

“Thank you…” He grinned underneath her and reached up to slide his fingers across her lips. 

“This time I’m not hungry for the sweet stuff. I’m actually hungry.” Her hips which had started to move as if in automatic motion stopped. He wanted food? 

“Oh…” He chuckled, parting her lips. 

“Oh? Can you cook? Did Pete teach you how to do that?” 

“I can cook.” 

“Good girl. Why don’t you go fix Daddy somethin?” She nodded and slowly got up off of his lap and let the sheet fall away from her body. Not caring about clothes, she reached over onto the counter and put up her hair. 

“I’ll be in there.” The man’s gaze was like that of a snake and it made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. 

“Okay baby.”  She made her way into the kitchen and fixed something she always made with her grandmother: Mac and Cheese and hot dogs. As she stirred the generic cheese mix into the noodles, her legs began to tremble and she felt the wetness ease down her legs. It felt like  urine but much too sticky. Too much for her body to hold or handle. Her hands soon began to shake and tears threatened to fall from her eyes. She heard the bed creak as the man got up and made his way into the kitchen. 

“Mm. Smells good.” She bit her lip and reached up to blot the tears. 

“T-Thank you.” 


Hot, heavy tears streamed down her face and she wasn’t sure if the loud ragged sounds were coming from her or not. She hugged herself tightly and pressed her forehead against the wood of the cabinet. She wasn’t aware that she had dropped the carton of milk or that it was seeping into her jeans. 

“No… no no no no…no….” She cried, the tears non stop. She laid to her side in the puddle of milk and rocked, wrapping her arms around herself. A few minutes turned into hours and soon the tears that had come from her hurting bruised heart had dried and all that remained was a dry and arid stare above her at the ceiling. 


“Rae?” She turned eyes on Dr. Gupta who looked concerned. 

“Yeah?” Her voice was flat and showed no emotion or interest. 

“Do you need anything? Any hospital assistance? We can stop this session right now just say the word if you are not feeling well.” Gupta replied with the utmost seriousness, standing up to look at her. 

“No. I’m…I’m good.” 

“No you’re not.” She sighed and resumed looking out of the window. 

“I don’t need any hospital Atmikha. I doubt they can fix what’s going on inside.” 

“What is that exactly?” Again, she had lapsed into silence for a while before she spoke again. 

“The reason why I always repeat the same damn cycle. Why I have so many fucking problems. Why I can’t even let the man I love back in. Why every man scares me… sometimes even my own brothers…” 

“Rae…” She leaned down in her chair and grabbed her journal. 

“I’m going to read some things. I want you to listen.” Gupta sat back down and calmly gave a gentle nod. 

“All ears sweetie.” 



The hand of a man. Such a mundane yet extraordinary thing. A thing that holds such power. Such authority. The ability to hold. Produce. Caress. Hurt. Bruise. Kill. The hand of a man can swallow your entire being in invisibility, intimacy, pain or all three. The power to bring forth prayer. Life. Death. Men don’t know… or else they wouldn’t be so careless with what they do with their hands. Hands that lead to fingers, little trees sprung forth from the big main root. Fingers that have electricity, divine authority. To command, pull, worship. Pleasure. Earth. Water. The seasons and planets all align for this: a man’s hand. 

There laying in the midst of the green lays a woman. Woman being a half of a man. Taken literally from his rib. Apart of him and yet divided. She lays bare, asleep. Her skin as dark as the earth beneath her. Out of the peaceful silence comes forth a hand. Nails black and dirty, the fingers begin to poke and prod, touching places that she gave no permission to feel. Places special and uniquely her own. She sits up and tries to push the hand away but yet comes another one. This one covers her breast with the palm and a laughter comes. She tries to shield her body but yet a third hand, a fourth, a fifth. In between her legs, in her hair, fingers dirty and rotten clogging up her airways. Until all she has left is the taste and touch of the dirt. Her very essence, her femininity taken without so much as a “May I please?” or “Thank you.” Used, every eye she comes in contact with appears vile. 

In this life, she went through until she met the hand of one. One who did not abuse her. Hurt her. Torture her. But yet fear. Fear. I’m scared cries the woman. Empty, her shell walks around looking…seeking to be filled. He can’t be. So I must find it. I must fill the holes. But how? How? 



She was sure she spotted some tears that had welled up in Gupta’s eyes but she didn’t give her a chance to speak. 

“The man who came after my mothers…he still makes me afraid. I hate him. I fear him. And my body hasn’t forgotten him. My mind is terrified Atmikha. I’m so scared that should I meet him again… the one who started my hell on earth… that I’ll lose myself and never be who I know I can be.” Gupta remained silent. She took a deep breath and tightened her fingers. 

“After my first mother abandoned me…I wandered for days. Breaking into bakeries when I was hungry and trying to sleep in warm places. My shoes eventually started to tear apart and my coat started to resemble rags. God knows how long it had been since I had been bathed. And one night… one night… he found me. That was when the life as I knew it began.” 



“Are you hungry?” She had just used a rock to smash into a local grocery store and got as much as she could before darting across the street. She had purposely waited until all of the grown ups were gone and the lights were turned off. She had sat down on the curb and started ripping open the packages and beverages she stole. When she looked up, there was a man standing in front of her with his hands in his pockets. 

“Who you?” She asked, mouth full of sandwich and juice. 

“I’m Peter. What’s your name?” She flared her nostrils and took a few more bites out of her sandwich. 

“Ion talk to strangers.” The man smiled in a friendly way but she stopped chewing and looked at him. Something in her stomach wasn’t sitting right. 

“I see. Your mother must have taught you that. Smart woman.” 

“What you want strange man?” 

“I want to take you off the street. I have a nice big bed and a warm bath and lots of food you can eat.” 

“Nah. I don’t want to go with you strange man.” 

“Tell me something princess… have you heard of the Italian Mafia?” She began to chew again. 

“The what?” He chuckled. 

“The Mafia are a bunch of really powerful people. Big important guys. They can make anybody do anything they want at the snap of a finger.” 

“Okay?” She took another sip of her juice. 

“Listen to me princess. I can get you off the street into a nice home. Where you won’t have to starve anymore and steal things. All I have to do is make a phone call. Would you like that?” She stared at him and his friendly expression. 

“Hm. Do it then. Call them people.” 

“One condition.”


“You gotta come with me.” 


“Cause I want to make sure you’ll be safe.”

“Why you gotta be the one? I don’t trust you. You gon take me to a shelter.”

“No I won’t princess. I promise. No shelters.” 

“No.” She got up and everything in her body screamed to get away from this man. She tightened the lid on her juice and put it back in the plastic bag. She had grabbed enough for a couple days if she ate small. Tightening the basket she had swiped against her ribcage, she sighed. 

“Well bye strange man.” He didn’t say anything as she began to walk away. When she had gotten far enough away from him to feel calm, she let out a big breath. Turning, she didn’t see him or anybody. Dark and drizzling, she bit her lip as she looked around. She turned and before she could see, she felt a sharp pain spread throughout her head. The last thing she remembered was her juice falling out of the basket and spilling out on the concrete. 


“When I woke up, I was laying on the ground and all these men were around me talking about me and poking me.” She said, her throat full of tears. Gupta had a grim expression on her face, her lips tightly pinched. 

“That was the start. Once he figured out I was awake, he had forced me to get bathed and dressed me up like some baby doll. And then that night was hell. He made me do things Atmikha. Things no 8 to 9 year old girl should do. He raped me. Took everything away from me. My virginity. My soul. My innocent delicate essence. All of it. Gone…” Tears had escaped but she couldn’t find it within her to stop talking. She had to talk. It had to come out. 

“The next morning… he forced me to stay with him. I couldn’t leave unless he told me I could. I had to beg him to go to the bathroom. Eat. Had to let him pick out my clothes. Later that day, he took me to meet the big and important men he called La Familia. They loved me. Said I was a cute thing. Thing for him. He told them he was grooming me. That one day, I’d be his most prized possession. And then that night… that second night… he did it all again. Over and over and over again until I became sore, begging him to stop. But he didn’t care. He didn’t care that I was in pain. All that mattered was that he release. He said good girls were quiet and took everything that was given to them. Good girls obeyed. Good girls were grateful…” 


“No! No. I have to finish… please don’t interrupt…” Gupta nodded and tightened her jaw. She was sure she had went over their time for that day. But she had to. Keep going. 

“First it was him. Then his friend. Then the friend’s friend. I don’t remember much. I mean… I had eventually learned to escape by receding into the back of my mind. Shut off my awareness. I learned to become a robot. A lifeless shell. I eventually stopped crying. I stopped getting in the shower and pushing my wash towel in between my legs to get the stickiness out. At 8 years old, they had made me into a soulless lifeless whore. I began to hope that maybe the fluid inside me would fill me and make me whole again. Since I was empty. I was nothing. Anymore.” Finally, her tongue had got stuck and she began to cry. Inside this safe space, she felt like she could let it out. So she began to cry out from the depths of her soul. Loud, anguished screams… tears and snot painted a picture of the deepest pain. Her body trembled and shook and she tightly gripped the chair arms until her fingers hurt. 

“My sweet sister…” Gupta had left her chair and had come to gently wrap her arms around her. 

“Let it out…” She cajoled, gently rubbing her back. She forgot for a moment about the whole Therapist-Client relationship and the professionalism that was always supposed to remain between them. She pressed her face against her stomach and gripped her shirt. 

“Atmikha… how… how could they do this to me? How could they rip my very soul from me and not give a damn? How could they abuse and misuse a child knowing she had nobody? Why…why…” She began to shake her head. 

“I’ve done the same thing… after Hiroto… I went right back to what I knew. Trying to be filled with the essence of men who had no business being inside of me or my spirit… the cycle…all because of him…” 

“Rae…” She turned eyes up to her, the tears still coming down her cheeks. 

“It is up to you to continue that cycle or determine it in yourself to break it.” 

“I can’t live my life this way anymore Atmikha. I can’t.” 

“You don’t have to my dear. It’s your choice. Make it, stick by it and do it.” Dr. Gupta gently tucked a curl behind her ear. 

“I have faith in you Rae. You’re stronger than you think you are! You have more in you than you think. You are far from empty. You have such a beautiful story living right there in your womb. It’s your duty to let it free. I’m proud of you for making this whole month worth it. You’ve pushed, cried, fought me and let me in. I couldn’t be more happy to call you my sister.” She pat her shoulder. 

“You’ll stitch the pieces  of yourself back together. Go home. Journal. Shower. Cry. Laugh. Call me if you feel alone. And next time… we’ll talk about this Hiroto fellow. Is he the one who has your heart?” She let go of Gupta and sat up straight, sniffing. 


“What does that mean? Either you love him or you don’t.” Atmikha said with a playful grin. 

“I…I do love him! It’s just… he’s in the hot seat right now.”

“I want to hear about it next time!” She reached up to wipe her cheeks and slowly stood up on wobbly legs. 

“Okay.” Gupta smiled and playfully nudged her chin with her knuckle. 

“There we go!”

“Sorry about the being over time… I know you got more clients to see!” 

“Don’t worry about it!” 

“See you next week?”

“See you then Rae.” 



A feeling I can’t describe has come over me right now and I can’t begin to explain…The only thing I can say is that I feel like a rebirth is coming. I felt the presence of the Lord for the first time in years tonight. And I just want to come back. I feel like I’m ready to come back. Thanks to Atmikha. And… my never ending talkamatic self… I truly feel peace right now. I feel as though the wading is now full fledged swimming.. jumping. I’m about to make a big splash and when the world is reintroduced to me they won’t know what happened or how. All I know is that I can’t… I can’t wait to finally come home. Home to my Heavenly Father. Home to my peace and sanity. Home. Home to him. Home to all of them. 

End Notes:

A/N: This was such a rough chapter for me to write you guys. Like seriously. It made me cry. I had to pause so many times like yoo I cannot do it. But, the strength of God got me through. It's a story that we don't talk about, so many women out there who have experienced this and are afraid to speak order to heal. So, it's a narrative that needs to be shared. I thank God I never had to experience anything like this but for those who have... my heart and prayers are with you! Stand strong and in hope sisters, because you ARE loved! You are cherished and have value! You are not filthy or dirty! The Almighty Father loves you more than you all your flaws!! Okay, the next chapter will be the second to last or last chapter for Rae and I'll start with Roto. Thanks for reading. This story is so powerful y'all. 

God bless you! See you guys soon!

Him by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


Justin Nozuka-Blue Velvet Sea


Sails of white blew in the breeze, so much of it that it threatened to overwhelm her. She smiled and as she opened her eyes, her eyes beheld vast blue. Blue in various shades until it drew to a ombre green. 

    “Rae.” She turned, the white misting across her face like fresh rain. She met eyes, deep almond shaped eyes…the brown within rivaled the rich beauty beneath her feet. Her heart leapt in her chest and she smiled again. 


    “Come home.” The man outstretched his hand and she gently reached for him. 

    “Home? Where is home?” When their fingers met, her entire system jolted and she felt him pull her closer. 

    “Home is here.” He had placed her hand on his heart. His senses flooded her nostrils and she pressed her face against his chest, warmth and light surrounding her. 

    “I want to come home…” She said softly, a small smile on her face. 

    “I’ll be waiting. My heart misses you.” As he spoke, he tenderly brushed his lips across her cheek. 

    “Mine misses you too.” She found her voice gone but in the midst of the white, warmth and sunlight, it didn’t matter. His arms swept underneath her and lifted her up, away from the earth. Away from the water. 

    How quickly it had changed. Fingers caressed her hair and skin was plenty, abundant in its openness. Fire crackled beside them, the air moist and hot. There she lay underneath him, her eyes lost within his gaze. They began to drink of each other, so long so very long having been dehydrated. He dipped into her very soul and her fingers gripped flesh. His breath became hers and as the drinking became more and more intense, her eyes couldn’t contain the amount of sensory stimuli. Everything worked together, the sounds of breath that grew into vocality…the pure imitation of art lived through the dance, the natural beat of their flesh as they became one. The smell of sweet wine that overflowed and worked its way into the very ground. The water was too high and it crashed into her taking her breath from her lungs. The birds that flew in the trees sang a song quite like hers, one of beautiful surrender. The sounds that rose from his belly fed her spirit and she took of him again and again until she couldn’t any longer, full. Too soon, droplets from the sky fell to earth, washing her, drenching her. Flesh grew still and she felt him relax, his muscles once tight. She enclosed around him, arm and limb, keeping him close…protected. 

    “Don't go…. stay...stay with me Rae…” He whispered, voice soft as a whisper. Her breath answered against his temple. 

    “I’ll never leave you…I promise…Hiroto…” 




    She sat up in bed, clothes wet and damp against her skin, heat sucking her up in its captivity, eyes wide. Her heart beat wildly in her chest and the river that had ebbed between her legs had started to flow again. She gripped her comforter and bit her lips. Her skin tingled and her breathing was slightly labored. Cheeks red hot, she slowly placed her feet on the hardwood floor and stood up, legs wobbly. Not stopping to pass go or collect 200 dollars, she pulled her clothes off and got in the shower. 

    Inside, she pressed her forehead against the glass shower door, her fists tight at her sides. What was that dream? Why did it have to be… so… intimate and sensual? She nibbled on her lips and closed her eyes as the shower grew hot. It felt so real. Everything from the smooth skin to the hair that had moistly pressed to his forehead… the color in his cheeks…the bruising of his lips…even the way his throat rumbled with the sounds…sounds she couldn’t stop thinking about now… what the hell was wrong with her? 

    She sighed frustratedly and pushed off of the glass. Somehow though…. it didn’t feel like lust. It was strange. To dream of sex but… not have any perverted feelings attached. It made no sense to her. Washing her body, she sighed and rinsed before getting out. Today she didn’t have an appointment with Dr. Gupta but it definitely was something she needed someone to pick at for her. Grabbing some clothes, she quickly dressed, brushed her teeth and dialed Gupta’s number. 



    “Hello, Dr. Gupta speaking.” 

    “Atmikha…it’s Rae.” She could hear the smile in her voice as she replied, 

    “Rae! How are you?” She slid fingers through her hair. 

    “I…I just had a dream…um…a-about Hi-Hiroto…”

    “Oh?” It sounded like she had sat up in her chair. She sighed. 

    “Yeah. And um… I know we don’t have our appointment scheduled for today but I really need you to pick this for me cause I’m still like what the hell just happened…” Gupta laughed. 

    “Okay sweetie. I’m all ears.” 



    “That was harsh.”

    “What was harsh?” 

    “The way you shot that girl down. You ain’t have to do her like that. A simple no would have sufficed.” She peeked up at him. When his lips smiled, dimples appeared. 

    “Oh so I should have been nicer you’re saying?” Quickly, her eyes left his visage. 

    “That’s exactly what I’m saying.” 

    “Ah,” She glanced up at him again, her cheeks growing warm. 

    “You’re the desk guy who helped me yesterday.” His voice was delightfully pleasant, deep in timbre but calm. 

    “Your memory is impeccable.” She pursed her lips. Okay so nice voice had a bit of sarcasm goin on. Hm. 

    “Well… thank you. You didn’t have to do that.” 

    “Those cowards deserved it.” She balled her lips, a small smile appearing. Cowards were they?  

    “What’s your name?” She asked, glancing up at him again. He leaned towards her. 

    “You don’t know who I am by now?” Clearly. 

    “I wouldn’t have asked if I did.” The way he talked about himself, she would have thought that he was some celebrity. Was she supposed to know who he was? Was he that important? 

    “Iwase Hiroto.” Interesting name. She sighed and took a breath before,

    “Ebere Marshall.” 




    “So this is how you met?” She twirled strands of her hair around. 

    “Yeah. My first day at the school some guy thought it was a good idea to grab me and do inappropriate movements. Hiroto stopped him.” Gupta made a scoff sound.

    “I see. Please go on.” She licked her lips. 





    “Get up.” His voice didn’t tremble in its demand nor sounded angry. The hand of the man above her made its way into her shirt. Her body immediately froze and she closed her eyes. Familiar. The same. As all the others. 

    “She’s so wet man. She must want it.” She closed her fingers tightly in fists. No, just an automatic reaction… her body had been taught how to react on demand. Her mouth remained closed but she was screaming on the inside. The little trees slid underneath her skirt and she felt tears well up in her eyes. NO. STOP. I DON’T WANT THIS. PLEASE STOP. Her mind screamed but as his fingers found her soiled undergarments and began to move against it, she couldn’t do anything but turn her head, blankly staring at nothing. Her body moved, trying to separate itself from the violator. Before she knew it, the hand had grown still and the breath of the man was closer than before. She turned her eyes to the side to see that he had been punched, blood starting to flow out of his nose and mouth. He was slouched above her. 

    She felt the tears slide down her cheeks and reached up to grip his uniform jacket. She pushed weakly, feeling the withheld cries rising in her throat. Any minute now, she was going to scream. Before she could, he was lifted off of her and tossed to the side like a rag doll. 

    “Marshall… are you-” She turned eyes up at him… the one who had saved her before. Iwase Hiroto. She felt wind breeze across her exposed chest and thighs and looked at him with an watery stare. 

    “Did you come to get some too?” She watched his eyes slide down her body. He wasn’t any different. He took his eyes off of her and cleared his throat. 

    “No.” Sure. Sure you didn’t. You sick bastard. Instead, he pulled off his uniform jacket. 

    “You keep getting yourself into trouble Ebere.” To her surprise, he covered her with his jacket and helped her up. He placed his jacket around her shoulders and told her to button it up. And he prepared to go to the Principal’s Office with her. She didn’t understand but as they walked down the hall…she wasn’t sure in that moment that she wanted to. Finally. Someone…someone had seen her. And… and wanted to save her. 



    “Hiroto was very important for you Rae.” She took a shaky breath. 

    “You think?”

    “Yes. He was the first person of the opposite sex that truly protected you. He was the only man whose hands did not take or abuse. Rather, they offered protection and tenderness. Am I right?” She felt tears come to her eyes. She was. She… she knew it but…

    “Rae… paint him for me. Let me see who you know him to be.” The tears fell down her cheeks but she held the phone tighter. The person she knew him to be…he had been so many things…so many. 



    The smell of summer was on the wind and she took deep breaths of the air with a soft smile. Fingers hid deep in silky strands and lips smiled against her bare thigh. The flowers danced with the breeze and the drops of water that splashed back from the bank were fresh and cold. He sighed against her skin and she scrunched up her nose at the feeling. 

    “Rae?”  She looked down at the boy who had become her most trusted friend and the love of her life. 

    “Yeah?” He had stretched out his long legs, feet bare and covered in dirt. 

    “Let’s go jump in the water…” She rolled her eyes and looked towards the rock with the single lone rope hanging from the thousand year old tree. 

    “I don’t think so.” He opened his eyes and turned to face her. 

    “Don’t be a scary cat.” She pursed her lips. 

    “I ain’t bein no scary cat.” He smiled, dimples flashing and pressed his nose into her skirt. 

    “You know I wouldn’t let anything happen to you.” 

    “If your tactic of getting your way is lowering your voice you wrong.” She shot back though her heart beat faster indeed. He sighed and slowly lifted and laid his cheek on her collarbone. 

    “We haven’t been here in a long time. I wanted to share it with you.” He said quietly, his nose nuzzling her skin. She bit her lip and wrapped her hand around his neck. It had been almost a year since they had come back to Nara. This time, there was no extended family. This time… it was just him and her. In his grandmother’s house. Just them two. 


    “Soon we will graduate from high school. Soon, we’ll both have to grow up. Don’t you want to be a child a little longer?” He asked, turning his gorgeous brown eyes up at her. Her mouth grew dry. When he did that… her heart always managed to grew weak. 

    “That would be nice…” He smiled and lifted, his face growing closer. 

    “Be a child with me. Let’s be free Rae.” Her cheeks grew red. 





    They ran up the side of the rock laughing. She tugged on his hand, making him stop. 

    “Roto…we’re gonna get our uniforms wet…” He grinned and pulled her close by the waist. 

    “Let’s take them off.” She playfully pushed his chest with a scoff. 

    “You nasty. I ain’t playin with you Hiroto…” 

    “I wasn’t playing either.” He said with a cheeky grin. 

    “You tried it homie. You really did.” He laughed and lowered his chin onto her shoulder. 

    “At least our blazers hm?” She nibbled on her lip before, 

    “Okay. Our blazers.” He pulled away from her and began to remove his shoes. She slowly shrugged out of her blazer and took off her own shoes and socks. Being so high up, memories of what happened began to spin in her mind. 

    “Rae?” She opened her eyes to find his shirt half way off. No. No, she couldn’t…

    “Hiroto… I can’t… not…not after what happened here…” He let the shirt come off of his body and came up to her, hands caressing her cheeks. 

    “Breathe baby…” She closed her eyes and gripped his wrists, taking in deep breaths. 

    “Good. Deep.” His lips kissed her cheek and the corner of her mouth. She let his touch comfort her and she felt the dizziness subside and the sick turning of her stomach cease. Her grip loosened on his wrists. 

    “Look at me…” She slowly opened her eyes and looked into his gentle gaze. 

    “You’re above that fear that tugs in your mind. You’ve conquered it Rae. You’re stronger than you seem. Every force that is against you must surrender to you. It is already defeated. Do you understand?” She licked her lips and took in air through her nostrils. 


    “Emi was never going to defeat you. You conquered even her. Will you let this rock conquer you now? Or this water?” She was falling into his eyes… when his gaze grew deep like that… where she felt he was staring into her very heart and soul… she grew weak. 

    “No…I won’t.”


    “No. I…I can do it…” He smiled softly and nodded. 

    “Yes you can! He brushed her cheekbones with his thumbs and slid down to grab her hands. 

    “How do you feel? If you still don’t want to do it…we don’t have to. But… I want you to remember what I’ve said.” She bit her lips and tightened her grip on his hands. She looked up at him. 

    “I’m feeling like I can do it. With you… I feel I can do anything.” He blushed and brought her hand to his mouth, pressing a kiss to the skin. 

    “One jump. One time to celebrate your victory and your overcoming of life.” She grinned. She had overcome. Damn it, she had survived. He had too. 

    “Let’s do it Roto.” The grin that came to him mirrored hers and he pulled her back a bit. 

    “On three. One…two…three!” They ran as fast as they could and jumped onto the rope before letting go. She screamed and felt the laughter come up from her belly. Just the same, tears came to her eyes. 

    “Don’t let go of me!” She yelled as the water grew closer. 

    “I won’t!” They dove into the water and soon came up, hands tightly connected. She gasped and the fresh cool wind that met her shocked her. It felt just as good now as it did then. He pulled her closer, lifting to place her hand on his shoulder. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her cheek against his chin. 

    “You did it baby. I’m proud of you.” He said gently, his hands pulling her flush against him. She smiled and smoothed his hair back from his face. 

    “I’m proud of me too.” He brought a hand out of the water and stroked her cheek, biting his lip some. 

    “Rae?” There was that deep intense look again. If he wasn’t holding on to her, she might have sunk. That gaze did something to her… called parts of her body to live. 


    “I love you.” A bead of water slid down his lips and she felt her legs grow weak under water. 

    “I…I love you too…” She gently pulled back from him and soon away from his arms completely. She sighed and leaned back in the water, arching her back. She spread her arms out wide and felt the water glide through her fingers. She closed her eyes and let the water move her. She had never felt freer than in that moment. To flow with the element, so beautiful and powerful was unlike anything she had experienced before. Smiling to herself she leaned up to find Hiroto gone. 

    “Hiroto?” She looked around and all that met her was blue and crisp cold. She turned and saw nothing there. As she began to move in the water, she felt something come below her, hands pulling her backwards. Turning, she saw him emerge from the water, his breath heavy. He stopped her movements, pulling her back against him. 

    “You play too-” His lips silenced her and she melted at once. Her fingers gripped his forearms. His arms encircled around her hips and she gently reached up to graze his jaw with her fingertips. He pulled his lips back just enough to speak.

    “I have to be honest with you… right now.” His voice had grown throaty and she felt his body which had come alive press against her. 

    “G-Go ahead…” He opened his eyes and slowly pushed them closer to the edge where all the flowers and soft sweet grass lay. 

    “Swim with me…” She kicked her legs and sooner than later they had come upon the grassy banks. He pressed her back into the grass, ever so slightly sliding in between her legs. Her breath was taken as she took in the flushed cheeks…the way his lips part and the way the air came through. 

    “I’m trying very hard right now Rae…to the best of my ability…” She felt her womb flutter and turned her head, closing her eyes. 

    “What…is…is it?” She felt the grass above her head tighten as his fingers gripped it. His lips grew fire in her veins as they pressed to her jaw. 

    “I…I want to make love to you Rae.” She swallowed tightly and took a shaky breath. What could she say…Her voice croaked as she answered, 

    “I…um…” He sighed heavily. 

    “I apologize…” She nodded, her tongue dry.

    “I-It’s okay..” 

    “Let’s go…before we get ourselves in trouble ne?” He pulled back and got up, ruffling his hair. She slowly leaned up and made sure her skirt was covering her. She glanced up at him and he smiled, extending his hand. Pinkies connected, they made their way back to collect blazers and a shirt. The journey back to the house began. 




    “Such a passionate, tender and innocent love.” She leaned back onto her couch, a small smile on her face. 

    “Yeah. It was…” 

    “This young man… did he have his own story?” 

    “He experienced a lot of things…like I did.  He tried to hide it like I did but… together we naturally found ways to release the pain inside. He told me things he’s never told anyone else and… I did the same.” 

    “I see.” Gupta replied. 

    “I remember the pain being so much that he got shitface drunk this one time. I found him passed out on the side of the street as I was going to school.” 

    “That’s horrible!”

    “I was mad at him for days…nah weeks after. But… I understood. Sometimes, when the pain grew too much to handle…you didn’t know how to deal with it.” Gupta agreed softly. She sighed and continued, 

    “Hiroto became my reason for breathing… living… and loving. He showed me that not every man was a monster.” 

    “You became his healing and he became yours.” She nodded. 

    “We were two deeply hurt kids… who found each other in spite of it all. Ours was a love that only comes once in a lifetime.” She licked her lips and looked outside at Puget Sound, the birds swirling in the sky. 

    “But… he ruined it…what we had.” 

    “How?” She closed her eyes and leaned her head back on the couch cushion. 

    “I’ll tell you…” 


    It made sense later on. The reason why he had started to drink… despite his promises. He knew then. He knew…that he was going to betray her. Once she was on the plane and glanced down at her fingers, a gut wrenching sob escaped her throat and the other folks turned to look at her. She ignored them and pressed her forehead against the small plane window. In her mind, she had taken off the ring that symbolized all they were and threw it back in his face. The visions of them happy, laughing and free had been forced to stop and she hadn’t been ready. She was ready…prepared to give him her life. She had been ready and willing to finally let him into her most intimate private space and touch her soul. Out of all she had been through… he was the last one she had expected to hurt her so damn deep. 

    All the times his lips mouthed that he would never hurt her… that he’d never leave her…that he’d always be with her thick or thin… all of it… all of it was lies. The first man to prove her wrong had in the end proven her right. All men were fools. All men only thought with their dick. They didn’t care to know the woman beyond her breasts, ass and pot of honey between her legs. Tears streamed down her face and she pushed her head back against the plane seat. 

    What they had had… she thought it real… transcendent of time and space. But he might as well have hit her in the face, beat upon her heart and thrown it to the ground. He had dropped her in the way men tended to do and had decided something new was in order. Perhaps… perhaps Emi was right all along. She had warned her, told her that he would get tired and bored of her and replace her. Seems she truly did know him better. Someday soon, he would have a pretty fresh faced girlfriend… a girlfriend he was always supposed to be with. One who was perfect and proper, rich and dainty… and most of all… Japanese. She was going back to her place… and so was he. It had been fun. Nice. But perhaps… she was never supposed to be with him…someone like him. Sighing and clutching her shirt she bit her lips. The pain that coursed throughout her chest was enough to make her dizzy and she stayed still for hours after the plane left the shores of the place she had been proud to call home. 



    “He made a pact with his parents… to marry the girl they chose…for the sake of his family. I guess I never was meant to understand the world of the rich and powerful. I guess he did have some obligations, being the only son of one of the most well known entrepreneurial and existing samurai families in Japan.”     

    “That’s quite a decision he made… one I cannot imagine the pain it produced. I cannot give my personal opinion but let me say one thing. You both were young. At that age, you two may have been deeply and irrevocably in love. But the point is that you two were bound to make decisions that weren’t as wise as they could have been.” 

    “I wouldn’t have cared… we could have made every mistake in the book… as long… as long as I had him with me.” She said, her voice shaky. 

    “We could have been… we could have been happy Atmikha. It didn’t matter about the money or fame or any of that. I loved him. Not what he had. Can you imagine us… having been married now ten years…happy with kids…can you…”  Her voice broke off and she allowed the tears to fall, biting her lips. 

    “But he chose some fake plastic bitch with money… because Mommy and Daddy said so… so he did it….I just…it’s shit like that that makes me never want to fall in love again. At least when bodies were used you knew what you were getting into. I use you… you use me. No strings. No commitments. No beautiful words or promises that were going to be broken…just sex.” She lifted a shaky hand and wiped her tears. 


    “But all of that has brought nothing but misery. A cycle that seemed like it would continue forever. Atmikha…am I a fool for wanting to possibly forgive him? Am I a fool because…I still… still love him…” For a moment, Gupta was quiet and then, 

    “I wonder what must have gone through his mind. Knowing that he had agreed to break the love of his life’s heart. What could have been his motive? Surely, he had let you into his soul as you had let him. Was he truly just a man who only thought with his genitals or was it deeper?” Her watery eyes found the expanse of the blue sky again, the birds still soaring. 

    “I believe that it broke his heart just as much as it did yours. He was just as much a victim as you were Rae. I’m not excusing his actions by any means. I gather cultural differences must have played a role in his decision making as well. Collectivist societies are more community based… whereas here in America it’s the self… thinking and acting for the self. I imagine that more than anything… you were the one he wanted to be with.” She licked her lips. 

    “And look where we are…”

    “Still in love.” Gupta answered. She closed her eyes. Still in love. 

    “How do I know he’s not doing all this just because he feels guilty. He still has that chick… is still in a relationship with her…what if he’s doing this-”  


    “Let me tell you something. You were and will continue to be… the only one whose lips will bring me to my knees….”

    “…I’m…sorry… that I put you in a position where you ever had to doubt what you meant to me Rae. Hopefully now… it’s loud and clear…” He opened his eyes and brushed the tears away with his thumbs. 

    “…I’ve never stopped loving you…” 

    “…I missed you baby…” 



    She couldn’t speak. The words had died on her tongue and she just sniffed. 



    “You were saying?” 

    “…I-I don’t think he’s doin it cause he’s guilty…I-well I remembered some things he said just now.” 


    “B-Before I came to Seattle…I had called him.”

    “So you’ve been in contact with him?” 

    “Not much but some. I’ve been avoiding him. It so happens that I see him every other day. He attends business meetings and stuff.”


    “Yeah and so this one time…I was contemplating suicide…and I found a card he had sent me with his number on it…and…I called him and-and asked him to come to my house. I’m stupid for even asking him but he came over. And at the end of our meeting… I-I k-kissed him…” Gupta grew quiet. 


    “I’m listening sweetie…”

    “I wanted to know if he…if that chick….if…” She stopped, feeling ashamed. 

    “I missed him. I’m…I feel stupid because I still…I…”

    “Listen to me Rae. You are not stupid or foolish. Listening to you talk about him… it gives me hope that you’ll make it through this process. The love between you two cannot be destroyed, even though you’ve been apart for a long while. I’m glad that you made some effort… even though inside you probably felt horrible. It is so promising.” 

    “Promising for what?”

    “It’s a great opportunity to let a new seed grow between you. I know he hurt you. Deeply. But, promise me you’ll give him a chance. Even a tiny bit of one.” She felt tears come to her eyes. 


    “You don’t have to give me an answer. I just want you to think about it. For now honey, we’ll continue on! I’m proud of you. You’ve done so well Rae.” She smiled, reaching up to wipe her tears. 

    “T-thank you…I have talked your ear off too long this time.” Gupta laughed. 

    “I’m glad you’re talking it out. Now that you’ve gotten it out.. now you can breathe.” 


    “I want to say one thing before we go…”


    “What you and Hiroto have… it is truly transcendent of time, space and comprehension. People live their entire lives never once knowing the deep intimacy and love you two have for one another. I hope that you can push past this and choose happiness. With him. That life you dreamed of long ago…it can be yours again. Don’t forget that.”

    “O-okay.” They bid each other goodbye. Laying her phone on the couch, she sighed and leaned over to lay on her pillows. She once again felt light as air and much more free. She closed her eyes, exhausted from the crying and drifted to sleep. 




    The rain poured and it pelted against the earth harshly. Today would be the day she found herself without an umbrella. She scoffed and wrapped her arms around herself. The warm humid summer air was making the hair at the base of her neck even more poofy. Sighing, she stood underneath a convenient store awning. The store had closed twenty minutes ago and by the time the door had been locked, the rain had started. All the employees had driven away to their respective homes… to their families. Yet… here she stayed…stranded. She sighed again heavily. Tonight Mina-chan told her she was going to make a fresh tomato and cucumber salad with soba and mochi ice cream. She wanted to be there to help. Damn. 

    “Rae?” A voice brought her out of her grumbling and she blinked at the owner of it. 

    “Hiroto?” He stood in the rain, a clear translucent umbrella shielding the rain from him. 

    “Why are you-”

    “Came for some milk.” She said, cutting him off. 

    “Ah.” She rubbed her arms as the rain started to turn cold. The wind blew around her bare legs up through the skirt of her dress and she held it steady. 

    “Would you like a walk home?”

    “I’m good.” But the minute it left her lips, she knew it sounded stupid. She had been standing in the rain for over twenty minutes now with no fare for the train. Dumb. Dumb and Dumb. 

    “Are you sure? I’m headed that way.” His breath came out as mist and she shivered. 

    “O-okay…fine…” He came to stand in front of her, covering her with the umbrella. 

    “You look so cold…” He mused, glancing over her. 

    “And yet you don’t.” He grinned. 

    “I’m a man. We carry our heat better.” She rolled her eyes. 


    “Come on.” He said with a gentle laugh. She got underneath and they began to walk. 

    “How was your day?” He asked as they walked. 


    “Just fine?”

    “Just fine.” 

    “Mm.” Silence grew and the sound of rain was almost deafening. 

    “Hiroto?” It was a little bit before he spoke. 

    “Yes?” She twiddled her thumbs behind her. 

    “Um…a-about N-Nara…” 

    “I apologize. I…I shouldn’t have been so reckless…” 

    “No! No… I…ah…I d-didn’t m-mind.” He looked down at her. 

    “I don’t like us um…. not talking. I know I initiated it…but I just… I couldn’t…”

    “I understand. I got carried away.” 

    “Roto…” He licked his lips and looked away from her. She bit her lips and slowly, grabbed a handful of his sweater. Pressing her face against his ribcage, she sighed. They came to a stop. 

    “If… if nothing existed between us…that would get in the way…I…I think I’d have let you… let you have me.” His breath grew more deep and she kept her face hidden away in his sweater. 

    “I can’t help but trust you…I think…I think you would show me what it really is like…t-to make love…” She felt his arm come around her shoulders and press her closer against him. 

    “I’m… learning…you’re teaching me that wanting to.. wanting to do it isn’t… isn’t bad. When two people truly love each other… they should want to. Right?” She finally peeked up at him.

    “Mm. That’s right. You’re teaching me something too baby. That I shouldn’t be afraid of wanting to make love to you…” 

    “That it’s not bad…” He smiled. 

    “That it’s not bad.” He said with a gentle wink. She let out a breath. 

    “I’m sorry…” He shook his head with a tender smile. 

    “Mm. Let’s get you home now hm?” 

    “Let’s go.” 



    He once told me that I conquered life. That I conquered near death and that I had an innate light so bright evil had to flee. Thinking back on it.. I wonder if he knew he spoke such life…such light…such breath. He called me an overcomer. Even though I’m still…still hurting…I’m becoming less afraid to live and to learn. Most of all…. I’m becoming less afraid…in my feelings for him. I still feel some shame…in admitting that. But my heart misses him. It wants to be connected to his again. I love him. Every cell in my body cries out for him…to him. I am scared. But….but what if I want to try to conquer that too? Can I do it? 

End Notes:


A/N: Wooo this was such a long chapter. The longest I think so far of the story. Understandably so. This is Hiroto we're talking about. :) I for one love this chapter because it's so tender in its memories. It's so real... and raw. I love that this time, we get to see it from Rae's perspective... what she was thinking... how she was feeling. I almost shed a tear. lol. *sigh* Rae's come so far in just two months. I can't wait for her to return and for her and her love to find each other again. They've been through so much. Too much. All they deserve is a life of peace, happiness and love. It will be my pleasure to give that to them. <3 Next chapter isn't really a chapter. It's going to be a transitioning piece from Rae to Hiroto. And then, we'll start with Mr. Iwase. I'm excited y'all. Let's go. 

Be blessed, love you and thank you for reading! 


Be set free by the renewing of your mind! 


P.S: Hey guys! I wanted to ask if you could donate between 4-10 dollars (about the cost of a romance novel on Amazon) not just to help me secure funds for next academic year but to fund my writing! I have thought seriously about this and I think I may want to go into freelancing! I think that my writing skills are strong enough to where someone may benefit from them. I don't know what to do first or where to start but I think this would be a great start! :) I would not mind continuing to do it for free (as y'all know) and I'm asking only if you feel led to! I don't want to ask for charges and you feel obligated! By no means am I forcing the 4-10 dollars on you! It would be a great help not just to a student but to a creative artist/writer. <3 Thank you! God bless! 


Clean by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:



    The water was cold and chilled her bare toes. She sighed and tilt her head back to let the breeze tickle her neck. Smiling, she took a breath before she slowly walked into the slow building waves. Waves of white billowed behind her and the sunlight warmed her skin. She slowly grew deeper in the depths and once the water reached her ribcage she stopped. Reaching up, she let down her hair and sighed. Turning, she opened her arms and leaned back until she became submerged. 






    Today is the day. I feel the presence of God more now than I ever have and it’s overwhelming me. I feel like I can do this. I can finally let go of the demons who have tormented me for 28 years of my life. Finally, I have enough courage to do so. My past dies today. I know I have a way to go… these two months have only been the catalyst to a beautiful transformation. But today…today is the day that the old Rae passes away. Starting this moment forward…I promise to be a better new me. Not for anyone else but for me. It’s taken so damn long for me to get here… and now that I am… I’m not going back. It’s scary as hell. But… if The Almighty Father can love me… even in the midst of all my filth…if He can still call me beautiful, worthy, royalty…His precious Daughter…then I have to try. I have to see me how He sees me. It feels good…to know that I’m coming home. 








    The water warmed her soul and she came up for air, her dress heavy. She felt tears well up in her eyes and slowly they slid down her cheeks. Was it real? Was she finally…allowed to be free? This road to recovery had been a lot of things… but out of it came a new metamorphosis. As she leaned back into the rising current, she closed her eyes. And alas, behold…the old hath passed away! Behold, for I hath created a new thing! She felt the waves pluck the dirtiness from her soul and carry it far into the horizon. The lust, the perversion, the abuse, molestation, the grief, pain, loss, rejection, anger, bitterness… all of it. Stripped from the root and cast into the depths. 


    “And now… let the root be burned…let me be made new…” She whispered to the wind. And now… alas… she was clean. Now, she could start her life again…with the reassurance that no matter how shaky ground got or how the wind throttled and thrashed… her foot would always be placed upon a solid rock where she could stand. 

End Notes:

A/N: HEY GUYSSS!!! It 's SPRING BREAK! :D YAYYYYYY! This is my second day of break and while I have to work this week as per normal, I am glad I get some down time with no classes. :) I've missed you! Alas, we are at the transitional moment between Rae and Hiroto! :) The next chapter will start Hiroto's journey. :D I love this short chapter because it is so vivid and beautiful in what it represents! :) God bless guys! See you soon! :) 


Be set free by the renewing of your mind! 


Shine into the sky, bright and yellow! 




2 Corthinians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 


Isaiah 43:19 "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." 


John 3:5 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." 

Her by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


Fingers slid through his hair. 

    “Hiroto…” He stirred and slowly opened his eyes to find her above him, a gentle smile on her face. He blinked and reached up to grasp her wrist. 

    “Rae?” She smiled wider, her teeth showing. 

    “Why you sleepin out here?” 

    “Out here?” He looked around them. Vast field surrounded them, the shreds of grass tall and green. 

    “Rae…how did you get here?” She giggled and leaned down to press her lips against his forehead. 

    “Don’t be askin dumb questions. You’re the reason I’m here.” He looked up to find her eyes on him, her hair shielding everything. 

    “You look so tired baby.” Her voice was quiet and her fingertips softly caressed his chin. He sighed and closed his eyes. 

    “I am.” He felt her kiss his lips before he felt her lean back. He slowly lifted from her lap and laid next to her. Wrapping an arm loosely around her waist, he sighed against her chest. She was so warm. Her sweet scent filled his nostrils and he smiled. 

    “Rest for a while. I’ll be here to protect you.” She wrapped her arms around him and soon he fell into a relaxed deep sleep. 



    He jolted awake. Gripping the side of the tub, he slowly sat up. There was a dull ache in his neck and the water had grown cool. He sighed and leaned back against the smooth porcelain, laying his head back against the rim. Reaching up, he pushed his hair out of his eyes. This was the second time he had fallen asleep in the bath this week. This was the first dream he’d had of Rae in a long while. He felt a soft pain in his chest. His heart ached. Looking up to the ceiling, he grew still. Tears began to well up in his eyes and he didn’t try to stop them. He missed her so much. But the pain he had caused her… the pain she felt because of him…It was too much to think about. So he hid behind the mountainous agendas, business plans, contracts, meeting notes and assignments. Behind his cherry wood doors. If he worked hard enough, maybe he wouldn’t see her teary eyes and hear them in her voice. Maybe he wouldn’t relive the day it all happened late at night. He sat in the bath until it grew cold. But alone, always it never failed. Standing up, he shivered. He didn’t want to think about it any more… not tonight. He hoped when he fell asleep, he’d have some peace.     



     “Mr. Iwase?” A voice called softly. He didn’t reply. Instead he stared at the stack of paper work that piled up on his desk. He stared. It stared back. The longer he looked at it, he felt his heart begin to pound in his chest and a vein in his temple throb. 

    “Mr. Iwase?” The response that met his secretary was a growl and she blinked as she peeked her head in. 

    “Are you okay?” He sat up straighter, clearing his throat. 

    “What do you need?” 

    “Ah, there is a visitor-”

    “Kiko yes?” His secretary blushed and slowly lowered her eyes. 

    “Yes sir.” He stood and passed her as he slipped through the door, much to her surprise. 

    “Ah, Mr. Iwase…” He sharply inhaled and turned the corner. As he came into the foyer, a baffled Kiko blinked as she stood. 

    “I-I was just getting ready to come to you…” 

    “I decided to meet you here.” She bit her bottom lip. 

    “What I have to say I don’t want others to hear…” She whispered quietly. 

    “Kiko,” She looked up at him. 

    “I want you to leave.” Her mouth dropped open and she stared, hurt and shock finding its way into her features. 

    “I’m…I’m sorry?” 

    “Leave. Now.” Her fingers gripped her small purse and she pinched her lips tightly together. 

    “Hi-Hiroto… why are you being like this?” He inhaled through his nostrils. 

    “I have enough on my plate right now. Your presence has become a burden. If you have nothing productive to add to my day then refrain from coming to visit.” He didn’t say another word and turned to go back into his office, the shocked stares of his employees burning a hole in his back. He let the wooden doors close behind him and sighed before falling into his seat. She had made it her mission to visit him twice a week, sometimes three. She was satisfied with sitting there watching him work. He on the other hand was not. He felt suffocated. In lieu of securing familial affairs and business, he was starting to feel greatly overwhelmed. The stress had built up so much that his body was starting to ache. He reached up and intentionally messed up his hair. Reaching for his phone, he dialed Tobu’s number. On the fourth ring, a gruff voice answered, 



    “It’s one in the morning Hiro-kun…” 

    “I apologize for calling so late.” He figured it would be late. 

    “What’s wrong? You sound stressed as hell.” He smiled. Tobu was astute as always. 

    “Do I?”

    “Am I right?” He sighed and his grin fell off his face. 

    “I could honestly go for a smoke right now.” He felt like he could smoke several packs. He heard Tobu sit up. 

    “You haven’t smoked since junior high. It must be bad man.” 

    “Everything is piling up around me…”

    “I’m sure that woman isn’t making anything better.”

    “Yeah about her…”

    “When will you admit that you never should have brought her with you?” He blinked, licking his lips. 

    “I wanted to give her a chance to be free.” 

    “I understand Hiro-kun. But, she hasn’t taken the chance. She doesn’t see anything outside of wanting to take you from Rae.” He sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. 


    “You can’t fix her.” 

    “Is that what I’ve been trying to do?” 

    “Mm. Perhaps she’s okay with it. Maybe she doesn’t want to change. She’s okay as long as she has you chained at her side.” 

    “No…that’s unacceptable.” 

    “Where’s Rae?” 

    “Ah…I believe she took a break. Rossi has another employee in her place.”


    “It’s been about two months.”

    “Wow. Quite some time.”

    “Yes. I’m glad that she decided to do so.”

    “What about you?” He furled his eyebrows together. 

    “What about me?”

    “You should take a break too Hiro-kun.” He reached up to ruffle his hair.     

    “I can’t.”

    “Can’t or won’t?”

    “Can’t. Who can I trust to take care of affairs while I’m gone?” 

    “What about Ishimoto?” 

    “I could ask him…but I don’t think he’d bite.”

    “You’d basically give him top position as long as you’re gone. Who wouldn’t bite?”

    “How can I be sure he won’t…”

    “Are you concerned about loyalty?” He turned to look outside of his window.


    “Ishimoto is not a man who will play you. He’s one of your best employees, has a strong head on his shoulders and wants to do the right thing. He believes in your vision and supports you. Out of every employee there, Ishimoto is the last one you have to worry about.” He balled his lips and inhaled deeply. 

    “Very true…” Ishimoto Shouchi was one of his most honest and prudent employees. He believed in the vision he had for the company so much that he had followed him to the States. He truly was a genuine guy, a man who tried to make his wife and small son proud.     

    “Ishimoto will do fine.”  

    “I think so too.” Tobu agreed. 

    “Now that that is settled… where shall I go?” 

    “Don’t dwell too hard about that. Just go where you feel you must. Rae is coming back in a little while right? You wanna be ready for that right?” He licked his lips and smiled softly. 


    “If you guys don’t reconcile soon, I’ll make you two reconcile. It’s been ten years already. You two might as well stop and get back together. Put us all out of our misery.”  He smiled.

    “Mm.” Tobu sighed. 

    “I miss that woman and I want her back in my life. So, I need you to hurry up. I don’t have time for your games.”

    “Mm. I’m sure she misses you too Tobu.” He snorted. 

    “You have to do it right this time. Because this time, if you screw up, I will put you in the hospital. I love you and all but I love Rae more. You got one chance. Don’t blow it.”  He chuckled. 

    “I understand.” Tobu sighed again, a smile in his voice. 

    “Let me know how it goes hm? All jokes aside, I know you got this. Just take some time for you. When she does come back, you will be ready.” 

    “I will.”

    “Mm. Now let me go to sleep.” 

    “Alright. Thanks man.”

    “Anytime.” He hung up and smiled as he set the phone down on the couch. Tobu was right as usual. The man really didn’t think of himself as an old sage but he was quite wise for his young age. He always had been. For that, he was grateful. He owed Tobu this trip. He owed it to him to get Rae back. Biting his lip, he got up and got his briefcase. Gathering his belongings, he turned off the lights and began to head out of the office. 




    “You’re going away?” He stood over suitcases and placed items inside. 



    “None of your concern.” The exasperated woman who sat on his couch got up and walked over to him and grabbed his wrist, stopping him from placing something else into the suitcase. 

    “Hiro…” He didn’t meet her eyes. 

    “Look at me.” He tightened his jaw and brought his eyes up to hers. 

    “You cannot convince me to stay.” 

    “It’s not about that.” 

    “What is it about?”

    “Let’s go home.” She gently smiled at him. He stared into her eyes with a dull glare. 


    “Yes. Back to Japan. I’m sure by now your mother has gotten better.” He felt a small smirk come to his face and chuckled, making her blink. 

    “You’re free to go back Noa. At any time, you can go.” 

    “What…what about you?” He licked his lips before speaking again, 

    “I’m staying here.” Her eyes grew wide. 

    “How…how can you not want to go home?” Truly, this woman was in an alternate universe. It was time she came back to earth. 

    “I will go home but it won’t be with you.” His words registered on her face and he slowly pulled her hand off of his person. 

    “I have to finish packing. Do whatever you want to.”



    A few days later… 

Hocking Hills, Ohio 



    Rich green swirled around him and the smell of pine and dirt gave off a heady scent. His legs began to ache for the road. In yet another place of unfamiliarity, he felt a bit unsettled. But the nature more than made up for it. He had decided on a place called Hocking Hills, a suggestion by one of his business associates. He’d never been to the state of Ohio but from the beautiful looks of it, this wouldn’t be his last visit. Smiling to himself, he continued driving until he came to his temporary residence. He had secured his absence with Ishimoto who was honored to temporarily take over for him while he was gone. He had forwarded all of his business meetings and agendas for the next two months to him as well. 

    Sighing, he got of his rental car and took in a deep breath of the crystal clear air. The moon was high and bright. He set eyes on the cabin he had rented for his stay. He wanted to keep things simple. The best part of it was the sound of gently flowing water. It had a small waterfall next to it. He knew it would be a place where he felt he could finally pull out everything he had been hiding. Everything that needed to come out. He pulled his belongings into the house and soon after got into a bath. Closing his eyes, he submerged underwater. 


    After much fighting, he had decided to make an appointment with a local therapist. A part of him didn’t want to. But a greater need dwelled within him. For the moment, at the moment, he needed to be free. He had to lay everything out on the table…he couldn’t keep himself enslaved any longer. 

    “Mr. Iwase?” He sighed and reached up to rub his temples. He nervously licked his lips and stood up.


    “Did you want to start our appointment?” He didn’t want to be here. Maybe he should go. He felt disoriented and lifted a shaky hand to slide through his hair. The man smiled in a friendly manner and motioned towards a hallway. You have to do this. It’s time to stop running. He took a breath. 


    “Please… this way.” Slowly, he began to follow the man and soon they stepped into his office. 



    “It is nice to meet you. I am Dr. Satou Ryoichi.” 

    “Iwase Hiroto. It is nice to meet you.” He nodded.  

    “Would it make you comfortable to converse in Japanese?” Satou asked. He blinked. He privately worried being in America too long would make him lose traces of it. Perhaps Satou missed their native tongue as well.


    “No problem then. Is this better?” He nodded. 

    “That’s good. I am well aware that you have a very busy schedule so we will utilize the most of our time.” He gripped the insides of his pockets. 

    “There is no need to rush. I have dedicated two months to this.” Satou nodded. 

    “That’s great! Now, I know that this is a slightly far drive for you. Are you sure that you would not feel more comfortable elsewhere? I want to make sure I am not inconveniencing you.” He shook his head. 

    “It’s fine Mr. Satou. There are no cutting corners around this one. Besides, it is quite nice to have someone to share in my mother tongue. I doubt I would get that anywhere else.” Satou laughed and nodded. 

    “Indeed. Well, today will be a bit impromptu. I shall leave the floor to you. We can talk about anything that you are comfortable with sharing.”  He nodded, nervously turning to look out of the window. What about that which he wasn’t comfortable?

    “I see.” 

    “Also, one more thing. In this space, everything you share is confidential and will not leave this room.” He took a deep breath. Was anything truly confidential? Having to put himself in the open again was nerve wracking. 

    “Where do I begin…” 

    “Wherever you wish.” 

    “I should warn you Doctor…it’s quite a bit of years.” 

    “We’ll take it one at a time.” He stared out of the window, at the greenery. 

    “I have tried for so long to hide this. I had succeeded for a while but I suppose it must come out again.” Satou was quiet but attentive as he began to speak again. 

    “There was this girl that I once loved. She was radiant and shined like gold. She was pure, her heart big and warm as the sun. Her laughter could stop war and her glance could start them.” He turned to look at Satou. 

    “This girl saved me in so many ways. And yet, though we have aged and grown into man and woman… still I can’t forget how I ruined her. I’ll start at the moment my life turned into hell.” 



    “HIROTO! OH MY GOD SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE!” The voice that screamed his name sounded so far away…Was he dead? He felt weightless and lofty. 

    “Hiroto! Open your eyes honey!” Wait. It was growing closer. No. He didn’t want it to. Drifting in and out of consciousness felt strange. Almost like playing with life and death. He wanted to feel this a little longer… 

    “We’re lifting him Ma’am, please let go…” Police? No… leave me alone… leave me be. He didn’t want to think or be moved. He just wanted to let the dark surround him in quiet stillness. 



    “What happened?” He swallowed, a lump forming in his throat. 

    “I had just broke her heart…” 

    “Does this girl have a name?” 

    “…Her name is Ebere.”  His heart twisted painfully.

    “Ah. Interesting name.”


    “How did you break her heart?” He tightened his jaw. 

    “My parents wanted me to get married…I was insistent on Rae being my wife. I couldn’t see myself living without her. But apparently…the approval of people who had made my life hell was more important.”

    “You promised your parents marriage?” 

    “Yes. That day… I was figuring out how I would tell her…I had promised her so many things. I’d come with her to America. I’d never leave her. I’d never hurt her or betray her. Fate had it that she showed up…I didn’t know what to do. How could I tell her I had chosen something that would destroy her?” 



    The monitor beeped and he felt the darkness recede as sudden light and life slammed into him, taking his breath. His eyes popped open and he gasped for air. The light was so bright. He squeezed his eyes shut and gripped what lay underneath him in his fingers. Okay, he could move. He felt detached. Tiny white blue dots converged behind his eyelids and the intake of his breath was much more apparent. Silence. Nothing moved and yet everything did. The blood in his veins rushed at the speed of light. His heart pounded against his chest. He licked his dry cracked lips and slowly reopened his eyes. Four crisp white walls and a large window. Cool morning air. His fingers pale from gripping the sheets. Letting go, he turned to see the machines and tubes connected to him. 

    “Rae…” He spoke softly, his voice gruff. The air sent goosebumps across his flesh and he shuddered. The line of his heart peaked with a steady beep but as his eyes watched it dully, he felt dead. 

    “Rae…” He began to pull the needles out of his arm and grit his teeth, the pain of the IV needle fresh like rain. Pressing down on his arm, he slowly placed his feet on the floor. Cold sensation shot through his body but he ignored it. The smells of the hospital were starting to catch up to his nose and it was turning his stomach. More signs he was still alive. Food. On the table, there was some left with a napkin. Grabbing the napkin, he tied it around his bleeding arm and ripped off the hospital gown. He tore open the closet and began to dress in his clothes. He had to get out of here. While he had a chance, maybe he could catch her. If he hurried… maybe he could make all this right. Looking out of the window, he was glad that he wasn’t too far up. Slipping out of it, he jumped. The minute he hit the pavement, he began to run. 



    “Where did you go?” 

    “I went to her guardian’s home first.”


    “Nothing. Rae wasn’t there.”


    “I didn’t have enough time to explain everything to Ms. Minako but by the look on her face, she had already gotten the gist. I soon left and tried to contact my friend Tobu with the hopes that he could drive me to the airport.” 



    “What is going on Hiroto-kun?” Tobu asked as he sped down the freeway. 

    “I fucked up Tobu. I really fucked up.” 

    “W-what do you mean?” He couldn’t sit still and lifted fidgety fingers to slide through his hair. 

    “I let her go Tobu. I let her walk away from me like a coward.”         

    “You did w-what? H-how?” 

    “I wanted to get back at my parents. Show them the hell they showed me. I thought agreeing would do it. But…” For the first time in their entire friendship, Tobu looked pissed. 

    “What did you do Hiroto?”  The anger so evident that he had even stopped stuttering and dropped the honorific. 


    “If you let Rae go because of some dumb shit… I will kill you.” He felt like someone had punched him in the gut. Tobu had never cursed at him… much less cursed at all. The tone of voice so unlike the one he was used to. It was unnerving. 

    “I-I agreed…I agreed to marry another girl…” Tobu’s fingers gripped the steering wheel and for the longest he was quiet. He felt dizzy and squeezed his eyes shut. 


    “Do you want me to feel sorry for you?”

    “No…N-No I just want to get to the airport.” Tobu’s jaw tightened. 

    “I hope she is there.” The rest of the ride was silent and once they pulled into the parking lot, he didn’t waste any time. He got out of the car and ran into the entrance. Running up to a flight attendant, he caught his breath to speak. 

    “Excuse me, are there any flights to the United States still within the airport?” The woman blushed but pursed her lips. 

    “Let me see. One moment.” She typed for a few moments. 

    “Ah, there is one flight scheduled to leave today.” His heart beat faster. 

    “There is someone important on that plane that I have to see. Is that possible?” The woman pursed her lips deeper, her eyes growing sad. 

    “I’m sorry sir but the flight just left.” He felt his knees grow weak and gripped the counter. 

    “She’s…she’s gone…” He felt tears well up in his eyes and they fell faster than he had time to comprehend. Cries escaped his chest and he pressed his face against his hands. Rae…His Rae…gone. 

    “Don’t…don’t leave…please. Don’t go…stay…stay…with me…” He cried, slowly falling to his knees. The woman came from behind the counter and gently touched his shoulder. 

    “Sir? A-Are you okay?” He wasn’t okay. And for a while after that, no one was okay. 




    “…After that, Tobu stopped talking to me. Ms. Minako stopped talking to me. It seemed everyone I had loved suddenly wanted nothing to do with me anymore. The only people who wanted to be around me were my parents.”

    “Ah, that must have been ni-”

    “They only wanted me to meet the girl they had chosen to be my wife. It wasn’t because they felt sorry or anything of that nature.” Satou frowned and leaned back in his seat. 

    “Hiroto… if I may call you that?”

    “Go ahead.”

    “The way in which you talk about Rae…you still love her strongly.”     

    “I can’t express how much.” 

    “The first thing you must do is forgive yourself Hiroto.” He shook his head, tears welling up. 

    “No. I can’t. How can I? You don’t know how deeply I hurt her.” 

    “If you want to move forward…with your life…you have to try. Wherever she is… do you think she would want you to hate yourself?”


    “I don’t think so. I think she would want you to move on. You never quite know. She might very well be waiting for you to come retrieve what was lost.”  He swallowed. 

    “I don’t think you understand. Just how far I sunk. You know nothing about me. But once the layers come undone, you will see that I have a lot under my skin.” Satou was quiet, waiting for him to continue. 

    “It still haunts me. I can’t sleep. On repeat, memories of her and I… the love we once shared… the hurt and betrayal in her voice… A part of her died that day.” 

    “May I ask how you came to know her?” He looked away. 

    “The way we met was unfortunate. But I’m glad out of it I met her. The day she arrived I had to protect her against some perverted classmates. The school was very poor in its administrative policies. Rather, the institution we attended was more concerned about money and fame. Being that everyone who attended came from prestigious families, it made sense. Rae was the only one who hadn’t been included in that social circle. Because of that, she had a target on her back. But even so, I thought she was very much like me. Aside from her skin color, she was the ugly duckling. As was I. I thought she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Everything from the way she held hashi…to the way she held her cup…delicate like sakura.” Satou smiled. 

    “She sounds beautiful.” 

    “Her eyes were so big and brown. So expressive.” 

     “Was she Caucasian?”

    “No. She is African-American.” 

    “Ah…That adds another level of complexity I’m sure.” 

    “Everyone wanted to see us separated. They wanted me to hate her because she was dark. Because she wasn’t wealthy. But I loved her because she was different. Out of every woman I had been with… Rae was so tender. She loved just as hard as I did. She supported me when I fell, took care of me without complaint. She gave her friendship and love freely and cherished all of who I was.” 


    “That is why…when I chose to hurt her the way I did… it almost destroyed me.” 



    He sat on the side of the road, an almost empty bottle of sake in his hand. He watched the cars fly past. The night was quiet and the stars hidden behind clouds. He lifted the bottle to his lips and drank it all until he fell back against the pavement. He wasn’t sure how he made it back to his parents’ house or how he went to school the next morning but he had. He tuned out the lessons and looked out of the window. All they did was regurgitate what was taught to them. Information he already knew. Pointless. 

    “Iwase?” Eyes found Hasune Michiko who looked sheepishly at him. 


    “Um… um…are you o-okay? Where is…your girlfriend?” He clenched his fingers together. 

    “Clearly, she’s not here. I’m sure you can see that.” Hasune blushed. 

    “I-I’m sorry f-for asking s-stupid q-questions. You just look so…so alone.” He stood and leaned down, her face closer. 

    “Would you like to keep me company?” Her blush grew in intensity and her eyes grew wide. 


    “Yes or no. Simple question.” His eyes held no life in them. She slowly nodded, the blush creeping down her neck. 

    “Y-yes…” If he were in the laughing mood, he would have laughed. Women were all the same. They didn’t know when he tested them. But so many times, they failed. Eager to have a taste of him, to brag to their friends. All of them hypocrites. Not one of them were as innocent as they passed it off. 

    “You want to know what it’s like right?” He whispered into her ear. She grew stiff. 


    “You want to brag right?” He stood up and grabbed her hand. 

    “I’ll give you something to brag about.” She could barely keep up with her short legs and he nearly pulled her down the hall. Slipping into an empty closet, he soon fell into his routine…something as natural to him as breathing. He pressed her against the storage rack and lifted her skirt. 

    “If you wanted me before Michiko, you should have told me.” She squeezed her eyes shut and gripped the rack above her. He lifted her into his arms and slid in-between her legs. 

    “I-Iwase…” He leaned down and pressed his lips stiffly against hers. He didn’t want to hear her speak. It was better that way. She lifted shaky hands to grip his uniform jacket. Thus began the best time of her life and yet again another day in his despair. 



    He felt his body begin to tremble and he gripped his fingers together tightly.

    “It was the same. Every time. At some point, I fucked until I grew numb. Until I couldn’t feel it anymore. The pleasure became dull… a slightly burn in the back of my throat. I used it…I used them to escape my pain. Replace pain with pleasure and everything becomes much better. So I thought. But it did nothing to replace what I felt. Still, in the back of my mind, I wanted her. Nights were spent being tormented…So close…so very close. It didn’t feel the same. What my hand could do did nothing compared to the euphoric rush I got just being in her presence. So, I stopped. Stopped everything. I had nothing left. I had given pieces of me away and nothing remained but an empty shell.” 


    “It’s as if my demons laugh at me. They know I have never stopped loving her. In my dreams… it’s sickening. My past becomes blurred with my present and I can’t distinguish between them. The me that was a lifeless being only living to be used. The me that’s trying so hard to push past that…” He looked up into Satou’s eyes, his own lackluster. 

    “Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like you’ve been used so many times that you have nothing left? Have you ever felt fear in wondering if you will do the same thing to the one you love?” He gripped his fingers together tightly. 

    “I was scared…scared to truly love her. I was so damaged. What if I unintentionally hurt her? What if I couldn’t control myself? What if I let myself get too carried away? I tried to stop it. But, it was too late. Once I fell, I fell hard. I’ve never recovered from that. I’ve never wanted to. Falling in love with Rae was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced. I tried so hard to be careful. Even now, I’m proud of the fact that I made it… We made it.  But then it breaks my heart. To know I betrayed something so innocent. Her love inspired me, encouraged me and pushed me to be better.” 




    “Yeah babe?” 

    “Come here…” She came over to where he sat. 

    “What’s up?” 

    “I need a moment to rest. I’m so tired.” 

    “Aw. My poor baby.” She sat behind him and he reached up, gently grabbing her thighs. 

    “You’ve been working so hard.” She massaged his scalp. He sighed and turned to press a kiss to her smooth skin. 

    “It’s wearing on me.” 

    “Don’t worry about it. Don’t think about work right now.” 


    “Hush. Focus on me.” He took a deep breath and relaxed, leaning back into her. She slid her hands down his chest some and kissed him. 

    “Your daddy’s tryna work you to the bone.” She said with a smile against his lips.     

    “He wants me to be in his business.” 

    “Do you want to?” 

    “It’d secure our future.” 

    “But do you want to?” He whined cutely and poked out his lip. 

    “I don’t know.” She giggled and blew on his lip, making him suck it back in. 

    “Well you gotta make up your mind. We bout to get to graduation time real soon. Surely he gon want him an answer before then.” He sighed again. 

    “He’s groomed me for this my whole life. I should want to right?” She kissed his nose. 

    “Should and want are two different things Roto.” 

    “I know…” 

    “I don’t like seein you struggle like this. It should be a really simple answer. If you want to or not.” He opened his eyes and looked up at her. 

    “Simple is never simple in my family.”  She sucked her teeth. 

    “Well…” He grinned and turned, pressing his face against her ribcage. 

    “I don’t want to think about any of that. I just want to spend time with you before it gets cold.” She pressed a kiss to the top of his head. 

    “It’s kinda nippy out here already. Why you ain’t tell me it was gon be this cold? I’m in shorts…” He smirked. 

    “I like your legs out.”

    “I bet you do.” She chuckled. Sighing, he bit his lips in a smile. 



    “Let’s go visit them.”


    “My parents.” 

    “Now, you know…” He lifted his head and his eyes smiled at her. 

    “I know what you’re going to say and I don’t care.” She laughed and lightly hit his forehead. 

    “You tryna start somethin ‘tween me and them huh?” 

    “Not at all. If I am going to work there, I want them to see the motivation behind my hard work.” Her cheeks grew red and she looked down. 



    “Stop…” He lifted up and brushed his lips against her cheek. 

    “Stop what?” She gently slid her fingers around his neck. 

    “Stop making me fall in love with you.” She whispered. He gently caressed her lips with his thumb. 

    “That’s something I’ll never stop.” He pressed his lips against hers and she wrapped her arms around him. 

    “I will work hard to give you the life you want Rae. Whatever you want… just tell me and I’ll make it happen.” 


    “If I have to endure my father…then I will.” He pulled back and leaned down to press a kiss to her thigh. 

    “Are you hungry?” She swallowed but nodded. 

    “Takoyaki?” He smiled. 





    It had been hours since he had left his appointment with Dr. Satou. He laid in a bath, hot water relaxing his muscles. Steam curled around him. He closed his eyes. For the first time in a while, he felt the tiniest bit better. The only person he had really opened up to completely was Rae. Somehow, it had to come out. For all these years, he felt tortured with his shame and guilt. He had abandoned her. Lifting hands out of the water,  he stared at them.


    “Hiroto?” Eyes looked up to find beautiful brown eyes looking down at him. 


    “I don’t want to keep this going.”

    “That is?”

    “Bein mad at you…”  He closed his book and smiled. 

    “I’m sorry sweetheart. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

    “I know. I forgive you.” She leaned down and kissed him, the silence and shock of their peers an afterthought. 

    “I can’t stay mad at you. Lucky you.” He smiled against her lips and quickly pecked her again before clearing his throat. 

    “It seems we have the whole class’ attention once again.” He said, opening back up his book. 

    “When don’t we? They need to get they life.” She snort ahead of him as she picked up her pencil. 



    He smiled to himself as the memory popped into his mind. Rae had always been so loving. She still loved him as much as he loved her. That itself gave him the strength to do this. If she could have courage, then why couldn’t he? So many years later, she was still teaching him things. All his life he had run away. And while he refused to run away from her, he had to stop running from himself. Once again, he had to face his demons. It was frightening to think about. To be honest, he wasn’t sure he was ready or all that willing. However, he was determined to go back to New York a different man. It was time to strap on his boots and go to work. For her. For them. 

End Notes:


A/N: And so Hiroto's recovery begins! It broke my heart writing this because he is SO HARD ON HIMSELF. Like... he literally blames himself for everything. As we can see, life after Rae was not peaches and cream (as Rae would believe). Hiroto really suffered... he really took it hard. I love the bits with Rae to be honest. Her love really kept him together. And no matter how messed up he is... he still finds comfort in the affection she showed him. I'm literally preparing myself for next chapter you guys. Because I know it will be a hard one to read and to write. Y'all I gotta be honest, this spring break I thought my creative spark would just FLY and it really hasn't. It was kinda hard to write this chapter (like literally hard to write). I kinda didn't want to. But, then again, I really did. So, I pray and hope that this chapter does not reflect any of that lol. If so, please let me know and I can reconstruct it ASAP. As always, I want to provide quality so if it is not there, let a sista know! :) I also gotta shout out my baby Tobu in this chapter. lol. LOVE ME SOME HIM. He's so real like... dude. He really down for his brother and keep it 100. I LOVE THAT. *sigh* Confluence is going to be on and poppin when Transcendence is over lol. Oh yeah man. lol. Anywhoo... God bless you guys! I can't wait until Hiroto reaches the point where he truly finds freedom! Take care! See you soon! <3 

D&L <3 

Be set free by the renewing of your mind! 


Shine into the sky, bright and yellow! <3 

Many by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


    Early in the morning, he went for a jog. The swirling array of bushes, trees and rock surrounded him and brought peace to him. It felt good to run, his legs pushing harder to keep with his pace. It had felt like forever since he’d last got a good run in. He planned to see Satou again later on in the day and needed to calm his nerves some. Turning a bend, he jogged past giant curved rocks, some sloped as if by a large hand. The sound and smell of the fresh water helped him jog harder. Inhaling the crisp air, he felt the sweat slide down his temple. Almost there. 



    “Hiroto?” He sat inside a room of his grandmother’s house, shoji closed. 

    “Honey I know you’re in there. When are you going to come home? It’s been a week. Don’t you want to graduate?” He buried his head between his knees, the material of his yukata growing moist with tears. 

    “Hiroto… you have to graduate.” 

    “Are you satisfied?” He hadn’t spoken in days. Only tears and cries… cries for her. He couldn’t see her but he could hear his mother through an open window. 

    “What are you talking about sweetie?”

    “Don’t bullshit me. You got what you wanted. What else do you want from me? I’ve given you everything. My life. My body. You sought after my heart too and now it’s yours. I have nothing left for you to take.” She was quiet for a while. 

    “Hiroto I only did what I had to. You don’t understand now but everything I’ve done has been for you and your future.”     

    “Leave me alone. Abandon me here like you did your mother.” The silence this time was longer. 

    “She was corrupting you Hiroto. You don’t see that?” If she could hear the words that came from her mouth, she would understand how crazy she sounded. He didn’t reply. She didn’t deserve one. After a while, she spoke again. 

    “Stay here if you’d like. But it shall only be for another day or so. Your father and I expect you to come home in time for your graduation.” With that, she left him. A couple more days he did stay and when he returned home, he came back empty. Inside his heart, the desire for vengeance burning strong. He had been determined to pay them back even if he spent the rest of his life doing so. 



    “Hello Mr. Iwase.” He nodded. 

    “Hello Dr. Satou.” 

    “Have you been well?” He licked his lips. 

    “As well as I can be. To be perfectly honest, all of this is scaring the shit out of me.” Time was going slow and fast at the same time. It seemed as if he had just got to Hocking Hills. Already, two weeks had passed. In that time, he had visited Satou, sometimes begrudgingly. Some sessions, he talked. Some, he didn’t. It impressed him how patient Satou was with it all. Not once did he force him to speak or tell him to be quiet. To be honest, he didn’t feel as though he was making any progress. 

    “I can only imagine. You are peeling back layers you have left untouched for years.” He sighed. 


    “How can I assist you?”

    “Honestly, the best thing you can do is just listen. I'm sure as we proceed with our meetings, advice will come. But right now, I just need to get it out.” Satou nodded. 

    “Understandable. I shall listen. The floor is yours Hiroto-kun.” 

    “I’m sure you’ve heard about me. I know I look perfect. Everything in my life seemingly jewels and gold. As someone once told me, life with a silver spoon. But that spoon if you looked close enough wasn’t silver. Instead it was bronze. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m not proud of.” 




    “Well, well. Look what we have here. Little rich boy here thinks he wanna be one of us.” He stood against the wall, hands in his pockets. All around, smoke thick like fog drifted around the room. In the room, barely any light could come through. 

    “Did you get lost or somethin kid?” He gripped the inside of his pockets but looked ahead, his gaze strong. 

    “I came here for a reason.” The man who sat in the center of naked and semi-clothed women pulled the cigarette he was smoking out of his mouth. 

    “A pretty faced boy like you came here on purpose? For what I wonder?” 

    “Aren’t you that Iwase kid?” He turned to look at another guy who casually had his arm resting on the back of a low couch. His eyes drifted down. It wasn’t hard to guess what was going on. He stared hard at him, his fingers roughly grabbing the hair of a woman as she bobbed in between his legs. 

    “Well?” His eyes lifted. 

    “Surely this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of me.”  The man smirked. 

    “Oh no. Everyone here has heard about you kiddo. You’re the legendary Iwase Hiroto. Every woman round these parts know about you.” 

    “I’m sure.”

    “So, did you come to get some? We’ve got a nicely stored virgin in the back if you prefer.” 

    “Hey.” The man in the very middle, the lead of the pack, spoke loudly, shoving one of the multiple faces near him away. He stood up and slowly walked over to him. 

    “Did Mommy and Daddy send you here? What kind of parents sends their kid to the underworld I wonder.” He stood still and firm as the man reached up and gently grabbed his hair. 

    “Whatever you want, you’re going to have to show what you got kid. This ain’t no playground.” He sighed, the bravado of the man starting to annoy him. 

    “Look, I don’t have any time for your inflated attitude. Let me do my thing so we can move on with business.” The man smirked and let go of his hair. 

    “Izakawa. Go bring that pretty young thing here wouldja?” Soon, a struggling swinging girl was brought into the room. 

    “Let go! Don’t touch me!” The men cackled. 

    “She’s a fiesty one huh? Always a treat.” 

    “Iwase.” He found the man’s eyes again. 

    “Fuck her.” The girl looked up at him, her face already littered with bruises. 


    “If you do it good, we’ll give you what you want.” The man said pulling back. He took his seat and sat back. He clenched his fists and looked down at the girl who curled up on the floor. 


    “Must it be in front of you all?” A few men chuckled. 

    “You are our entertainment after all.” 

    “That’s how we like it…” The girl shook her head. 

    “No….no please…I’m…I’m a virgin… please don’t.” His heart twisted and his hands began to tremble. He tightened them to keep them still. 

    “Do it.” The man barked, making several of the girls around him jump. He slowly got on his knees and reached out his hand. The girl looked at it, tears streaming down her face. This time, for the second time in his life…he wouldn’t be harsh. This girl was too much like him. Maybe she too needed tenderness. 

    “I won’t hurt you.” 

    “No… you’re lying…” He grabbed her gently, taking her breath away. Pulling her close to him, he felt her grow still. 

    “I’m sorry…I’m sorry you found yourself here. I know we’ve just met. But, I vow that I won’t hurt you. Take a deep breath.” He whispered quietly into her ear. She reached up to grip his shirt. 

    “I’m scared…” He swallowed thickly. 

    “Me too.” She pressed her face against his neck. 

    “Will they kill me if I refuse?” He nodded. 

    “You’d be dead before morning.” 

    “…..Don’t… don’t hurt me…please…” 

    “What are you doing?” She jumped at the man’s voice and he slowly pulled back to look into her eyes. 

    “Focus on me hm? Don’t look away.” He reached up to wipe tears from her eyes. Slowly, he laid her back against the ground and slowly removed her clothing. He took his time with her, making sure that she felt as relaxed as she could. She squeezed her eyes shut and when his bare skin touched hers, she bit her lip and wrapped her arms around him tightly. 

    “Take a deep breath.” And like that, they were intertwined. 



    It was quiet. But the tears that fell down his cheeks screamed in pain. 

    “They watched us roll around on the floor like dogs. To them, we were nothing more than a show. To them, she was nothing more than a conquest. Soon, naturally, she found the rhythm and let the pleasure take over. I tried to make her forget them… their eyes.” Satou was silent, listening for his next word. 

    “When it was over, they grabbed her and pulled her away from me. I had blood on me. Precious blood. They laughed and tossed stacks of money at me like I was a cheap whore. My job was done. Another job well done.” 


    “She was just one of many. So many. Since I was a little child… First her…the woman who took everything from me. Life as I knew it. Love as I tried to understand it. From that woman the cycle started. And it never stopped.” 



    The stench of body odor and release clogged up the air. He laid on his side, eyes empty and staring. Tears fell down his cheeks but he didn’t feel them. How many was it this time? Four? Five? All in one go. Like a machine, he produced and performed until he ran out of steam. Until his back ached with the multiple lines of scratches, all red, some bloody. The girls giggled as they lay still. Some had hands between their legs, eager for more. 


    “You did well.”

    “Such promise for such a young boy.” 

    “He makes me crazy. I want more.” He felt hands slide across his hips and grab the most private place on him. His skin crawled. 

    “Don’t touch me.” He reached down to tightly grip the wrist. 

    “Just one more time. Even you want it one more time… look how you rise to attention…” He pushed the hand away from him and slowly stood up. All eyes rested below his waist. 


    “He’s incredible…” 

    “Don’t leave us so soon Hiro-kun…” He pushed past the hands to hastily pull his clothes on. 

    “Thank you parents for us hm? They truly have a great heir.” 

    “Shut up!” He felt anger thread through his veins and slipped out into the cool night, his body aching. 



    “When I met Rae… everything changed. I was scared that what I was taught would get in the way but somehow… she made me think I was worthy… that I wasn’t dirt.” He sighed, the tears still flowing. 

    “I’ve been with a lot of women in my life. More than I can count or remember.” He grew quiet for a while. Satou sat still, his expression one of deep thoughtfulness. 

    “Miyamae Noa was the girl promised to me. Her family sold her to mine and we were just casualities of war.” 

    “That is quite a different name for a Japanese.” 

    “Yes. Very much so. But, unlike Rae, Noa wanted to be like everyone else. She wanted to be accepted and the same as the next girl.” 

    “Are you still with Noa?” 

    “Our relationship was nothing but a false hope from the beginning. I thought that I could finally get back at my parents by taking her hand in marriage. I wanted to make her suffer as well for agreeing to go along with this. But now, I am just a man who wants his hands clean of her. I’ve tried Satou… I’ve tried to give her a chance. I’ve tried to let her discover her own freedom. Time and time again, she does not see it. She is hellbent on staying with me.” 


    “If things were different, I would happily call her my little sister. She is three years younger than me. Perhaps I have been trying to fix something that does not want to be fixed. I do not hate her any longer, however, she tip taps on my nerves more times than I’d like.” 

    “In the way younger siblings do I’m sure.” Satou said with a small grin. 

    “Noa is just like the others. My reputation as an Iwase got to her and she couldn’t handle the hunger that rose up within her. My trust shattered when she touched me.” 

    “Touched you?”

    “I had been sleeping. Dreaming of Rae. She had decided to remove her clothing and violate me while I laid there. Ever since then, I haven’t wanted to be in the same room with her for too long.” 

    “I see.” 

    “I must have talked over our time. I apologize for that.” Satou glanced at his watch. 

    “It’s quite alright. I hadn’t noticed.” 


    “Today was good. How do you feel?” 

    “I feel much better now that it’s out.”

    “I have something I want you to do until our next meeting Hiroto.” 

    “What is it?”

    “We’re surrounded by beautiful nature yes? On your next outing, I want to you to write letters. For each of the women you were with, whether by force or consent. Write a letter to Rae. Your parents. And to yourself.” He blinked, balled up his lips. 


    “Good. Before we conclude, I want to say this: I am proud of you. I have hope in you. And I believe you will make it.” 




To whom it may concern, 

    Firstly, you may or may not remember me. But I feel compelled to apologize. I want first and foremost to apologize. I am sorry. I cannot imagine the lives you’ve all lived until now. Back then, it seemed fun. It seemed like a passing moment that would never resurface. But, wounds were inflicted, deep jagged scars that imprinted themselves on our minds. Such young children we were. What did we know of love? Of true intimacy? Of life? Not knowing of the consequences beyond the erect organs and moist flesh, we indulged. 

    I hope it is not entirely too personal what I am about to do. But, I feel for the sake of my healing and for yours that it must be done. While I can’t do this for everyone, I will try for as many as I can. You deserve it. 

    Takawa Rinko: 

    If I am honest, I hated you. The rage I felt has not quite disappeared. For you, a grown woman to partake in something as sick and disgusting as raping a young child is unfathomable. You were the one responsible for the beginning of it all. You thrust me into a world a child has no place. You took from me the most precious thing, something that cannot be replaced. Perhaps you would enjoy knowing what you did to me had such a significant impact. But, I shall let you know that one day very soon, I shall snip the cord of power you have held over me for most of my life. Most of all, I hope you are repaid just what you dealt out. 


    Yamada Masaki:

    Hello. Are you well? I remember you. If you remember me is not quite as important. Of the night we shared, I remember most the tenderness you had in your heart. Of all of them, you were one of the only women I actually felt normal with. Aside from the fact that our families agreed to use our young bodies as collateral, I hope you are doing well. You reminded me so much of myself…then. Are you happy? I hope you will live your life to the fullest. I hope that the deep dark despair that gripped your body no longer dwells within. I would like to think that now, you can smile and show your true face. 

    Okada Fumi: 

    Are you well? It’s Hiroto. I know I didn’t treat you well the last time we were together. That time, I remember your tears. I know I hurt you. I was angry. I took it out on you and your body. I’m sorry Fumi-chan. If you find it within yourself, please try to forgive me. You didn’t deserve that. Please take care of yourself ne? 

    Hashimoto Aoi: 

    To think we spent nights doing things we shouldn’t have fills me with regret. I feel as though I destroyed your chances of finding a nice man. You wanted to be with me so much. But I was trying only to escape. I think we both were in our own ways. Be well Aoi-chan.

    Hotane Mizu:

    What you did to Rae that day… I have never forgotten. You pissed me off. You felt entitled didn’t you? Because we had had sex a few times you thought I belonged to you. Even still, in the end what you had planned backfired. Your action didn’t frighten either one of us off from each other. Instead, it drew us closer. 

    Takahata Sakura:

    Though the guilt has never left me, I still feel as though out of every woman who has crossed my path, you deserve the greatest apology. Saku-chan, it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that I was forced to choose between your life or your virginity. How cruel of a fate…I wouldn’t let them kill you. I couldn’t. You were so frightened…I won’t forget how you held on to me, softly crying. I was relieved when you started to feel good… I was glad that at least… for one temporary moment… you could feel happiness. You could forget what was happening and just fly. You don’t know how much it has eaten me up inside… all these years later. I have wondered the most about you. Where you are. What you are doing. How you have been. Do you resent me? Do you feel anger towards me? I understand if you do. I wish I could go back…I wish I could have rescued you…Please…live freely…away from any hurt or harm.



    Kuribahara Emi: 

    My my, look how the tables have turned. How’s jail? Is it as fun as it looks? I hope you haven’t been getting yourself into too much trouble Emi. You still have quite some years to go don’t you? Tell me, was it worth it? Was going after Rae worth spending your life in jail? I didn’t think so. But, as they say… you live and you learn. The nights spent with you were the most repulsive times of my life. How I hated you. The thought of your name still makes me want to vomit. Ah, be expecting an invitation someday soon. You’ll know exactly what I’ll be talking about when you receive it. Until then, take care hm? 

End Notes:


A/N: Woo, kay I'm startin to feel the juices goin lol. Can't believe break is almost over. MAN. I really coulda used this Monday through yesterday (Thurs) lol. Oh well. lol. I LOVE THIS CHAPTER simply for the end lol. The rest was very hard to write. I had a hard time. I had to stop and take was just too real y'all. I was like man...I think writing letters is a wonderful way to promote healing. Being that I am a writer, it only made sense to have some element of writing take place for both Rae and Roto haha. ;D I also love the varying degrees to which Hiroto addresses some of the women. You can feel his regret, curiousity, sadness, hope, anger, etc. Love it. Specially that last letter lol. Okay, next to last chapter will be up hopefully soon. :) Hopin this burst of creative lasts through the weekend. Workin on it now :D Can you feel the reunion between Rae and Roto? I know I can. And I'm excited. <3 <3 <3 God bless you all! Take care! Have a wonderful Friday evenin! See you soon! <3 

Shine into the sky, bright and yellow! 

Be set free by the renewing of your mind! 


D&L <3

Genesis by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:


His phone rang. He turned off the water and jumped out of the shower, quickly grabbing a towel. Running into his bedroom, he pressed the green talk button. 


    “Uncle Hiro?” Warmth spread throughout his chest. Hisae. 

    “Ah, you’re speaking English!” She giggled. 

    “Mama is teaching me. Does it sound good?” She had a very strong Japanese accent and he loved it. 

    “Mm. Very good!” She laughed. 

    “Uncle Hiro?” 

    “Yes hime?”

    “Are you taking care of yourself?” Her innocent question made his heart flutter. He smiled softly. 

    “Mm. Uncle Hiro is doing well.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Mmhm. Is my hime worried?” 

    “I haven’t heard from you in a long time! Mama says you are working very hard in America. But, sometimes I think working can make you miserable.” He chuckled. 

    “Ah, you’re very wise hime.” 

    “I just wanted to let you know that I am praying hard for you Uncle Hiro! I pray that you can make things good with the people in your life and can return to mama and me happy.” He grew still. Make things right with the people in his life? How very uncanny for her to say that…He cleared his throat. 

    “Thank you hime. I will come home soon.” She giggled. 

    “Yay!! I miss you! Can I come to America again?” 

    “Mm. Hana and I will talk about it first okay?” 


    “Speaking of Mom, where is she?” 

    “Ah,  she’s making breakfast.”

    “Ahh. Are you ready for school?”

    “Mm. I have to go actually.”    

    “Okay sweetheart. Go ahead! Study hard and pay attention in class today hm?”

    “I will.”

    “Give the phone to Hana.”

    “Mm.” He put the phone on speaker and quickly dried off. 

    “Hello?” He smiled as he put on some sweatpants. 

    “Well, look at you Hana. Fancy with the English nowadays hm?” She laughed. 

    “Why should you be the only cool one?” He laughed in return. 

    “Hey, what are you doing? Why haven’t you brought Rae back with you?” He sheepishly ruffled his hair. 

    “About that…”


    “Well, I think perhaps I moved a bit too soon in my haste. She wants nothing to do with me right now.” Hana clucked her tongue. 

    “Ah, look at you already messing up. It’s been a year!” 

    “I know. It’s taken longer than I expected but… that’s a good thing.”

    “Eh? Why?” 

    “To be honest, neither Rae or I are ready to jump back into being together. Having been gone ten years, I’m sure you can understand the distance. On top of everything that has happened between us… and everything that happened while we were apart… all of that needs to be sorted through first.” 

    “Ahhh I see. Makes sense. I’m glad you are well. Hisae had a dream last night about you and since she woke up all she’s been talking about is ‘Uncle Hiro, Uncle Hiro’. She really misses you Hiro-kun.” He smiled. 

    “I miss her and you so much. But I’m finally doing what’s best for me.”

    “It’s about time..” 


    “You’ve grown so much Hiro-kun. I’m proud of you.”

    “Thank you Hana.” 

    “Well let me get Hisae’s bento packed! Call me next week hm?”

    “I will.”

    “I mean it.” He chuckled. 

    “Okay, I will. Kiss Hisae for me.”


    “See you.”

    “See you later…” They hung up. He sighed and placed the phone down on the bed. He dried his hair and enclosed himself into his comforter, sleep soon finding him.



    Dear Hiroto, 

    I’m proud of you. You’ve decided to finally conquer your fears. You’ve been through a lot of hell. You’ve experienced a lot of things. But, I’m proud of the fact that you are not letting it define you any longer. It’s been quite a life hasn’t it? I’m sure not many people can say they’ve lived their lives as difficult as yours. But, tell me something. Aren’t you glad you stayed around? Aren’t you glad you survived those nights of wanting to drink yourself away or pop pills? Yeah, me too. You made it. I remember when you were a kid, in high school… Do you remember? How lifeless you were. You didn’t see any point in living. It grew boring. It wasn’t fun. Your truths caught up with you. But, then all of that changed. You began to see meaning in the blue skies of the morning. The wind began to taste sweet. You pushed through. And you can do it again. Look how far you have come. You have lived another year. You lost your voice once. But now, you have let it out again. You’ve let it free. Don’t let anyone take it away from you again. Even if it hurts… always keep it. Your voice will set you free. It will keep you sane. It will make you strong. 

    Remember that dreams you used to have? Those dreams of yesteryear? Remember the invaluable memories you shared with those the most precious to you? Old hands as they held yours. Carefully molding wet clay. A strong but loving voice. “Careful. Don’t let it get out of shape. This will be yours.” Do you remember? Going out right before the snow fell to the ground and spending hours in the late autumn sun? Sweating. Body tired. Your hand steady and strong as you chopped wood? Preparing for the winter on the horizon. 

    I remember the nights you would lay your head on your grandmother’s lap while she sang old traditional songs and sewed. Do you? If you ever wonder what your purpose is or what your legacy will be Hiroto, remember these things. Despite the horrible fate you suffered… you received something that no one can take away. You knew true love. That love I believe has kept you and saved you time and time again. 

    When times get dark and you start to regret…when you start to think perhaps you aren’t worthy… remember those who have come to love you. Remember your family. Hana. Hisae. Tobu. Remember the nice people you’ve met in this past year. They too are cheering for you. It’s time. I think it’s time to finally let that little boy go. Let him die. The one who carried all the bruises of yesterday. What do you think? I think you can do it. If you truly try, you can. Keep living. Keep smiling. Keep loving. You’re a survivor. A warrior. Never forget that. 

    Signed, The One Who Overcame 



    “Is this really our last session?” He smiled as he sighed. 

    “Mm. Time flew didn’t it?” Dr. Satou smiled in return. 

    “I am proud of you Hiroto. You’ve come so far in just two months.” He felt his cheeks grow warm. 

    “There is one more thing I want to talk about today. I haven’t shared anything about my parents.” 

    “Ah, yes. I wondered when we would converse about them. Surely, the mystery of your life will come full circle now.”

    “I believe in this way… finally I am coming to be the freest I’ve ever been…” 


    “You said you’d never hurt me.” The heartbroken voice of a young child sobbed in the dark silence. He hugged himself tightly and rocked, the tears falling down his cheeks icy. 

    “You said you loved me.” But was the love he was promised shown in the dirt, sweat and strong smell of sex that clogged up his nostrils? Was it in the hands that touched him in places he didn’t want to be touched? Or were the various objects used to torture him kissed by love? Love…a word he truly knew nothing of. A word he had always equated to pain, suffering, bloody nail scratches in his back. Still, the wounds of his past, the lashes inflicted by he that he called father, the prying fingers of many female strangers…. all of it still open and growing rotten in the sun, left out far too long….


    “Hiroto! Your father would like to see you.” Yet again, another moment of pain. The ripple of it spreading through his flesh as the rod struck his back. 

    “You carry the blood of samurai in your veins. Do you think they were as weak as you are now?” The familiar scent of tears down small cheeks. 

    “No…No Father.”

    “Assume the correct stance. Hold your bokken correctly.” He felt flashes of wetness and knew he bled. Lifting shaky arms, he spread his feet apart and crouched. Under the intent gaze of his father, he began to strike the wooden pole. 

    “Good. Again.” 


    He grimaced in pain as he sat in between his grandmother’s legs. She gently pressed a clean white cloth soaked in herbal water against his back. She tsked. 

    “Why does Shou have to be so hard on you I wonder…you are just a boy.” He tightened his fists. 

    “I am his only heir Grandmother. There is a lot that falls on me.” She pressed a bit more firmly, making him bite his lip. 

    “Hush. You are but a boy. What do you know?”  He remained quiet. Soon, the cloth was removed and a cool thick herbal paste was applied, soothing the painful burning. 

    “It is a miracle you don’t have scars…” Indeed. 



    “Yes Grandmother?”

    “Would you like to come to Nara?” He blinked as she softly worked the paste into his wounds. 


    “Where I live.”

    “But Grandmother…I thought you would stay here with us…like you always have.” She was quiet for a while until, 

    “I had to go. This is not my style. I am more old fashioned you see.” 


    “Well…come visit me.” He thought about it for only a second. 

    “Okay. I shall visit you Grandmother.” 




    He smiled as tears slowly welled up in his eyes. 

    “I loved her so much…” He bit his lip and hung his head as he began to cry. Gripping his pants, he let the cries in his chest come forth. Still, so many years later… he still grieved. 

    “She was the best thing that ever happened to me. She raised me with all of her strength and might. It wasn’t right… she should not have died the way she did…” 

    “How…how did she pass?” Satou asked softly. 

    “She died alone. Old and weak. Without anyone to help her…I wish I could have been there… if I had gotten there a little earlier maybe I could have saved her…” He felt years of pain rush forth from his chest and cried from the depths of his soul. Deep anguished agony. Satou just gently pat his back. 

    “You can’t blame yourself Hiroto…”

    “When I got there… the door to the house was open. Unusual for her. Everything smelt wrong. It didn’t smell warm. I couldn’t place my finger on it but it was thick and heavy…sour. I called out to her. Nothing. There was food that was in the process of being canned and fruit to be made into preserves on the counter. But, flies had started to invest the room, and all around you heard the buzzing. Now, it began to become clear. Was this the smell of death itself? I followed it until I stood outside of her room. Sliding the shoji back…I…I found her…” He squeezed his eyes shut as the memory rushed forth with vivid clarity. 



    There she laid, crumpled on the floor. Her white rice powder container on the floor beside her, the contents having spilt on the tatami. Her eyes were open, a lifeless glassy stare. 

    “Grandmother…” The smell made him want to vomit. But still… he stepped inside. His backpack fell out of his hands and he felt his eyes start to water. 

    “G-Grandmother?” Her bedsheets were roused as if she had just slept. Her window open, letting in air. Her outer shoji opened to let in the scenes of nature from her garden. Turning back, he laid eyes on her. Her face was stiff. Cold. But calm. Almost peaceful. There was no trace of pain or suffering. He reached for her hand and upon touching hard cold flesh he recoiled back. 

    “No….NO……No…….Don’t do this…. don’t…” But his stomach had enough and he began to vomit, tears flowing from his eyes. 


    He stared at a leaf outside, a small red ladybug crawling nearby. 

    “I took it upon myself…My parents abandoned her. They wanted nothing to do with her. They let that woman die. Perhaps they knew she was ill. But to let her die in such an inhumane way…that is inexcusable.” He swallowed and sniffed, looking down at his hands. 

    “As far as I’m concerned… it was them that murdered her.” He took a heavy faltering breath.

    “If you peel back the layers some more, you’ll see just what kind of people my mother and father were.” 


    “No… I don’t want to do this.” He sat in the back of a dark car, his father and mother seated across from him. 

    “You have to.” 

    “No… I don’t want to do it. You told me it would not hurt. That lady hurt me. I don’t want to.” His mother reached across and slapped him, making him silent. 

    “You will do what we say. It is something you must do.” He felt tears prickle the corners of his eyes. 

    “You are my son. You are Iwase Hiroto. We’ve gone over this. Centuries of warriors runs through your blood. Superiority in every way. Precision. Skill. We must be perfect. To uphold the family bloodline. Only the strong survive. The weak die.” His father spoke up with a stern voice, his face neutral. 

    “But Father…”

    “We must make sure that you can provide for your future spouse. We have to train you.” His mother spoke up, calmly clutching her hands. 

    “You must be able to cater to her every need. Be they material or sexual. This is why we are doing this. You must gain experience Hiroto. The female body is like art. You must become a master painter.” He bit his bottom lip and kept silent. His body tightened up at the thought of another encounter. He had taken so long to heal…physically. And now he felt as if he didn’t own his body… like it was for hire. At such a young age, already he felt like this. 

    “I-If I do this… will you be pleased? If…If I do it again…will you bring Grandmother back?” His mother was silent for a while until, 

    “We will let her come back. If you be a good boy and listen to us. You can see her again.” The warmth in his chest, he closed his eyes. 

    “Please don’t let it be that lady again…” His parents sat back. 

    “We’ll make sure it won’t be. We’ll make an arrangement you can be comfortable with.”



    “They used me as monetary collateral. Their own son. I was given to the highest bidder. Sold for sex. To countless number of women…to promote and encourage growth in my father’s business exchanges globally. China…Korea…United States….as if we were representatives in the affairs of the night. Who was the best? Who would win?” Sighing deeply, he closed his eyes and sat back in his chair. 

    “Now you see who my parents were…who they remain to be.” Satou swallowed and tightened his jaw. 

    “I cannot comprehend the things you have experienced…and at the hands of the people who were put in place to love and guide you properly. Because of this, I now have understanding of where your deep rooted issues stem from. Poor child…to have to suffer so much trauma and for seemingly no other reason than for greed.”

    “Precisely. My parents’ selfishness and greed for power and control turned me into a monster…a monster I’m still trying to destroy.” 




    “Do you enjoy this? You’re sick. You might as well be doing this yourself…” 

    “We’re doing this for you! Why do you not understand that?”

    “You’ve made me into a whore!”

    “Don’t raise your voice to your mother Hiroto.” He turned angry eyes on his father. 

    “Will you try to beat me with the rod again? Perhaps this time you might even get a little blood.” 

    “You’ve lost your mind! Can you not see what that woman did to you? You were our precious little boy and now you’ve grown rebellious and disobedient! This is why she was no good for you!” 

    “That woman was your mother! She gave birth to you and raised you. Look how you have disgraced her…pitiful.” He inhaled sharply and spit near her foot. 

    “Surely her spirit weeps.” He got up and slid on his shoes. 

    “Hiroto where are you going-” He slammed the door before either one of them could utter anything else. 


    He lifted the cigarette to his lips and slowly inhaled the nicotine.  He leaned his head back against the cold concrete. He closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose. All of it was bullshit. All of it… He wished he could just dive into the abyss and never resurface. He lifted shaky fingers to press the cigarette to his lips. He knew what was coming next. Licking his dry lips, he dropped the cigarette to the ground and snuffed it with his shoe. 

    Putting hands in his pockets, he walked alone in the dark until he came to a small door aside a building in an alleyway. If they wanted him to be a machine… the best there was… he could do that. Inhaling sharply, he felt the anger flow through him. He’d try to fuck as many as he could tonight. If they wanted Iwase to be permanently tattooed on their tongue, he’d make sure it was put in just the right place. He’d make them swallow it until it reached their gut. Until it became a part of them. 

    “Welcome back kiddo.” He turned to find a patron outside, a grin on her face. 

    “Shall we go in?” He asked, his voice low. 

    “After you. Afterall, you’re the star of the show here.” She grinned. They slowly began to enter the building and the door behind him shut, leaving a bright red light blazing in its wake. 



    “I have one question for you Hiroto.” He looked into Satou’s eyes, his own shiny with tears. 

    “You’ve come to a crossroads. You’ve achieved so much. What will your future be?” He licked his lips. 

    “My future…” Satou gently nodded. 

    “You should keep going forward… don’t let who you once were suffocate you. I imagine you want a life with Rae.” He felt his cheeks grow warm and smiled softly. 

    “That’s the plan.” Satou laughed. 

    “In all you do Hiroto…Remember your grandmother…do things that would make her proud.” He nodded and lifted a hand to press against the tears on his cheek.

    “It has been an honor to get to know you Hiroto. The vulnerability you’ve shown is so very hard for a lot of people to grasp.” 

    “Thank you for being such a patient listener Dr. Satou.” 

    “I hope that in the two months you have felt freedom. You deserve more than I can say without being entirely too personal. I wish you the utmost best in your life.” 

    “Thank you.” 


    “Before we conclude… I’d like to share one more memory.” 



    “Hiroto… come here.” Sighing, he smiled as he slowly came into the living room. There sat his grandmother at a pottery spool. 

    “Yes Grandmother?” She smiled at him and beckoned him with her hand, covered in clay. 

    “Come. Make something with me.” He scrunched up his nose. 

    “It looks like dirt.” He said with a small pout. His grandmother laughed. 

    “It is! Come, come!” He huffed out air and slowly sat down and propped his elbows on his grandmother’s knees. 

    “What are we making?” 

    “Cups. One for you. One for me. One for your future wife.”  He blushed. 


    “Hush. It isn’t proper to not give your bride something.” He scrunched up his nose again. 

    “But a cup? Why a cup of all things?”

    “It will be a practical gift that will show her your handmanship.” 


    “You want to show her that you are good with your hands. Think, one day these hands will build, protect and guide.” He smiled at the thought. 

    “Ah, I see. Well, I must do my best then.” They began to mold the clay and soon, three cups were made. 



    “Do you still have it?” He bit his lip and smiled. 

    “Yes. It’s always been with me.” 

    “Waiting for the right one hm?” His smile grew deeper. 


    “I think that it will be a wonderful gift for her…” 

    “I think so too.” 



    Iwase Eri: 

    For the longest time, I tried to make you happy. For the longest time, I would have sold my soul to ensure that you out of everyone was pleased. You did nothing but lie, manipulate and abuse me. How someone can birth another and seek to destroy them is outside of my grasp. You of all people… you didn’t have to do this to me. Your choices now have been cemented in stone and they are unchangeable. I wished you would die. I wished I could have strangled the very life from you. I wanted to do all I could to hurt you. And now, though I still feel overwhelming anger…I am tired. I have grown tired of revenge. It has served me no purpose. It has been the cause of a decision that enabled me to hurt the woman I love. 

    You have talked to me all my life about the strength of Iwase. But, you, mother were the weakest of them all. Not truly an Iwase but a peasant who lucked out in marriage to my father. What entitlement did you feel you had to disrupt centuries of my family’s legacy? Sure, you can say that I have followed in my father’s footsteps in mate selection. Sure, you can say that I am doing the exact same thing. I however beg to differ. The woman I have chosen is nothing and never will be anything like you. She is worthy to carry the name Iwase behind her. She is worthy of my family and the many women who came before her. You are a fraud. 

    Now, it is time to be brought down to your true level. Continue to get well. You have a wedding to attend and grandchildren to see. I must admit, it will be justifying to see the woman you hated so much take your place. She shall rise into the royalty that awaits her. And you, you shall be where you belong. That will be the best revenge due to you. Until we meet again, 

Your son, 

Iwase Hiroto


Iwase Shou: 

    Though, it will take me time to forgive you… I must ask: Are you well? Are you taking care of yourself..Father? I am sure you can understand that the years of memories I have of you are ones of destruction, greed, and perversion. In the depths of my heart…I wanted to continue to hate you. But somehow…I cannot. The moment we shared last… it did something to me. I believe you realized that in your old age, the possibility of never having a relationship with your only son was more of a reality than you’d like to admit. 

    Was it truly guilt? Or was it simply nature? This I have asked myself plenty of times since I’ve left Japan. In some ways, I still find you disappointing. You allowed your wife authority over you and your family. Authority that should only be for the Head. You grew comfortable in your leisure, letting your wife speak for you while you worked behind the scenes; while you did what you wanted in secrecy. 

    How sad and despicable I thought. But then, I wondered: were you a victim of the system as I was? Surely, your father used the rod against you too. Surely, you too had to endure many sleepless nights, dwelling on your many painful encounters with the opposite sex as well. Having this understanding has made me more receptive I think in forgiveness. You a victim. Acting in that victim mentality, you pass it on to your son. Father, I say that it shall not continue. No more of our sons will endure what we and our ancestors have. It shall die with me. It shall die with you. 

    I wonder… as I am now…are you finally happy? Are you finally proud to call me your son? Father, perhaps my heart is too big…but…is it inconceivable to want to try to set you free too? The woman you condemned and damned to die saw it within me. She saw it, loved it, embraced and encouraged it. I know that you have your own demons that you are still fighting. As am I. But, if I can have courage to stand up to them, in true Iwase fashion… then so can you. In your quest for freedom, I hope that you will learn to forgive yourself as I am learning to forgive myself. In your search of meaning and life, I hope that you will be here to witness it being brought into the world. 

    Of the two, you have been the only one who has been fond of Rae. May I ask why? Is it because she reminds you of Mother? Are they comparable in any way other than their status? When I return to Japan, I would like to sit down and talk to you more about this. You once said that she was worthy of the name Iwase, that she was more than able to be by my side. Truly, this brings me joy. For I too think so. I hope that our children will bring you joy in your last days. However you choose to seek atonement, I will stand by you. Give me a little while yet. I am not completely there… but…I send well wishes and many blessings to you. Take care of yourself Father. 






    Having drafted his letters, he fell asleep, tears streaming down his cheeks, a small soft smile on his lips. His heart felt full and he for the first time since being a small child felt light as air and as free as the birds that flew in the sky. It was time for a new genesis, a new beginning.

End Notes:


A/N: Man. This chapter was so emotional for me. Like I literally almost cried lol. Hiroto's journey has been so hard and cruel. I can't even imagine... and he has finally after ten years come to a place where he not only is considering/open to forgiving his father but for stepping in his rightful path. My precious Hiroto. *sheds tear* wow. I think next chapter will really be the tear jerker lol. It won't be bad I promise. <3 But for real. I might cry lol. He's so precious man. lol. This whole entire process has been. It truly has been a blessing to write this vision that I had given to me in a dream. I have been blessed by it as well. I cannot express thanks enough y'all! <3 For showin love, reviewing and sharing your thoughts! :D They crack me up, give me things to think about, make me smile and inspire me to keep going! <3 <3 Can you believe that soon he will be together again with Rae? I cannot wait for that chapter! I think we are all ready for them to get back together and start to live happily. <3 Till next time, God bless! Love you all! May God grant you peace, favor and wisdom in this upcoming week!

Be set free by the renewing of your mind!

Shine into the sky, bright and yellow!

Sunhalo17 <3 

New by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:

“Hiroto.” All around him was white matter and in the midst of this, he felt as if he were floating in a warm safe cocoon. He curled up into the bright golden light with a serene smile on his face. 

    “Hiroto.” He stirred and slowly opened his eyes. A soft voice called out to him. 

    “It is time.” Time for what? 

    “Time?” He asked, his voice muffled. 

    “Yes. It is time for you to come home. Come to the well. The water there shall give you everlasting life.” Well? Everlasting life? 

    “For the son who hath no Father, the Father say come. He awaits you precious Son.” As he tried to see where the voice was coming from, he was met with blinding white light. 

    “Do not fear Hiroto. Have no fear. For you shall enter into a covenant with the Heavenly Father…drink from the well and have life. Eat from the roof of the tree and have food. Let the lamppost guide your way. For you are coming out from your darkness. Step now into the Light.” He felt an overwhelming love and began to shed tears… so overflowing. So pure and generous. This… this was love? He folded himself into the feeling and felt himself take flight into the golden warmth. 


    Bare feet touched the sand and he slowly encroached upon the mass of sand and small pebbles. Wind blew around him, almost through him. He smiled, the sun bright on his face. White flew behind him and he sighed once his feet met the cool water. Peace. He felt peace with himself and was ready to take that step…into the deep. Growing further into the water, he stopped once it reached hip length. He took a deep breath and fell forward, the water surrounding him completely. He closed his eyes and let the current take him on a ride. All of it… everything in his past… he felt it be lifted. Miraculously, he felt it all subside until he felt… new. A new creature. He came up for air and gasped for breath, the warmth in his heart spreading to his entire body. I am new. I am a new being.  Lifting his eyes to the sky, there in the clouds flew a tiny white dove. Oh, how the wings pure and white as snow fluttered delicately. There under its watchful tender gaze tears began to fall from his eyes and he wept, joy in his heart. 


    To the love of my life, Ebere Marshall:

    There is so much I can say about you… We’ve been through quite a lot haven’t we? But through it all, we were able to meet. Through it all, I was able to fall in love with you. You gave me a glimpse of who you saw me to be… underneath all of the ugly scarring. For that, I can’t thank you enough.

    I am deeply sorry that I hurt you Rae. I wasn’t ready to fully love you like you deserve. We’ve both made many mistakes throughout our knowing each other. A lot of those mistakes were made out of pain. I was hurting. You were hurting. We needed to be apart. But now, I think that it’s time that the love between us heals us both completely. 

    I know somewhere in the back of your mind you wonder…will I hurt you again? While I can’t promise that we won’t fight or disagree about things, I can give you my word that I will shall never hurt you again to the degree I did before. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not willing to make another mistake as grave as that one. Give me a chance to make things right. Let’s work through it together. Let’s build something new.

    I don’t think I will fully be able to express just what you mean to me. Words and I are still getting used to one another. I don’t know how you feel… about this. About us. But I believe in you Rae. I believe in us. With that belief, when I return to New York…I will pursue you full-heartedly. I am not sure how long you need until you are ready to let me back into your heart. But, you are the only woman I want. So, if need be… I will wait. If I have you then I have everything. For now, this letter shall be my affirmation. Let’s put all of our fears, worries and hurts behind us. I’m ready when you are. 


    Don’t feel as though you have to carry the world on your shoulders…You’re not alone anymore. When you get tired, I’ll carry you. When you get frustrated, I’ll listen. When you need someone to comfort you, I’ll wrap my arms around you. I’ll defend and protect you. I’ll cherish you all the days of my life and provide the best way I can. If you’ll let me. I love you.


End Notes:


A/N: WOOOOOO. Y'all... I knew I was gon cry annd I teared up. <3 This chapter was so beautiful I think. I literally almost burst out crying. The scene where he was a pivotal moment in Hiroto's development!!! Wow man. Just wow. Wonder if y'all catch it! I love his letter to his beloved. <3 <3 <3 Y'all.. this is it like... they bout to meet again next CHAPTER. *screams* :D Wow. I am excited! Can't wait! Spring break ended last night and it is now another school week! Happy Monday to you all! <3 I am going to continue to be writing (because I feel the creative spark still burnin lol) so hopefully I can cover some more ground :DD I love you all! Take care and God bless! IT'S... ABOUT...TO GO...DOWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN NEXT CHAPTER Y'ALLLLL. lol. 

Shine bright into the sky, bright and yellow! 


Be set free by the renewing of your mind!

D&L <3

Reunited by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:





    It had been a week since she had been back at work and she had quickly gotten back in the flow of things. She had been so excited to return. She had expected to jump right back into the meetings with Rossi but for the first couple of days, she had been assigned to desk work. It was understandable being that a whole other person had been taking charge for two months. Later that week, she found herself alternating between meeting and desk with Shelley. She was glad that he was giving Shelley the opportunity to soar. Smiling, she glanced at her pictures that sat on her desk before getting back to the task at hand. 



A week ago…

    She stepped into her workplace. Holding her clutch she pressed the button for the elevator. Smoothing down her skirt, she took a breath and got in. She felt excitement course through her as the elevator stopped and opened its doors. She soon stood outside of the beehive. Here we go. She pushed through the frosted glass doors. As she began to walk in, mouths dropped and eyes followed her as she made her way to her cubicle. 

    “Marshall?” The office sleeze Peterson slurred, eying her up like a piece of meat. 

    “Peterson?” His gaze slid down her like a slinky. 

    “What is it you eatin cause damn baby girl you left and came back thick.”

    “You might wanna focus on what you doin fore you cut yourself there Peterson.” He glanced down at the paper cutter he was using and sighed, relieved that he hadn’t cut anything other than paper. She kept walking until she placed her clutch down on her desk. Leave it to him to be her welcoming committee. Pursing her lips, she glossed her fingertips across the surface of the desk. She found it surprisingly clean. A smile came to her face at all the sticky notes that had been placed in one little collective corner. Shelley. She had even been kind enough to keep her small pictures of her sister and Tre clean too. Smiling deeper, she sighed and sat down. After a while she heard,

    “Rae’s here? Where?” She peeked up at the voice. Shelley stood in the aisle, many stacks of papers in her hand. Peterson pointed in her direction and at meeting her eyes, they grinned at each other. 


    “Shells!” She got up and went to grab some of the papers, meeting her half way. 

    “Oh my God thank you. This was killing me.” Shelley exclaimed with a huff. They sat her papers down. 

    “Girl look at you. You went away and came back shining like a diamond.” She felt her cheeks grow hot. 

    “Thanks Shells.”

    “You look different. Everything about you is different somehow.” Shelley said with a grin. 

    “Specially those shoes.” She laughed and hugged her.

    “It’s so good to have you back partner.” 

    “It’s good to be back.” She pulled back and took her in. 

    “You look good Shells. Rossi been all right?” She smiled.     

    “Yeah! He’s been great! I’ve learned so much by being in those meetings. It’s good to finally feel as if I’m moving forward!” 

    “That’s great! You deserved it the most out of all of us.” Shelley blushed. 

    “Aw. Thanks Rae.” She let go of her as she began to sort through the papers. 



    “I want to say sorry.” She paused and looked at her. 

    “For what?” She licked her lips. 

    “Last time we were together I snapped at you when you asked about Mr. Iwase. I was really rude and hurtful. I apologize if I hurt your feelings.” Shelley smiled and hugged her again. 

    “Girl, it’s over with and done! I forgive you!” She felt relieved. 

    “You’re the one who kept my spot clean aren’t you?” She blushed and giggled.  

    “Yeah…I missed you so much. Besides, cubby mates have to take care of each other right?”

    “Aw. Yes we do! But uh…what’s them sticky notes though?” Shelley grinned. 

    “You’ll see when you read them.”  Hm. She was up to somethin. 

    “Mm. Okay.”  Shelley snickered and grabbed some papers. 

    “About that time with Iwase…your attitude said everything I needed to know.” She blinked, her cheeks growing warm. 


    “Could you please give these to Rossi? My hands are cramping and I need a break.” Shelley pressed the papers into her hands with a grin, ignoring her question. 

    “S-sure…” Shelley looked brighter and happier than the last time she had seen her. It was amazing to see just how much she had started to come out of her cocoon. She was so here for it. Clearing her throat, she went down the corridors and stood outside of his office. It had been so long since she had last been here. 

    “Can I help you…Rae?” She turned to see his secretary standing up, her expression full of shock. 


    “W-When did you get back…you look great…wow..” She smiled. 

    “I got back last night. Couldn’t be late for work could I?” 

    “You look amazing! Um let me get Rossi on the phone for you. Delivery?”

    “Yes ma’am.” 

    “One moment.” She dialed his extension. 


    “Sir, you have a delivery.”

    “Have Shelley bring it.”

    “Shelley is occupied at the moment sir. There is someone else here to deliver.”

     “Send them in.” She took a deep breath and once the door opened, he grew still. 

    “R-Rae?” She bit her lip to keep the laughter from spilling forth. 

    “Surprised?” He looked at her from head to toe, his mouth slightly ajar. 

    “Wow.” She cleared her throat. 

    “Face is up here.” His cheeks grew red and he cleared his throat. 

    “Come in.” She came in and quietly closed the door. Sitting down in one of his chairs, she smiled. He was looking at her like she wasn’t real. 

    “I’m glad you’re back Rae. It’s good to see you again.” 

    “Yeah it’s good to be back.”

    “When’d you touch down in NY?”

    “Last night.”

    “I didn’t know you were even coming…”

    “That was the point. I wanted to surprise a friend.” He blushed. 

    “Well I am delighted. How was your trip?”

    “It was absolutely amazing. There was a lot that I needed to get off of my chest and I’m glad that you permit me to do so.” He smiled. 

    “That’s great.” She sat in one of his chairs and crossed her legs at the ankle. 

     “I know many employees that go a break in the middle of peak season don’t come back so I sincerely thank you.” He sat back in his chair. 

    “There are plenty of people I could get rid of. But you aren’t one of them.” She let the sudden flirtatious tone of his voice pass by her. 

    “I am glad you were able to let Shelley fill in while I was away. If you don’t mind me asking, how was she?”

    “Ms. Johnson was superb. She kept everything together.”

    “And here you were tryin not to give her a promotion…” He chuckled.

    “I’m glad you convinced me.” Grinning she sighed. 

    “So Mr. Rossi, what is it we will do today?” He looked down at the watch on his wrist. 

    “I have a meeting in ten minutes. Are you feeling up to it to attend?”

    “I’m down.”

    “All right. Let’s get ready for that.”

    “Sure.” He got up and slid his fingers through his hair, pulling it back. 

    “Rae…” She looked up at him. He fastened his hair with a elastic band while he looked at her. 

    “I’ve really missed you.” She gave a friendly smile but knew something deeper lied underneath his statement. 

    “I’m sure you have.” 

    “It’s been really lonely here without you. Johnson has been a great help. But now that you’re back-”

    “Hold your horses. You sound like you gettin ready to demote her.” He sharply inhaled. 

    “Your decision to promote her was last minute to you. To her, it was life changing. She’s waited so long to receive something other than desk work from you. This once, let her enjoy it. Please.” He was quiet for a while until, 

    “All right. Fine.”

    “I suppose we should go huh?” He gave a stern nod, business face on. 

    “After you Ms. Marshall.” 



    She hadn’t realized that in her remembrance she hadn’t completed her assignment. Clearing her throat, she finished up with the papers and scooted back to head to Rossi’s office.     

    “Mr. Rossi. It’s Rae.” 

    “Come in.” She came in with the stack of papers.     

    “I’ve read through them as asked. They look and sound great. It’s ready to be sent.” He didn’t look at her and the sound of his fingers clicked against the keys of his computer. 

    “Thanks. I’ll forward them.” 

    “All right.”  She turned to leave. 

    “Wait a moment.” She glanced back at him. He sighed and removed his glasses. 

    “Could you go grab some lunch for me?”

    “Sure. No problem.”

    “I’m starving. Haven’t had anything since morning.”

    “What would you like?”

    “Mm….I’m in the mood for a Philly.”

    “Sure that won’t be too heavy?”

    “I’m sure.”

    “Okay then. Philly it is.”

    “Oh! Could you swing by Starbucks as well?” 

    “You real hungry today.” He grinned and slid his glasses back on. 

    “A busy man never rests.” She sucked her teeth. 

    “Let me guess. You want a black coffee with no sugar and a dash of cream from Starbucks right?” 

    “Don’t you know me well.” His grin deepened and she pursed her lips. 

    “Yeah yeah. Anything else?”

    “That’s all for now. Thanks.”


     “Do get something for yourself okay? I’ll treat you for lunch.” She blinked. 

    “You don’t have to…” 

    “I want to.” He reached into his pocket and gave her some money. 

    “O-okay… ‘preciate it.” She made her way out, placing the money in her purse. He certainly hadn’t lost any of his persuasive ways. 


    “You’re on in five minutes Mr. Iwase. Would you like some more face powder?”  He pressed the black lapels to his jacket down.

    “No. I’m fine. Thank you.” He looked into the mirror with a soft smile.

    After his return, he had immediately taken up his position again. He had begun to plan meetings with companies both within the United States and abroad, in order to assess the status of their relationship, stocks, and other vital information. Today was his first meeting. He was meeting with a company called Elyon located in California. They flew in last night and after his interview with this local television station, he was going straight there. His moment of rest was much needed and every day he felt newer than the last. He found himself here at this point, about to strike back into the swing of things and though he dreaded interviews like this… he was excited. 

    “Mr. Iwase?” He turned to face the young woman who would host the show. 

    “Are you ready?” He nodded. 

    “Let’s begin.” Sometimes you have to do what you don’t want to do.


    The clock stroked 1 pm.  She huffed as she came out of Starbucks. Holding his cup of joe and food in one, she held what she got for herself in another. A burst of fresh wind rushed by her and she inhaled it slowly. What a beautiful spring day. The clouds were white and the sky blue. The sun was shining and provided the right amount of heat without it being overbearing. Everywhere there was green and florals. Ah… She smiled to herself and started to walk again. Thankfully, the office wasn’t too far. 

    “….You’ve probably seen him in magazines and in other interviews here in the United States… the name of Hiroto Iwase…” She paused suddenly. Hiroto Iwase? Turning, her eyes fell on a nearby television. She watched as he came onto the stage and purse his lips at the almost deafening screams of the ladies in the studio. Her heart skipped a beat. 


    “Hello. Thank you for having me. I’m quite honored.”  

    “By all means, you are quite an amazing guy Mr. Iwase!” He gave a small smile. 

    “I appreciate it very much.”

    “What have you been up to? We’ve missed seeing you.” She couldn’t move, the breath coming from her shallow. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him. 

    “I have recently returned from a short hiatus.” Hiatus? He had been gone? 

    “Ah, where and why?” He balled his lips, making his dimples deepen. 

    “I went to this little hiking town called Hocking Hills. It’s in the state of Ohio. It’s so beautiful.” The woman nodded, she too intent for his next word. 

    “I went because I honestly needed a break. Being CEO of a business is by no means a walk in the park…nor is it lax. I am glad I took some time out for myself.” The host nodded and smiled as he looked at her. 

    “That’s great! Sounds amazing!” He smiled and the small flash of teeth made her knees grow weak.

    “It was.” Even the host appeared a bit flushed. All from a simple half smile. Only an effect he could have.

    “So what is it you’re doing now that you’re back in New York? If I’m not mistaken isn’t your business originally located in Japan?” 

    “My, you’re well versed on me.” The host grew even more flustered and some members of the audience chuckled. 

    “I-It is my job…”

    “I’m only teasing you my dear.” He said, his tone joking. Poor dear. The girl didn’t know what to do. He cleared his throat. 

    “To answer your question, yes. It is located in Japan. My intentions are to go back to my country and work from the main base there. However, with America being my priority as of now, I am pleased to see that all has gone well.”

    “I see! Well, many best wishes to you Mr. Iwase! Before we head to break, I want to thank you again for talking with me!” He nodded. 

    “Thank you.” The show cut to commercial. She felt her heart beat faster. She didn’t know he had gone on a break. He certainly looked refreshed. She felt her hand grow tired, reminding her that she had coffee. She tightened her grip on everything and made her way back before Rossi’s coffee grew cold. 



    A few days later, on a Saturday, she had decided to go workout. She put her hair up into a puff and swept back any baby hairs away from her face. She leaned down to tie her shoes and grabbed her car keys. 

    After a few hours, she felt good and sore and ready to go home. Going to the water fountain, she lifted her bottle to fill it up and exhaled loudly. She couldn’t help but wonder… what was Hiroto doing right now? She bit her lip. Even though she had his number, she was being a punk. Since finding out that he had gotten back in New York…and seeing him on the tv, she couldn’t stop thinking about him. It was starting to get on her nerves. But you’re going to give him a chance… you decided on that. 

    Right. She did. She couldn’t sike herself out. Maybe before she was happy doing that but now she just wanted to continue to be real and honest with herself. When she had let everything go in that water, she had also started to let the strife between them go too. She wanted to just be friends again… friends she think she could do. But at the moment, she was being too much of a wimp to initiate anything. She still hadn’t seen him at Affinity as of yet. Thank God. She might start acting like a bumbling fool. In her thoughts, she didn’t notice that the water from the fountain was starting to overflow from the bottle and drip on the ground. 

    “Miss? Your bottle is full…”  She heard a voice speak. She turned to find a man walking by her, a towel around his neck. 

    “Excuse me!” He stopped. The way he grew tense made her eyebrows furl. 

    “Thanks for lettin me know. I had no clue.” He still hadn’t turned around and she noticed him tightly grip the towel. What was this dude’s problem? She pursed her lips and before turning to pour out some water. As she turned around again, she froze. Familiar almond shaped eyes looked at her, their gaze intense. She squeezed the bottle tightly, making the water gush out. She screeched, the crisp cold soaking her semi wet clothes and skin. 

    “Damn…” She heard a chuckle and faced a white towel as she looked up. 

    “Here.” Her throat suddenly grew dry as her eyes soaked up the man in front of her. Like little roots, his veins traveled up his arms and disappeared underneath his grey workout shirt. his arms were tight and toned and his skin flushed pink glistened with a light mist of sweat. Lord Jesus…She averted her eyes and looked down. There was no way… nooooo way….

    “Um…no thanks. I’m good. I’m gonna get straight into my car.” Slowly, the towel was retracted and once again placed around his neck. 

    “It’s good to see you Rae.” She glanced up, his gaze captivating her. She opened her mouth and somehow words came out. 

    “Nice to see you too Hiroto.”

End Notes:



A/N:Woo y'all this week has been transition for real lol. Break was last week lol. And I am at the end of the week like LORD. lol. But glad that I've made it in my right mind and in health! Praise God! Sooooo, Our Mr. and Ms. meet again hehehe. *sigh* They so in love man I cannot lol. Next chapter is in the works! :D Have a blessed weekend! <3 


Shine into the sky, bright and yellow! 


Be set free by the renewing of your mind! 


D&L <3 

Step (One At A Time) by DarkandLovely
Author's Notes:

    “Um….I-I saw your interview on tv today… You left New York?” Her eyes met his. 

    “I did.” He watched as her cheeks grew red and felt his lips smile.

    “When?” His heart beat faster and he felt his blood rush throughout his body. He cleared his throat and shifted from one foot to the other.

    “About two months ago.” Her eyebrows arched. 

    “Two months?” He nodded. 


    “Why two months?” 

    “I wanted enough time to have an appropriate break without feeling the need to rush.”

    “Where’d you go again?” 

    “Hocking Hills.”

    “Oh.” He took in a big breath. 

    “Are you headed home?” She wasn’t looking at him and something about that bothered him. She unconsciously worried her lips with bites and her skin shown with the perspiration of her workout.



    “E-Ebere…” Her voice croaked softly in reply. He felt himself smile. She was so beautiful when she was flustered.

    “Look at me.” She stayed still for a little while before slowly bringing her eyes up to his. Better. Much better. 

    “What?” Her voice was soft.

    “How have you been?” 

    “I’ve been good. Real good.” 

    “I see. That’s great then.”


    “Mm.” A silence fell between them and she turned to fill her bottle back up without another word. 

    “I guess I should be going hm?” She brought the bottle to her lips and took a long sip before answering, 

    “Me too.” 

    “Okay then. Good night.” He smiled at her. Her blush deepened but she softly smiled in return. 

    “Night.” As he watched her walk away from him, he sighed heavily. He was glad he hadn’t appeared as nervous as he had felt. He lifted his towel to brush his damp hair and began to head to the door. What were the chances that they came to the same gym? On this night? His heart fluttered. He couldn’t help but feel like a new beginning was upon them. As he soon headed to his car, he smiled to himself. He couldn’t wait to see her again. 


    She drove home in the silence of the night. Soft low smooth jazz played on the radio and the window was cracked, letting cool air into the car. She couldn’t believe it. She’d seen him. She wasn’t expecting to see him for a little while yet. But oh what a surprise it was. She bit her lip as she drove on. All that stuttering and boo boo the foolery going on was not okay. Granted, it had been darn near four months since she had seen bruh so she supposed she could understand. Tightening the steering wheel, she deeply pursed her lips. She was gonna need to get herself together because she refused to keep stuttering every time she saw him. That was definitely not going to happen. 

    When she got home, the first person she dialed was Amee.



    “Hey Ebbie. What’s up?”

    “Guess who I just saw at the gym?” She was quiet. 

    “It better not have been Kwasame punk ass.” 

    “Girl nawl! Please don’t even… you gon give me a headache thinking about him.”

    “Well… who?” She took a breath. 

    “Hiroto.” Her sister grew silent on the phone for a while before, 

    “You saw him tonight?”



    “I know. I was not… expecting to see him.” 

    “So how are you feelin about it?”

    “That’s the thing. I don’t know… I don’t know what to feel…”

    “I’m sure you’re glad to see him again. It’s been a while since you two last saw each other.”

    “Yeah…too long.” 

    “Aww Ebbie you missed him.” She sucked her teeth. 

    “Amee don’t even. I can’t… not tonight. My emotions are all outta whack.”

    “Yep sounds like what happen when you two get together. Y’all go coo coo for cocoa puffs.”

    “No we do not!” Amee started cracking up. 

    “Ebbie, yes y’all do. It’s the cutest thing actually. Like y’all so down for each other but tryna act like y’all ain’t.” She pouted. 


    “Well nothin. Look, you told me yourself that you was gon give him a chance right?” Her pout grew. 


    “Okay then. So y’all need to get with the program. Cause we don’t know when ol boy goin back to Japan. You needs to get on that and handle that.” 

    “Girl… you… ooh..” She huffed. But she knew she was right. She didn’t know how much longer Hiroto would be in the States. And she wasn’t sure how his life would be once he got back to home base. Or how free he might be. 

    “Gon shower, grab some wine and pray about it. You know what to do missy ma’am.” Amee said with a smile in her voice. She sighed. 

    “Yeah. Thanks A.”

    “No problem Eb. Let me know how it go.”

    “Okay.” She put the phone on her bed and ran herself a warm bath. Her muscles were going to thank her. 


    The next day he found himself in the board room of Affinity staring at the clock. 

    “Man… where the hell is Rossi?” He dully stared at the clock again. 

    “I don’t know but he better hurry before I say we all call this meeting over.” It was going on fifteen minutes and Rossi had not shown up. He tightened his jaw. Rossi was not the type of man to be late. He felt his muscles stretch and bones pop as he stood. Getting old. If he didn’t get any coffee, he was afraid he would fall asleep in the meeting. His nights had been sleepless lately as his mind spun on rotation around a woman somewhere within this very building. All he could think about was her. Since seeing her at the gym, he had wished that he would be given a chance to see her again but to no avail. He was starting to suspect that she was avoiding him intentionally. 

    “Another ten minutes and I’m leaving.” One of the other business associates exclaimed, his face growing red with irritation. 

    “Yeah. Me too. Rossi’ll hear it from me big time.” He tried not to sigh. Coffee. He needed coffee. 

    “Hiro, where you goin?” 

    “Coffee.” He said as he opened the door. 

    “Hurry back.” 

After a short while, he stood outside of the board room, carefully sipping some warm brew. The roast smelled delightful and he smiled against the cup. It had been a while since he had last had some. Even though it wasn’t from a coffee shop, the office machines weren’t too bad in actuality. Some of them made quite adequate cups. At least Rossi invested in some quality coffee machines. Checking his watch, he tightened his lips against the brim of the cup. Rossi was almost thirty minutes late. Was he not going to show up? 

    “You know you’re going to hear it from these guys right?” 

    “Thanks to you, I’m officially the latest I’ve ever been in my career.”    

    “Don’t blame that on me.”

    “Well…” Voices laughed as they grew closer. 

    “Into the gauntlet we go.” He lifted his eyes and grew still. Lowering his cup, he tightened his jaw.


    She stopped suddenly and she felt the breath whoosh out of her. She stared ahead, bringing Rossi’s attention forward as well. She was too busy noticing the man in front of her to observe the deep frown that crossed his mouth. 

    “Back from hiatus so soon Iwase?” 

    “My first meeting back and you’re late.” He replied but his eyes never reached him. She felt her heart flutter. 

    “Well you certainly are more excited to see Ms. Marshall than me. I’m hurt.” That seemed to break whatever they had going on. She drew her eyes away and cleared her throat. 

    “All right, don’t start you two. I’ll go in first.” She briskly walked by him and entered the room. Behind the closed door, she took a shaky breath. Her knees were trembling. Her mind raced but she would address it later. Standing tall, she smiled at the many men who sat there, quite irritably. 

    “Hello gentlemen.” They sat up and eyed her as she made her way to the  second seat near the front. 

    “Ms. Marshall!” One of them exclaimed. She smiled. 

    “Hello! How are you?” 

    “We’re fine! It’s a pleasure to have you back.” She smiled. 

    “It’s wonderful to be back. I’m ready to get to work.” One of the associates eyed the door.