Chapter 26: The Prospects of a Future Apart

Note: My game was having a slight technical issue during the making of this chapter. So it does not look as nice as the ones before and after. The issue has since been fixed, but this chapter suffered visually.

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Tadayoshi found his mind wandering all day as he stood looking out at the city of Bridgeport, once the spot of the great nation of Thacian during a time of war and kingdoms. Aslann grew and devoured areas like Thacian and Shimragata growing and expanding through the centuries until it rivaled some of the other nations in size and power. “Your mood seems quite foul,” He heard Zen say. “Does this heavy atmosphere have anything to do with the fact that Kin and Tationy have gone away together?”

“I do not wish to discuss that.”

“Really? The tension says otherwise.”

“It is her life she can do with it as she wishes.”

Tadayoshi turned to face Zen when he heard a sound of great annoyance, “You are not deserving of her.”

“Is that how you feel?”

“Look at your behavior in this. You tell her that you will not give up on her then the first thing you do is take off; insisting that you both need a year apart. It is foolishness. Loving Tearra is not enough in this. Kissing her and telling yourself that you are kissing Tearra is a slap in the face to that young woman. How dare you call yourself the Elder of the Kari, claim the title of Kazuma’s reincarnate, and act with such disregard for her. We do not treat women the way you have been handling her.”

He noticed that Zen’s voice never raised, not a single octave. It was never Zen’s nature to get heated, despite the directness of his words, “Are you finished?”

“You are unbelievable,” Zen responded as he turned to leave.

“The heart wants what it wants and it will never be denied. Tearra is the only one in my heart, no matter how much I wish I could reach out to Tationy. She is not the woman I love. Let her have her fun with Kin. When she is tired of running from whom she is, she will find her way to me.”

“I think you are wrong,” Zen voiced as he departed the room. With a sigh Tadayoshi turned to look out the window again, allowing his thoughts to be consumed by the past.

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“Daddy,” Resa shouted as she ran toward her father jumping into his arms.

“I apologize father, she insisted on seeing you.”

His father always seemed happy when Resa was around. He never understood what it meant to have a child so precious that you smiled when you saw them; for Tadayoshi it had never been that way between himself and Hiko. “Tadayoshi, there is no need to be sorry. A father should always make himself available to his children.”

“Of course sir.”

His father lovingly looked upon the face of Tadayoshi’s youngest sister, “Now tell me, what has gotten my blessed daughter excited?”

“I got the highest grade out of everyone in my class on my Science project. My teacher was really impressed and Sakura Waichia was really angry. She practically had a goat.”

Tadayoshi chuckled under his breath, “Tell me Tadayoshi, do you find the fact that your sister has great intelligence amusing or something else?”

“Forgive me father, I would never laugh at Resa after all she is by far the smartest among the Kari. She could easily stand at your side as your right hand. I was just picturing a Waichia having a goat.”

His father’s lips pursed and Tadayoshi could tell that he was trying not to smile as he looked upon Resa choosing to ignore Tadayoshi, “You are my brightest daughter, I am quite proud.”

“It was so funny. Sakura was so mad.”

His father’s eyes squinted in question, “Tell me Resa are you prouder of your accomplishment having the highest grade or making a Waichia angry?”

Resa considered the question a moment, “Well I can get good grades any time, so probably seeing Sakura angry. That does not happen as often.”

Tadayoshi turned away to laugh, thinking that he was grateful that Kyo was not around because this conversation would certainly be way to entertaining for a joker like him. He could hear his father sigh, “I see. Well as long as you are proud. Now,” He paused as he gave Resa a pat on the head, “Go and find your siblings and let Tadayoshi and I speak.”

“Alright,” Resa had responded happily as she darted out of her father’s office.

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Father and son stood quietly. Tadayoshi knew not to speak until Resa was out of earshot. It was simply how things were among the Kari. Women had their roles and there were matters specifically not discussed in front of them. When his father Azu was certain they could speak freely he finally asked, “Have you given any thought about our previous conversation. It takes all of my strength to keep up appearances, my time here is fleeting. I want to ensure that the Kari are in the best possible hands before my departure.”

“I understand your reasoning, but I do not wish to marry.”

“You have mentioned. If this were ancient Aslann such a request would not be made of you, but this era it is important for the Elder of the Kari to set an appropriate example. What will the others think if you do not take a wife?”

“I really do not care what they think.”

There was a short sound of disapproval, “You do not have the luxury of being rebellious. Let those with the freedom to be wild and free do so at their own risk. You are the future of the Kari; loyalty, tradition, sacrifice is all that you have left. You must be the pillar of strength that rises above all other Kari. It will be you who they look to for guidance. Tadayoshi, with time you will know that as the Elder of the Kari giving all of yourself is all you can do, but often you get nothing in return. You are the only one capable of carrying this burden.” Tadayoshi remembered feeling annoyed and angry, but he did everything he could to keep it from his face as his father continued speaking, “Ako has good blood; Yamada and Anami. She is lovely and intelligent….”

“She finds me intolerable.”

“What do you think of her?”

With a purse of his lips he spoke bluntly, “I think she is a bitch, just like all Yamada women.”

With anger his father spoke, “You are Kari. Never speak of any woman in such a fashion.”

He recalled not being able to keep his voice from raising, “Then do not ask me how I feel or what I think.”

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Tadayoshi had been certain that his father was going to lay into him with an appropriate lecture about his responsibilities as a Kari man, but a cleared throat broke up their conversation rather suddenly. His father’s gaze had always been stern and hard toward him, but there was one other among the Kari whose gaze was probably more fierce; it belonged to his uncle Kazuki. Tadayoshi took no comfort in the fact that his uncles cold hard stare was upon him, after all that meant he was about to be double-teamed by his father and uncle regarding his future and responsibilities, “Tadayoshi, please take Zen and go over the traditions of the Kari. I wish to speak to your father….alone.”

“Of course, sir,” Tadayoshi politely responded as he and Zen walked toward one of the conference areas.

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He was thankful to have escaped a lecture, but Zen said nothing to him even after they entered the room. It gave him time to consider that Zen was probably gathering his thoughts before he spoke. Truthfully, Tadayoshi was not really in the mood to talk let alone go over every little thing about the history and traditions of the Kari especially with someone that knew them as well as he did. He leaned against the wall thinking about all the things he wanted to say to his father, “Why don’t you just marry her?”

“I am not interested in her.”

“Is there someone? I mean do you have a girlfriend or something?”

“No, it is nothing like that.”

“What is it then?”

Tadayoshi pursed his lips and looked away from Zen, “Nothing.”

Even though he was no longer looking at him the moment Zen raised his hand and pointed his finger Tadayoshi noticed it, “What was that quote about stubborn Kari men?”

“Don’t lecture me.”

Zen’s tone changed sounding almost somber as he responded, “I wasn’t. Sometimes we have to do things we do not want to. Look at me. My father told me that I needed to dress like this. That I was young and the Kari need to be brought into an age where they are modernize. I feel suffocated dressed like this, but I do it because we are Kari. We have a responsibility to our family. So no matter how much I hate it, I will modernize, little by little until there is nothing left of the Zen Kari I am. You are the future Elder of the Kari, that means sacrifice. You and I, we have to forget who we are and become what the family needs. That is how this works.”

“I am not interested in being something I am not.”

Zen sighed, “What is really going on with you?”

“Nothing, don’t worry about it,” Tadayoshi said as he walked out on Zen.

He knew he probably should have stayed. It was just one more thing added to the very long list of things that his father was not going to be happy about, but Zen was not wrong. It was suffocation. He felt it deep in his chest and every part of his body was aching. He wanted more, so much more than being the Elder of the Kari and deep within him he had this need burning wildly.

His queen was out there. He would not fail Kazuma or himself. This time would be the last time, but he did not dare speak the words to his father. Only Tearra can see Kazuma. If Tadayoshi were to claim himself the King of the Gods he would be considered prideful like his younger brother Katsu. A position that would garner him disfavor with just about everyone. No, this required patience and time. He had to wait for her to seek him out and see him with her heart and her eyes.

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With a sigh he sat down in a chair located in the lounge, his brother Kyo passively glanced at him though not long enough to have missed a step in his reading, “Did you tell father you are not interested in marrying that girl?”

“I told him.”

“I take it by that distant look in your eyes that it did not go as well as you had hoped.”

“Am I being unreasonable? Is it wrong to want more?”

“Desire is a weakness. When a Kari man allows himself a moment of losing control it can consume his entire life. That is why there is only one woman for him. I am telling you stuff that you already know though. If there is someone within your heart Tadayoshi, you need to make it clear to father.”

“I wish it were that simple.” He could not tell anyone, not a single member of his family that he was Kazuma. Telling his father that he was waiting for his queen would upturn the balance and stability of the Kari. The position he held as the future Elder of the Kari required him to not be prideful. He must at all times think only of the Kari. Only Tearra could claim him the King of the Kari that was how it worked.

“Is there something you want to tell me?”

Tadayoshi considered his brother’s question. There was a moment that he thought that Kyo might actually be aware that he was Kazuma, but he never spoke as much, “No, nothing.” Changing the topic he asked, “Isn’t your school having a dance?”

“If by a dance you mean a social function where the boys stand on one side of the room and the girls from that private school stand on the other side of the room. We spend the first hour staring at each other and talking amongst our own sex because not one of us has the balls to approach the girls without being thoroughly intoxicated. Then, yes though once the punch is spiked it is more likely to become a dance.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“Sarcasm from you is like a sex talk from the Pope.”

“I am pretty sure a statement like that might be sacrilege to Christians.”

Kyo laughed, “Now that sounds more like my brother.” Pausing a moment, Tadayoshi noticed that Kyo had closed his book and was focusing completely on him, “Your emotions have been all over the place lately. One minute you are happy the next minute angry. I wish you would talk to me.”

Had there been a moment when he should have said something it was probably that one, but with as many siblings as they had it was not as though they were ever alone for long.

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“I hate this when exactly are we doing this picture? I have things to do.” Both Kyo and Tadayoshi drew their attention away from each other, settling it upon the oldest of Azu’s daughters, their sister Nala. With her was the youngest son, Sorano. The lack of response from the two of them caused her lips to purse, “I interrupted.”

“No, not at all.”

Even though Kyo had tried to play it off as though they were not in some deep conversation, it was obvious to Nala that they were, “The joys of having siblings. One too many huh, Tadayoshi? Just think, in a month you will be back in America attending college and you will have all the peace and quiet you want. I envy you.”

“Couple more years…”

She sighed dismissing Kyo’s response, “Being a man within the Kari must be so nice. Having options, power, respect. You get to do whatever you want….”

“Don’t speak on things you don’t understand Nala,” Tadayoshi snapped.

“Things I don’t understand? Whatever Tadayoshi, the only thing I have to look forward to is popping out babies and devoting myself to some man that probably won’t even appreciate me. If you will excuse me, Sorano is getting fussy.”

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The two Kari men remained silent as they watched their sister wander off with the small Kari child in hand. Sighing Kyo spoke, “That was uncalled for.”

“I didn’t mean to snap.”

“You do not mean to do a lot of things lately, but you have been. Whatever it is Tadayoshi, just tell father.”

“I can’t.”

“Then get control of yourself and accept that things are as they are and there is nothing you can do to change them,” Kyo responded as he walked away.

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Tadayoshi sighed as he grumbled under his breath. This was not a memory he wanted to think about, “I thought Kari men did not lose control?”

Turning quickly toward the voice he found himself face-to-face with Miroku Tylo. There was a small part of him that felt slightly annoyed as he rubbed the back of his neck as he asked, “Did your daughter send you?”

“No. Zen asked me to stop by any time. He said he had something he wanted to speak with me about. The receptionist said to come right up, but it would appear I found the wrong office.”

“I see.”

“Are you going to tell me which defeat you have suffered recently to put that look upon your face.” Tadayoshi had not responded. He was uncertain what to say so the part of him that was frustrated said nothing, “Regretting your decision?”

He had told Zen that he did not care what Tationy did, but that was not the truth. He felt unwanted emotions bubbling inside him as he stared at her father, “I might have made a mistake.”

“Humans tend to do that,” Miroku responded as he stepped further into the office of Tadayoshi, “It is not too late to fix it.”

“Isn’t it?” Tadayoshi kept his eyes focused on Miroku and for a time said nothing, “Tell me something, Miroku. Do those cursed eyes of yours actually see anything?”

Bowing his head Miroku responded, “They see many outcomes, it does not mean they will happen and knowing them does not mean you can change them. I saw many times the path I would walk and I still ended up walking it. Our fate is in our own hands. We make our own mistakes and choose our own paths.” Tadayoshi considered Miroku’s words silently, “Why did you never tell anyone you are Kazuma?”

His question surprised Tadayoshi, “Kari men are filled with pride enough without shouting to anyone that will listen that they are the King of the Gods. No, to do so is considered quite shameful among the Kari. Only Tearra’s eyes can see the King. She is the only one with the power to announce him.”

“Her standing at the side of your son must have been quite a blow to you.”

There was an unwelcome pause, “It was unexpected. I didn’t always make the right decisions.”

“I won’t judge,” Miroku responded. Perhaps it was the unwelcome silence that followed that caused Miroku to ask, “Do you want to talk about it?”

Tadayoshi was almost grateful for the distraction that Miroku provided, “Actually, I would.”

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The two men sat together again that silence overtook them. Tadayoshi at first thought that it was alright just like this. It was not necessary for either man to speak, but eventually he did find himself asking, “What was she like before all of this?”

“I suppose that depends on which age you are asking about. When she was little she was quiet, dutiful, caring; my precious daughter. All I ever wanted to do was keep her safe, suppose I failed miserably in that regard seeing I was the one that told her to go back to him. What kind of father does not even ask his daughter what is wrong when he knows she is in pain?”

“I won’t judge. If we are being frank, I am probably the reason Hiko became that monster. Sons learn their bad habits from their fathers. I was not exactly the best role-model on how to treat people. Tationy mentioned that she thought you had a girlfriend and Zen confirmed you were with someone. Is this a recent development? I was unaware that you and Chilè were no longer together.” Tadayoshi’s eyes shifted toward Miroku’s hands, noticing how he absently rubbed his fingers. It was a habit and a telling one. “I apologize, I should not have asked.”

“No, it is alright. Chilè has always done as she pleased. Officially, we have been separated for about four years.”

“And unofficially?”

“Since the day we met.”

“I am sorry.”

“Don’t be. Tylo men and women fall hard and admittedly it is difficult for us to bounce back, but not impossible. I wasn’t what she wanted. I knew that, even if I was unwilling to acknowledge it. As for my ‘girlfriend’. We are seeing where things go. She is young though and young people definitely move at a different pace.”

“I noticed.”

“She told me what happened.” Pursing his lips Tadayoshi frowned, “She practically gave herself to you and you turned her down, why?”

“When a Kari man marries it is for life. The woman that he gives himself to, is everything. All of him. Every dark part that he cannot share with anyone else, he can with her. My father wanted me to marry and I didn’t want to. I tried fighting it, but in the end, I just let him arrange a marriage for me. I had no desire to be with Ako. She found me intolerable and I felt the same. We were incompatible. Maybe it was that way because I was already waiting for my queen or maybe I simply had no interest. At this point, it probably does not matter which. I had no desire to share myself with her, but your daughter….” Tadayoshi paused as he took a breath, closing his eyes a moment, before saying, “I feel a beast inside me when I am around her. She cannot possibly understand how hard it is for me to keep my distance.”

“You’re afraid.”

“Yes. I don’t want to hurt her, but I have to wonder if Hiko learned all of his bad habits from me. I admit, there are times when I look at her that I want to take her and force her to see me. The taste of her mouth is haunting me. I hate seeing her in pain. I hate knowing that she is thinking about Hiko. I feel so selfish when I look at her and see Tearra. How am I suppose to love her when all I can see is my queen?”

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“That explains your tension and frustration,” Miroku responded, “To be frank, I think she would prefer you took her.” Tadayoshi found himself staring at Miroku’s face stunned silent, “After she met Hiko, she talked often about how much she hated him. He was always dragging her here or there with no regard to how she felt about it, yet she never once put up a fight. Certainly she protested, but not in any convincing manner that would tell your son she was not interested. This is how she is. Many might think it is a flaw in her character that she allows a man to lead her and ignore her wishes, but it is nothing so submissive. If she wants to be heard, Tationy certainly has a voice that can reach you. You have to be willing to listen though. Which you haven’t been.”

Tadayoshi considered Miroku’s words. As he thought back on what he knew of Tationy and Hiko he realized that Miroku was right, he was always leading, but were there times when she voiced against him? If there were he knew of none and how did he respond? These were questions he wanted to know the answers too, “What do you mean I haven’t been?”

“She didn’t want this year apart. You did. Don’t tell me it is for both of you because we both know it isn’t.” Tadayoshi noticeably sighed, “Do you want her to give up on you?”

“It probably would be better if she did. I am old enough to be her father.” Miroku arched a brow which caused Tadayoshi to quickly apologize, “Forgive me. It was not intended as an insult. Not that the two of us can be compared there cannot be more than tens years between our ages and yet you look so much younger than I do.”

“My grandfather was half Ishi,” Miroku responded.

“That explains your youthful appearance. I am almost jealous that you can move through the world never aging.”

“Just because I look young does not mean I feel it. Really, if someone judged me by how I looked, how old I am, or anything so superficial I would not want to be around them. Tationy is not vain, such things do not matter to her, you should know that. I suppose the reason you mentioned it though has nothing to do with her and more about you. You are quite insecure about your age.”

“She has her whole life ahead of her.”

“So do you. The two of you could have many good years together, if you really want them. Of course there is one obstacle in your way.”

“What would that be?”

“Kin is in love with her. You are not giving the two of you time and space, but instead you are pushing her to him. Is that really what you want? A year from now the two of them might be married, have children on the way, be living in another country. I cannot tell you what to do, but if you want any chance of happiness with her, then you need to go to her and instead of a year apart tell her you changed your mind and want a year together.”

“Miroku…”

He was quickly interrupted so Tadayoshi remained silent while Tationy’s father finished speaking, “Think of it this way. You take a year apart anything could happen; one of you could die, meet someone else, and there is nothing you will be able to do about it. If you spend a year together, you can get to know each other. Allow a relationship to grow between you. If by the end of the year you both decide that it is not working you separate and move on. A year is a long time, Tadayoshi. You should be working on forming a healthy adult relationship with one another now not waiting to see what happens.”

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Tadayoshi stared at Miroku, “Do I really seem as though I am pushing her away?”

“Yes.”

“That was not my intent. I want her to be happy and healthy. After all she has been through, there are many things she needs to overcome. It is not fair of me to expect her to get over them so easily and move on with me. I thought I was being understanding.”

“Young people do not see it like that.”

“Is that so?”

“When she told me Kin invited her and the boys to go on this Christmas trip to visit his parents I asked her if she thought it was a good idea. She told me it wasn’t, but if things happened between her and Kin it would not be such a terrible thing. That it would be nice to feel wanted and he loved her. A girl cannot ask for much more than that. She asked you not to give up on her, but she feels you are doing just that. With all she has been through she will do exactly what I would and did; drown herself in whatever makes her forget. My vice was alcohol, what do you think hers is?”

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Tadayoshi silently contemplated Miroku’s words. He understood what he was saying and the more he thought about it he was certain he had made a mistake which simply irritated him more. “I see you found him,” Zen said breaking up the silence. “Did you speak?”

Tadayoshi stood and Miroku followed suit. He realized much to late that Zen was not speaking to him, “We did.”

“Did the two of you plan this?”

“It was nothing like that. I did stop by to speak to Zen and he mentioned in passing that you were in what he described as a foul mood.”

Pursing his lips a moment he directed his attention completely on Zen, “I am sure he did.”

“You should probably get that jet of yours fueled up or whatever it is they do to it. He is going to be leaving,” Miroku responded to Zen and Tadayoshi quickly turned his attention on the father of Tationy. “He is pretty stubborn, but men of pride are not content sitting around and waiting for their mistakes to solve themselves.”

Tadayoshi sighed, a very brief smile was hinted in his eyes. He got it. As much as he wanted to be mad at both Miroku and Zen for their subterfuge, he needed to talk and Miroku’s directness and insight was exactly what was needed, “I will make the preparations.”

“Are you going to be able to handle things here without both me and Kin?”

“Whom do you think you are speaking too?”

Tadayoshi briefly laughed, “You are right that was a foolish question. I shall be leaving then to pack. Miroku it was good to see you. Thank you.”

“You do not have to thank me, just tell my daughter how you feel and let her decide. Don’t make the decision for both of you.”

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Tadayoshi had grabbed his overnight bag from his house, which he always kept packed just in case. He spent most of the plane trip reading when he was not distracted by his own thoughts. An unexpected emergency landing forced a small layover in Spain due to weather over the Atlantic Ocean. He had planned on staying at the airport, but he found himself grabbing a taxi and making a rather unexpected visit, “Does the dress feel comfortable?”

“It does.”

Tadayoshi stood near the door watching the woman as she sighed deeply, “I just, don’t know how I feel about it.”

“I adore it. It is stylish and unique.”

“Thank you Tsubaki, but I sometimes feel I am repeating things seen a hundred times. I keep telling myself that I am not competing with Mai, but here we are. I wonder if it is another failure.”

“Is this the style of clothing worn by young women these days?” Tadayoshi found himself asking.

Both women drew their attention toward him and he could tell that the woman with the lovely ebony skin recognized him; though he was uncertain who she was. The other woman shook her head, “You look just like father.”

“Is that a compliment or an insult?”

“Father was always handsome, it was his insistent need to tell me that my pink lipstick and heels made me look like a whore that made him unpleasant. Forgive me though, Tsubaki Zenaku this is my brother Tadayoshi Kari.”

“It is a pleasure.”

“The pleasure is mine. I have heard a lot about you. Tationy and I know each other.”

Suddenly Tadayoshi felt uncomfortable, “I see.”

His sister must have noticed as she spoke, “Tsubaki, you can take the rest of the day off. We shall continue this tomorrow.”

“Of course, it was nice meeting you Mr. Kari.”

Tadayoshi simply gave a brief nod of his head as he waited for her to depart before directing his attention toward his sister once more.

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“So this is the studio of a fashion designer, I expected something different.”

“You have not seen me in thirty years and you want to talk about my studio?”

“No, that…” He looked away placing his hands behind his back, “I am not certain why I came.”

“Really?”

“I guess I want to understand.”

“You want to know why I left?”

“Yes.”

She gestured with her hand for him to take a seat on a nearby sofa, “What an odd thing to want to know after all of these years. I was just tired Tadayoshi. I felt suffocated. You of all people should know that feeling and understand it.”

“I was harsh with you that day. I was dealing with a lot and I took it out on you. If my words caused you to leave…”

She interrupted him as she patted the spot next to her after he had not taken it. This was how Nala was.

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Tadayoshi hesitantly took a seat next to her on the sofa, “It had nothing to do with you. I had been thinking about leaving for months and when father told me I could not go out with Guiren I realized that what I wanted did not matter. He was Takahashi and simply not powerful enough to be with the daughter of Azu Kari. Then, he told me to take that lipstick off. Said his daughter was not going to dress like some common whore and I was done. Our father adored you and Resa and the rest of us were his prideful children that shamed him. Katsu was so boastful that he got himself ousted from the family company, Kyo was too consumed by passion and he allowed himself to be taken in by a Maiba, and I was the Kari jezebel, promiscuous and sinful. I wish I would have been there when Sorano died, but I never blamed you. Have you been carrying this guilt over that fight all of these years?”

“I thought you were still mad.”

“Not at all. I have simply been living my life and enjoying it. I mean look at me. I am wearing pants Tadayoshi. Can you imagine what father would say? No daughter of mine is going to pretend to be a man,” She laughed, “He was so traditional. Look at you, dressing just like him. Is this really you or is it him? Do you even know anymore?”

“I was not really given a choice in the matter. You left that day, a few months later Kyo brings Eri home, Sorano dies, Katsu’s became far more prideful, and father just got sicker. I did what was expected of me thirty years ago. Fifty-two years of having this life ingrained within me, I don’t know anything else.”

“You know something else, so tell me about Tearra.”

Tadayoshi tried to hide his surprise, “How do you…”

“Resa visits about every two months. You know she is such a mother hen. I think now that her thirteen kids are grown up she misses taking care of someone. She would let all of her kids, their wives, their husbands, and her twenty-four grandchildren live with her just so she has someone to take care of. Just the thought of having thirteen kids, so exhausting.” She paused, “I am sorry about Hiko. I kept trying to get him to bring his girlfriend to visit me when he would come to Spain, but he always said he did not want her influenced by the Kari. It is like we are some sort of contagious disease or something.”

“Aren’t we?”

“Perhaps, so tell me about Tationy.”

“She is…” He struggled to find the words.

His sister laughed softly, “You are still the same Tadayoshi; never good with women. You remember when you were sixteen and that older woman flirted with you when we were on that vacation to California? I thought you were going to die from embarrassment. I was ten and knew more about sex then you did.”

“I knew…stuff.”

Nala laughed harder, “You are definitely still the same. So tell me about her.”

“Things are a bit of a mess right now. I thought a year apart to give her time to heal was a good idea, but I am being told by everyone that it wasn’t.”

“That was what Kyo was talking about. He said you were making a mistake.”

“When did you talk to Kyo?”

“Yesterday after Kin arrived home with your girlfriend. He is not happy with you. He thinks you are purposely pushing Kin and Tationy together. Are you?”

“No, that was not my intention. Kin and Tationy are close in age. I thought…I thought she would be able to talk with him easier than she would with me.”

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Nala sighed shaking her head, “I am going to tell you something mother told me when I was nine years old. I asked her if she ever got lonely. Father was always working and when he was home he had very little to say to her. Kari talk about how they always give themselves completely to the woman or man in their life, but she always seemed like she needed someone to talk to. I always wondered if father fulfilled his obligations as a Kari man. Anyway, she said to me, ‘Sharing myself with another is the same as cheating. My heart, my soul, my pain, my fears are only to be shared with him and his with me. To do so with another, is sharing parts of my soul that should only be given to the one I love’. Your intentions might have been noble, but you have opened the door for Kin. Right now she could be sharing her entire soul with him and there is nothing you can do about it because you allowed it to happen.” She made a whimsical sigh, “You were always terrible at these matters.”

“So what should I do?”

“You are asking for advice?”

“Why does that surprise you so much?”

“Kari men don’t generally ask for advice and here my big brother is asking me for advice about women of all things. Never imagined such a moment in my life.” Tadayoshi remained quiet as she thoughtfully looked off into the distance, “Kiss her.”

“That is it?”

“Trust me, for a woman it is not as simple as it seems. When a man kisses a woman every emotion he is feeling is in that single kiss. Sometimes it speaks louder then any words. However, you need to kiss her not Tearra. If you want to make things work with her, then you know you have to let Tearra go. You are both connected through the Gods and their love, but that does not mean you have to follow their path. Oh and a gift. You definitely need to bring her something, it is Christmas after all.”

Tadayoshi stared at his sister considering that she seemed almost giddy at the prospect of helping him, “Nala, are you really happy here?”

His question caused her features to change, surprise at first, then they softened as she tilted her head as she stared at him, “I am. Thank you for asking me.”

“What about you and Guiren?”

“Oh that was just young love. I do think about him every now and again. Resa says he is a detective.”

“Do you miss Aslann?”

“Not a single bit. Please don’t worry Tadayoshi, I am living exactly the life I wanted to live. My only regret is that I did not take the time when I was with all of you to appreciate what you and the other Kari men go through. I didn’t understand, didn’t want to understand your sacrifice. I was young and all I could think about was my own selfishness and not how to improve the environment for both men and women within the Kari. You have more important things to worry about than me. So, I am going to call my assistant and have her dig through my limited edition work. She will find a perfect gift for Tationy and you are going to tell her how you feel. Don’t let this moment pass you by because you will regret it.” As she stood her fingers rested on his shoulder briefly as she added, “Try not to wait another thirty years to visit me.”

Nala’s words brought him some comfort, but he could not help wondering if it was too late for him and Tationy.

To Be Continued

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2 comments

    • Yes Nala was the one talking with Kyo and Tadayoshi in the flashback and Guiren was the detective and partner of Kiyoshi.

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