Title: Ten Yen
Author: Christina St. Clair
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Amaya and Joumi meet, a few years after WW II has ended, at an American party in Tokyo. It’s not easy to be a conquered Japanese citizen. Both have done things to survive that they regret.Joumi and Amaya immediately form a bond, but it is to be a stormy relationship with many inner demons to overcome if there is to be any hope of a lasting connection.The story incorporates accurate historical details about life in post-war Japan where people learn how to embrace defeat in ways that bring about love, community, and triumph. It is the prequel to Ten Yen True where a Buddhist monk brings healing to westerners he has never met.
Amaya came out of her reverie. Yokatta koto, my goodness, the Japanese man looked as if he intended to approach her. She needed no patron these days. She was glad when people stepped in front of him and got in his way. Still, she always kept her options open. Amaya slipped past the people, coquettishly lowering her eyes and fluttering her eyelids theatrically. After a suitable interval when she was standing directly in front of the guy, she gaily smiled up into his enthralled eyes. For a moment, saying nothing, she merely sized him up, keeping the pretty smile on her face, strongly aware of his masculine scent. His presence, in spite of his lanky height, reminded her of a samurai. Better still, she thought to herself, he is a Buddha. He certainly has the ears. "You," she said, reaching a tiny hand toward his lapel, and gently straightening his tie. "I will call you my Ookii Mimi!"
~ * ~
Joumi couldn’t help but grin down into her exquisite face. To be nicknamed Big Ears seemed quite a complement. He certainly did have some money, as people believed about men with long earlobes but not because he was lucky as they surmised. No. He’d worked hard and ruthlessly to earn every yen. "What might I call you?" he murmured, bowing to her deeply. As he straightened, he intentionally moved closer to her, his hair grazing her cheek. He could smell a faint fragrance of koh and wondered if she burned incense to the gods or had perhaps been recently in a temple. "You are a living incarnation of Amaterisu," he said sincerely.
"You may call me Amaya. That is my real name." She daintily covered her mouth with one hand and giggled. "If we are to be friends, you will soon find out I am not the goddess you wish me to be."
Her face made-up as perfectly as a Geisha was not painted with the traditional white rice powder, but rather glowed with health. He suspected beneath her makeup her skin was healthy brown, perhaps even tanned. "Let me take you to dine somewhere more suitable than this place." He waved his hand dismissively towards the food tables. "Unless you prefer a cheeseburger?"
"I don’t even know your name," she responded, enjoying their game.
"I am Joumi, Amaya," he said, tasting her name on his tongue. "If you are to be my Amaterisu, you must indeed call me Ookii Mimi."
"Perhaps." Amaya’s eyes gleamed with delight. Did he think she could be bought? Somehow she thought he would not attempt anything so brutish. "Let us go somewhere more private where we can get acquainted properly. My place or yours?"
Joumi hid his surprise. Surely not. Was she propositioning him? How very flattering, he thought. "Why, yours," he said, and wished he’d said his house, but he did not ever bring women into his spotless home, preferring to fulfill his needs with local prostitutes in Nerima-ku, the last of the twenty three wards recently formed to satisfy the occupiers’ intention to turn Japan into a democratic state.
Amaya hid her irritation with this man. He was no big-eared Buddha, holy and beyond physical needs! She couldn’t imagine why she’d so impulsively invited him to her flat. Even the men she played around with weren’t allowed there. Hotels were good enough for them.
Joumi watched Amaya’s sudden look of disappointment, and felt his heart shrivel. He didn’t want her to be a high-class prostitute...