Cover art: Les Byerley
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Publisher’s note: This book was previous published in 2008 by Torquere Press. It has been revised for re-release.
Japanese police inspector Toshi and his American partner John are back in this sequel to His Beautiful Samurai. Toshi and John are still reeling from their last adventure, dealing with family issues and trying to get ready for Toshi’s uncle’s funeral. Toshi’s uncle died with a secret that’s kept Toshi tied to his family, unable to fulfill his own life.
During the funeral preparations, his uncle’s dear friend and former lover, Tokuma comes to Toshi for help. Fearing his nephew Yuzo has been kidnapped by the Yakuza, Tokuma asks Toshi and John to look into the young man’s disappearance. Their investigation takes them into the murky underworld of the Japanese mob, and eventually leads them undercover to the temple of the White Tiger, a place of spirituality, love and danger. Learning the ways of the White Tiger opens John up to his psychic ability in unexpected ways, and brings the lovers closer than they ever thought possible. Through a series of unbelievably erotic encounters, John and Toshi learn the power of their love, and begin to believe that they can overcome anything, from Toshi’s disapproving family to the mystery of the missing nephew. Can they find Yuzo before it’s too late? Sedonia Guillone is the author of His Beautiful Samurai and My Hot Muse, stories that blend high eroticism with tender characters to create unique and powerful romances.
With his eyes still closed, Yuzo rolled over to snuggle against the warmth of his lover’s body. His arms met cool sheets and empty space.
He opened his eyes and threw back the covers. “What the—”
A hand clamped over his mouth. Iron strength gripped Yuzo from behind, pinning his arms to his body. Yuzo thrashed and twisted but the hand over his mouth had a cloth…smelled sharp. Must…get…away… Lead filled his body. So…hard…to move.
His eyelids shuttered and everything went black…
Agh… The pain in Yuzo’s head was blinding. No…he was blind! Something heavy pressed on his eyelids. He opened his mouth to yell but the same pressure filled his mouth. Seconds passed before he realized his tongue was resting against the fuzz of cloth. Blindfolded. Gagged. The reality slammed through the blackness.
Nande? What the hell was happening?
His heart began to race and sweat erupted on his skin, heating it and whatever he was lying on. He tried to shift his body, tried to get up. More restraints squeezed his wrists and ankles. Spread-eagled, bound, and…naked, except for what felt like a light sheet covering him. He was trussed up like a chicken for the slaughter. Kuso! Shit!
Think, Yuzo think. He heaved several breaths around the gag and forced himself to relax. After all, a calm mind in the midst of turmoil was what Kiku had been teaching him at the White Tiger, wasn’t it?
Kiku! He had to know by now that Yuzo was missing. He’d be searching for him. Just to wait and survive until then.
Yuzo listened for sounds. The occasional honk of a car horn punctuated the quiet. The low rumble of an airplane passing over. The air smelled like fish frying in oil.
Footsteps sounded from a small distance and he heard the click of a door being opened. He caught his breath, his body tensed like wires.
“Yuzo, I’m sorry.”
Yuzo’s blood froze. Was this possible? Was this fucking possible? He grunted and pulled against the bonds. Had his mouth been free he would have screamed.
“I had to do this, Yuzo. You need to learn not to talk.”
Tokuma knelt in seiza before a photograph of the man he’d loved. Seated on his heels, palms resting on his thighs, Tokuma raised his gaze to Musashi Genjin’s face. Tokuma’s heart still burned for Musashi, even though so many years had passed since they’d last lain in each other’s arms, since he’d last tasted Musashi’s kiss.
The photograph, taken in 1944 just before they’d gone into combat, showed Musashi at age twenty. He looked dashing, proud, and yet kind. His high cheekbones brought one’s gaze to his dark, soulful eyes. But it had been Musashi’s lips that Tokuma loved the most. Narrow yet full and soft, a shadow of beard around them.
A wave of longing and grief washed through Tokuma. He and Musashi had spent only brief moments together these past two years and yet, just knowing Musashi was alive, sharing the earth with him, had helped. Now, Musashi was gone, dead of a heart attack.
“I miss you so,” he whispered to the photograph. He gazed at the photograph, as if the handsome young man in the picture would answer him. “Musashi,” he continued after a long silence. “My nephew, Yuzo, is missing.”
Tokuma sighed. Before Yuzo was born, Tokuma hadn’t understood Musashi’s attachment to his nephew, Toshiro. Tokuma had held their bond responsible for damaging his and Musashi’s relationship, but after Yuzo was born Tokuma came to love his sister’s son fiercely, wanting to spoil and protect him the way Musashi did with Toshiro.
Tokuma glanced at the newspaper on the floor beside him. Tokyo Police Catch Ronin Killer the headline read. Six months ago, when the killings had begun in East Tokyo, Musashi had told him that his nephew, Toshiro, was the detective on the case.
It had been the last time Tokuma and Musashi had spoken, and Musashi had bragged of Toshiro’s great skill as a detective. Toshiro-san would be at his uncle’s funeral.
Tokuma’s chest tightened painfully. How disrespectful it was to ask Toshiro-san for his help at a time like this. Would that he had somewhere else to turn. But there was no one else.
He had visited the White Tiger himself when Yuzo did not make his regular weekly visit. The priest…or whatever he was…had told him that Yuzo had gone away on his own, not wanting anyone to know his whereabouts. Tokuma did not believe this man, Kikuchiya Fujimara. Fujimara hadn’t seemed very troubled by Yuzo’s absence and Tokuma felt in his bones the man had been lying. Tokuma’s deepest intuition told him that Fujimara knew exactly where Yuzo was. But Fujimara had once been a gnagster, a yakuza. His past was evidenced by the full body tattoos that had peeped out from under his clothing when the man had turned a certain angle. Having been an actor for years, Tokuma had become a keen observer of human beings and their body language. Only this kind of deceit and alarm could provoke Tokuma to bother Musashi’s nephew at a time of such grief. Something had happened to his beloved nephew. Maybe something terrible.
Tokuma’s heart squeezed. “Musashi, you are the only one who has known Yuzo’s secret. I believe that your nephew will not judge, if he is anything like you.” He hated revealing Yuzo’s secret, but how else could anyone search for him?
Yuzo’s parents didn’t even know their son was missing. Nor would they have cared, not having spoken with him in two years. Better that way. If his sister and brother-in-law had known about their son’s activities in the White Tiger, a gay men’s hotel that also served as some kind of spiritual community for its residents, they would have only been ashamed and locked him up somewhere so that head-doctors could poke around in his mind, heedless of the sensitive young man’s spirit.
Tokuma stared at Musashi’s photograph a moment longer. “How will I endure the remainder of my years without you, my beloved Musashi?” Speaking the question out loud made his heart ache again. He closed his eyes and bowed low, hands on the tatami, his forehead touching the floor. Words would never suffice to express all that Musashi had meant to him. Or erase the shame and pain over the way he had treated his first and only great love. How much time he had wasted because of his own selfish desires.
Tokuma straightened, resumed seiza. His gaze never left Musashi’s handsome face, his lover’s youth and beauty captured in the fading black and white photograph. Musashi would have helped him. And so, he could only hope that Musashi’s nephew would do the same.
* * * * *
The jeep ground along the sand. The endless, desert sunlight was blinding, making John’s eyeballs feel like they would melt out of his skull. Christmas in the Persian Gulf. What a joy. It was definitely time for some humor.
He turned to Private Ganz in the driver’s seat. “Hey, Ganz.”
John smiled. “You heard this one? This guy’s wife has been begging him to change a light bulb for two weeks because she can’t reach it and he just keeps saying, ‘Who the hell do I look like, Thomas Edison?’”
Ganz glanced over and John grinned back at him.
“So one day he comes home and his wife tells him, ‘I told Joe next door that if he changed the light bulb for me, I’d either give him a blow job or bake him a cake.’ The husband says, ‘Holy shit, you baked him a cake, right?’ And the wife answers, ‘Who the hell do I look like, Betty Crocker?’”
Ganz laughed. “That was a good one, Sergeant. I’ll have to tell the wife—
John felt his body sail through the air. He hit the sand with bone-jolting impact and rolled over. He recovered himself just in time to see the jeep encased in flames.
“Dan!” John scrambled to his feet, tried to get close enough to pull Ganz out, but couldn’t. He shielded his face from the blaze with a forearm, but not before he caught sight of the dark outline of a human body as flames devoured it.
“John, John, hey.” Hands on his arms shook him gently.
John opened his eyes.
Flames crackled. Orange heat blinded him, roared in his ears, devouring the jeep and his friend.
The touch on his arms remained; gradually let his mind know he’d been dreaming again.
The gentle voice began to drown out the flames. He wasn’t alone. Cool air replaced the sweltering heat.
He blinked. Each pass of his eyelids dispelled the dream a bit more. A beautiful face hovered in his vision.
Toshi. Thank God.
Toshi was sitting up with him and John could feel the other man’s hands on his biceps. In the next moment, he felt the mattress beneath him. Bed. They were in bed. He caught a glimpse of the magnificent blue silk kimono that hung on the wall opposite the bed. Toshi’s bedroom. Tokyo. Japan. Not the Gulf.
John looked at his new…lover, comforted immediately by those dark almond-shaped eyes, the high cheekbones and full, completely kissable lips. He slumped forward, sank against Toshi’s bare chest, soaking up the comfort of Toshi’s smooth skin and musky scent. Gradually Toshi’s touch chased away the hellish images of the dream.
Damn it. He’d had this dream a thousand times since the Gulf War, but that didn’t matter. It always felt too fucking real.
“It’s all right.” Toshi’s voice soothed him and John pressed his forehead on Toshi’s shoulder. Toshi embraced him.
The quiet act of resting in Toshi’s arms eased John’s mind and body fully into the present. Even though they’d barely known each other a week, the other man’s touch and voice had this healing effect on him, something he’d never experienced before in his life. He’d come to Tokyo to help the police catch a serial killer and had found more…much more. At least he hoped…
Guilt stabbed him. He lifted his head from Toshi’s shoulder and pulled away. The funeral for Toshi’s uncle was later today. Musashi Genjin had died helping his nephew solve a nearly six month serial killing spree. But because Musashi had a pre-existing heart condition, the absolutely unbelievable circumstances under which he’d died could never be revealed, leading everyone else who knew Musashi to believe that he’d simply passed away from his heart trouble.
“Toshi, I’m so sorry. I…have these dreams sometimes. It’s part of the whole aftershock thing.” He looked down, miserably aware of the way sweat covered his body, dampened his underarm hairs, beaded on the back of his neck and on his upper lip. “You don’t need this right now.”
Toshi didn’t answer. He passed a hand over John’s brow then eased him back against the pillows, covering John’s naked body with his own. Leaning his weight on his elbows, Toshi stared down into John’s face and caressed his hair with one hand.
John returned the other man’s gaze, caught as always by Toshi’s beauty, the way his ebony hair framed his angular face in sexy layers. His gaze moved downward, to the deliciously plump fullness of Toshi’s lower lip and flawless dusky gold of his skin. He stroked the hard, sinewy muscles of Toshi’s back, and delighted in the weight of Toshi’s body against his.
Toshi nudged John’s legs open with one knee and fit his body between them so that their cocks touched. His dark gaze took on a darker, hungrier look. “John, you are just what I need.”
“Shut up, okay?” Toshi brushed a thumb across his cheek then lowered his face so that their lips almost touched.
John smiled in spite of himself. “I was just going to say that waking up next to you is the second best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Toshi stirred against him. The slide of Toshi’s bare cock sent sparks of delicious friction through John’s hardening erection. If it hadn’t been for the nightmare, he’d already have a full woody.
He skimmed his hands down Toshi’s back, dappled his fingertips along the smooth furrow of muscle along the other man’s spine.
Toshi grinned. His breath pulsed warmly onto John’s lips. “Oh, yeah? And what’s the best?”
John chuckled. “I’ll show you.” He slid his palms down to the smooth skin of Toshi’s ass and squeezed. Damn, nothing had ever felt better under his hands. He gave another small squeeze, earning a sigh from his lover.
“John,” Toshi whispered and slid against him again…and again, moving his hips in a slow, steady rhythm. John’s eyelids fluttered and his body melted, sank into the mattress, the nightmare forgotten. Toshi’s mouth covered his and he answered by parting his lips for the deep kiss, swirling his tongue in lazy strokes against Toshi’s.
Toshi’s groan vibrated into his mouth and his hips rocked faster against John’s. John felt Toshi’s energy deepen, grow more raw with the craving he let loose only when they were in bed.
I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because time spent proofreading could be time spent writing.