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Once the door opened, suddenly everything came into perspective. Her heart slammed into her chest and she dropped her purse. Eyes so warm and familiar stared at her and hands pressed delicately against her stomach. Hair black as the richest ink, silver softly dusting throughout. Tears came to her eyes instantly and she couldn’t control her body as it ran towards the woman, her arms outstretched. As her arms folded across her, she let the cries inside her chest free, the tears flowing down her cheeks. 

    “Minako….” Her warm feminine scent bathed her and she inhaled sharply, cries clogging her throat. 

    “Rae!” She held on to her tightly and let the love overflow in waves around her. Minako’s hands reached out to cup her cheek. 

    “You finally came back home.” Her eyes turned to Roto and he stood up straighter, a blush creeping into his cheeks. 

    “You have finally grown into a man I can respect.” He bowed lowly, hands pressed flat against his thighs. 

    “Dozo Dozo. Come in, please.” She waved her hand towards her and she hooked her arms around her as she led her inside the home. 

    “Is this your house?” She asked, taking a look around the place. 


    “What do you do?” Mina smiled, wrinkles forming at the corners of her eyes. 

    “I have a topiary garden and make small trinkets for tourists.” 

    “That’s awesome.” She hugged her closer. 

    “My brother specializes in decorative sword making and makes them here as well.” 


    “It is something my family has done for generations. How fitting that now we can do the same like generations before us.” Mina stopped walking and sighed contently, taking in her from head to toe. Eyes twinkled. 

    “You’re different now Rae. You glow.” She blinked, heat growing in her cheeks. 

    “I do?” Minako grabbed her hands and squeezed gently. 

    “Yes. Your spirit no longer reeks of grief, hurt and abandonment. Now it is full of joy, certainty, and promise. You left me a little girl, hurt and bruised from the world. Now you return to me a woman who knows who she is.” She eyed Roto who stood behind her. 

    “How can I thank you for bringing my daughter back to me?”

    “Your smile is enough for me Mina-dono.” She reached for him. 

    “You are so very kind.” Gently cupping his cheeks, she kissed his forehead. 

    “Let me show you around.” She grabbed the both of them and took them outside into the one of the many gardens. A girl who had her arms spread, legs in a walking motion, dress stopping just below her ankles caught her attention. All around her, there fluttered carved butterflies of different colors, trimmed to imitate movement.

    “Mina…you made these?”

    “Mm. This one is inspired by you.” 

    “What does this represent?” 

    “It represents the innocence and beauty of a girl, her spirit as free as the wind.” 


    “I created it a few years ago. I never told anyone what it truly meant… not even my husband.” She blinked. Wait…

    “You remarried?” Minako blushed prettily. 

    “Yes.” Rae lit up. 

    “Who don snatched up my Mina-chan?” Minako waved her hand, having grown embarrassed. 

    “Rae-chan… please.”

    “I got to see him!” She blushed deeper.

    “We’ll meet him soon.” 


    “In the meantime, we must sit down and talk.. it’s been so long.” She wrapped her arms around her and together, they all went outside through the back shoji. The smell of iron hit them and out in an alcove, there was a man who lifted a large hammer and pounded the hot metal. 

    “Rae-chan, Hiroto-kun, this is Shigure, my brother.” He paused at hearing his name. He looked at them both with an uncanny air of familiarity. 

    “Shigu-chan, this is Rae and Hiroto.” He put down the hammer and wiped his forehead, his hands and clothes black with soot. 

    “Hello.” Hiroto spoke up, bowing. He bowed his head to them both. 

    “Hello. Finally, I get to meet you both. Minako has told me so much about you two.”

    “Yes. Mina-dono took very good care of her.”

    “Now that she is back, all is right.” Minako said with a smile.

    “She is a pretty young woman. I can tell that your love nourished her Minako.”

    “Hello, I’m still here!” The men cleared their throats and Mina chuckled. 

    “Sorry…Shigu says hello.”

    “It’s nice to meet you Mr. Hifune.” Shigure blinked in surprise, a small smile coming to his face. 

    “You know Japanese?” He asked, voice heavily accented. 


    “Ah, good. Nice to meet you.” She bowed and waved goodbye as Mina pulled her along. Green surrounded them everywhere and it was dreamy, such life beheld there. All around, she feasted on the art Minako had created throughout the years, all complex and thoughtful in their own way. 

    “I was down in my studio working on another piece..forgive if I look dirty..” She looked at her, a serene smile on her face. 

    “It’s okay. We came unannounced.” 

    “Let’s sit here.” They came to small wicker stools, surrounded by a decorative waterfall and flowers. Minako leaned forward, her elbows on the table surface.

    “Tell me all about you Rae-chan.. how you have been.” She licked her lips, clearing her throat.

    “Well, so much has happened in the last year and a half so I wouldn’t even know where to start. Let’s see..I’ll start from the beginning.”

    “Mm. Please.” 

    “After I left Japan, I moved back in with my family. Because I left in the middle of the school year, I hadn’t completed my senior year.”

    “Your parents put you in another school?” She looked over at Hiroto, who had asked the question. She nodded with a smile. 

    “Yeah, they put me in Bedford Academy High School. It’s one of the best schools in New York.”  Both of them were astonished. 

    “Wow!” She linked her fingers together. 

    “I will give Shaundra and Kendrick credit, they made sure I continued with the best education I could have gotten. For that, I am thankful.” 

    “They are now just Shaundra and Kendrick?” Minako asked, her smile turning into a small frown. 

    “Yes. They are just that.” 

    “I cannot wait to hear how you got there.” She licked her lips and continued, 

    “After I graduated from Bedford, I entered as a business and marketing major at New York University.”

    “That’s awesome…” Roto spoke up, impressed. 

    “Didn’t know your girl got down like that didja?” She playfully stuck out her tongue. Minako eyed the two, her tea cup pressed against her mouth. Slowly, her lips formed a smile. 

    “What did you do after college?”    

    “I interned for a company by the name of Affinity.”


    “The CEO at the time liked me so much that he made me a permanent employee.”

    “That’s amazing! Do you still work for Affinity?” 

    “No…I quit.” Minako’s eyes grew wide. 

    “Why?” She glanced at Roto, who sat up straighter.

    “He was working with a man by the name of Peter Lugiano. Have you ever heard of him?” Minako’s face grew sour, her lips pinched tight. 

    “I know who he is.” 

    “They kidnapped me a while back.” Minako balled her hands into fists, anger settling on her features. 

    “Kidnap you?” She nodded. 

    “Why? What did they want?”

    “They wanted me for different reasons. But primarily, it was to get me away from Hiroto. By any means necessary.”


    “Yes.” She shook her head, fingers tight on the table surface. 

    “Disgusting.” She sighed and sat back in her chair. 

    “I took both of them to court and both of them got life in prison.”

    “Good. Very good.”

    “They did horrific things to me and so many others.. I had to put an end to it.”

    “For that I sure they will be grateful..” For a while, she watched Minako, who had turned to look out at the waterfall. She didn’t say anything for a while. When she did finally speak, it nearly shocked her. 

    “The man you knew as father is a mystery.” She blinked.

    “How so?” Finally, aged eyes turned to meet hers. 

    “He too worked with evil man. He worked with Peter. And I knew them both..” She grew still.

    “May I ask how Mina?” Suddenly, Minako grew tense, almost as if what she was about to say was uncomfortable.

    “I knew his father via my father.”

    “What did your daddy do?”

    “He dealt with underworld. Oftentimes, he did deal with the American mafia.”

    “How’d you meet Peter?” Mina licked her lips. 

    “I met him occasionally during deals. Very cold. No regard for human life.” 

    “How old was he?”

    “He was just a young boy at 7 years old. Then, I was 19.” 

    “And what was his father like?”

    “He was big boss for gang. He killed people without blinking. Deadly man.”

    “How did Kendrick get involved with them?” Minako sighed. 

    “That I do not know. This is so unlike the Kenny I remember.” 

    “Kenny?” Minako tightened her grip on her fingers.

    “Your father and I met in college..” Eyebrows knit together. 

    “I’m sorry?”

    “We were both going to University of California at the time. He was studying business and I was studying art.”

    “Whoa.” Mina nodded. 

    “We became friends one day by accident and soon after we were inseparable.” Mina smiled as she reflected on it. 

    “Kenny was always sweet to me and always funny. He stayed out of trouble.”

    “He sounds like such a good guy.” 

    “He was. We remained good friends throughout the years and when he met and married Shaundra, I couldn’t have been more happy for them.” Head spinning, her tongue stuck to the top of her mouth. 

    “Even though he asked me to watch over you, the whole thing still makes me bitter. How they could agree to damage a child…he knew Peter Lugiano was malicious. To agree to give you to him…it puzzles me. I do not understand.” She sat there trying to wrap her mind around it all… How had ‘Kenny’ turned into the man he was? What had gone wrong? Licking her lips, she spoke quietly, 

    “I can’t understand it either. But…I do thank him for making me come here. So much of this place is me and I wouldn’t have ever known it if he hadn’t been acting stank.” 

    “I am glad I was able to meet you and care for you too.” She reached for her hand. 

    “I am so blessed that God brought us together. You are truly the only mother I ever had.” Tears misted Minako’s eyes and she squeezed her hand. 

    “Through you, I was able to become a mother again. You gave me back something precious Rae-chan.” 

    “That’s so sweet to say.” Mina smiled, vision watery. 

    “When I lost my daughter and first husband…I didn’t think I would be able to be normal. You made me feel wanted again.” 

    “Mina…” She pat her cheek, which had grown damp and cleared her throat. 

    “Now, you and Hiroto-kun…how did you two come back together?” She smiled to herself, glancing at him.

    “He came to the States intent on gettin me back. And only by God’s doin, we met at one of Affinity’s galas. I was not ready for him. So naturally, I fought him so hard Mina. I didn’t want anything to do with him.” She laughed softly, pressing fingers to her mouth. 

    “Yes, I too was angry with him. I could not believe he hurt you the way he did. But, he was young. You were young too. Mistakes easy to make.” 


    “How long did you make him wait?” 

    “A whole year and a half. We fought tooth and nail…discovered a deeper bond between us…and finally came full circle.” Mina eyed Hiroto. 

    “You are a very sincere young man. Just as you were as a child.” His cheeks blossomed in a blush. She took his hand and gently squeezed it. 

    “I believe it was you that told me that if I truly wanted her, I would wait.”

    “Ah..I did.”

    “She was worth the wait then and she is worth it now.” 

    “Aw babe..”

    “Yes, this is good..” Mina said with a bright smile as she slowly stood up. 

    “Time has repeated and now you two are right where you belong.” They stood, Hiroto’s fingers gently curled around her waist. 

    “Speaking of love…Mina-chann….” Ah, there was the infamous blush that lit up her entire face. She was so cute. Still a girl at heart. 

    “Oh..ah…yes my darling? Ah…well…” She pressed a hand to her cheek and her heart warmed. She was so precious, love’s light glowing bright within her. 

    “I never thought I would remarry. I loved my first husband too much.”

    “So how’d you two meet?” 

    “Ah…well we were friends.. very long time friends. He came unexpectedly and helped me heal from the pain. Haru-chan showed me that I could love again and that it was okay to love again.” Haru-chan hm?

    “Now I have to meet him.” 

    “You have your chance… he comes now.” She damn near broke her neck turning around. At the sight of the man walking up to them, her jaw dropped. Oh… Tall and lithe, the man had a few sprinkles of grey in his hair as well, hair that was pulled back into a bun. A neatly trimmed beard and strong but gentle hands. He wore casual clothing, his essence that of wood, gold and rain. She stood up as Minako damn near skipped over to him. 

    “Haru-chan, this is Rae…my daughter.” Soulful brown eyes turned to her. 

    “So I’ve heard. How are you my dear?” 

    “I’m well thank you. You’re the man who swooped up my Mina hm?” He smiled, his face soft. 

    “I suppose you can say that.”

    “I want deets. How long y’all known each other? Been friends? All that.” She said, a small grin on her face. Haru chuckled to himself. 

    “She sure is inquisitive.”  

    “You with my mama. I have to be.” He rubbed the back of his neck, looking at Roto who just grinned, enjoying the show. 

    “I knew her in high school a long while ago. We had been friends and lost touch soon after. I happened by her one day at a mini mart, unbeknownst to me that she had had a family. We stayed in touch and a few years ago rekindled a relationship.”  

    “That is how we came to be.” He gently kissed her cheek.

    “I see that you too are in love Rae-san.” 


    “Someday, you’ll become old like us. I hope you will be just as happy.” She watched the two, her breath stealing away. They radiated love. Minako had never before looked so happy. 

    “I know we will.” Roto said, finally standing. Fingers slid across her lower back. 

    “This is good. I hope to see you two again soon?” 

    “Mm.” He smiled and kissed Minako’s forehead. 

    “I’ll be back darling.”


    “It was nice to meet you.”

    “Same.” Minako’s eyes followed him as he slowly walked away from them. With a sigh, she came to sit back down. 

    “He’s a good solid man Mina-dono. Very suitable for you.” Roto spoke up softly. 

    “Thank you.” 

    “I agree.” 

    “Yes he’s got me through hard times.” She smiled. 

    “Tell me, how long are you staying in Japan?” The smile slid off her face and she grew sad. 

    “Actually, this is our last day here.”

    “Ah…I see.”

    “I didn’t tell her I was bringing her here. I wanted to surprise the both of you on our last day.” 

    “Such kind boy..thank you Hiroto.” 

    “We’ll be back though…”

    “You will?”

    “Of course! I won’t stay away too long I promise!” Eyes crinkled up in the corners and hands pressed flat against the table. Slowly, she stood. 

    “Before you go, I want to give you something.” She blinked as they stood as well. 

    “Mina, you don’t have to give me anything.” 

    “Now now, just wait here.” Mina smiled to herself before leaving them standing by the fountain. She let out a breath.     

    “She’s so happy.” She looked up at Roto, who smiled at her. 

    “It’s so good to see her again..”

    “Before we left here, I had to do this.” She gently slid fingers across his on the table. 

    “Thank you.” 

    “It’s nothing babe.” He lifted her fingers to his mouth and kissed them. She sighed. 

    “I don’t wanna leave..” His lips smiled against her skin.

    “We can always come back…”

    “Yeah. Cause I missed my mama.”

    “And she missed you too.” 

    “Ah, here.” They turned as Minako came back into the space, holding something in her hand. 

    “What is it Mina?” 

    “Turn around.” Sliding her fingers away from Roto, she licked her lips and turned, facing the waterfall. A colorful necklace came around her neck and once fastened, Minako smiled. Glancing down at it, she gasped, touching it with her fingers. Made from beautiful tensha, jade, and jasper, it stunned her. Smooth to the touch, it smelt like incense. 

    “Mina?” She just smiled, a slight blush in her cheeks. 

    “It was my mother’s. She gave it to me when I was 14.” 

    “I can’t have this.. really.”

    “Nonsense. As my mother gave it to I am giving it to you. It look beautiful on you.” Her eyes grew misty and she swallowed thickly. 

    “Thank you so much Mina..” She walked into her embrace and sighed against her. 

    “Come back soon hm?”

    “You know it.” Pressing a kiss to her forehead, Mina stood back eyes teary. 

    “Okay you two kids have to go right?”

    “Unfortunately.” Roto said, sadness entering his tone. 

    “I don’t worry. You come back. Hiroto..” He stood tall and straight. 


    “Don’t break her heart again. She nor I can handle it.”

    “I wouldn’t dare make the same mistake again Mina-dono. Rest assured, it will not happen again.” Lost in translation, she just watched the two of them curiously. Minako reached out and gently laid her hand on his cheek. 

    “I believe you. Please Hiroto-kun… take care of her.” 

    “With my life I swear to you that I will.” Minako smiled and gently took back her hand. 

    “Rae-chan…I will give you my address. Please mail me anytime!”

    “O-okay. No phone?” 

    “Ah no. I don’t particularly like those things. They confuse me.” She laughed. 

    “Okay then I will mail you!” 

    “Come then, this way.” She slid her fingers through hers and she led them towards the front to front of the house. 

    “Wait here.” Minako left but for a moment. Returning, she held a piece of paper with neatly scribbled Japanese on it.

    “My English grew bad. Hiroto-kun translate for you?”

    “Of course.” He answered gently, bowing his head. 

    “Good.” Turning, she found a man standing near the back of the room, off to the side. 

    “Watanabe, please show them out.”

    “Yes ma’am.” 

    “Watanabe show you out. Take care for now!” She felt tears well back up and she hugged her tightly… once more. 

    “I see you soon Rae..”

    “Very very soon.” Minako kissed her forehead and smiled as Roto intertwined their fingers. 

    “Until next time Mina-dono..”

    “Next time..” The man came to the front and at a final wave from Minako, led them outside. Roto bowed deeply and soon they were back in the car and on their way back to the hotel. The whole drive, she held tightly to his fingers and watched him intensely. Under her scrutiny, he glanced at her. 

    “What’s up?”



    “Yeah.” A small blush worked its way into his cheeks. But he smiled, happiness radiating throughout his being.When they got back to the hotel, they gathered their things and were soon on the way to the airport. How fast the time had gone… but she couldn’t wait to return. 



     The New York skyline greeted them, the noise of taxis and honking cars sunk deep into their senses. Pulling her hat further down on her head, she sighed. 

    “We ain’t in Kansas no more Toto. That’s for damn sure.” Glancing at the man who currently looked more lost than a cowboy at a mob fight, she grinned. 

    “What does that mean?” The cutest scrunch of his eyebrows made her giggle. 

    “You look so confused…”

    “You and your American sayings. I don’t understand them.” She stuck out her tongue. 

    “Well. It ain’t for you to understand.” He poked her forehead. 

    “Listen you…” She pursed her lips and at the grin that slid on his face, laughed. 

    “You silly I tell you. Come on, let’s get to where we goin.” 

    “Yeah. Let’s.” 

    “Sha’mon then.” Lugging their suitcases, they came to a black car that she recognized as belonging to him. 

    “You prepared huh?”

    “Always.” He winked at her. 

    “Mm.” Turning to the man, he bowed curtly and spoke quickly. Letting him take the suitcases, he opened the door allowing her to slip inside. Once the trunk closed, the car began to move and she leaned her head back on the headrest. Back home. At last. For now.


    “I hear you’re back in New York.”

    “You have heard correctly.”

    “And you didn’t think to call or let me know?”

    “I just did.” 

    “Did you think I wouldn’t find out about your little stunt?”

    “Ah, you mean my inheritance being returned to its rightful owner?”

    “That little bitch persuaded you to do it didn’t she?”

    “No mother, as your son, I just grew balls enough to take it back from you.”

    “Is that so?”

    “Very much so.”

    “What do you think you’ll accomplish?”

    “A hell of a lot and none of it is any of your business.” 

    “Mark my words Hiroto: You will regret this.” 

    “If you think that your words will make me fear you, you are wrong.” 

    “Very well then. We’ll keep in touch dear son.”

    “Of course dearest mother.” 



    The sunlight came up over the clouds and streamed into his window, splashing morning glory across his eyes. He winced and groaned, lifting the covers above his head. It couldn’t be time yet…not so soon. The faint buzzing of his phone made him pull the covers back down. He supposed it was time indeed to greet the world. Sighing, he groggily got up and sat on the edge of the bed, his feet slightly dangling above the ground. Messy disheveled hair fell across his eyes and he blew it up in slight frustration. He’d grown lazy and let it grow wild and free. Surely, he could not go into work with his hair like this. Licking his lips, he finally placed his feet on the ground and got up, stretching. Bones popping, he sighed deeply. Damn. He was growing old. Thirty seemed so close and his body seemed to enjoy letting him know. Pushing the hair back from his eyes and face, he grabbed his phone and with lazy eyes, he briefly scanned the screen. 18 messages. All from きこ. Pinching his lips, he pressed the phone icon and waited until she answered. 

    “Where have you been?” 

    “Is that truly any of your business?” 

    “You are my fiancé.” 

    “Noa…I’m not going to repeat myself over and over again. It is clear you cannot be made to understand what is right in front of you. I will not force myself to do this any longer.”

    “Force what Hiroto?”

    “Stop asking questions you already know the answer to.” 

    “Why haven’t I heard from you? Seriously…it’s been almost an entire four to five months..”

    “I have not wanted to be around you. You blew any chance of my being around you again.”

    “Hiro… it was a mistake…and I’m sorry. What else do you want from me?”

    “I want you to go home.” There was deafening silence on the other end. Then through the silence, a heartbroken reply, 

    “Not without you.” 

    “I have to go.”

    “Wait! Wait a minute…”

    “Goodbye.” He hung up before she could get another word in. Closing his eyes, he fell back on his bed, an arm strewn across his face. He had let this go on far longer than he should have and now it was interfering with everything. It wasn’t right to her…he knew. But it also wasn’t right to Rae. It would hurt her but she had to move on and let it and him go. She didn’t have any other choice. Licking his dry lips, he brought his phone once again into visage. A missed phone call from Rae. Funny that she would call him right after he just talked to Kiko. Very funny indeed. Pressing on her name, he deeply inhaled and waited. 


    “What’s up sweetheart?”

    “Nothin…um…good mornin.” 

    “Mornin.” There was a slight pause before, 

    “What you doin today?” He lifted, arm falling away from his eyes. 

    “I don’t have anything planned.” 

    “Do you mind if I come over?”

    “I don’t mind one bit.

    “Okay then…I’ll come over in a little bit.”


    “See you soon?”

    “Mm.” Hanging up, he slowly stood and peeled off his clothes. Best get himself together. Yawning, he stepped into the shower.


    Clutching her purse, she shifted on her other foot and waited. Standing outside the Marshall home, she pursed her lips. The only reason she had bypassed Hiroto’s house and come here was strictly to see Amee, Tre and Erica. She hadn’t talked to any of them while she had been in Japan and she figured it was only proper that she let them know she was back in town. At no answer she sighed and started to turn around when the door opened.

    “Rae?” She blinked and faced her sister, who held the door tightly, shock fresh on her features.

    “Hey A.”  Amee rushed forward, hugging her tightly. 

    “Oh my goodness! When did you get back?”

    “I been back for a couple days..” Amee let go of her and smiled. 

    “Come on in!” She smiled and stepped in, glancing around.  Shaundra and Kendrick weren’t there. Good. Erica peeked over the couch and waved at her. 

    “How was the trip?” A asked, leading her to the couch. 

    “It was amazing.” 

    “Just amazing?” She ran fingers through her hair. 

    “I never thought I’d be able to go back there and to have been able to is just…it’s a blessing.”

    “It’s home.” Amee spoke matter of factly. She sighed with a soft smile on her face. 

    “ is. So many places…even the smell in the air was missed.” 

    “No doubt your time away was much needed.”

    “It was. The first week we were there it was all business. But the next week, we had more time to reminisce.” 

    “Japan did you good Rae. You just a glowin!” Putting a hand up to her cheek, she licked her lips. 

    “Minako said the same thing..” 

    “You saw Minako?” Amee asked, eyes wide. 

    “Yup. Roto surprised us both with a visit on our last day.”

    “How is she?”

    “She’s doing really well!” 

    “What does she do?”

    “She has a successful business making trinket type objects for tourists and lovers of old.”

    “Oh man…” 

    “She also had a bomb ass topiary. It was stunning.”


    “On top of that, she remarried.”  A clutched her chest with a sigh.

    “Yas! She finally got her happiness!” She smiled softly. 

    “It was a long time comin but dude is pretty solid.”

    “Aw Minako..”


    “So what else went down?”

    “Roto took me to see his father and I tell you the minute I walked through the door, he was like so I need you to marry my son.” Amee burst out laughing.

    “Ebbie stop it no he didn’t.”

    “He literally sat me down and was like when you marrying him?” She couldn’t hold in the laughter. 

    “That is so funny!”

    “I can say that that man missed us together that’s for sure. He came around every durn corner just to peek and mess with us.”

    “He was gettin a kick outta y’all.”

    “I’m sayin.” She snort. 

    “Ion know Ebbie…I’m kinda with him though. When are y’all tyin the knot?”

    “Aw nawl not you too.”

    “Girl bye you know you would marry that man in a heartbeat.”

    “Yeah but we just got back together.”


    “Look, you and Shou together gon get on my nerves.” Amee stuck out her tongue as she sucked her teeth. 

    “ of the other icings on the cake during the trip was when Roto surprised me with a visit with my baby Tobu.”

    “Who Tobu?”

    “I ain’t ever told you bout Nakamura Tobu?”


    “Chile, that is my baby! In high school, it was just me him and Roto. The three musketeers. He’s such a sweetheart and was always such a good friend to me. Huh lemme show you a picture.” She reached for her phone and pulled up one of the pictures she had taken of him during their meeting. Amee’s eyes grew as big as saucers. 

    “Oh my Lord…” She giggled. 

    “Nawl you ain’t ever told me bout his fine ass. Where and when can I meet him?” 


    “I’m just sayin.”  

    “I don’t know when and where but you better behave Amee.”

    “Dang! You like a mama bear.”

    “Ya damn right. I’m protective of him.”

    “Forget it then. I get with someone you ain’t gon down jump my throat for.” 


    “How did meeting with him go?”

    “I almost brought that man to the ground.” Amee laughed. 

    “That’s a picture for sure.” She stuck her tongue out at her in return.     

    “I hadn’t seen him in forever and when I saw him I lost it.”

    “Aww. I can tell.” 

    “He teared up himself. He was so happy A. Just to be back together again… it felt so right.” Amee just looked at her intensely, only for a moment.

    “That land has nourished you and continues to do so. What it did this land never could. You radiate with the love and light from there.” She felt heat blossom in her cheeks.  

    “A…” Amee smiled and with another sigh, shook her head.

    “I’m glad you’re back and I’m glad you enjoyed your trip Ebbie..”

    “Me too.” She looked around. 

    “Where Shaundra and Kendrick?”

    “They left not too long ago. Today they anniversary.”

    “Oh.”Amee sighed. 

    “I honestly am only putting up with them because of Erica. If it wasn’t for her, I’d be out of here. The way I see it, they don’t deserve you, me or Tre.”

    “I agree 100.”    

    “I just don’t know what to do..” She squeezed her sister’s hand reassuringly. 

    “It will work out Amee. When it’s time God will move.”

    “Yep just like He movin now all over you and Hiroto. It’s time you settle down with him and stop playin.” She rolled her eyes. 

    “You keep talkin bout marriage what is that about?”

    “All I’m sayin is that I truly think y’all ready for that next phase…y’all been lovin each other fifteen damn years. Time to seal the deal and be happy.” 


    “I leave it alone. Y’all ain’t ready yet for it. I get it.” 

    “I don’t know…” Amee stood up and pressed a kiss on her forehead. 

    “I won’t speak about it anymore. It’s up to you Ebbie.” She sighed and stood as well. 

    “Welp, I got to get to Roto’s house.”

    “All right. We catch up some later then.”

    “Later gator.” 

    “Bye Ebbie.” Waving to Erica, she blew them both kisses before getting into her car. Sighing, she got on the freeway and headed towards Roto’s place.


    Putting his hair up in a slicked back bun, he sat down at his low table, tapping fingers against his knee. Looking at his computer screen, he sighed in frustration. He’d been staring at it for the past couple of hours and his eyes had grown strained and tired. A knock at his door grabbed his attention. 

    “Rae?” He called, getting up. 


    “Come on in.” The door opened and she gingerly stepped inside, smiling as she set her gaze on him. 

    “Hey.” She said, faint blush on her cheeks. 

    “Hey yourself.” He said with a slight grin, eying her as she slid out of her thin jacket and put her purse down.

    “Where’d you go before here?” He asked as she came to sit down next to him on the couch.     




    “How is she doing?”

    “She’s good.” 


    “How are you?”

    “I’m fine.”

    “Just fine?”

    “Well, I was thinking about a new business strategy for this upcoming year.”

    “Stressin you out huh?”

    “Hell yeah.” She sniggered. 

    “My poor Roto..”

    “Hm.” She reached up and tucked some strands that had gotten loose behind his ear. 

    “You want some help?” 


    “Okay lemme look at it.” She pulled her feet underneath her as he grabbed his computer. To her surprise, she found a outline for the organization she had suggested they start.     

    “When’d you start thinkin bout this?” 

    “As soon as we touched back down in the States.” He answered calmly, taking a sip from the mug that laid on a nearby table. 


    “I was going to invite you over sometime soon so that we could discuss it in further detail. I wanted to get some main ideas down as talking points first.” She leaned back against the couch, outstretching her legs across his lap. 

    “Let’s go through what you have first.” Sienna brown eyes made her heart beat faster. 

    “Okay.” She cleared her throat as she looked at the document. Roto was looking real rugged lately. Five o’clock shadow on his jaw and hair pulled up into a significant bun, he was unusually lax. Seemed the trip to Japan had made him unwind in ways he very much needed.

    “What’s the first ting?” 

    “Well..” He had scooted over to look at the screen. 

    “I wondered where we could go to gain both support and profit.”

    “Welp… it’d definitely be with a non-profit for sure.” 

    “Mm.” Pulling her legs away from him, she moved to sit in between his legs. He smiled at the close contact and slid his arms across her waist, holding her lazily.

    “What about possible partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and Food bank?”

    “What is that?”

    “Which one?”

    “Habitat for Humanity.”

    “Habitat for Humanity caters to those who do not have homes. They gather people, oftentimes in the community to come and built houses. They do it because everyone deserves to have a place to call their own.”

    “That is amazing.” 

    “I agree. By partnering up with them, that would be a easy way to engage and motivate the young kids.”

    “And also allow them to escape from their troubles safely.”

    “Exactly!” He rested his chin on top of her shoulder.

    “I think the food bank is a good idea too. Perhaps we could also make them homemade items too?” 

    “How could we do that?”

    “I’m sure there are those who wouldn’t mind.”


    “And what of this: each homemade meal has something from a specific place?”

    “Like what?”

    “If one of the kids receive an o-bento from Japan, he or she receives a special trinket as well.” 

    “Why am I thinking Minako here?”

    “We should ask her! It would be very special.”

    “I think so too! That’s an awesome idea!” He bit his lips. 

    “Imagine… if we had of had something like this…how different we would have been.”

    “Yeah. But despite it all, I think we turned out just fine don’t cha think?”


    “This is a big deal and its impact will be so transformative. Thank you for even considering this idea.” He shrugged, a boyish smile on his face. 

    “Why wouldn’t I consider it?” She sat the computer on the table and closed her eyes. 

    “I don’t know…It’s just very considerate of you.” 

    “We both experienced the same thing so it makes sense as to why I would consider it. And, it reflects the direction I want Shoutoii to go in.” 

    “I think Shoutoii will only grow more respected because of it.”

    “Mm. Besides, you’re more than a simple employee to this company Rae… I keep telling you.. your opinion carries serious weight.” She felt her cheeks grow warm and looked up at him. 

    “Thank you baby.” He nuzzled her. 

    “Enough of that for now..are you hungry?”

    “Boy you know I am.” Chuckling, his eyes twinkled. 

    “What do you want?”

    “I want you to rest your hands. That’s what I want.” She gently grabbed one of them. 

    “You work them too hard Hiroto.” Massaging his knuckles and the flesh of his palm, she heard him sigh. 

    “I know.”

    “I’m gon cook for you how bout that?”

    “Careful, you might spoil me.”

    “You don already spoiled me rotten. It’s the least I can do right?” 

    “You do enough for me. I don’t need anything else.” He replied in a half silly half serious tone. 

    “Well I wanna cook for you so.” She pulled away from his warmth and stood up, stretching. 

    “Let’s ride to the store and see what my creativity comes up with.”

    “Alright.” Fingers intertwined, they headed out, stomachs awaiting something good. 


    “This is unacceptable.” Eyes watched the couple as they carried a cart full of food items to a car assumed to be hers. They observed as he helped her load up the trunk. But they narrowed as his lips touched hers briefly before they got into the car and drove away. She had only gotten in the way of what was supposed to be her fairytale and she would not allow it. He should’ve forgotten her ten years ago. 

    “This must end now.” Soon, she’d crash their little affair and get in her rightful place once again.


    She smiled, watching him as he devoured some of the mac and cheese she’d made along with ham, cornbread and greens. 

    “You eatin like you ain’t ate in ten days.”

    “I’ve been waiting for this…” He said in between mouthfuls. 

    “Slow down baby. It ain’t goin nowhere.” She said, throat full of laughter. He slowed down some, taking a drink of water. 

    “I don’t know where I was without soul food.” He said, glancing up at her. 

    “You can’t eat this everyday. I promise you, you gon get fat before you know it.” He grinned. 

    “I run enough to burn the calories.” She rolled her eyes. 

    “You crazy.” Things grew silent as he resumed eating and she watched contently, fist against her cheek. The silence was suddenly cut short as a knock sounded at his door. Brows knit together. 

    “Who that?” 

    “I’m not sure.” Getting up from the table, he opened the door and froze. 

    “Enjoying your meal?” A female voice asked in a clipped tone. Aw hell nawl. Who was this heifer? She damn near flew over to the door and peeked her head out from behind him. The woman’s eyes met hers. Kiko. 

    “What can we do for you?” She asked, putting her hand on her hip. A furious red crept into her cheeks and she pinched her lips together tightly. 

    “I’m here to talk to my fiancé. What are you doing here?” Her mouth grew dry. 

    “Noa.” She turned her eyes on him. 

    “Why is she here Hiroto?”

    “Why are you here?” She shot back, lips pursed. 

    “Noa, I want you to leave.” If she could’ve turned into a tomato she would have. 

    “Tell her to leave! I’m your fiancé! She clearly does not understand her place.” 


    “If you were going to cheat on me, at least cheat with someone worthy. She’s nothing but trash!” 

    “Stop it.” 


    “You know what? I’m not goin entertain a clueless bitch who after ten years still hasn’t gotten the memo.” 

    “Rae…” He turned around to find her going to get her things. 

    “Finally, you’re leaving…” Kiko stepped inside, arms crossed. 

    “Rae..hey.” He stopped her, sliding his arms around her waist. She was ready to fight, her nostrils flared and cheeks red with fury. 

    “She called me trash. I got her trash right here…” 

    “Baby…calm down.” He spoke lowly against her temple, pressing his lips against her skin. She swallowed thickly and gripped his forearms. 

    “Baby? Did you call her baby?” 

    “Yes he did. And?” 

    “We’re getting married and you’re wasting time with ghetto inner city filth. I don’t understand.” He inhaled through his nostrils and faced her, keeping Rae close with his hands. 

    “You are severely out of line.”

    “Let me go Hiroto.” She spoke against his back, loosening her grip on his arms.

    “I want you to hit me.” Kiko sneered, face twisted up in a scowl.

    “I’m above putting my hands on you, even if you askin for it. Queen to peasant, you ain’t worth that shit.” He let his arms drop and watched as she gathered her things.

    “Before I skip dodge, I wanna say this to you Kiko: I’m sick of empty headed materialistic bitches such as yourself who think they can use Hiroto for what he got. Y’all ain’t worthy to replace me. When you on your grown woman shit then we can talk. In the meantime, let him go cause he was never yours to begin with.” She stiffened up as she walked up to Roto and kissed him. 

    “I’ll get with you later.” He sighed and pressed his nose against her neck. 

    “Rae…don’t go. Don’t allow her that authority.”

    “Nah nah… it’s best I do. She want me to put my hands on her and I ain’t gon take the bait. I’ll just catch up with you at a later date.” He ran his fingers through his hair, the holder having fell to the floor. 

    “I’ll call you.”

    “Okay.” And like that she was gone. 


    He pinched his nose and sighed, irritation creeping up his spine.

    “Did you think I’d go away if you ignored me?”


    “No, you have been playing house with her and I don’t like it.” 

    “Allow me to put your dislike to an end.” He said evenly, his tone flat and hard. 

    “It should’ve ended ten years ago! You should’ve let her go but you didn’t!”

    “The mistake you made was in listening and trusting my mother. You foolishly allowed her to fill your head with dreams that were never going to come true.”


    “I never had any intention of marrying you. To my mother and I, you were simply a pawn willing to be used.” She grew still. 

    “What are you talking about?”

    “It’s pointless trying to get you to understand. In your selfishness, you’ve blinded yourself to the truth.”

    “Nevertheless, we can make this work. We just need to go home Hiro. Let’s go home!”

    “I think you’ve misunderstood me.” A spike of irritation rose up but he only licked his lips. 

    “I’m not going to Japan with you.” She stared at him for a moment, confusion settling on her face. 

    “If you can go to Japan with her, you can go with me.” Ah, yes.  This whole entire blow up had Eri Iwase written all over it. 

    “In my selfishness, I hurt you the same way Eri hurt me. For that and only that I will apologize. Anything else involving Rae will not get an apology.”

    “Perhaps talking to your mother will put some sense into you! I see just what she’s been talking about! That woman has made you irrational!” He chuckled, truly humored. The change in attitude made her blink. 

    “You’re very unfortunate.”


    “You may leave. Now.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder. 

    “I’ll go. But I will be keeping in touch.” Soon, she too left him and the silence was deafening. Staring at the wall blankly, he tightened his hands into fists. One final thing that would try to hinder him. Eri Iwase. Putting her to silence would prove to be the most satisfying accomplishment of his life and for that he couldn’t wait. And as proper, he would start with Miyamae Noa. What happened here today had given him new motivation to begin again. It was time for the truth to come and anyway it did was not up to him. If Eri wanted one last time to play games, he would let her. He supposed he could show some mercy before he made the killing move. After all, she was his beloved mother. Very beloved indeed.

Chapter End Notes:


A/N: HEY GUYS!!!! It's been a little while!  *PARTY MUSIC* GUESS WHO MADE HER RETURN! MINAKOOOOOO!!!! I loved writing her again! In my mind, she has aged so beautifully and gracefully! God has truly blessed her and she deserves it so much!! Glad to see she allowed her gifts to make room for her! Who knew that Minako was handy with shears?! Loved every minute of the reunion! (Just a side note: the suffix -dono is a term showing the highest level of respect outside of calling one royalty. Appropriately, I had Roto use it being that of aristocratic blood, not only does he know what it means and what it is used for...but it speaks to the level of respect being that he holds a "commoner" or "lower status" person higher than he.) DUN DUN DUNNNNNN guess who also made her return! Kiko was bound to come back up, being that she's Hiroto's unfinished problem. Many of you may ask why has he waited so long? Why not just end it? Trust that I have a method to the otherwise seemingly long dragging out of Miyamae's presence in his life. Now, why Saikai Suru as title? In Japanese, it means "to start again" "meeting again" "reunion" and to "reunite." Not only did Rae reunite with Minako (and all those very dear to her), Roto also united with Kiko and in turn something will be started because of it. ON A SIDE NOTE, THIS WOMAN WILL BE BROUGHT TO AN END ONCE AND FOR ALL. She been a pain in everybody side! With repetitive talk of marriage, I wonder... what will the two decide? *rubs chin and grins* This was a pleasure to write and I hope you all enjoy it! 


Till next time, 

Shine bright in the sky, bright and yellow 

Be renewed in your mind and spirit! 

D&L <3


Picture of Minako husband (<3): 

Tony Thornburg: 

Tetsuji Tamayama as Shigure Hifune: 

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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.