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Falling by Stella Mira

Wolf Bite

An hour and one pound of tension. Perhaps less than an hour and more than one pound of tension. Kagome stands at the entrance of the meeting room when her tasks have been carried to completion, rigidly still, but she could very well be kneeling at an execution platform. Pressure builds and spikes, lines of high voltage, her body the perfect conductor—galvanism fueled by trepidation. Despite failure hanging over her neck, reflected on the cutting edge of twin machetes, the Board meeting progresses smoothly, business wise at least. There are incidents, insignificant to the matters discussed, yet rattling for her peace of mind…or more accurately, people.

Ogawa Kōga.

Kimura Natsuo.

Blue eyes follow her every motion—the arc of her spine as she bends to distribute the handouts, how her wrists twist when she fills the water in their glasses, the way her skirt glides over her knees as she walks to her designated position by the closed door. Blue eyes and interest—that is where the similarities between the two men end. Ogawa’s motives are facile to infer, smeared on the umbra of lust that darkens his eyes, but Kimura’s are difficult to judge, defiant of logic and instinct. Hence, Kagome focuses on him for the oddity of his reactions.

A man in his midlife is all she sees, granted a rather good midlife. He is neither old nor young, subtle lines of maturity on his features, his full build, yet still handsome, virile. Time has treated him well, money has treated him even better, but shock doesn’t suit his complexion. He stares at her for a long time then pretends she does not exist in the room. No. It is more than that. He acts as if he has never laid eyes on her, as if she is an apparition that haunts those who can actually see her.

Kagome wonders if he is that as well, a visitant of her old life, but she discards the worry while it’s still a crescent moon. Kagome will never forget the faces of each and every one of her customers at Le Roi Soleil, and Kimura is not amongst them. Curiosity gnaws at her brain with sharp-tipped teeth until the meeting concludes. The Board members exchange last words with each other before they pass by her to leave. She smiles and bows, slips into the role of a hostess, but there is no great difference in this aspect of her work.

“I never thought I’d enjoy these boring meetings, but I’ve been proven wrong.”

Ogawa Kōga’s voice is not as cocky as his grin, deep nuances, rumbles that don’t befit the young of his age, younger than even she. Kagome tilts her neck, her mouth, ignores the man in favor of the suit. The father might be the shareholder, but the representative in this meeting, the one who hammers the nail, is the son.

“Ogawa-san.”

His grin turns even cockier, laughter slinking into that rumble of voice.

“And you know my name. Someone did her homework. Eager to please the boss, are you?”

His eyes stray for a fraction of a moment toward the one he, so mockingly, calls ‘boss’, but the undertone is lost on Kagome. However colored, the word holds one meaning to her—boss.

“But call me Kōga. I feel like my dad is lurking behind my back when I hear ‘Ogawa-san’.”

He winks at her, and that truly befits his age. Suppressing the urge to sigh, Kagome relies on the subtlety of diplomacy than the female wiles of the hostess in her.

“You will have to excuse me, but I am afraid I cannot address you with such familiarity. If you will further excuse me, I have to return to my duties now.”

She makes no move to leave, merely reminds him of the time and place. Her duties are greeting the board members, not indulging their whims.

“And if I don’t excuse you?”

A challenge, outlined on the corners of his lips, on his stretched cheeks, baiting her to forgo formalities. She says nothing, stares at him with detachment—empty eyes, empty smile. His grin loses some of its arrogance but not all of it, dulled by her rejection, though not nearly enough.

“What’s a woman like you doing here anyway?”

There is such naturalness in his question that she inhales sharply, hears things he does not imply. That like you sinks its fangs into her skin with the viciousness of a wolf bite. Kagome exhales slowly, perspiration gliding down the nape of her neck in beads of sweat.

“I beg your pardon?”

He chuckles, almost too pleased with himself. “That caught your attention, didn’t it? I meant it as a compliment, though. You’re too pretty to be playing fetch for these geezers.”

Something changes then, in the potency of the air, the thickness of the tension in her blood. She feels him at her back before he even speaks—beast of a guard, smoke of dragon fire, cocoon of wings. Dragons possess a certain fondness for gold. They gather it in great masses, protect and covet it for all eternity, but she will be a fool to believe she is that gold. No, this is simply a matter of pride, Kagome tells herself even as she leans into his shadow.

“You are too young to be representing your father in such meetings, Ogawa. What is the reason for his absence?”

Belligerence secretes itself into Kōga’s grin once again, more aggression, less enticement.

“The old man is sick…his heart, to be exact. It comes with age, you know?”

He takes one step closer, always behind her, his presence heavy, his scales cool—but she burns, clothes melting into slick skin, fibers enmeshed in soft tissue. His voice slips inside the collar of her shirt, slides down her spine, cold merging with hot into vapors of sweat.

“Relay my wishes for his swift recovery then.”

“Was that the most honest you could do?”

Kagome listens to their exchange, to the sound of clenching jaws in it, suffocates on the mephitic fumes, poison and fire.

“If you have finished harassing my assistant, you may leave. The meeting is done and the exit is on your left.”

For one millionth of a second, Kagome believes she is that gold—then she swallows the poison, strokes the fire with naked hands, extinguishes the merest scintilla of that belief.

“I was just trying to get to know her. Can’t she even speak for herself? Unless she is your property or something?”

He neither confirms nor denies it…there is no such need. She knows the answer, inked on her body, etched on the left side of her back, riding from her shoulder down to the swell of her buttocks. Kōga might not be able to see the unseen, but the slash of umbrage on his mouth speaks for itself, molds the words that come forth.

“You don’t own everything, Taishō. You merely started this company, your first big step out of your father’s shadow, but people aren’t shares.”

“Is there a point to your blather?”

Such dispassion, such condescension, as if he hasn’t been dealt with an insult but a childish tantrum. It adds oil to the friction, smoothens that slash on Kōga’s lips, spawns an insult from nothing.

“Just making small talk. I guess I should know better than to even try with you, right?” Light rumble, harbinger of wolf howl in skies of thunder. “But there is a similarity between shares and people. Both can change sides quite easily.”

The words are soft like tufts of fur but thick with threat, caresses of enlightenment. Taishō Inc. is a board of chess, he is the King, the Board members are knights and bishops and rooks, she is but a mere pawn, and each shareholders’ meeting is a game. Kagome grasps the precariousness of her situation, realizes that what he wants surpasses mere seduction. Victory—utter and indisputable victory. He will accept nothing less, will do whatever it takes in his quest, because the King will either rule or fall—and falling is not an option for him.

But there are still missing pieces, things she cannot fully cognize. What is her part? How can she help? Why does he need her? If he means to have her beguile his antagonists within the company then he should not interfere…but he does. It makes no sense—

“Oh—and tell your brother to return my calls. I’ve been trying to reach him for a month now, but I keep getting the voicemail. He’d better not pull another disappearing act for years.”

Her mind freezes, thought caught in limbo, dragon breath searing her neck.

“Inuyasha has gone to the States for reasons of his own. I am not sure when or if he will return.”

Inuyasha…Taishō Inuyasha. It makes no sense—

“He could still pick up his damn phone. That asshole…he always does this.”

Her ears devour the rumble of Kōga’s voice—quakes of irritation, shocks of worry. It is over before Kagome can even digest the sound, then he winks at her, grin as cocky as ever.

“I’ll be seeing you, beauty.”

~~~~~

Skye’s Weekly Challenge: Arrangement

A/N: Thank you for all the lovely reviews! I’ll address one question that has been asked by a few people. This an AU story set in modern times. Everyone is human, so the ‘dragon’ is merely an allegory. I use it as an allusion in many ways. If I could use a giant, demonic dog with the same results, I would have, but sadly it wouldn’t work as well. Onwards! XD

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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