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Falling by Stella Mira

Means to an End

Kagome caters to her clients, satiates their every request, whether voiced or not. Taking turns, she sits beside each one, learns their names, their preferences in alcohol and conversation, smiles and plays the role of the perfect hostess—but all that ends when she must sit beside that man. He offers neither name nor words, only silence, tensile, charged with things she has never felt before for a man. He makes allowances for observation on her part but nothing besides that…except want, thick and sultry and demanding.

He is like the cigar he smokes—wood flavors and spices, less sweet, creamier, filling her lungs with every breath she takes, seeping inside to coil in a zesty mass low in her abdomen. Firewater sidling on her tongue, sip by sip, she swallows, imbibes the taste of male and unbridled need—until that creamy scent coalesces with her own, dripping, coating the seam of her thighs. Inhalation. Exhalation. Kagome attempts to tame the desire cresting within her, to tether the intrinsic urges spiraling into her blood vessels—but it is futile, irreversible. Once unleashed, that river courses and ripples, devastates all in its path, licks of lava burning her from the inside out. She is left with no choice but to resort to physical distance, to remove herself from the origins of those sensations, from this man—but then he moves.

It is imperceptible, an arc of his neck, lips gliding over the curve of her ear, hot skin, breath even hotter. Insidious, calculative motions, as if he knows where she is most sensitive, where to press to feed this insanity that possesses her with each word he speaks—and perhaps he does.    

“Do you take private orders?”

Shivers lather on her skin. Tingles slither down her spine. His voice spills in her ear, an amalgam of smoke and huskiness, heavy, narcotic. Kagome knows what he is asking, what he wants—the same thing she does. A licking of lips, the answer pours out of her mouth, unbidden, before ethics can restrain her tongue.

“For you…yes.”

It is a low whisper, thick in insinuations, brimming with words unspoken—only for you. She cannot tell if he hears it or not, but she doesn’t care. So long as his breath slides against the slope of her neck, sinking into layers of skin, fueling that cluster of cravings in her core.

“Make the arrangements.”

Nothing more, nothing less. He draws back then, allows her to escape the snare of his voice, his proximity, and Kagome tilts her head in a slight nod, excuses herself to do as he bids.

When she returns, he has finished his cigar, but the smell still lingers, clings to him. His eyes gleam over the rim of his glass, the same color as the whiskey dwelling within. It evokes a feeling of vertigo in her, lightheadedness. A nimbus of haziness morphs her eyes into grey coals, dark blues, simmering with things to come. Kagome averts her gaze, unable to hold his stare for long, bows at the waist and speaks through red lips.

“If you would please follow me, Taishō-sama.”

Then the rustling of fabric, the chuckling of his company, male voices, comments with equal doses of slyness and casualness—but not his voice. Kagome does not hear his voice until she leads him into the private booth reserved for their use, into the lair of clandestine desires and anonymity.

“Take off your clothes.”

Less huskiness, more command, it’s sharp, too sudden—too much like him. She raises her gaze to his level, teeth sinking into her lip, reddening the soft flesh. Of all the lavish furniture in the room, of all the comforts made for pleasure and rasp-ridden moans, he chooses the armchair. Long legs crossed, arms resting on black velvet, the white of his dress shirt stretches over lean muscles and thews. A rise and fall of his Adam’s apple, exposed collarbone, accentuated lines, he stares at her and waits.

A viscous substance cloys her throat, anticipation and something else, closer to wariness. There are no murmurs of lust in his low tones, no shadows of sin in the gilded luster of his irises—only detachment, hints of curiosity, as if this is a tedious affair, a matter of necessity. It gives her pause, prescience slinking into her mind, cusp-like, foreboding. If he doesn’t wish for pleasures of the flesh, then what does he want? Kagome feels it will be fruitless to ask, a mere waste of speech. His posture reveals as such, tells of questions unanswered, of a man who is used to doing things in his own time, who satisfies the demands of no one but himself—and she loves that, more than she should, insalubrious addiction.

Slim, deft fingers uncoil the ties of her obi, part the silks of her kimono. It glissades on the swells of her body, breasts and hips, falls to her feet in a pool of ink and peonies, leaving behind only her nagajuban, almost gossamer, the last barrier. She wears no undergarments, no hesitation—there is no need for either behind these doors. Her gaze seeks his once more as her fingers lower to the flimsy ties, searches for even a scintilla of primal stirrings, of venery awakened, but finds none—merely a twist of lips, downcast, as if he has seen enough, has sated his cryptic purposes.

“That is enough.”

Cool, full of finality, his voice inundates the space between them, washes over her. It halts her movements, makes her regard him with apprehension. What do you truly want? Sewn on her vocal cords, she never vociferates the question that drills into her mind, but he answers regardless…this time.

“Do you know of the Flint Industries?”

Kagome decides to indulge him in order to learn more, to unveil the enigma of this man and his thoughts. She contemplates the name he gives then nods positively.

“The international firm said to be unsurpassed in mobile software.”

He doesn’t appear surprised by her knowledge of business matters.

“My company is on the verge of landing a major contract with them. Their CEO is expected to arrive in a month to finalize the details of the deal. He is quite fond of Japanese culture and wishes to have the experience of the one revered as the Yamato Nadeshiko of Ginza. I approached your manager but he claimed you do not offer such services.”

It all makes sense now. This is a business transaction for him, an inspection of sorts, verification of possibility—that she is for sale. Her mouth curls in a smile, but it isn’t really a smile. Harsh-edged, unforgiving, wryness molded into an expression…and still she wants him.

“That is true. I have never offered them in the past.”

The only for you in her words remains unspoken but not unheard. His neck tilts, more habit than consent, as if he doesn’t care at all for her offer, still on the table. He stands then, takes up pen and paper from the stand beside the armchair, and writes down something. With slow, measured steps, he crosses the room, slips the paper in her cleavage, the pads of his fingers sliding over her clavicle, igniting the fires of lust that sizzle beneath. Kagome wonders how he can turn such an intimate touch into something so impersonal on his side—but then he leans into her, his lips mere inches from her own, his scent thickly potent at such close distance, and she loses her grasp on reality.

“Should you be interested in catering to our client, give me a call. This is my private number. Do not use it for any other reason.”

His words anchor her, weigh on her shoulders, and she regains her equilibrium, sees his actions for what they are—a means to an end, tactics to sweeten his offer, to soften her compliance. Smooth elocution, manipulation. This man always gets what he wants by whatever means necessary, even if he has to become personally involved in his Machiavellian plots.

“I thank you for the offer, but I will have to respectfully decline.”

Kagome stares into his eyes, unblinking, steel-armored, but nothing prepares her for what he says next, for that cruel slant of his lips.

“You would have let me take you in any way I wanted ten minutes ago.”

His truth remains with her long after he leaves. It stings and burns, splits her skin into thin strips, lacerations and molten blood. Kagome fathoms what he means to tell her. Products aren’t allowed the choice between byers. Professionals cannot differentiate between customers. In his eyes, she is nothing but an object, can be seen as nothing else—not person, not woman.



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