"I think you're incredible," he said softly, caressing my arm. "And now I wonder where our dessert is."
Her inner muscles clenched as she recalled what he’d done that morning—the way he’d kissed her, caressed her, the things he’d said. She swept a hand from her chest down to her thigh, wishing he was touching her right now. But even if he never slept with her again, she still wanted him. The nonbedroom side of Michael appealed to her just as much as the lover side, if not more. He made her laugh, and he listened to her, even when she wasn’t saying anything particularly interesting. He was comfortable around her, and that made her comfortable around him. Sometimes she convinced herself that her labels didn’t matter. They were just words. They didn’t change who she was. If he learned about them, he wouldn’t care.Out of habit, she walked to her piano. She sat on the bench and lifted the fallboard, and the cool smoothness of the keys beneath her fingers calmed her. For years, music had been her main method of coping with emotions—good ones, bad ones, and those in between. Rich chords sang from the strings, called forth by muscle memory alone, and she gave herself up to the music, let everything she was feeling pour into her fingertips. When the song ended, she kept her hands on the keys, listening as the notes faded.
I knew you played, but I didn’t know you could play like that, Michael said from directly behind her.She couldn’t help grinning as she looked at him over her shoulder. You made it back.His smile was tired, but it reached his eyes. In a mere fraction of a second, everything was right again. The coldness vanished. Missing pieces settled back into place.
What song was that? I feel like I’ve heard it before, he said.‘Clair de Lune’ by Debussy. It’s my favorite song.
He rested his hands on her shoulders and brushed a kiss over her nape. It’s beautiful, but so sad. Do you know anything happier?
Sad. Her lips wrinkled on something that didn’t feel like a smile. That was a common theme for the pieces in her repertoire. Well . . . maybe this.Raiden brandished the sword, swinging it from one side to another in a slow arc. It’s a magnificent blade. I’ve never seen its equal. When I was told to return it—to offer the sword in exchange for my bride—I thought the same as you do now. That no weapon could be worth a life. He brandished it once more. The final arc brought it within reach of Ranmaru’s face. Raiden held it there for a breath. The sword remained an eerie, almost pearlescent white. As though diamonds had been ground upon its surface.
Ranmaru remained staunchly unmoved. Though Mariko watched his fists open and close twice.You do not recognize this sword. And it does not recognize you, Raiden said slowly. Who are you?
When Ranmaru failed to answer, Mariko’s heart missed a beat. The lost story took its place on her tongue with a sudden, seizing clarity.The Takeda sword. The Fūrinkazan. It had been taken from the Takeda clan when its family had fallen from grace. An enchanted weapon. A sword of light.