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Unknowingly Mated by Dani

Chapter 1

Hard, golden eyes stared intently back at him. Examining the chiseled face carefully, not a hair was out of place on his head. Everything was pristine and in its proper place, as it should be, as it always was. Glancing behind the statuesque figure, his eyes landed on what felt like a death sentence. Draped neatly over a mannequin was a neatly pressed, black kimono and gray hakama. Glaring at the offensive clothing, he had a hard time accepting that by this time tomorrow, he would be a married man.

He didn’t care for his bride. He had only met her once, but that was enough. She was like most women, after his power and position. Unfortunately, duty came first. He had an obligation to his sire and to his lands, so he would marry the woman.

Turning away from the mirror, his eyes narrowed at the door sliding open. Stepping into the room cautiously, the man froze when he saw cold, amber lock onto him. Grinning sheepishly, he said, “Come on, my lord, don’t glare at me like that.”

Eyes narrowing, the lord sneered, “I was unaware these were your rooms, general.”

Rubbing the back of his neck, the general chuckled, “I guess I was so excited, I forgot to knock. Apologies, my lord.”

That is no excuse,” the lord replied.

Bounding into the room, another soldier wrapped his arm around the general’s shoulder. Grinning at the young lord, he said, “Come on, Sesshomaru, we’re going to be late! Don’t want to keep the pretty ladies waiting!”

Glaring at the soldier, Sesshomaru had about enough of the foolishness surrounding him. How these two had managed to remain alive for so long still eluded him. Perhaps tonight would be the night that he finally beheaded the imbeciles.

Cheer up, Sesshomaru,” the solider grinned, “even though you’ll be a married man tomorrow, at least she’s good looking and well bred.”

Grinning at the soldier, the general said, “True. At least your sire was considerate unlike Haru’s here.”

Shuddering, Haru grimaced, “I still can’t believe he brought that woman home for me to meet. Not only was she hideous, but she was part cat! I had to scrub for three days straight to get her stench off of me!”

Frowning, Sesshomaru knew what they were trying to do, but it was no use. He didn’t want to cheer up. He was content being annoyed and upset at the world. But the fools, unfortunately, weren’t done yet.

Nodding to himself, Haru was determined to have a fun night and cheer his lord up at the same time. “Yup, married life is going to be great! You will have a beautiful woman to warm your bed every night!”

Frowning, Sesshomaru said, “You assume she will be good bed partner.”

Eyes widening, Haru quickly rebutted, “Well, you can always get a concubine if she’s boring.”

Only if my wife permits it,” Sesshomaru quickly responded, “and she doesn’t appear to be the type who is willing to share.”

Frowning, Haru crossed his arms over his chest. This wasn’t going as well as he had thought it would. Sesshomaru used to be outgoing and fun-loving, but since his sire stepped down as lord a few years ago, he really did a one-eighty. The care-free young heir he remembered was gone and replaced by a stoic, cold, shell of a man. He could tell his friend was miserable and slowly dying on the inside, but no matter what he tried, the young lord would not open up.

Clearing his throat, the general said, “Well, wives and marriages aside, tonight you are still a free man, and we are taking you out to enjoy yourself.”

A throbbing tick formed above Sesshomaru’s left eyebrow. Fingers twitching, he restrained from rubbing his temples to relieve the pressure. He knew his men meant well, but there was only so much he could take. Closing his eyes, he resigned himself for the long night he knew was coming. Nodding silently, he allowed his men to lead him from the shiro. Listening silently to his friends and the soldiers that decided to tag along banter, Sesshomaru felt the farthest thing from free. Even when walking up to the pleasure house they would be spending their evening at, all he saw were walls that would trap him.

Allowing his men to tug him along, Sesshomaru gracefully sat in the large room with his companions and watched with indifferent eyes as geisha filled the space. Nodding his thanks when a geisha poured his sake, his nose nearly wrinkled in disgust. The scents of perfume and incense coated everything the women touched, making him want to sneeze. Breathing shallowly, he watched the geisha dance and preform for his men.

They appeared to be demure women. Taught to move slowly and precisely, they performed their tasks with grace and skill. It was all fake. A mirage to entice customers into a false sense of security. The painted faces made to look like innocent dolls, and the elaborate hair and costume to imply status and wealth that most of these women did not come from. Only a strip of skin at the base of the neck was left unpainted to tempt customers into other possible activities. While not all of the women at this particular pleasure house sought the late night company of their customers, the crowd in their room did. It did not help that he was a lord and his companions were high ranking soldiers. Lust for money and status could be seen hidden behind shy eyes, giving away their true purpose.

Taking a sip of his sake, Sesshomaru quietly dismissed any woman who tried to get too close, or do anything other than refill his glass. These women were not to his liking. Their scents were horrid and he did not care for the bright colored kimono or the elaborate hairstyles they donned. Glaring at a woman who dared sit next to him, the scent of perfume and other men saturated his nose. How disgusting. Ignoring her polite conversation, he gracefully stood and slipped out of the room, unnoticed by his loud and intoxicated men.

Stepping onto the engawa, he took in a deep breath of air, clearing his nose of the scents of sake and incense. Walking along the covered porch, he took in the clear night sky and could feel his muscles relax the farther he moved from the party. Moving slowly around the exterior of the building, he wasn’t sure where he was going, but didn’t particularly care. This was the most freedom he had in a while, and he was going to enjoy it.

The sight of the tall gate marking the entrance to the city was the most beautiful thing she’d seen in weeks. Traveling didn’t bother her much, but there was only so much sleeping on the ground that she could take. Trudging beneath the large timber, her legs felt like they would give out at any moment.

The city was already dark. It was well past a decent hour so the empty streets didn’t surprise her. Running a hand through her thick, dark hair, her eyes widened a fraction. Sitting beneath a street lamp was the most glorious thing ever, an actual bench. Stumbling over to the wooden seat, her feet reveled from the break. The soles of her feet were killing her. She’d been walking for months, but still hadn’t found what she was looking for. Leaning back, she watched the small flame flicker behind the thin screens of the lamp hovering overhead. Glancing around the deserted street, this was by far the nicest city she had been in. The streets were clean of debris and the buildings were all well-kept.

Rubbing the soles of her feet, she scanned the dark road until her eyes met a familiar sign. There was an inn not too far away, perfect. She couldn’t wait to lie in a real bed, on a real mattress for the night. Smiling to herself, she might even sleep in the next morning. She wasn’t in a hurry, so there was no reason to rush leaving.

Rounding the building, Sesshomaru finally reached the front of the establishment. He didn’t want to go back to the shiro, he knew what awaited him there and didn’t want to face his future just yet. But, at the same time, staying at the pleasure house didn’t seem like that great of a prospect either. Glancing past the elaborate garden, he saw a lone woman sitting on a bench at the entrance to the complex.

Walking slowly, he was unsure of what compelled him to approach the woman, but his feet continued to move anyway. Stopping next to her, she was smaller than he thought. He easily towered over her petite frame, and calculated that she would barely reach his shoulder when standing. “What are you doing out here?”

Jumping, she hadn’t noticed anyone walk up. Clutching her heart, she glared at the gorgeous man looming over her. “You scared me,” she said sheepishly. Seeing his eyes harden just a fraction, the woman cleared her throat, and said, “I was just taking a break. I’ll get back up in a minute.”

Glaring at the woman, Sesshomaru asked, “What could you have possibly been doing to be so tired to warrant a break?”

Cocking her head to the side, her dark hair spilled over her shoulder revealing a slender neck. Eyes drawn to the expanse of skin, he barely registered her answer, “Well, I’ve build up some pretty good endurance over these past weeks, but I guess I just over did it today.”

Taking the woman in, Sesshomaru took a discrete sniff. She did not reek of whatever activity she was speaking of. Just a slight smell of sweat and dirt graced her natural scent, which was actually pleasing. This was probably the first woman he met at one of these establishments that took pride in her hygiene and didn’t cover herself in obnoxious perfumes or paint. Her face was young and her blue eyes were bright and spoke of a natural innocence.

Standing, the woman stretched her hands over head, allowing the sleeves of her kimono to slide down, revealing her forearms. Cocking an eyebrow at the blatant display, he was taken aback when the woman smiled at him. Bowing slightly, she said, “Well, it was a pleasure meeting you, but I’m going to retire at that inn for the night.” Laughing softly, she added, “Wouldn’t want to get into any more trouble for sitting on this bench for too long.”

Watching her step away from him, Sesshomaru asked, “Do you have planned company for the night?”

Turning slightly, the woman scanned the stranger from head to toe. He really was quiet handsome, almost beautiful. Nibbling on her bottom lip, she thought about what he was proposing. She wasn’t a virgin by any means, but it had been well over a year since she was in any sort of relationship with a man. Although, she knew that whatever happened tonight would but just that, one night, no strings attached. Glancing at the stranger again, she was unaware of the reaction she was drawing from the male standing only a few feet away. Watching her dull teeth abuse her bottom lip was slow torture and heated his blood in a way nothing else ever had.

The action was not forced and completely innocent on the woman’s part, which made it all the more enticing. Why was the house hiding this gem from him? Surely he and his men paid enough to be offered the best that the house had. Perhaps she was already booked for the night, or had the night off. That would explain her lack of formal dress. Although the simple kimono was attractive on her and the muted colors were much more pleasant than the bright colors normally worn. Her dark, wavy locks were also different and more pleasant than the board straight hair the geisha normally donned. The fact that it was worn down and free from any bounds was also enticing.

There was nothing forced about this woman. She was naturally beautiful and confident, yet modest and almost shy. She was the epitome of the freedom he was lacking and looking for. She clearly cared not for the restrictions placed upon her by her occupation and still somehow succeeded in reeling him in without even trying. Succeeding where all the others had failed.

Nodding her head hesitantly, she released her abused lip and smiled meekly. “I had planned on just going to sleep, but wouldn’t be opposed to company.”

Smirking, Sesshomaru stepped towards her, and taking her elbow in his hand, led her across the street to the inn. Watching the stranger procure them a room for the night, the woman took a deep breath to calm her nerves. If judging by the inn keeper’s reaction to him, this man seemed to be in good standing with the community and well liked. At least she could be more confident that he wasn’t some sort of serial killer or creep that preyed on unsuspecting women.

Key in hand, Sesshomaru turned back towards the woman who would be his companion for the night. A faint blush dusted her cheeks when their eyes met, making his blood heat even more. If only his future wife could be even half as enticing. Shaking those thoughts from his head, this night was for him, and he would not think of anything except the woman standing before him.

Taking her elbow again, he led her up the stairs and down the hall to the largest room the inn offered. Unlocking the door, he allowed the woman to enter before him. Stepping into the dimly lit room, she peeked around the corner at the large futon gracing the floor. The mattress was huge and over-stuffed, and was covered in what appeared to be silk sheets that were tucked and folded neatly, making a beautiful presentation. It was almost a shame to mess up such a gorgeous bed, but her counterpart had no such qualms.

Walking past her, he quickly removed his shoes and lay down on the plush bed. Amber eyes watched her expectantly, so taking a deep breath, she walked around to the other side of the bed and easily slipped the sandals off her feet. The bed looked so clean and fresh, and she was anything but. Her kimono was covered in a fine layer of dirt and dust from travel and she really didn’t want to get it on the bedding. Pushing aside her insecurities, she was sure she would end up naked at some point anyway. This man clearly didn’t expect to talk to her all night, so loosening her obi, she allowed it to fall unhindered to the floor.

Slipping the kimono off her shoulders, she didn’t worry about wrinkling the fabric and allowed it to fall haphazardly next to the obi. Biting her bottom lip, she took a deep breath and loosened the strap keeping her juban closed. Allowing the white fabric to slide from her shoulders, it stopped short, resting at her elbows. Glancing over her shoulder at the man lying in the bed, the heated amber eyes that met her caused a blush to tint her cheeks. Quickly looking down again, she allowed the juban to fall from her arms, exposing her fully to the man lying behind her.

Turning slowly, the slight intake of breath she heard caused her to raise her eyes once more. Heated pools scanned her body, taking in every curve and quickly awakening another part of his body. Watching the bulge grow and pulse beneath his karusan-bakama, the woman carefully knelt on the mattress and crawled over to him to get a better look.

Sesshomaru’s breath hitched in his throat. What was the woman doing? High-born ladies and ones that worked at pleasure houses all followed certain etiquette. While disrobing was common, although not nearly as sexy as she made it to be, this was completely out of the question. They were to lie down on the bed and wait for the man to take his pleasure, nothing more. But this, this erotic display was not only new but completely tantalizing. This woman was no innocent angel, she was a minx, a devil in white clothing, and he was completely caught in whatever web she had spun.

All breath leached from his lungs when dainty fingers softly ran down his covered shaft. All thought of air left his mind when her hand ran back up the length, smoothing and stretching the fabric against her palm. Glancing up at him with expectant eyes, Sesshomaru froze. His addled brain wasn’t comprehending what was happening. It was like he was a young pup again, completely new to the idea of coupling with a woman. Although, none of the women he had been with did anything remotely like what she was doing. They hadn’t touched him at all. They weren’t allowed to. He was above them in every way and to touch him without permission was certain death. But here was this vixen, not only daring to touch his person, but …wait a minute, where did the straps holding his karusan-bakama together go?

Cold air hit his heated length causing his brain to crash back to earth. Blinking owlishly, his eyes widened to comical proportions. Stroking the length of his shaft with her hand, the woman gazed at the thick, long appendage like it was her next meal. Surely she wouldn’t. Panic streaked through his veins, and reaching for the woman, he stopped short and his eyes rolled to the back of his head. Flopping back onto the mattress, a strained whine met his ears. By kami, had that sound come from him?

Glancing down his body, he watched entranced as his length completely disappeared into the woman’s mouth, only to reappear, slick with saliva. Glancing at the male, the woman pulled him completely out of her mouth, making a popping noise. Smiling, she lowered her head once more, licking the bottom of his shaft from his heavy balls all the way to the red pulsing tip. Swirling her tongue around the bulbous head, his length disappeared once more into the hot mouth. That was when Sesshomaru realized two things. His bed mate had no fangs, which made her human, and he strangely didn’t care because he had found nirvana.

The word human pulsed through his mind once. Her lack of etiquette and procedure made sense now. She was not a demon, not privy to what was proper or condoned behavior. For a split second he wondered where had the human woman come from and how had she gotten into his lands undetected, but that thought was lost when her delicate tongue licked one of his balls before sucking it into her mouth. Back arching off the mattress, he wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take before he lost all sanity. No woman had ever been so bold. Although, all of his previous bed partners were equipped with fangs, and no self-respecting male would ever let anything so lethal next to such an important appendage.

Hold back a whine, a whimper escaped his lips when she sucked his other ball into her mouth. She would be the death of him. The heat that flowed through his veins was excruciating and his length throbbed and ached, stretching to proportions he had never seen before. Having enough of this torture, he forced his body to sit up, and gently pushed the woman off of him. A wet pop met his ears, causing him to groan. Expecting her to lie down like a good bitch, his glazed eyes were shocked when she quickly knelt before him and pushed her hands into the folds of his kimono.

Gripping her hips tightly, she gasped when tips of claws poked her delicate skin, but was not detoured. Parting his kimono, she pushed the fabric off his shoulders, revealing a sculpted chest beneath. Running her hands along his smooth skin, a shuddering breath left her lungs. He was built like a god. Never had she seen such a gorgeous man before. Although, she had only seen a handful and most of those happened to be coming in from the fields with their shirts off, but still, she knew that this was something she’d never see again.

Distracted by her thoughts, she didn’t notice when he removed his kimono completely, or that he managed to free his legs from his karusan-bakama. Yelping, her back hit the plush mattress and a heavy weight settled over her. A low rumble made her entire body vibrate, causing her to moan and arch her back. Rubbing his nose along the column of her neck, Sesshomaru took in a deep breath. The spicy scent of her arousal was like a drug that he never wanted to be without. Running a hand down her side, his fingers brushed the side of her breast, causing her to gasp and buck under him.

Enthralled, he had never had a partner do more than lie still and made an occasional soft noise, too afraid to hurt his sensitive ears. Curious about what other noises he could elicit from her, his hand roughly squeezed her soft mound while his mouth latched onto her neck and sucked. Moaning, the woman arched under him, brushing her wet core against his aching shaft.

Sucking in a deep breath, she pushed her chest father into his hand, and softly moaned a single word, “Harder.”

Growling against her neck, he licked the soft skin, loving the salty flavor. Sliding down her body, he quickly latched his mouth onto her other mound, sucking on the hardened nipple like a newborn pup. Gasping, she moaned and arched into him, pushing more of her breast into his waiting mouth. Flicking the nipple with his tongue, his fingers deftly pulled at the other hardened pebble, eliciting soft moans from her.

Eyes flashing red, he released her breast and slid even farther down her wanting body. The intoxicating smell drifting from between her moistened thighs was too much to resist. Gasping for breath, she felt his hair slide down her side, sending shivers up her spine. Propping herself on her elbows, her eyes widened. Reaching for the male, she grasped the top of his head gently, and said, “Wait, you don’t have to …” Crying out, she gave up on finishing her sentence when his tongue slipped into her pulsing core. Gripping his hair tightly, she widened her legs, giving him more room to maneuver.

This was an act many men not only thought as taboo, but refused to do much less talk about. She had only heard of a few women who had the pleasure of having it done, but never expected to be a recipient. Lifting her hips off the mattress, she felt his hands reach under and grip her ass tightly, holding her to him. Pulling on his hair, she cried out when his tongue reached a particularly sensitive spot. Feeling her walls contract, his eyes closed and he released a rumbling growl, sending vibrations straight through her. Gasping, her back arched and her muscles clinched and spasmed, releasing a gush of liquid into his waiting mouth.

Closing his eyes, Sesshomaru groaned, swallowing every drop she released greedily. It tasted of pure ambrosia and he licked her quivering muscles until he was sure there was none left. Panting softly, the woman gazed at him with glazed over, lust-filled eyes. The light flush of her damp skin was enticing and he couldn’t wait a minute longer. Shifting, he knelt between her legs and lifted her hips off the mattress for a better angle. Growling, Sesshomaru pushed his aching length into her tight opening.

Panting with her, he nearly lost his composure. She was so tight. Gripping her hips tighter, the tips of his claws nearly pierced her skin. Crying out, the pain from his claws mixed with the stretching of her walls nearly made her cum again. Groaning, Sesshomaru slowly pushed the rest of his length into her tight sheath until he was completely seated within her depths. Panting, he couldn’t believe that her small frame was able to take all of him.

Wiggling, she drew a growl from his lips. Smiling, her chest heaved trying to get enough air into her lungs. “Are you just going to sit there,” she teased, “or am I going to have to take over?” Eyes flashing red again, Sesshomaru pulled his length out just to slam it back into her waiting depths. Moaning, the woman writhed beneath him, unafraid to voice her satisfaction.

Sesshomaru watched mesmerized as her back arched and her head rolled from side to side, exposing her neck to him. Eyes flashing red, he lowered his body, trapping her beneath his massive weight. Arching into him, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and pulled a leg over his waist, opening further to him and drawing him in even deeper.

Groaning, he couldn’t get enough. Wrapping an arm around her leg, he moved it from his hip and brought it to rest against his shoulder. Hearing her cry out, he stopped moving, afraid he had hurt her. Panting, she stared at him bewildered, “Why did you stop?” she asked between breaths. Shoving his concerns aside, he thrust into her again, only to have her push against his chest. Stopping again, he allowed her to push him back onto his knees. Keeping her leg against his chest and shoulder, she gripped his hips and forced him back into her.

Sesshomaru’s head fell back and he groaned. Kami, this woman. Thrusting into her again, his eyes bled red when he heard her pant, “Harder.” More than happy to oblige, Sesshomaru pounded into her tight sheath. Chants of ‘yes’ and ‘please’ left her mouth in a mumbled cacophony while her hands gripped the sheets beneath her, in an attempt to be grounded against anything. Crying out, again, she gasped, “Deeper.”

Growling low, something primal swept through Sesshomaru’s body. Pulling out of her completely, a disappointed whine met his ears. Chuckling darkly, he watched as she quickly sat up and climbed onto his lap. Impaling herself on his rigid length, she sucked in a deep breath while he groaned into her shoulder. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she held him to her while she slowly rode his thick cock.

Sucking on her neck, Sesshomaru allowed her this moment of control. The rocking motion she set, igniting his blood even more while he littered her neck and shoulders with small purple marks.

Growing tired, the woman slowly slid off his shaft and turned around. Sitting back down on his cock, they groaned in unison when her walls pulsed around his thick rod. Wrapping his arms around her, Sesshomaru gripped her breasts, squeezing the plump mounds that filled his hands perfectly. Nuzzling into her shoulder, he licked the small bruises he placed there, loving that he had marked her skin.

Reaching around his neck, she ran her fingers through his silky hair, pulling his head away from her shoulder. Rubbing his cheek, she tilted his head and gently placed her lips over his. Groaning into her mouth, he licked and nipped at her lower lip, demanding entrance. Sighing into his mouth, she allowed his tongue to snake between her lips, deepening the kiss. Gripping his hair tightly, she broke their kiss when he thrust even harder into her.

Gazing into his red eyes, her gaze slowly drifted to the magenta slashes adorning his cheeks. Running her fingers along the tapering stripes, she watched in fascination as his mouth parted, revealing a pair of sharp canines. Smiling, she kissed his lower jaw and ran her fingers through his short bangs, revealing an iris colored crescent moon.

Pumping into her even harder, her head fell back, resting on his firm shoulder and revealing her neck to him. Red eyes brightened seeing the purple bruises adorning her neck and shoulder. The marks he had left on her, proof of their union. Rasping, a strained snarl broke his lips and his body fell forward, taking her with him. Landing on their hands, he caged her body, and thrust into her like a starved man. Moaning, she couldn’t keep up with the pace he set and dropped to her elbows. The sight she presented to him was the most exquisite thing he had ever seen. Thrusting even deeper, he felt his balls slap against her, making her moan and cry out.

Feeling his end drawing near, he reached down, and gripping her hair, pulled her back onto her hands. Arching her back, she allowed him to maneuver her neck to the side, where he latched on hungrily with his mouth. Sharp fangs scraped the skin, but she didn’t care. It only made her feel better, and closing her eyes, she called out her completion.

Snarling against her neck, Sesshomaru felt her walls clamp viciously onto his shaft. Balls tightening, his cock swelled even more, making her cum again and locking him in place as she milked the seed from his length. Gripping her neck tightly with his teeth, he could feel the sharp points barely break the skin, spilling her rich blood down his throat. Sparks danced on his tongue and in his belly. A warm feeling enveloped him, filling him, making him feel whole for the first time in his long life.

A tired moan left her mouth, and he could feel her body weakening beneath him. Releasing her neck, he licked the small puncture holes reverently, and carefully rolled them to their sides, still pleasantly locked within her pulsating core. Feeling his cock twitch within her, she moaned softly and snuggled into his warmth. Wrapping his arms around her protectively, Sesshomaru watched her breathing even out and her body relax. Nuzzling into the crook of her neck, his eyes closed, exhausted from his rut. Letting out a deep breath, the red slowly receded from his eyes, leaving behind cool amber.

Yawning, the woman stretched her body like a cat. Feeling the warm, silky covers slide off her form, she shuddered when the cool air kissed her skin. Blinking, she rubbed her eyes lazily and took in the room slowly. The bed and room were empty, showing no trace that her companion for the night had ever been there. Yawning again, she rubbed her face into the soft pillow. She figured that he would be gone by the morning, but didn’t mind. That meant she could take her time getting up and wouldn’t have to face the awkwardness of trying to converse, or say goodbye, to someone she’d never see again.

Although, her night had been fabulous and quite honestly she wouldn’t mind having another round with the skilled stranger. Turning over, she stared at the light streaming through the wooden blinds shielding the window. It seemed it was already well past morning, but she didn’t care. She was well rested for once and felt refreshed and ready to keep traveling.

Slowly washing and getting dressed. She made sure she had all of her meager belongings before exiting the room. Shuffling down the steps, she made her way over the inn keeper and handed in the key to the room. Rummaging through the pocket hidden in her sleeve, she asked, “How much do I owe you?”

Smiling at the young woman, the inn keeper said, “Nothing, it’s already paid for.” Glancing up at the round man, she slowly pulled her hand from her sleeve stunned. Leaning on the counter, he asked, “Are you staying for the ceremony?”

Blinking at the man, she said, “Um, no. I’m just passing through.”

Frowning at the woman, he said, “Are you sure? It’s not every day a lord gets married. I would have thought you’d want to stay and see.”

Shaking her head slowly, she said, “I’m not from around here, so I really don’t know anyone, much less who the lord is.”

Eyes widening, the inn keeper said, “You are serious.” The woman nodded hesitantly, unsure of what the man was getting at. Resting his chin on his hand, the inn keeper asked, “So, if you didn’t come for the ceremony, what are you here for?”

Smiling sadly, the woman said, “Like I said, I’m just passing through. I’m heading south. I heard of a hidden valley there that’s free from war and strife. I’m hoping to start a new life there.”

Seeing the woman’s eyes cloud over, the man knew he shouldn’t pry any further, no matter how much his curiosity got to him. Reaching under the counter, he pulled out a small bag. “Well,” he said, “this is for you. Your friend left it for you.”

Her friend? Grabbing the bag hesitantly, she opened the small pouch. Inside were several coins and what appeared to be a new kimono. Smiling hesitantly, she closed the bag and thanked the inn keeper. Grinning at the woman, he wished her luck, and watched the clueless girl leave his establishment. If only she knew.

 

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