Ana took a deep breath and the balmy night air filled her lungs. She sat down on a wooden bench and felt the silence of the night envelop her. She sighed, it was a relief to escape the smoky rooms and the pulsating electronic beat of the party.
“Thanks for coming with me,” Ana told Hide as he sat down beside her, “It was all getting to be a bit too much for me.”
They had gone through a discreet side exit, some dimly lit shop fronts, a row of cars, a couple of vending machines, a narrow strip of road, before they emerged into the small, tree-lined square Hide had told her about. Lampposts and benches lined its perimeter, it provided a fitting respite from the chaos they had emerged from.
As they sat in silence, Ana glanced around. The park was deserted. And although the corner to which Hide had guided her was darker than most, she didn’t mind — the last thing she wanted was for someone to see her in distress. It was certainly humid out here, she thought. She lifted her face up and saw that dark clouds had hid the moon. She belatedly remembered that the weather report had predicted rain later in the evening.
Ana sadly wondered what Ken was doing, and an image of him dancing with that girl flashed in her mind. He had certainly been enjoying himself, she thought. What the hell does he see in that little slut? Ana mentally shook her head, she thought she knew Ken, but it turned out that she didn't know him at all. All of a sudden, Ana wasn’t sad anymore. She was fuming mad. How dare he, she thought, how dare he put me through this. This wasn’t part of our arrangement at all. And how dare he make me feel this way. This was supposed to be a clear-cut arrangement, and she mentally berated herself for thinking that there was a chance that it could develop into much more.
Ana shook her head. She thought she had been living a fairy tale, Kaye was right, fairy tales only happened in books and anyone who thought otherwise was a fool. Everything had been just a dream.
But what a dream it had been, Ana thought and smiled wryly.
She shook herself out of her musing and turned to her companion. She was disconcerted to see that he was watching her intently. “Nan de,” she asked nervously, “What is it? Why are you looking at me like that?” She started in surprise when Hide drew nearer.
“You’re really pretty, Ana-san,” he said and brushed a lock off her face.
“Ano, Hide-san,” Ana edged back as she breathed in the alcohol fumes that emanated from her companion, “I think we should get back to the party, people might be looking for us. Ne, ikimashou ka?”
Hide leaned in even further. “It was really bad of Ken-san not to pay you proper attention.”
Ana was alarmed when she felt the armrest of the bench at her back. She jumped up and decided to head back to the party, but to her dismay, Hide caught hold of her wrist and backed her into one of the lampposts. “Hide, you’ve had too much to drink…” she said, remembering Yoshi’s half joking warning about his band mate turning amorous only after a few drops of alcohol.
Ana’s panic escalated when Hide pressed his body to hers. “I think I really like you, Ana-san,” he said, “and I’m a much better kisser than Ken-san.”
“I … uh … I’ll take your word for it,” Ana stammered out, a part of her brain thinking that she wouldn't have any basis for comparison anyway. Ken had never kissed her.
“Sou ne,” Hide assented, “demo, let me prove it to you.”
“No, I … chotto matte,” Ana got out as Hide moved in.
It all happened so quickly. Ana had turned her face away and braced herself to bring her knee forcibly up Hide’s groin, just as Kaye had taught her and Tessa. Her knee was halfway there, when he suddenly gone. Ana blinked and looked up to see Ken, his legs braced apart and hands fisted, towering over Hide’s prone form. Hide was sprawled on the stone pavement, apparently knocked out cold.
Ken raised furious eyes to hers and she inwardly quailed. Oh man, she thought, this was so not happening. It was just her luck. What else could go wrong?
The first few drops of rain fell as Ken started towards her. Ana looked left and right, trying to find a quick escape. He was in front of her in a flash, pinning her to the same lamppost Hide had. Frantically, Ana wondered if she should try to knee Ken. He seemed to have read her thoughts and said quietly, “I wouldn’t try that if I were you.”
Ana decided to go on the offensive, “What are you doing here?” she cried, “Have you been spying on me?”
Ken looked at her incredulously, “Spying on you? Baka! I just saved you!”
“Saved me?” Ana cried, “Did I ask you to save me?”
“Are you saying that you asked him to kiss you?”
“So what if I did?”
Ken goggled at her in disbelief, he shouted, “Why the hell would you do that?!”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Ana shouted back, “Maybe because I got tired of waiting for you to kiss me!”
They both froze.
Oh shit, Ana thought, what the hell did I just say?
Wow, Ken thought, did she just say what I think she said?
Ken stepped closer, and Ana squinted up at him as his wide shoulders blocked out the light from the lamp above. The rain was coming down harder and they were both almost drenched.
“You were waiting for me to kiss you?” he asked, his voice much softer than it had been.
“Well, not exactly,” she hedged, looking down, “its not exactly that I was waiting for you to kiss me per se, its just that …”
But the rest of her sentence was cut off as Ken tipped her chin up and bent his head. Ana felt her eyes close of their own volition.
Ken cradled Ana’s face in his hand. His heart was beating faster than usual as he considered her upturned face. This was just like a scene out of one of his movies, but then, Ana was just so different from all the other women that he had kissed before. She was strong, honest, and courageous, but she was also very vulnerable and fragile. She was special. And so he kissed her the way he thought she would want him to — a gentle kiss, his lips softly tasting her own.
He smiled and lifted his head as he ended the kiss.
She opened one eye and then the other, and looked at him strangely.
“Is that it?”
Of all the things he expected her to say, it was definitely not this. In answer, he raised a brow at her.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she said quickly, sounding a bit perplexed, “it was a very nice kiss, it’s just that…”
“Hai?” Ken could not believe this conversation!
She shook her head, she couldn't believe she was actually saying this, “Well, I don’t know, I guess I was expecting fireworks — or at least something more...” She took a deep breath, “Don't get me wrong, it was a very nice kiss,” she said, trying to placate him. Only it seemed the sort of kiss that was choreographed, she thought, the kind that you saw at the end of a scene in a j-dorama, not the kind borne out of spontaneous passion. But then, she thought sadly, maybe she wasn’t the type of woman who inspired passionate embraces.
She glanced up at him, “Seriously, it was alright,” she said reassuringly, as if she thought his feelings might be hurt.
Ken almost smiled as he watched the play of emotions upon Ana’s expressive face. Just when he thought he had her figured out, she surprised him. His Ana was definitely one of a kind. He decided to throw all caution to the wind and kiss her the way he really wanted to.
He stepped closer and assured her, “Mada owattenai yo, I was just getting started,” he said as he gathered her to him.
Ana saw something primitive in his eyes only a second before she felt his arms close around her. She tried to jerk back, but suddenly his mouth was on hers, hot and persuasive, coaxing her to respond. His tongue lapped insistently at her closed lips, forcing them to open and accommodate him, when she did, he groaned and plunged his tongue into her mouth, tasting her as he had always wanted to.
And she thought she had wanted fireworks, Ana vaguely reflected. She was amazed that she didn't go up in flames on the spot. Ken’s kiss was more than just fireworks — it was thunder and lighting, elemental in its effect on her, and yet … and yet there was something tender in his embrace, as if he really cared for her. However, her ability to think was slowly stripped away as jolt after jolt of excitement rushed through her veins as Ken continued to kiss her. Until, unable to control herself, she put her arms up around his neck and shyly started kissing him back.
Ken’s response was immediate, he gathered her more tightly to him. She tasted sweet, he thought, fruity — like she had just had one of those cocktails. He knew that this wasn’t the time or place, but she was just so sweet, her mouth so intoxicating, that he just couldn't help himself. A tiny warning signal at the edge of his brain was telling him that things were spiraling out of control and that he was getting more involved than he had originally planned, but still his arms snaked more tightly around her, pressing her to him, as if trying to absorb her. In response, Ana’s body turned soft and pliant in his arms. Ken groaned low in his throat, this definitely wasn’t what he had planned, he thought as he nuzzled her neck and gently caressed the side of her breast.
Ana thought she would have melted into a puddle at Ken’s feet if he had not been holding her up. Nothing could have prepared her for such an assault on her senses. She felt as if she were floating on a sea of sensation, unable to string together a coherent thought, totally lost to the moment. A tiny moan escaped her lips as Ken began to nuzzle lower on her neck.
It was that tiny sound that broke the sensual spell.
Ken dragged his mouth from hers with supreme effort, disconcerted to discover for the first time that he had let all his defenses down, and that he was panting like some untried boy. What the hell just happened? In all his relationships, however provocative his consorts had been, he had never ever lost control. He glanced down at Ana, who also seemed incapable of speech, her breathing as labored as his own. What was it about this woman that robbed him of all ability to think rationally?
“Ana, we need to talk,” he said. As she continued to stare up at him, he took hold of her hand and began to lead her towards his car.
“Wait,” she protested, “what about Hide?”
Irritated, Ken glanced at the man sprawled a few yards from them, “What about him?”
“Well, we can’t just leave him there.”
Well, we’re definitely not taking him with us, he thought. “He’s a big boy, he’ll wake up in a few minutes,” he told Ana. Privately, he thought that it wouldn't be the first time this had happened to Hide. He exerted pressure on her hand and she started walking with him.
They were nearing his car when Ana froze in her tracks. Ken turned back to look at her.
“What about her?” she asked in a small voice.
“Her?” Ken said in bewilderment.
“You know who I’m talking about,” she told him, “Your little dance partner.”
We’re not taking her with us either, Ken thought. He studied Ana, her brow was furrowed and her eyes were shooting daggers at him. Was she jealous? He smiled as he realized that the thought appealed to him.
Ana frowned at him, “What are you smiling about?”
“You,” he said and planted a quick kiss on her lips. He was pleased that he had managed to render her speechless once again, and took the opportunity to shepherd her into his car.
Ken got into the driver’s seat and revved up the engine. As he backed out of his parking space, she asked him, “Where are we going?”
He glanced at her, her eyes boring into hers, “I’m taking you home. We have much to talk about.”
“You’re going in the wrong direction,” she said after a few minutes.
“No. I am going in the right direction.”
“But my apartment is over there,” she gestured towards the rear end of the car, where he had missed a turn.
“I wasn’t going to take you there,” he said, “I’m taking you to my home. It’s much closer.”
“No arguments on this Ana,” he cut her off, “I’m wet and tired and so are you, I’m not in any state to argue with you.”
“But what will people think?” she asked worriedly, biting on her lip.
He smiled, “I don’t think the paparazzi is out on a night like this, do you?”
Ana started to smile back when she suddenly sneezed loudly. Ken’s dark eyes bore through hers, “We’d best get you out of those clothes quick.”
In spite of being drenched through, his words made her flush. Then she mentally shook her head, Boba, nothing is going to happen. As if.
Read Chapter 24!