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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cheri - Part 10

Part 10

Chèri slowly became aware that she was awake. She felt wonderful, and tried to remember why. The wine had made things foggy, but she had a pretty good idea what had happened. She squirmed slightly to confirm that she was under someone.
Cracking open one eye, she looked at Reiki, and then gasped when she noticed that they were both completely naked. Groaning, she clutched her head. So, it really did happen…
Reiki woke up as she ran her hand lightly along his cheek. He smiled at her for a moment before kissing her. As far as he was concerned, now was an excellent time to make up for finishing so quickly last night.
Chèri was confused. She liked the way that Reiki touched her, and he had felt so good inside her, but she had been raised that this should never happen before marriage. The two opposing thoughts warred inside her head, causing her to lay passively as he entered her.
“I love you,” he informed her again, in case she didn’t remember him saying so before.
Chèri smiled, murmuring incoherently. She decided that it was far too late to change things now, and relaxed. She could hear people outside, and did her absolute best to be quiet as the need to scream grew increasingly stronger.
“Oh Reiki,” she whispered repeatedly.
“Chèri,” Reiki murmured in response.
She felt something hot inside her, and it made her shake with pleasure. She held Reiki tight, and smothered her cries with his mouth. Meanwhile, he was the happiest man on the planet! To think that she would let him make love to her again now that she was no longer drunk!
Chèri held him to her, panting softly, as long as she possibly could, but she had drunk quite a bit last night, and now her body was reminding her with a vengeance. “Reiki… could you please, um, get off of me?”
“Is something wrong?” He asked in concern.
“No… I just need you to get off of me. Now please!” She insisted.
Reiki frowned, but complied, and then watched as she rushed to the small closet that housed the chamber pot. “Oh…” he murmured in sudden understanding and relief.
From the closet, Chèri entered her changing room, and then finally reemerged in the main part of her bedroom wearing a clean white inner houmongi. She finished tying her sash, and then continued to fiddle with it nervously in order to avoid looking at him. Now what? I hope he doesn’t expect me to give up my plans for the future because of this. How could I be so weak?!
Reiki could sense that she was back to her normal self, and sighed in mild disappointment that she didn’t immediately join him in bed once more. He got up, and slipped into his white cotton wafuku. His action prompted her to start making a pot of tea, so he sat at the low to the ground table to wait for her to finish. He stared at the scroll, contemplating what to do.
Chèri noticed the scroll as she waited for the water to boil, and picked it up curiously.
“Um…” Reiki tried to explain, but it was too late.
What?!?!” Chèri demanded incredulously.
“You see, I came here to ask you to…” he faltered when Chèri glared at him.
Her heart was racing in a way that made her feel faint. There were two types of marriage in the Empire. One was utterly binding, and could never be dissolved no matter what the circumstance, but the other was temporary. The temporary version of marriage was designed to allow two people to try out married life for a specified amount of time – usually a year or two – to see if they were compatible. If they weren’t – and didn’t have children – they could dissolve the marriage, and go their separate ways.
Since it was a temporary contract, all it required was a signature from each partner. Chèri had signed it without any idea what she was signing! She was tempted to tear the scroll in half, but… well…
She had been feeling guilty. She had been raised to wait for marriage, and she had always done so until now. The thought that she had gone against her beliefs was almost painful. Whether she had known it or not, she was legally temporarily married when she’d given into temptation. This made her feel slightly better.
Even so, she slumped in depression. “So you do want me to give up my position after all.”
“I won’t deny that that would make me incredibly happy, but what I originally had in mind was this... I wanted you to sign that contract for temporary marriage. It’s for a year and a month. At the end of the contract, you will have to make a choice whether to remain married to me permanently, or…”
Chèri nodded knowingly, “Or let you marry someone else. You can’t put that off forever. You should probably take another wife once I’ve returned to Topaz Region anyway…”
Reiki sighed. “You’re probably right, but… My father had seven wives and seven princes. That’s not even counting the Princesses that were born and mysteriously disappeared over the years… No one could ever deny that he was a strong and well respected Emperor, but neither he nor his wives were happy. I don’t think that taking a bride from most or all of the clans simply to pacify them and give them all hope that the next Emperor could carry their blood is as good an idea as every thinks it is.”
Reiki blushed, and stared at his hands in his lap to avoid looking at her. “I think that instead I should take only one wife, and concentrate on raising my heirs with love. You once said it yourself that I had no one to teach me to be good and kind. Even I agree that it was a miracle that I did not grow up heartless and cold. I don’t want my children to have such a miserable childhood as I had.”
Chèri tried her best to maintain a wall around her heart, but his words opened a door in the wall, and she nearly melted. She set the pot of tea – that she’d just finished making – aside, and knelt to hug this man she loved so much. She dearly wished that she could travel into his past, and protect him from the horrors he had lived through.
“What would you have done if I refused?” She asked.
Reiki smiled. “I only asked because I hoped that you would bind yourself to me for at least a year. When I read the report that you had abandoned your position and married Ando Jun, I was heartbroken. That feeling wouldn’t go away even though I knew that it had to be a fake, not even after I was proved right. I know that you can’t put off marriage too much longer either, so I hoped this would give us both leverage to delay the inevitable.”
He took a breath, and stroked her back as he kissed her forehead. She had her head resting on his shoulder, and he wanted to savor every moment that they were together.
“If, at the end of our temporary marriage, you decide not to make it permanent, I do have another bride in mind,” he announced.
Chèri closed her eyes and held her breath until the stinging went away and she was sure she could speak without faltering. “I see. That’s as it should be.”
“Haven’t all your dreams come true yet? What more do you want?” Reiki asked.
Chèri pushed away from him just enough to stare him in the eyes. “You can’t be serious! I’ve only just begun! This year, we’re actually going to have animals to sheer, and yarn to spin. I’ve got a herd of sheep on route from my friends in the foreign Kingdom, and trees to plant – Oh! That reminds me!”
She abruptly got to her feet, and retrieved a rounded oval clay pot big enough that her fingers couldn’t quite touch as she held it. “This is for you. It’s some of the apple jam that the people of Topaz City made… I helped,” Chèri admitted with a light blush, pleased that he was about to taste something she had worked so hard to help make.
Reiki smiled, pushing the other topic aside for now. He accepted the jar from her, and carefully opened it, breaking the wax seal. After dipping a finger in the jar, he tasted the contents.
“Delicious!” He announced.
Chèri grinned, and then dipped a finger in so that she could have a taste too. Reiki decided that he wanted that too, and quickly grabbed her hand so that he could suck every last morsel of jam from her finger.
“Reiki…” she protested softly, her heart racing once more.
He gently set the jar on the table, and pulled her into his lap. Dipping his finger into the pot once more, he smeared a dab of jam on her lips, and then licked them clean. She panted as her body suddenly felt about a hundred degrees hotter.
Next, Reiki smear a dab of jam on the side of her neck to lick up, shifting open her houmongi just enough that he could smear some jam on the upper part of her breast. Chèri felt that things were progressing for too suddenly, but whimpered with the need to find out what he planned to do next. She blushed redder than she ever had before as she untied the sash to her houmongi.
We are married, after all…
She dipped a finger in the pot, and then smeared the dab of jam on her other breast. This was her way of telling him in no uncertain terms that she wanted him to make love to her again. She only had a couple of more days before she left for her Regional Palace, and she wanted to make the most of them.
Reiki dabbed a bit of jam onto each of her nipples, and then sucked them clean. Chèri gasped, and shoved her left sleeve into her mouth. So far, no one seemed to have heard anything, but they didn’t know she was already temporarily married, so if they did hear something, the rumors would spread until her reputation was ruined.
Reiki scooped up a gob of jam, and then drew a line from the valley between her breasts to her belly button. He took his time to ensure that he cleaned up every bit, and then moved on. This time, he didn’t use any jam, he simply spread her legs and buried his face.
Chèri had to shove both her sleeves into her mouth to muffle the squeals coming from her now! She was embarrassed that he was seeing her most intimate spot, and wanted to stop him, but she knew that if she moved her hands away from her mouth, the whole Inner and possibly Outer palace would hear her! Oh Gods!
Reiki waited for her body to stop shuddering from the pleasure, and then positioned himself to enter her. He barely slid all the way in when someone knocked at the door. They both froze.
“Imperial Majesty,” Ran whispered urgently. “Are you in there?”
Ko did not whisper. “Now that everyone in the Inner Palace has gone into the Imperial City for some celebrations, now would be a good time to come out if you are hiding in there.”
Reiki covered Chèri’s mouth as he whispered in her ear. “If we’re quiet, maybe they’ll go away.” She nodded in agreement, absolutely not wanting to be caught like this mere feet from her door.
Reiki grinned impishly, and then resumed his slow thrusting.
“Maybe he simply got up very early and went into town with her,” Ran suggested.
“I suppose it’s possible, but I’m more concerned about where he spent the night. His bed hasn’t been slept in,” Ko murmured.
Chèri would have glared at Reiki for what he was doing to her considering that he had suggested she be quiet, but she was unable to think straight. It was getting to the point that she was considering shouting at Ran and Ko to go away and let them finish, but she rightly feared that that would only provoke them into investigating her reason for shouting. She clung to Reiki, and muffled her panting with his chest.
“Well… what should we do? Should we go look for him in town, or should we wait for him in his room?” Ran asked.
The threat of being caught at any moment made Reiki finish far sooner than he had planned. He lightly bit Chèri’s shoulder to smother the grunt of satisfaction he was tempted to loudly voice.
“He has so much to do today!” Ko growled. “I swear I’ll murder him if he’s off in town trailing after my cousin like a well trained dog!”
“I heard that!” Reiki protested before he could stop himself. He quickly made certain his wafuku covered them both as he added. “Don’t come in here!”
“Reiki, you idiot!” Chèri hissed as she hit him on the shoulder. He pretty much just told them what we’ve been doing!
Satisfied that his guards were following orders – they were too busy gaping at the door to think about opening it – Reiki got to his feet, and helped her stand. They both hastily fixed their clothes, and retied their sashes. He nibbled on her ear.
“As much as I would like to stay here all day, I really do have things to do,” he whispered. “I’ll return tonight.”
Chèri nodded, blushing as red as she possibly could once more. She watched him place the cover back on the pot of jam, and carry it to the door. “I l-l-look f-forward to t-tonight.”
Reiki abruptly returned to her side, and pulled her close. “Don’t turn me on like that!” He whispered a warning in her ear. “Now I won’t be able to think about anything else all day!”
Regaining her pluck, she grinned. “Good!” Because honestly, neither will I!

㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝

Ando finished giving his highly detailed report to the Emperor. “And finally… I’d like to ask to be reassigned.”
Reiki glanced to Ran and Ko. “Any particular reason why?”
Ran and Ko shrugged to indicate that they were baffled as well. The request made no sense because Ando was perfectly suited to the task, and had done an excellent job so far. Ando made certain to hide all emotion, but betrayed his discomfort by not looking the Emperor in the eye.
“No… No reason in particular. I just assumed that I had served in this position long enough.”
Reiki smiled sympathetically. “Unfortunately, there’s no one else I can trust with this vitally important duty. I need you to continue guarding and helping Chèri for as long as she remains the Regional Director.”
Ando delicately tried to sway the Emperor. “Imperial Majesty… in the course of my duty, I’ve had to pretend to be her husband. I’ve had to kiss her, and help her undress. I’ve had to share my bed with her and keep her warm. I am a man after all, I cannot be expected to control myself forever… I’m not sure that she is safe with me…”
Reiki knew that Ando was basically implying more had happened – or would – than actually had in order to provoke him into jealous. A jealous man would obviously want to remove a rival from his woman’s presence, but Reiki was not jealous. Okay, so he was, but he couldn’t afford to let that drive him into making a horrible mistake.
He sighed, also keeping his face smooth. “Nevertheless, I have no choice but to trust you.” If he truly does love her, then there really is no one better suited or more motivated to protect her. Other than me…
Ando nodded in resignation, and bowed respectfully so that he could leave without offending the Emperor. Reiki watched him go in silence, and then insisted on taking a break so he could briefly return to the small building that was his room. He gestured for Ran and Ko to wait outside, and then pulled out of hiding a plain wooden box that measured 10 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches deep.
He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply to calm his nerves. Finally, he opened the box. It contained only two things – one was the temporary marriage scroll signed by Chèri and himself, and the other was the sheet that had been on Chèri’s bed that night. He had insisted on keeping it because he knew that if they ever did get married permanently, it would be required for him to prove that he had been her first.
He inspected the sheet, and sighed in relief when it reconfirmed what he already knew. She had not bedded anyone else. As much as he trusted her, Ando had a point. He was a man, and something inappropriate could occur pretty easily. All Reiki could do was trust his beloved.

㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝

Ando honestly hadn’t expected Chèri to return to Topaz Region. He was almost certain that she had decided to stay by the Emperor’s side forever. Watching over her as she spent every possible moment with him had been sheer torture for Ando, but he had always known that she loved Emperor Reiki. So, why did she leave him… again?
Ando swept Chèri’s long hair out of the way. They were sharing a bed once more for warmth, and she was sound asleep. If he was a less honorable man, he would do more than hold her and stroke her hair.
Unless something unexpected occurred, they would be back in the Regional Palace tomorrow, which meant that this was the last night Ando would be put through this torture. On the other hand, it also meant that it was the last night that he could close his eyes and just pretend that she really was his. He stroked her cheek, and then flexed his arm that was under her to pull her slightly closer to him. He pressed his nose to her neck, and resisted the urge to kiss her.
He tried to go to sleep, but the thought that he might never get to be this close to her again made it impossible to sleep. He wanted to memorize every moment of this night; imprint it on his mind so that he would never forget it. He loved breathing in her intoxicating scent!
Chèri moaned ever so softly, and sleepily murmured, “Reiki…”
Ando was used to this. As far as he knew, there was not a night that went by in which she didn’t say that name. Even so… it still made him want to cry every time. He shifted so that he could kiss her lips, but stopped about a finger’s width from actually touching her.
If I could kiss the memory of him away, and lock it in a dark corner of her mind, I would! But he knew that if he tried, she would probably be furious with him, or worse… She might even stop trusting him! No one had ever trusted him as much as she did, and he was reluctant to risk losing such a precious thing.
He sighed, and returned to his previous position. This is going to be a long night! Especially since she tended to roll about in her sleep. Every time he got comfortable, she would move – waking him up. Finally, he managed to drift off.
Chèri opened one eye the next morning to find that she was cuddled so close to Ando that she could kiss him if she tilted her head about an inch. She was used to waking up to him by now, and often wondered what it would be like to be in love with him instead of Reiki. Ando was such a good and honorable man. Pretending to be married to him had been fun, and they seemed to get along well.
She stroked his face with her hand, and smiled as he murmured her name. He’s so adorable when he sleeps! It was still dark, only the tiniest hint of light peaking in through the window of the inn they stayed in. While they easily could get up and leave now, they were only about half a day from the Regional Palace, and it seemed like such a shame to hurry.
Chèri decided to let Ando sleep while she attended to her morning needs and made some tea, but quickly realized that it was impossible to get out of bed without waking him. She was trapped; one of her legs rested between his, one of her arms cradled his neck, and her other arm was sandwiched between his side and his arm.
She closed her eyes, and let him sleep as long as she could, but soon, she urgently needed to get out of bed. “Ando… please wake up!” She whispered.
He instinctively squeezed her tight. His senses searched for danger as he tried to open his eyes. He hadn’t gotten much sleep, but his training included how to function while tired. “What’s wrong?”
Chèri waited for him to realize that nothing was wrong, and smiled when he finally managed to look at her. He blushed when he discovered how close they were. “Nothing’s wrong per se… it’s just that I need to get up. Now please!”
“Sorry!” Ando apologized profusely, and then shifted so that she wasn’t trapped by him.
Later on, they rode through Topaz City greeting people as they went. “Lady Chèri!” everyone called out happily. The difference between now and this time last year was truly striking!
“Do you see, Ando? I’ve made a difference,” Chèri whispered, smiling. “I only hope I can do even more!”
“Yes, my lady,” Ando whispered in return.
“I have a feeling that this year is going to be even better than last year!”
They bought some food, and then went straight to the temple. There wasn’t much to do during the coldest part of winter, so Chèri figured that she would cheer the residents of the temple up. Instead, they surprised her.
“Lady Chèri!” Honto greeted her.
“Honto, what are you doing here?” Chèri asked.
“All of us that you called into consult with you decided that since we have some time on our hands, we’d get together to share our respective knowledge with anyone who wants to learn it,” Honto explained. For him, he had a bit more time because the animals had all been allowed to stop producing milk for the year, and only needed to be fed twice a day. Plus, he had several people to help him, which made the work go by quickly. He sat in a corner with a few other men who were curious about ranching. Other men gathered around a couple other local experts in various trades.
The majority of the women in the even more crowded than usual temple were sitting around an older woman. She was the one Chèri had invited to consult on spinning yarn, dying it, and then using the yarn to knit garments and accessories. It was Chèri’s plan for her people to create as many products to sell as possible in the hopes that it would bring much needed revenue into her region.
Chèri covered a smile as she walked towards the kitchen. Looks like my plan is working!

㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝

“Are you well, my Lady?” Ando asked. “You look a bit green.”
Chèri immediately turned away from him so that he couldn’t see her face any more. “I’m fine,” she replied, hiding the fact that she was queasy. She was blessed with good health and almost never got sick. She didn’t want to admit that she might need to rest for a bit, especially not now that she had a ton of paperwork to review.
“Are you certain?” Ando pressed. “If you’d like, I can come push on your back tonight.”
Chèri laughed. “It’s not cramps!”
“So there is something wrong,” Ando smirked.
“No!” Chèri insisted. “I told you, I’m fi –”
Ando watched all color drain from Chèri’s face, and then noticed a fine sheen of sweat bead across her forehead. She slapped a hand across her mouth, and rushed to the small closet that contained a chamber pot. His first instinct was to try to help her, but there simply wasn’t room for more than one person in the closet, and besides, he had no idea what to do.
He paced her work room in silence. Of all the rooms she could have chosen in the Regional Palace, she purposely chose a smallish room to do her work in. It contained nothing but a table and a couple of chairs. The only luxury it had was the closet with the chamber pot.
Chèri claimed that it helped her focus on her work if she had no distractions, but Ando suddenly wished that she had a handy mat or some cushions in the room. It had to be obvious to even her by now that something was actually wrong. If he didn’t force her to rest, she would only get worse.
“I bet you caught a nasty cold during our return trip,” he theorized when Chèri emerged from the closet.
“It’s possible,” Chèri finally admitted. “However, if that’s true, why hasn’t it affected me before now? We’ve been back nearly a month.”
“My guess… you’ve been working around the clock the last couple of days. The cold probably finally found the opening it needed. I think you should go to bed and rest.”
“But Ando! I have so much to do! It seems like every official in the Regional Government has suddenly come up with a plan that I need to review and make a decision on! If I go to bed now, it’ll take that much longer to get through it all!” Chèri protested with a whine.
“It’ll take even longer if you make yourself seriously sick,” Ando pointed out.
Chèri paled again, and swayed unsteadily. She was looking a bit greenish again, and had one hand on her stomach while the other covered her mouth. Ando decided not to argue with her anymore and simply swept her off her feet.
“I don’t care how much you fight me, I’m bringing you to bed!” Ando announced as he carried her into the hallway.
“Oh my!” A maid gasped as she quickly stepped out of their way.
“It’s not what you think!” Ando stated with a blush. “My Lady is ill, and she needs some rest. Please have some chamomile tea brought to her room.”
Chèri groaned. “No, not chamomile. Bring mint or ginger tea.”
“Yes, my Lady!” The maid responded obediently. She had been about to deliver a pot of tea and a light snack to the Regional Director, but rushed back to the kitchen to carry out her new orders instead.
Naturally the maid told everyone in the kitchen about Lady Chèri’s illness, and soon everyone in the entire Palace knew that the Director was sick. The doctor assigned to care for the residents of the Regional Palace arrived at Chèri’s bedroom door just as the maid delivered the mint and ginger tea – lightly sweetened with honey.
“Ando, send the doctor away!” Chèri whispered urgently “I’m fine! I just need some rest.”
“I’ll be the judge of that, my Lady,” the doctor insisted with a kind smile. Chèri sighed exaggeratedly, but allowed him to examine her.
Ando ushered the maid out of the room, and then waited in the hall. He paced nervously during the examination, but did not intrude. The maid asked him if he wanted something to eat or drink, but he refused, so she left him alone.
Time passed, then suddenly Ando heard Chèri shout, “What?! Are you serious?!” He burst into the room in case she was somehow under attack.
Chèri had undressed during the exam, and now wore only her plain white inner houmongi. She clutched a blanket to her chest as she gaped at the doctor.
“Yes, very serious,” the doctor assured her.
“Don’t you dare breathe one word of this to anyone! If I so much as hear a rumor about this, I’ll demote you, and send you to a remote mountain village permanently!” Chèri threatened.
“My Lady, what’s wrong?” Ando demanded.
“Nothing is wrong, I just need some rest, and then I’ll be fine!” Chèri practically shouted, obviously upset.
Ando glared at the doctor. He looked reluctant, but then plastered a smile on his face. “She’s right. There’s nothing wrong, and she’ll be fine in no time at all.”
Ando was angry that the doctor dared lie to him. It was his job to protect her, and to do so, he needed to know everything about her, but he couldn’t force her to confide in him, and he didn’t think the doctor would tell him after a threat like that. He gestured for the doctor to leave.
The doctor hastily complied, and Ando crossed his arms to stare at Chèri. He had nothing else to do, so he planned to hold his ground until she broke down and told him what was going on. She avoided looking at him, and snatched a cup full of tea from a small table near her bed.
Chèri drank her tea until the cup was empty, and then fiddled with the cup. Her gaze was vacant, and it was obvious that her mind was elsewhere. Ando started tapping his foot in an attempt to subtly pressure her.
Chèri sighed. “Ando, please leave. I need to rest after all, and I can’t do that with you glaring at me.”
Ando did the exact opposite, and sat on the edge of her bed. He took one of her hands in his, and did not wait for her to look him in the eye. “My La– … Chèri, please… Please tell me.”
Chèri took a deep breath and then held it. She finally released it with a soft groan of defeat. “If I tell you, you have to swear that you won’t tell anyone… I mean it, not a single person. Not even…”
Ando squeezed her hand. “I promise! Is it terrible? Are you dying? Is that why you don’t want anyone to know?”
Chèri laughed, and then sighed. “No… I… I’m… pregnant…” She whispered the last word in case anyone was trying to listen in.
Ando felt his heart stop. He didn’t know it, but his mouth was hanging open in shock. He could not respond at all for several long moments.
“Now do you see? No one can find out!” Chèri insisted.
Ando shook his head. “No, I don’t understand why you need to keep this a secret.”
Chèri blushed. “Because of who’s involved. For one, this is not the kind of news that can just be coldly announced in a letter. I need to tell him in person. More importantly… if anyone found out that he has,” Chèri pointed to her stomach as she silently mouthed the words a child, “I’m afraid that someone might… object.”
“I think you’re being overly cautious. In fact, I think you are making a huge mistake. We should be packing up to return to the Imperial City. You should send a messenger bird stating that you plan to resign, and respectfully ask the Emperor to assign someone else,” Ando had plenty more advice, but faltered at the murderous look on her face.
“And that is the final reason why no one must know,” she growled. “It would be mentioned over and over that I should not be here. Why not?! I’m not mentally incompetent! I am perfectly capable of carrying out my duties! I’m needed here, and I’m not leaving now!”
Ando held up his hands placatingly. “I understand. I won’t say another word…”
Chèri rolled her eyes. “But…?”
“However… what about, you know,” he pointed at her stomach. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was going along with her mildly paranoid refusal to mention the words out loud, but it seemed like the best way to keep her from yelling at him again. “You are sentencing an innocent person to a very hard life. Unless you return soon and get married, you’ll be branded an unpleasant name, and the innocent one will never have a very important person around.”
Chèri sighed. “You’re right… I keep thinking about me, and not what’s best for a small innocent person. Even so… I think helping my people is the most important factor. I don’t want them to lose all the progress we’ve made, and there’s no guarantee that someone new would be appointed Regional Director anytime soon. Even if someone were, who’s to say that they won’t abandon my long-term projects in favor of something that might temporarily bandage the problems, but not actually fix them?”
Ando knew when to concede defeat, but he had one last thing to try. “I understand… Will you at least consider a different solution? If you married… me, you could stay here, remain the Regional Director, and most importantly not have to hide this from anyone. I daresay that when people find out, they are probably going to think that we…”
Chèri smiled. “I’m honored that you would go so far just to protect me from gossip and name calling, however… I’m already married.”
Ando was more confused than ever, and felt a stinging in his eyes. He let go of her hands, and got to his feet. “I see… I think it’s about time that I let you get some rest.”
Chèri watched him force himself not to run out of the room, and then curled up in her bed. She had suspected for a while now that he had feelings for her, but she couldn’t acknowledge them in the slightest. If she did, she would only make an already complicated situation worse.
He had a point though. If she had married him instead, no one would object to her remaining right where she was, and he was already here to protect and support her. He would remain with her for as long as she stayed, and people already thought they were probably lovers.
It would have been the perfect solution, if only she hadn’t fallen hopelessly in love with Reiki…
Chèri wiped a tear from the corner of her eye, and drew her blanket up over her head. “Oh Reiki… I wish you were here with me…”

Go To Part 11 

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