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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cheri - Part 9

Part 9

“Bah!” Chèri slammed the scroll on the table in frustration. “There simply isn’t enough money!”
Ando was bored. He had nothing to do now that Chèri was safe, so he watched her pace in frustration.
“Even if I used the rest of the money my uncle gave me, it wouldn’t be enough to make a real difference! Besides, it would be a mistake for the people to think that I would use my own money to help them when I am supposed to be using their tax money…” She sighed, momentarily drained.
The Assistant Regional Director, her second in command and the person who had tried to oversee the Region for the past few years, nodded his head in sympathy. “Now you see our problem. We have long winters full of snow and almost no income producing products. Even when we have weather suitable for growing crops, we have almost no land to cultivate. It’s all large rolling hills! This region is suitable for growing nothing but grass!”
“Too bad the people can’t eat grass…” Chèri muttered in mild depression. “Eat… grass…? Eat grass!!!” She exclaimed.
Her Assistant stared at her as if she had lost her mind. “No, the people can’t eat grass!” He insisted.
Chèri laughed. “No! But you said it yourself; grass is pretty much the only thing we have, right? So… why don’t we turn it into something we can eat? Better yet, turn it into something we can sell!”
“I… don’t understand,” her Assistant responded hesitantly.
Chèri put her arm around his shoulders. “Listen, Rei… If you were in charge of a different Region, the Ruby Region – for example – you would have no trouble trying to govern the people, right? You’d see to it that the crops were planted on time, and that the taxes were paid after they’re harvested and sent to market. Ruby region is abundantly fertile, and blessed with two growing seasons: spring and fall. But you have problems here because we do not have such ideal conditions, right?”
Rei nodded.
“You’re overlooking something important. Those regions that are blessed with beautiful weather and flat lands also have cows for milk, right?”
“Yes…” Rei admitted hesitantly.
“Well, cows eat grass! They’re not the only ones either. In this region, the most common meat is goat because wild goats thrive here and are easy to hunt. If our land is not suited to crowing crops, then why not raise animals? If we choose the right animals, we’ll be able to do so much more with them than just eat them. There’s milk, butter, cheese…” Chèri paused to let this sink into Rei’s head.
When he started to slowly nod, she continued. “Then there are the things that aren’t food related. When I was younger, I spent a few years in a far away Kingdom. One of the things they were famous for was an animal they raised called a sheep. The sheep’s hair was ideal for spinning into yarn and then knitting into clothes or even weaving into textiles. Our main problem is our lack of export products, so why not encourage our people to make some?!”
“I see…” Rei chewed on his bottom lip as he thought this over. “There’s still a problem… How do we obtain these animals?”
“It won’t be easy at first, but if we start small and keep building on our success, 10 or so years down the line, everyone will feel the resulting prosperity,” Chèri stated confidently.
Rei shook his head in disbelief, and sighed. “I tell you what, my Lady, write up a workable proposal, and if I think it has a chance of success, I’ll help you implement it.”
Chèri was tempted to glare at him that he dared to speak to her as if she worked for him, but she decided to ignore it. She had too much work to do if her plans were to be implemented as soon as spring arrived. I know where to start now!

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Chèri handed her finished plans to her Assistant, and then strode outside. The snow was finally almost gone, and she could see the first signs of spring poking through the ground around the regional palace. She was nearly giddy with the thought that she truly was making a difference in the lives of the people.
Quickly realizing that she would need some serious financing for her plans to proceed – even on a small scale at first – Chèri had submitted an official request to the Department of Finance for funding. The Department oversaw all of the money in the Empire, and had the authority to grant her funding if her plans had merit. She could only imagine the uproar her request had caused, but after what seemed like forever, she received a reply.
Her request for funding had been approved!
Chèri stared at the sky with a silly grin on her face. She honestly felt that things were finally looking up for the people of Topaz Region. “I suppose that it’s too cold here for cherry trees…”
“My lady?” Ando asked curiously, not quite certain he had heard her correctly.
“I love cherries,” Chèri explained.
“There are a few varieties of cherries that grow in this region, but mostly you’re right. You’ll find far more apple and plum trees. Also, there are trees that produce sap,” Ando explained. “The people here often tap these trees to make syrups.”
“Does that make a good export product?” Chèri wondered.
Ando thought this over. “I suppose it could, but generally those who do it share what they have with those that don’t. I don’t think anyone has given much thought to selling it.”
Chèri felt like she had just been struck by lightning! “Ando! Let’s go out for a bit!”
Ando would have followed her anyway, but she ensured his compliance by grabbing his hand and dragging him after her. He usually tried hard to maintain a healthy distance between them at all times, but she liked to throw him off kilter like this… or so he liked to believe. In truth, she probably had no idea that he was so heavily affected by her touch.
She let go of his hand so he could ready one of her horses, and then she mounted with only a little help from him. She could almost ride the horse by herself now, but preferred to have him supporting her. He settled himself on the horse behind her, and hesitated for only one moment before wrapping one arm around her.
“So… where are we going, my Lady?”
“Just for a ride around town,” Chèri replied, snuggling into him slightly.
They rode through town, and Chèri chatted with everyone they came across about trees. As it turned out, quite a few people that lived in Topaz City had fruit trees or sap trees in their yards. People would take what they needed or could preserve from the trees, but admitted that quite a bit of the fruit went to waste.
“I know that look, my Lady,” Ando stated warily. “Just what do you have in mind?”
Chèri grinned, then flapped her hand dismissively. “I feel like visiting the temple.”
Ando knew that this also meant that they’d need to visit the food market to buy some fresh ingredients, so he guided their horse to a stall run by the Merchant’s Guild. This time of year, only the imports from the merchant’s guild managed to feed people, and only if the people had money.
Chèri bought what she could for a gold coin – unwilling to spend too much on food. After all, if she spent everything she had now, she wouldn’t have anything left to spend later, and who knew if it would be even more desperately needed by then. They lugged their purchases to the temple, and even Ando grinned when they were greeted like returning heroes.
“Lady Chèri! Ando!” People, especially the children, cried out happily.
Chèri immediately got busy cooking in the temple kitchen, and Ando stayed out of her way by distracting the children with a game of catch. A short while later, a man arrived. No one noticed him until he was standing awkwardly in the entrance to the kitchen.
He introduced himself. “I’m Honto, and I’d like a place to stay tonight.”
The Priest in charge of the temple greeted the visitor, then asked. “What brings you here?”
“I’ve been invited by the Regional Director to consult on a new program, but I don’t really have money or a place to stay,” Honto explained.
Chèri smiled at him, her hands elbow deep in a dough she was making so that she could roll it out and cut it into noodles. “If the Regional Director invited you, then perhaps you should go to the Regional Palace and ask to stay there.”
“Oh no! I couldn’t stay in a fancy place like the Regional Palace!” Honto protested. “The Regional Director is a true blooded Lady, and I’m sure she would never deign to actually speak to a simple rancher like me!”
Chèri shrugged. “I don’t know about that. I’ve heard that the Regional Director is really nice and down to Earth. She might even surprise you.”
Everyone in the temple knew that Chèri was the Regional Director – of course – and they all held their breath in astonishment as they fretted over what to do. Manners dictated that they introduce their guest to the Lady, but things had taken a turn towards the strange side. It would be far more awkward to inform the man of her identity now than it would have been when he first arrived.
“Even so… I wouldn’t feel comfortable staying in the Regional Palace,” Honto demurred.
“If you’re certain,” Chèri replied with another shrug. “Head Priest, do you have enough room here in the temple for another?”
“I’m sure we can manage… my Lady,” the Head Priest answered.
A boy of about 12 burst into the kitchen. “Lady Chèri! A messenger has arrived from the Regional Palace. The Assistant Regional Director wishes to know when you plan to return.”
Chèri muttered to herself. “Honestly, the way he acts…” Rei was a smart man, but he did his best work when he had someone hovering over him. She was sure that he was probably nervous that she had taken off without telling him. “Tell the messenger to tell him that I will be back sometime tonight. Also, I am confident that he can handle things in my short absence.”
“Yes, Lady Chèri. Do you want me to also tell the messenger to tell him to grow up and get a spine already?”
Chèri laughed. “No! I’ll thank you to pass on my message exactly as I’ve stated it!” She paused for dramatic effect. “Or no dinner for you!”
The boy gasped as if this was the worst possible tragedy, and then practically saluted as he stood rigidly straight. “Yes my Lady! Word for word!” He disappeared.
The dough was ready, so Chèri began to roll it out. “Honto… exactly what are you here to consult with the Regional Director about?”
Honto was thoroughly confused. The way everyone treated her, she seemed every bit as important as a high ranking lady such as the Regional Director, but the fact that she was dressed like a commoner and covered in flour and other bits of the food that was being prepared suggested that she was not a real Lady. He scratched his head.
“Um… my father is one of the few successful ranchers from the rural part of Topaz region, and he received a summons to visit the Topaz Capitol City. He’s far too busy this time of year, so he sent me,” Honto explained.
Chèri realized that he looked about 25, which was old enough to know his trade and yet young enough to still crave a bit of adventure from time to time. It made sense for his father to have sent him. She smiled encouragingly.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Honto. I’m Shurin Ruby, Regional Director… but you can call me Chèri,” she informed him with a slight bow.
Honto went bug-eyed, dropped to his knees, and bowed to her. “My Lady! I mean Regional Director! Please excuse my rudeness!”
Residents of the temple laughed. They all remembered the first time they realized that this sweet and caring woman was actually the Regional Director. They’d all reacted the same way, but she had soon set them at ease.
The Head Priest placed a hand on Honto’s shoulder. “There’s no need for that. Lady Chèri is far more comfortable if you treat her with simple respect.”
Honto nodded slowly, and got to his feet. Chèri grinned at him.
“Excellent! Tomorrow, you’ll need to visit me in the Regional Palace so that I can fill you in on your duties. In the meantime, let me just tell you that my new program is designed to help more people become successful ranchers. I sincerely hope that you’ll be able to help me achieve my goals.”
Honto thought this over, and then nodded. He smiled. “It’ll be my pleasure… Lady Chèri.”

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Chèri rubbed her hands together in glee as she surveyed the land surrounding her Regional Palace. She was standing on the highest point of the roof – this palace was designed as one large building to house and shelter as many officials and people as necessary – and the land looked beautiful for as far as the eye could see. She slowly turned in circles as she tried to take it all in.
“Ando, isn’t it wonderful?” She asked giddily.
Ando did not appreciate heights, so he kept his gaze firmly on her. “Yes…” he agreed vaguely.
Chèri pointed at something in the distance. “Look! Honto’s doing an excellent job, wouldn’t you agree?”
With the granted funding, Chèri had obtained some livestock – all of which would provide more than just meat. The biggest prize was a type of goat with soft hair perfect for spinning into yarn. Next year, she hoped to have a small herd of sheep to breed too, but they weren’t native to the Empire, so there was no guarantee that they’d survive here.
The best part of her program was that anyone who was able to work but didn’t have a job could just show up and be trained as a future rancher. It was Chèri’s goal to grow the ranch until it was big enough to branch out. At that time, they would need all the qualified people they could get to start up and work on the new ranches.
But that was years down the line…
Chèri turned to face Ando, and found him looking a little greenish. She laughed, and decided to take pity on him. “I think we should go back inside. It’s time for me to get ready to go anyway.”
Ando nodded, his stomach threatening to rebel if he stayed out here much longer.
“I can’t believe it’s already fall!” Chèri exclaimed. She’d been so busy all summer that her birthday had passed without her even noticing it! The fact that she was now 18 paled in comparison to the fact that she was actually making a difference in the lives of the people.
She had called in several regional “experts” to help her implement all the aspects of her plan, and now things were starting to look like her plan would actually work! She couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out. It would be hard to simply watch as the Region recovered, but eventually, it would recover, of that she was certain.
Ando followed her quietly. He was normally not a talkative person, but he had been even less so recently. A week ago, Chèri had insisted that he push on her back until she fell asleep three nights in a row. He was used to doing so for her, but this time had been different. This time he could not stop thinking about all the other things he wanted to be doing with her.
His thoughts of the future he wanted with her were hard to push back into the locked mental compartment they came from, and he could do nothing but brood on them. If she remained the Regional Director for the rest of her life, then she would not be the Emperor’s wife. Did the Emperor expect her to remain unmarried in such a future?
Ando couldn’t help but notice that the perfect husband for Chèri would be a man who could support her in her role as Regional Director. A man that could be by her side and devote his life to her… A man like him…
He shook his head vigorously in an attempt to banish his thoughts. Such thoughts were futile! Yet… they refused to leave him alone.
“Something wrong?” Chèri wondered.
“No, my Lady,” Ando murmured as convincingly as possible.
Chèri sensed that he was lying, but opted to let the matter go for now. They mounted one of her horses, and rode to the temple.
“Lady Chèri!” People greeted her happily as they went. The atmosphere was almost festive, and everyone was excited.
Chèri waved in return, and took the time to chat.
“Look! Our tree produced so many apples this year that we could plant an orchard if we had the land!” A woman called out, pointing at the overflowing baskets that her husband and children helped her to carry. Everyone who had an apple tree in their yard had agreed to Chèri’s plan, and now lugged the excess fruit that would otherwise go to waste to the temple.
This made it difficult for Ando to guide their horse, but finally, they arrived. Chèri mentally calculated how many apples the people had brought, and nearly swooned when she realized that there was far more than she anticipated. She placed a hand on her heart to calm its thunderous beating.
“Everyone, listen up! I know that you all know how to preserve apples, so I say that we divide these into groups. One group can work on making apple butter and jam. A second group can work on making apple sauce. All the excess juice from the first two groups can go to the third group in charge of making wine. Likewise, the pulp from the third group can go to the first two groups… and remember to save the seeds!” Chèri commanded, and watched as people voluntarily separated into groups and got to work.
This was actually new to her, so she decided to help out each group for a bit to learn more about what they were doing. Aside from the apples, everyone had brought something to eat, and after they were all finished, they planned to celebrate with music and dancing.
“All this…” Chèri murmured with her hands on her cheeks. “Is what is left over and would have gone to waste!” It was unbelievable!
A woman – one of the ones that lived in the same building as Junai – grinned at Chèri. “No one ever thinks about it. We all take what we need, and leave the rest for nature to deal with. We think that there’s not much left, but a little bit here, and a little bit there, and look! It adds up quickly!”
The temple’s big kitchen and spacious yard was perfect for processing all the apples. At the end of the day, there were hundreds of various sized clay jars full of apple products and sealed with wax. An awed silence fell over the crowd. Chèri was nearly glowing with pride.
The Head Priest directed the largest of the jars – which were full of juice that needed to ferment into wine – into a warm storage room. A priestess selected the amount promised to the temple, and the rest was given to a representative of the Merchant’s Guild. Chèri made the representative sign the scroll outlining the contract between her and the Guild. They would export and sell the applesauce, jam, and butter, and then send her a portion of the profit. She didn’t think it would amount to much, but every little bit of revenue for the region would help!
“Ando…” Chèri murmured to her guard as she contemplated the results of their day. He hovered near her as usual.
“Yes, my Lady?”
“I should bring a jar of this with when we visit the Emperor.”
Ando forced a smile. “I’m sure he’d like that.”

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Each New Year, all of the Regional Directors were called back to the Imperial Palace to meet with the Emperor and his council so that they could report on their progress and talk about their plans for the future. Chèri had missed the previous New Year because she was busy rebelling against the criminal controlling the region, but this year she had no excuse. She had to attend.
Therefore, she and Ando left Topaz City about a month before the New Year, leaving things to her Assistant to handle. She also left Rei with strict instructions to let the commander of the local militia – a trustworthy man in his 40’s – take charge if it looked like another criminal planned to take over. Between the two of them, she was certain her region would be safe in her absence.
Ando wanted to travel in a manner befitting a Regional Director, but Chèri insisted on traveling the same way they had when they arrived. It was the middle of winter, of course, so she brought warmer blankets and clothes, but the only other compromise she agreed to was trying to find some warm shelter every night. Even if the shelter happened to be an expensive inn.
Chèri was secretly grateful for Ando’s insistence on shelter, and snuggled into his warmth each night. Being born and raised in the Imperial Capitol, she was not used to just how cold it got in the Topaz Region. Not even her time abroad seemed quite this cold.
Meanwhile, Ando wanted to cry each night as he held her. This felt so right to him. Having her in his arms was like a dream come true, and he made plans to ask for her hand in marriage as soon as they left the Imperial City to return to Topaz once more.
They arrived in the Imperial City a couple of days early, but rather than go straight to the Imperial Palace, Chèri went straight to Nortown, and visited her father. Sho welcomed her home happily, and the two of them hugged for a good 10 minutes before he let her wiggle out of his arms. Ando hid a smile as Chèri immediately went into the kitchen and started cooking something while she cleaned up the terrible mess her father had created!

㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝㆝

Chèri tugged on one of her sleeves nervously. She was wearing one of the new houmongis that her seamstress had made for her in the Topaz Regional Palace. It had a plain white inner layer, of course, which was covered by a ruby-colored satin layer to honor her clan. The final layer was an absolutely incredible, sheer topaz-colored silk subtly embroidered – in a matching thread – with apples. Her sleeves covered her wrists, and her undersleeves were long, trailing almost to the ground.
Each Regional director had been scheduled with a specific time to come speak before the Emperor and his council. As the Director of the least prosperous Region, Chèri had been scheduled last. This was why she was currently waiting, and pacing the hall nervously. Ando waited with her, but would not be allowed into the room with her.
Finally it was time, and the doors opened to admit Chèri. She paused to briefly survey the room, and had to force herself not to fiddle with her hair – which was styled intricately and adorned with a long ornate hair pin encrusted with topazes – or smudge her make-up. So many people! This had to be practically every Official in the Kingdom!
Chèri gathered up her courage, and walked down the center aisle like the true blooded lady she was. The Officials murmured as she passed them, and she wished she knew what they were saying. It seemed to take her forever, but she finally managed to reach the dais in front of the Emperor.
She dropped to her knees, sat on her feet, placed her right fist in her left palm, and the bowed respectfully. Her sleeves came together to hide her hands, and also hid her face. This was important because she did not yet have permission to look on the Emperor. She held her bow for a long moment as the murmuring about her finally died down.
“Director Ruby,” The Emperor acknowledged, and then gestured for his herald to do his job. The herald loudly read a list of Chèri’s accomplishments as Regional Director, and since she did not have permission to do otherwise, Chèri held her obeisance.
Finally, the Emperor invited her to, “Look up, and tell us if this list is accurate and truthful.”
Chèri looked up, smiled brilliantly at the Emperor, and then glanced around the entire audience chamber. “Yes, Imperial Majesty.”
“Tell me… how exactly did you manage to oust the criminal controlling your region?” The Emperor asked. Chèri knew that the only people that could see her face while she sat here before the Emperor were him and his body guards, so she allowed her face to soften fondly as she looked him over. It’s been far too long since I last laid eyes on him!
“Do you wish the concise version or the detailed version?” She asked.
“The detailed version.”
Chèri nodded, and launched into an explanation of how she managed to hide from the man long enough to rouse the people into helping her. Then, she orchestrated an event to anger him and make him decide to kidnap her. After she was in his grasp, her militia swooped in and arrested him for kidnapping the Regional Director, only he resisted and was put to death.
It took everything Reiki had in him to maintain a smooth face as she spoke. The way she calmly informed everyone that she had purposely angered a hardened criminal and endangered herself had his heart racing. The official report he had received from the soldier following her had been much too confusing to interpret properly, and had not prepared him for her account in the slightest.
He held his breath a moment to regain control, and then replied, “I see… Very clever.” He then had her go over her plans for the future. The other Officials all murmured in appreciation of the complexity of her plans, sincerely impressed with what she had managed to accomplish. Finally, the Emperor dismissed the meeting.
The partition was opened up, turning the meeting room into a ballroom, and the other doors were opened to allow in all of the wives and other women who had not been allowed into the meeting. It was now time to celebrate the New Year! Ando entered the ballroom, but kept his distance. He was dressed as a guard, and that was obviously his purpose.
Chèri mingled and tactfully declined all offers of marriage. She wasn’t able to decline the many drinks that people insisted she have, and as a result, she was soon drunk. This simply made her laugh more and flirt with the many men who wished to sneak off with her.
Finally, Ando couldn’t take anymore of her drunken behavior. “My Lady, I think it is time for you to retire for the evening.” He stated with a respectful bow.
“Ando, my trusted bodyguard!” Chèri giggled. “Have you come to protect me from drinking any more wine?”
Ando bowed again. “Yes, my Lady. Follow me please.”
Chèri sighed exaggeratedly, sounding like an over protected maiden anxious to do what she wanted for once, but nodded and complied. She giggled softly as she followed Ando, and managed not to wobble and sway too badly. While she did have a glass of wine with dinner most nights, she had never gotten drunk like this before.
“Ando, did you hear them? They all praised me! They think I’ve done a good job so far!”
Ando was leading her to the room assigned to her in the Inner Palace. She was going to stay with the Court Ladies for a couple of days until the celebrations were over. Meanwhile, Ando was to stay in the army barracks. He had already received orders to meet with the Emperor for a full debriefing tomorrow.
Chèri unexpectedly decided to dance, and tripped over a rock. Ando caught her, and lifted her into his arms. “Always so troublesome, my Lady,” he murmured with a grin that plainly stated he did not mind in the slightest.
He carried her into her room, and shut the door behind them. He held her for a moment longer than necessary, savoring her scent and the thought that he planned to ask her to marry him soon. “Chèri…” he whispered softly in her ear.
Setting her on her feet, he steadied her. “Hold still,” he commanded. He knew that she was far too drunk to undress herself and that she would want to kill him if he let her sleep in her outrageously expensive houmongi. Carefully, he removed her outer layers, folding them, and leaving her wearing nothing but her plain white cotton inner layer.
“Good night, my Lady,” Ando bade, bowing slightly. He turned to leave.
“Oh Ando… Are you sure? I thought that you would want to keep me warm again tonight,” Chèri giggled. She was referring to them sharing a bed every night of their return trip, but Ando’s longing mind immediately thought of all the other things she could be referring to.
Soon, my lady… Soon I will ask you to marry me, and then we will do so much more than simply share a bed! “I’m sorry, my Lady, but not tonight,” Ando informed her, and then left.
Chèri watched him leave, and then stood staring at nothing for a while. She was drunk enough that she felt giddy, and wanted nothing more than to strip and dance in the cool night air, but she was also slightly lethargic. She almost decided to go to bed and sleep it off when there was a soft knock at her door.
“Chèri…?”
The door opened after only on moment’s hesitation. “I came to –”
“Reiki!” Chèri squealed happily as she flung herself into his arms. “I missed you so much!”
Reiki dropped the scroll he was holding, shut the door, and returned her exuberant hug for a moment. “I came to ask you to sign this –”
Again, he was interrupted by Chèri. This time, she grabbed the scroll off the floor, grabbed a brush from a pot on a table in the corner, and signed the scroll without a moment’s hesitation. Reiki gaped at her incredulously.
“There, it’s signed!” Chèri giggled, tossing the scroll into a pile on the table. She flung herself back into Reiki’s arms, and lifted herself onto her tip toes in order to kiss him.
Reiki tried to resist. By this time, it was obvious that she was utterly drunk. He knew that it was wrong to take advantage of her while she was like this, but her kiss banished all other thoughts from his mind. He wrapped her in his arms, and held her tight.
“Reiki…” Chèri murmured between kisses. She loved him so much that her heart slammed into her ribs. She wanted nothing more than to snuggle into his warmth and kiss him all night!
Reiki was also wearing just the plain white inner layer of his wafuku. He had fully expected Chèri to serve him tea, refuse his request, and then politely kick him out of her room. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined that she would respond to him so hungrily. Well… maybe in his wildest dreams…
It was ironic to Chèri that she wanted to snuggle into his warmth and yet felt extremely hot at the same time. She was torn between clinging to him, and attempting to remove her houmongi. Both needs seemed equally important. She compromised by untying the thin sash holding his wafuku together, figuring that this would get her a bit closer to him.
His chest fascinated her. It was smooth and muscled, and she was certain that it begged her to rub her hands up then down and around to his back. His whole body craved her touch, and she felt compelled to grant its wish.
“Chèri,” Reiki groaned, unable to hold back any longer. He scooped her up, and carried her to her bed. He untied her sash, then tossed her houmongi and his wafuku carelessly aside.
This was the first moment that something made Chèri hesitate. She wasn’t sure why, but the sight of her houmongi on the floor made her bite her lip in thought. She lay on her stomach, having rolled out of Reiki’s arms, gazing at her houmongi, but her mind was too clouded by wine and her desire to touch Reiki to remember why she was hesitating.
Reiki found her back adorable. He stroked her with his hands, and then licked a path up her spine, starting at her sacrum. This caused her to gasp, and squirm. He kissed her neck, thoroughly enjoying the way she half tried to escape, and half tried to lean closer to him.
He rolled her over, and kissed her once more. He parted her lips with his tongue, and briefly explored her mouth. Chèri ran her hands up and down his back, tickling him unknowingly with her nails.
“I can’t wait any longer!” Reiki groaned insistently.
Chèri didn’t really know what he meant by that. In her mind, these feelings were quickly becoming unbearably intense, and she wanted relief. Anything for relief!
“Neither can I,” she murmured, referring to her need for this intense hunger and unnamed want to subside.
Reiki decided to proceed before she could change her mind. He spread her legs, and guided himself inside her. He entered her in one urgent thrust, and then paused to kiss her again.
Chèri felt a sharp pain, and that snapped her mind out of its drunken fog. What am I doing?! She moved her hands to push against his chest, but his kiss felt so wonderful.
“I love you,” Reiki whispered as he started thrusting. Chèri clung to him, feeling incredible. She panted, knowing she was supposed to stop him, but not wanting to.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, and held him tight. “Oh Reiki…” She whispered, then buried her face into his chest to muffle the squeals coming out of her mouth.
Reiki wanted to make this last all night long, but it had been a very long time since he’d last had sex. As a result, he reached his climax far too soon. He held her tight, and kissed her once more.
Chèri felt incredibly sleepy. It had been a long and tiring day for both of them, and so they drifted off to sleep wrapped around one another. Chèri’s last thought was, I love him so much!
In the morning, Ando quietly opened her door to see if she was ready for an attendant to come help her dress. He felt physically sick when he saw the two of them lying naked and tangled up. He covered his mouth with a hand, closed her door, ran towards the first empty secluded alcove he could find, and then sat with his knees against his chest and his head buried in his arms. He unsuccessfully tried as hard as he could not to cry.

Go To Part 10 

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