Disclaimer:    Inuyasha characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi.  Other characters are property of kidoairaku.  Quotes used for chapter titles belong to the speaker.  Any song lyrics used in this story do not belong to kidoairaku.  Quotes found from quoteland.com and quotationspage.com.

Rating:         PG-13

Summary:    [Sess/Kag] As a singer, young Sesshoumaru, 25, throws a publicity stunt (even though he's popular enough).  A bet: $1 million; he won't fall in love before the age of 30.  And then, he gets a new secretary: Kagome Higurashi…

Genre:            Romance/Drama

A/N:            FIRST: My pen name has changed from "Dark Star" to "kidoairaku."  ^_^  A little late with this answer, but I had a very smart reviewer ask if stars really do have secretaries.  The thought crossed my mind only once or twice, but I decided to leave it alone.  But in any case, I'm told they do have secretaries, but they're called assistants.  ^_^  So, Kagome will be Sesshou's secretary/assistant.

Vow Not To Love

Chapter Three: An Opportunity—the Beginning of a New Life

February 2003

"None of us know what the next change is going to be, what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner, waiting a few months or a few years to change all the tenor of our lives."  —Kathleen Norris, Hands Full of Living

There were many surprises, she could say, in life, but this one topped them all.  Someday, when she would look back upon the event, it would be quite humorous, but for now, Kagome was in shock.  Her slender hand clutched the phone with a death grip, knuckles turning a starch-white.  The man's words echoed in her mind tauntingly.  Kinashita Sesshoumaru…  Maybe it was some other Sesshoumaru and not the celebrity famed in several countries?  Maybe this was just a cruel joke?  No, her mind reasoned, Sesshoumaru is not a common name.  There is only one Sesshoumaru…  Kagome's breathing was uneven.  Miroku had given her the phone number of THE Sesshoumaru?  It was too hard to believe.

Sesshoumaru could just barely discern the breath, which came in quick pants on the other end of the line.  Had he been a little more impulsive, he would have hung up on the stranger, whoever he or she was.  Glancing down at the screen on the cradle, he found the person in question to be someone by the name of Higurashi.  He knew of no one by that particular name, and his memory was quite impeccable.  He would give the person a couple more seconds before he disconnected him or her.  When he was about to replace the receiver, a hushed, inquisitive, and somewhat breathy voice responded.

          "D-did you just say Sesshoumaru?"

          "Yes," he reverted to his charming public personality.  "May I ask to whom I am speaking?"

Kagome relaxed a bit.  The man sounded nice enough.  Perhaps, she got the wrong number?  "Oh, w-well, someone gave me…this number for a job offer…"

          She sounds extremely nervous, Sesshoumaru observed.  Someone with such an attitude would not be fit to follow him around from concert to concert and tour to tour; she just wouldn't seem to have that kind of organized authority about her.  "Who gave it to you?" he inquired.

          Kagome choked on her own voice.  Was this really Sesshoumaru?  Charming and friendly?  "I'm calling for Takekawa Miroku-san," was her answer.

          So this is the girl Takekawa got?  He was amused.  Standing from his desk, he strolled over to the large window, cordless receiver in hand.  "I assume you are qualified for the secretarial position?"

          "I would guess so."

          "Yes or no?"

          "Yes."

          Sesshoumaru smiled into the phone.  Let us see how long she will last.  "Your name, please?"

          "Higurashi Kagome," was the quiet response.

          "Well, Higurashi-san," he murmured, "you will start now.  I will send someone for you and your things.  This position requires your constant presence.  All personal mail and phone calls will be forwarded to this address."

Kagome barely listened.  Now?  He'll send someone for me?  Constant presence?  That was fast…  Though the answer had been apparent the whole time, it finally dawned on Kagome that this was the one and only Sesshoumaru…and she was going to be his secretary…  Oh gods…

          "I'll be expecting you here within the hour, Higurashi-san.  Until then, sayonara."

          "Hai, sayonara," she returned, letting the phone drop from her hand to the soft mattress.

Motionless, she sat for a while.  The blue-gray orbs stared unseeing at her reflection depicted in the mirror.  Who'd have thought?  It took a moment to register the fact that she would be working for the Sesshoumaru, the one and only.  …Inuyasha says he's mean…in many different terms.  Would he be mean to herDoes he treat his secretaries badly?  Is that why…he needed to find another one?  A million other questions rose in her mind, but they fell to the wayside, giving dominion to only one, ringing painfully in her mind.  What will Inuyasha think?

Needless to say, he would be extremely upset to discover his best friend to be working for his loathed half-brother.  He would most definitely react in…a more violent way, as he tended to do.  She shook her head in dismay while gathering her things on the mattress.  How would she be able to explain it to him?  Hopefully…he wouldn't…take too badly to the revelation…

You don't have to tell him at all…

…Could she bear that?

He doesn't have to know…

…Wouldn't that be lying to him?

I won't tell him, she decided with finality, dumping her possessions back into her opened bag.  I don't need to worry him with other problems.  Kagome glanced around quickly and began to mentally list all her 'belongings'.  How in the world can I get all my stuff together in a couple of hours?  I am so screwed…  The task seemed fairly impossible, but being the optimist she was, Kagome would go about trying to get everything ready in the cheeriest of dispositions.  Determination etched in her features, she clapped her hands together and took a deep breath, stalking into her closet.

~*~*~*~*~

Sesshoumaru replaced the receiver with a click, remaining stationary for a moment before striding towards his window.  Nearing late evening, the sky had taken on a darker violent tint, faded by the glaring lights of Tokyo.  He released an inward sigh of relief.  Finding a secretary had lifted a small fraction of the stress he endured off his shoulders; Jaken, though it had only been a day, already proved himself a slovenly assistant.  The celebrity made a mental note to himself to never allow his agent to sit at the secretary's desk again.  Just this morning, Sesshoumaru had noted the occurrence of three or four appointments at once.  It only proved Jaken was in no position to schedule his many events.

Raising an arm to the glass pane, he allowed his body to rely on the window for support.  The golden eyes observed the cityscape through the thick, tinted glass.  Perhaps he should go pick the girl up himself?  After all, there might be questions from her that would only serve to take up his time if delayed until she arrived.  Yes, that would be the solution.  A half an hour would be allotted to her in order for the girl to prepare her things.  Closing his eyes, Sesshoumaru permitted the twilight of Tokyo to wash over him.

~*~*~*~*~

Half past seven and she was finished packing her clothes.  Thirty minutes more would bring the arrival of escort to Sesshoumaru's 'humble abode.'  Stretching her arms and rising, Kagome worked out the knots in her muscles after remaining still for the length of time.  Silence pervaded the air, leaving her eerily spooked.

          "I need some music or something," she mumbled to the still room.

A whining mew averted her gaze to her feet, where, curled around her ankles, was her black and white cat Nekoro.  Kagome's face alighted with a smile as she bent down to scratch the cat's petite ears.

          "How are you, Nekoro?" she murmured.

Another mew answered her.  Rising again, Kagome made her way to the kitchen and poured a bowl of food for her pet, whereupon the feline trotted to dine.  With a sigh, she returned to her room; there were only a few possessions left to pack.  Many of the things, she decided, could be donated or sold.  After all, who would need them after moving in with a superstar?

Carefully, Kagome sorted through the shelves upon shelves of pictures littering her bedroom.  Each photo was placed meticulously in a medium-sized suitcase half-filled with her wardrobe.  Another suitcase lay on her bed, closed and ready to be taken away.  Occasionally, Nekoro would return to check on his caretaker, offering an encouraging paw where needed.

Once fifteen minutes had passed, all her memoirs were stowed away in the case, and she was ready to go.  Making her way back to the living room, she plopped down on the couch and laid tranquilly.

The rapping at the door roused her from the short nap she had obliviously taken.  Slapping a hand to her forehead, she reprimanded herself for drifting off to sleep.  Hopefully, everything she would need was ready to be taken away.  And if it wasn't, then she would have a few problems with Sesshoumaru.  What's his last name again?  She wondered idly.  He never uses it in public…no one else knows it either…what a way to live.  Shrugging, she pushed herself up and rushed to the door.

How he found her apartment was a mystery to her, but obviously he had some sources.  It surprised Kagome even more that Sesshoumaru himself stood there, tall and intimidating, waiting to be invited in.  In truth, she had expected an assistant of his to come for her, but either way, she was fine with it.

          "Um," she stammered, "Come in."

Kagome gestured inside, the celebrity stepping into the narrow hallway and removing the sunglasses from his eyes.  There was near no light out, but Kagome figured, being the important person he was, he didn't want all that much attention at present.  Breathing a deep sigh, Kagome followed him into her living room.

          Stepping into his field of vision, she performed a graceful bow, greeting congenially, "Higurashi Kagome, nice to meet you."  She felt a bit foolish, but she knew full well, amenities were necessary.

          "Kinashita Sesshoumaru, the pleasure's all mine," he responded automatically, returning a shallow bow.

He talks like a robot, Kagome observed, eyeing him furtively.  His politeness seemed feigned, involuntary, and well practiced.  She swore if she looked hard enough she could detect resentment in his exotic eyes.  A smile parted her lips as she gazed up at him.  He looked better in real life than he did on TV, at least.

          "I'll go get my things, and then I guess we'll be off, ne?"

Slipping past him into her bedroom, she gathered her things: a medium-sized suitcase, a smaller one, and her purse.  A final lingering gaze over the walls of her room and she was out.  Upon returning to Sesshoumaru, she found her cat curling around his legs while he stared down at it, arms crossed.  A blush crept across her cheeks as she scooped the feline up, having left the suitcases in the hallway.

          "Gomen nasai, Kinashita-san," she apologized, stroking Nekoro's soft fur.

He made no response when he picked up her suitcases easily, and motioned her to exit the apartment before him.  Kagome quickly complied, grabbing her coat and keys and leaving the residence.  The star emerged right behind her and waited patiently as she locked the door.  Scooping the cat up once more, they made their way to the elevator.

~*~*~*~*~

Kagome felt awkward sitting beside a celebrity in his car's leather interior.  He had made no attempt at conversation yet, and she was unsure if it was her job to or not.  Sesshoumaru left the music off in the car, so for the most part, it was silent.  Beams from streetlights would run over them every so often, since twilight had fallen and the sun gone to rest.

          "Am I allowed to talk?" she asked good-humoredly.  The calm of night had instilled a little bit of reassurance in her.

          "By all means."

          She smiled.  "Could you give the…parameters…of my employment?  I can't say I've ever worked for a celebrity before."

          The golden eyes roved askance to her and then settled back on the road.  "As much would be assumed."  He paused.  "You must understand one thing in this occupation with me."  Somehow, his tone had changed drastically from pleasurably charming to clipped and concise.  "I am not what I appear to be on television or on stage.  My manner is very different from what you may or may not have witnessed.  I am neither charming, imaginative, nor compassionate.  I tell you this only because I wish no surprise on your part in the future should you be exposed to what I consider my 'true personality.'"

It was the most she'd heard come from his mouth when not singing, and this—this was a forewarning.  Kagome nodded, almost dumbly.  Was this what Inuyasha was referring to?  It probably was, judging from the way this Sesshoumaru presented himself.  He certainly sounded very self-confident, but would it go so far as arrogance?

          "Where will I be staying, then?" she asked.

          "In the west wing, where the rest of the employees are."

          "How will I be paid?"

          "Your salary will be transferred directly to your bank account."

          Kagome paused.  That was certainly handy, she mused.  She contemplated a moment before inquiring, "What is it, exactly, that I will do for you, Kinashita-san?"

          "First, you will never use the name 'Kinashita' in public," he stated pointedly.  "And you, Higurashi, will be scheduling various ordeals upon instructions from Hattori Jaken, my agent."

The buildings were beginning to thin on one side, marks of civilization diminishing as well.  Grass became more abundant, filling the majority of the space available on the straddling lots at the roadside.  In the near-distance Kagome could barely make out the faint borders of a gate surrounding a formidable wall of brick, draped with flowering vines of chartreuse, ivory, and violet.  As the car neared the structure, her breath caught in awe, fingers stilling in the caress of her feline friend, whom she had brought with her.

Many words could describe how it all appeared to her, but none could even graze capturing the entire essence of the awe she felt.  Extravagant, lavish, elegant, stunning, awesome, spectacular, marvelous, prestigious; none of them bloomed with a complete description.  She just…had never seen anything so beautiful in her life.  Not once had Kagome even glimpsed the luxury of the modern-day patricians, and taking it in all at once overwhelmed her middle-class mind.

          "Oh my gosh…" she murmured.

Sesshoumaru cast a quick sideward glance to her expression.  A small twinge of smug satisfaction spited his mind.  Obviously, the girl was well sheltered from the extremes of wealth.  If this was her reaction to the simplistic entrance to the subdivision of celebrities, it would humor him to witness her admiration at stepping foot inside his residence.  Not that he would actually laugh aloud, mind you.

He came to a rolling stop as black steel gates inhibited any further progress.  A guard stepped crisply up to the car's open window, flashing a reverent smile at both Sesshoumaru and Kagome before greeting, "Good evening, Sesshoumaru-san."  The celebrity responded with a polite nod and proceeded to hand him what looked like a credit card.  It was completely white save for a dark magnetic stripe running along its back; this card was slid through a small contraption strapped to the guard's wrist and returned to Sesshoumaru.  Must be I.D., Kagome mused idly.  They continued on their way.

Even driving up the road, Kagome felt a sense of wonder, much like that of a child paying his or her first visit to a candy store.  So amazed are they that they stand motionless in the center of the sweet and brightly colored confections, gaping at the magnificence of it all.  Automatically, she began to stroke her cat again, barely paying any mind to the texture of the soft, satiny fur running between her fingers.  The road was paved with brick and lined with towering trees that obscured the heavens from view.  When she noticed her mouth hanging open, Kagome blushed and hastily closed it.  Nekoro purred, and her gaze was averted from the road.  Blue-gray eyes remained there for the rest of the ride.

It was only when she felt herself jerk forward slightly did she look up again, observing a run of concrete steps.  By then, there was someone holding the car door open for her.  Again, her cheeks flushed as she moved to exit the car.  She kept her stare from wandering by focusing on the stormy gray concrete while ascending the stairs.

Sesshoumaru watched, amused.  If his secretary didn't sharpen up somewhat, she would slam into his expensive glass door.  Light hands on her shoulders caused her head to snap up in surprise.  He patiently maneuvered her through the entrance and into his home and shut the door behind him.  Leaning gracefully against the door the star silently observed his amateur assistant.

Kagome's head was tilted to the high ceiling, wondering at the intricate work of crystal chandeliers.  Two grand staircases, boasting steps of carpeted marble, wound around thick columns on either side of the petite hallway.  Immense bay windows surrounded her, swathed with lavish bolts of silks showcasing cool washes of color.  The wood floor felt incredibly foreign under the heels of her ankle boots.  She had never seen things so…expensive…before.  It looks like he spends money as if it were running water…wow…  As her eyes traversed the walls, she once again felt like a child paying her first visit to the candy store.

A/N:                ^_^  I didn't like the last part so much…oh well.  ^_^  LOL.  If there are any complaints of OOC-ness, please tell me.  =(  I like to try to keep my characters in character.  ^_^  That's the beauty of fanfiction, ne?  Thanks for reading!

[Single Spark Fanfic Awards]  I think this story may have been nominated in the Single Spark Fanfiction Awards; I'm not sure, though.  If not, then I've got others that were nominated…I know AIHSF was in, but I'm not sure about others.  ^^;;  Anyways, please vote for me (if you think I'm good enough, and I don't mean that in any…boastful way).  The link can be found in my profile.  ^_^

-kidoairaku