She woke up feeling sleepy, disoriented, and confused.
It took her a while before she registered how regal her surroundings were. The vast canopy of the king-sized bed she lay on swam into view from above her, where creamy drapes—seemingly made of gossamer silk—cascaded down the sides of the mattress like milky waterfalls. An unlit, glamorous chandelier, adorned artfully with tipped crystal lights, hung from the pale marble ceiling not far away from the four-poster bed, and the room floor was lushly carpeted, her bed elevated on a platform by a few steps. The female appeared to be in an opulent Presidential suite, or a grandiose master bedroom of some sort. She lifted her slim hand shakily and brushed against what was clearly a thick, plush, soft comforter covering her body. Tugging the exquisite material away from her chest, the girl blinked blearily at what she was wearing: a satin, skimpy nightgown, held up by thin straps over her delicate shoulders, with a V-neckline that just about covered her small breasts. She inhaled rapidly when she realised she wore no underwear beneath it.
Her heartbeat quickened as thoughts began to flit through her head, the most predominant one rising sharply in her mind.
Who am I?
She couldn't remember anything about herself; it was terrifying. She didn't remember her own name, who she was, where she lived, her family (if she had any), and even how how she looked like. Her head was an utterly blank slate, and it scared her that she knew nothing, not her age, her face, nor her identity. Why was she here? Was this her home? She felt so lost and bewildered, almost like Alice awakening in the mysterious Wonderland. Her surroundings didn't feel familiar either, though she felt an emotional twinge of a feeling unknown as she surveyed the beautiful, tasteful decor of the room. The girl had no idea how she had gotten here in the first place.
It was then when she realised that she was not alone in the bed.
Her first horrified instinct was to bolt and make a run for the door, but something kept her stationed on the king-sized, poster bed.
Perhaps it was the surreal beauty of the man asleep beside her.
The symmetry of his features was impossible. Unbelievably long, sooty lashes rested against smooth, ivory skin, casting haunting shadows across his arrogantly carved cheekbones. Said cheekbones were high and elegant, as if a sculptor had hewn them painstakingly from chiselled granite with a steady hand. His strong jawline was decidedly masculine, and it was met with thin, perfect lips, and a straight, sharp nose. His glossy black hair, slightly tousled, was swept back from his marble forehead, and she had to resist the urge to reach out and touch those entrancing ebony locks pooling around his pillow.
He lay right next to her under the same sheets, the comforter barely reaching up to cover his hard chest. The male wore a black, velvet night robe, which was open at the front while being tied in a knot further below, revealing the hard, sleek pectoral muscles under it. Upon taking a closer look, she noticed mild pink marks on them, almost like scratches.
Who was he? Why was he in bed with her?
The girl raised her hand hesitantly, her large eyes enchanted by the man's patrician visage like a moth to light. Taking in several breaths, she willed herself not to do what she was so tempted to do.
She couldn't resist, however. Her fingers reached out and lightly grazed the thick silky midnight locks of his hair. It was surprisingly soft, a contrast against the angular, striking structure of his face.
So pretty, she thought dazedly. It was odd to call a man pretty, though his features were strictly masculine, albeit in an exotic way.
And then long, spidery male fingers curled themselves and tightened around her outreached thin wrist, where she had been touching his hair.
Her heart seemed to fly into her mouth, and she froze.
And then his eyelids were lifting, long lashes flickering against smooth skin. She swallowed when intelligent, unreadable obsidian eyes gazed at her. The familiar rich, dark color of his eyes made her heart pound, and strange nostalgia swelled in her chest.
She knew those eyes in the deep recesses of her soul, but she couldn't remember exactly where she had seen them before.
She couldn't remember anything.
For a silent minute no one spoke, his strong fingers still around her skinny wrist like a manacle (albeit painlessly), and her fingertips still buried in his tousled hair. As she became more flustered and intimidated, the man remained unerringly calm and serene.
Then he moved, his arm going to wrap itself around her slender waist. She squeaked at the warm, hard bicep winding over her small body, easily sweeping her closer to him so that her small breasts, barely obscured by her satin nightgown, pressed against the wall of sinuous, ridged muscles of his chest and abdomen. With her entire frame resting so keenly against his larger, almost catlike one, she could feel a particular male hardness brushing towards the junction between her legs, eliciting an unexpected throb of heat in her womanhood. The sensation was so sudden that it completely took her aback, and she realised, her tummy clenching in shock, that like her, he was going commando beneath his night robe. The fact that only a few layers of clothing—being her flimsy nightgown that was riding up her thighs, and his expensive, velvet robe—separated their nether regions made her head reel. Whoever this man was, he did not in any way seem deterred and perturbed by the sexual intimacy and proximity of their entwined bodies. If anything, he appeared shockingly comfortable, and she shivered uncontrollably as he languorously stroked the arch of her slim, satin-clad back with a calloused thumb. His touch stirred more fiery sparks running down her spine and straight to her feminine core.
And then his lips were against her forehead, kissing her gently.
It felt so good.
Too good. This was a man she didn't even know!
She wrenched herself away from the man, nearly toppling herself off the edge of the king-sized bed.
He watched her quietly, though one of his dark brows arched upwards at her sudden withdrawal.
"Who are you?" the girl whispered.
This time, the mysterious male's obsidian eyes, hooded by those lashes, widened. Something almost like surprise passed through his angelic visage. Before she knew it, it was gone, and his face became unfathomable and unrevealing once again.
"Where am I?" she choked out. "Who are you? Who… Who am I?"
For a long moment, he said nothing. He simply watched her with dark, dark eyes.
Then he suddenly moved, and she stiffened, half-afraid and half-hoping that he was going to touch her again. Instead, he picked up something from the bed stand next to him and held it silently out towards her.
A hand mirror.
She took it from him at once, peering into the glass eagerly as her reflection came into view. She hadn't realised just how much she craved the appearance of her own face. It was the only thing she could cling onto right now in regards to her unknown identity.
Hazel eyes that seemed too large for her small delicate, oval-shaped face stared back from her reflection. Dark shadows lingered under her swollen lids. Her skin was pale, so pale that it appeared almost translucent and pallid, and she could vaguely make out the fine, green veins spread out under her skin like a spiderweb. Strands of her disheveled, shoulder-length copper hair stuck to her thin cheeks and to her colorless lips. Her features looked rather plain, she thought morosely. They were nothing special to look at; she had none of the makings of a beautiful woman, with no plump lips and no rosy cheekbones. What was someone like her doing in bed with such a beautiful male?
"I look horrible," she blurted, without thinking.
"You look ill," he corrected calmly.
Her pulse rocketed. His voice was like aged whiskey and crushed velvet—smooth, soft, and lush.
"Do you mean I'm ill?" she said, swallowing. "But I feel alright."
She felt fatigued, actually, now that her shock had slowly begun to wear off. Her limbs were weak and wobbly and her breathing was somewhat labored. Although she had just woken up, she felt exhausted all over again, her muscles sore like she had just ran a marathon.
She stared apprehensively at the raven-haired male. Her stomach churned, though whether from excitement or unease, she didn't know. Her muscles couldn't be sore because she had… she and the male had…?
"Did we have sex?" she squeaked, before she could stop herself.
Her cheeks flamed immediately at her own recklessness.
He regarded her with a hint of amusement in his mien. "If you are asking if we had sex last night, then, no."
What did that even mean? Was he implying that they had had sex on other nights before, just not last night? Or had he deliberately phrased his words to make them sound so ambiguous, and to fill her with doubt?
"How did I get here?" she asked harshly, flinging a torrent of pent-up questions at him. "Who are you? Am I supposed to know you? Do you know who I am? Why don't I remember anything?"
There was a short pause, and then he spoke, evenly and unhurriedly.
"You live here. My name is Tsuruga Ren. You know me, and yes, I know who you are. And you remember nothing because you have been ill for some time. However, you are on your way to recovery now."
Tsuruga Ren. That was his name.
"Ill?" she echoed hoarsely. "Ill with what?"
Right on cue, her belly suddenly rumbled audibly. In the hush of the bedroom, it was startlingly loud, and she blanched in embarrassment and mortification.
"For now, with hunger." Tsuruga Ren's lips were mirthfully upturned, his eyes dancing. "Let's get you something to eat. Wait here."
Abruptly, he rose from the king-sized bed and she squeaked softly at the back of her throat as the tall, feline, muscled body unfurled itself from atop the mattress and made its way gracefully across the spacious expanse of the bedroom in sure-footed strides. His bare feet were silent against the carpeted floor, and his night robe flickered against the sleek musculature of his back and his long, sinuous legs. The man cast a final gentle look at her, still smiling slightly. There was something unreadable in his eyes as he regarded her briefly, but it faded away. His long fingers turned the knob of the door, and then he was gone, like a large, exotic panther slinking boredly out of the room.
She didn't see him again, much to her disappointment. Instead, she got escorted by a tall, black-haired woman dressed primly in a blazer and a pencil skirt out of the bedroom and into a library. Whatever house she was in, it was huge. She and the strange woman had walked down numerous winding, modern-looking corridors before they made it to the library. The girl had stepped into the library nervously, casting her gaze curiously around the expensive European rug on the floor, a gramophone sitting on a desk nearby, and the looming oak shelves containing thick, leather-bound tomes and vinyl records from all around her. Amber lights glowed from the vast ceiling. The air smelled quaintly of wood, mild smoke, and old paper.
She was led to a black glass table where steaming plates of bread, cheese, roasted beef, and mashed potatoes were laid out, along with a teapot. Her mouth watered, and she sat down, then picked up a knife and fork.
In front of the table was an empty fireplace. Above the exquisite marble mantel hung a large, full-body picture of a decidedly glamorous woman. Her head was tilted back, allowing thick, luscious bombshell curls of bronze-colored hair to fall like waterfalls against her bare slender shoulders. Her lashes, coyly lowered, were dusted with silver glitter, making her large doe eyes appear utterly ethereal. Her lips were painted a bold hue of scarlet, and the woman's fingers daintily held a white feather fan against her elfin chin so that the feathers rested softly on her equally milky skin. She wore a black cocktail dress that clung delightfully to her petite curves. While the woman in the picture was not a buxom female, her svelte and slim body was charming and sensual in its own way, her long, gleaming legs draped artfully over the lounge she was sitting on.
Who was this woman? She looked somewhat familiar, but the girl still didn't recognise her.
She shivered, tugging at the long green cardigan over her shoulders that the black-haired woman had passed to her. The emerald silk was lengthy and covered the entirety of her small frame easily, including her thighs. She still felt uncomfortably naked without her panties on, but didn't know how to ask about it.
"I'm Kanae Konotami," the black-haired woman introduced herself shortly, once the girl had taken a few bites of food. "I'm your manager. Ren told me you lost your memory."
The word Ren made her shiver, but she suppressed the feeling. "You're my… manager? What does that mean?"
Kanae eyed her. "You really forgot it all, haven't you? Doesn't this woman—" She thrust a finger at the framed picture on the wall. "—look in any way familiar to you?"
She stared, enchanted, at the woman in the picture. "She's… beautiful. But I don't know who she is."
Kanae snorted. "She's you, you idiot."
She choked instantly on the bread she had been stuffing greedily in her mouth. Kanae passed her a mug of tea to wash it down, and she swallowed the rich substance, feeling disbelief rise in her chest.
The gorgeous woman in the picture was her? That was impossible! She looked nothing like the disinteresting, ashen-tinted face she had seen in the mirror.
I look horrible.
You look ill.
"Your name is Mogami Kyoko," Kanae said, sipping from a mug of tea herself. "You're a singer. A very famous one."
She was… a singer?
And she had a name. She had a name!
"You released your debut album two years ago," Kanae continued slowly. "It was called 'Black and Blue'. It was an album you penned yourself about your experiences with abuse and violence. It was greatly personal to you, and was the best thing music critics had ever heard in a long time. Doesn't it mean anything to you right now?"
Kyoko—for that was her name—felt her heart pound. She tried to remember something… anything.
Her mind was blank.
"That picture," she whispered, her hazel eyes riveted to the glamorous female smiling at her, as if hiding some risqué secret from them. "Is this my home? Did I hang it up there?"
"No," Kanae answered softly. "This is Tsuruga Ren's home. And that picture… It is his picture of you that he keeps in his library."
She swallowed again, then took a shaky mouthful of mashed potatoes, chewing mechanically. The girl didn't know how to process that information. A part of her was shocked, while another part of her felt flattered and flustered at the same time. What flabbergasted her more was that she couldn't remember posing for this picture.
Kanae stood up, and she approached a towering shelf nearby, which contained purely vinyl records.
"Records?" Kyoko asked faintly. "Aren't they a little old-fashioned? Who'd buy them today?"
Kanae smiled, the first time since they'd met. Or since Kyoko could remember meeting her, anyway. "You like that kind of music, Kyoko. Your songs are nothing like contemporary pop music, and that's what sets you apart from most singers today. You like vintage music. Jazz. The blues. Cinematic music. You only ever sing ballads. When you released your new album, you also produced a special edition that wasn't just in the form of CDs. And Tsuruga Ren bought them in that special edition."
She waved the record at Kyoko, then sauntered over and took it out carefully from the package as she stopped before the gramophone Kyoko had noticed earlier. She placed the record onto it, then placed the stylus over the disc.
A few seconds later, a female mezzo-soprano voice hummed vividly in the muted air inside the library, followed by the sounds of a piano playing in the background. It was significantly lower and richer than Kyoko's speaking voice, but it was still unmistakeable.
It was her singing voice.
This wasn't uncommon. Many people's singing voices differed in tone and timbre from their speaking voices. It felt odd and bizarre, hearing herself sing, and remembering nothing of it. She couldn't recall ever enunciating those lyrics with her lips and singing those notes. But she had done it at one point of time in her life within a recording studio, and it was frightening that she had lost that part of herself, and was now facing its reminder.
As Kyoko listened, her singing ascended and grew higher in range and she began belting once the chorus approached. The violins came in, and goosebumps erupted on her arms. It was a melancholic ballad, where the singer described the situation of an abusive—and elusive—parent locking her up in her bedroom during her childhood as punishment for her wrongdoings, keeping her isolated and depriving her of love and affection from other children her own age.
Kyoko blinked back tears she hadn't realised had formed in her eyes. An ache had gathered like dead weight in her chest, and the most infuriating part was that she didn't know why. It was an irrational emotion.
"I don't understand," she whispered. "How did I lose my memories?"
Kanae hesitated, and she lowered her mug of tea, her eyes lowered as she listened to the sad song. "Drugs, Kyoko. Someone slipped a certain kind of drug in your drink at a huge party you were at months ago. This drug has been circulating around the streets and in the criminal underworld for a long while now. We still don't know who did this to you, and Ren is investigating. But don't worry. You're better now, and that's all that matters."
"Ren," Kyoko repeated dumbly. "Just who is he?"
Kanae picked up her mug again, then drank. "The two of you were once lovers. You were madly in love with him, you know."
Kyoko's airways tightened. They were, or at least, had been lovers. Judging by the intimate way they had awoken this morning, she shouldn't have been surprised, but all the same, she couldn't help her reaction, including the rush of thrill in her belly.
"Once?" she echoed.
"Yes," Kanae conceded. "He broke things off and left you. I don't know why, and you never told me. You were heartbroken and utterly destroyed when he left. I had never seen you like that. But when I realised the... predicament you were in, I called him to help you. And so he did."
Kyoko's hands tautened. How humiliating. So basically what Kanae was saying was that her ex-boyfriend had—mostly unwillingly—taken her back because he had to save her sorry, pathetic ass? That somehow she'd gotten herself messed up with drugs after he'd dumped her and now he had no choice but to come help her?
Suddenly, all Kyoko wanted to do was leave. Her painting on his library wall seemed to be mocking her.
"But who, exactly, is he?" she asked instead, unable to stop herself.
"He's a shareholder of Hizuri Enterprise."
The words were ominous. Kyoko instinctively remembered them. Despite her amnesia, she had not forgotten just what this significant enterprise in the world was. It was, after all, basic knowledge of the world. Hizuri Enterprise was the magnificant, massive empire belonging to the mysterious, elusive Kuon Hizuri. He had never showed his face to the media. Many women whom he had slept with in the past had mentioned he was the most beautiful man they had ever met, but no one knew if their unfounded claims were true. His empire, however, was undeniable and indisputable. Condominiums, restaurants, warehouses, businesses—half of the properties globally belonged to the brand name that was Hizuri Enterprise. Residences, smartphones, computers, food, shoes, clothing, and all kinds of consumer products came under Kuon's reign. He was estimated to have a net worth of a mind-boggling fifty billion dollars, and the number was still rising everyday as his company continued to expand.
It was also rumored that his empire had blossomed so far it had spread into the roots of the underground world belonging to the black market. Drugs, weapons, organs—those were commodities being traded and toyed with in Kuon's capable, clever hands, accumulating more and more to his fortune. The authorities had stepped in before, attempting to investigate these rumors, but they were unable to find the evidence they needed to prosecute him. All traces of evidence never led back to the enigmatic Kuon. However, it was becoming increasingly known that the name Kuon Hizuri struck terror in many, although almost no one, save for his closest subordinates, had seen him in the flesh.
Some surmised he took on many personas and alter egos in his private life.
Still, there was nothing to surmise when it came to the hard fact that Kuon was a crime lord, the head of a dark but eerily successful organization, and was not above committing murder as a form of recreation.
And Tsuruga Ren, for some reason, was one of the company's shareholders.
Yashiro Yukihito, dressed in an impeccable suit, led the whimpering, blindfolded man to the sleek, luxurious limousine that was parked in the deserted car park. Blood seeped down the man's wounded temples, dampening his blindfold. Yashiro's arm was slung around the other man's shoulders, and the action seemed almost amiable if not for the fact that a pistol was jabbed against the side of the man's chest, near his nipple.
The blindfolded man shivered in fear as Yashiro's arm jerked lightly, a silent gesture telling the man to stop. He lifted his arm from him, freeing the victim. The blindfolded man's sneakers halted reluctantly on the concrete floor, and Yashiro, never taking his eyes—nor the cocked gun—off the direction at where the man stood, shifted over and opened the side door of the black, polished limousine.
Tsuruga Ren sat inside, dressed in a black overcoat and tight black trousers.
"Lord Hizuri," Yashiro said quietly. "We have the man."
The man who had sold the drug, the same drug that had been introduced to the market by Hizuri Enterprise.
"My Lord," the man pleaded. "I beg of you. I don't know anything."
"Who was the last client that bought a supply of Amnesia from you?" Kuon Hizuri said tonelessly. He wasn't looking at the man at all, but was instead staring coldly straight ahead.
The gun pressed harder against his chest, right where his heart was.
The dealer hesitated, trembling. "It was... a famous actress."
Ren was silent.
The dealer knew what was required of him, and he choked out, "Mimori. Mimori Nanokura. She bought a supply directly from me. Please, I've told you the truth, so let me go!"
"Mimori Nanokura," Yashiro echoed. "She hates Kyoko."
"She must have poisoned the singer then, not me," the man begged. "It is not me, my Lord..."
Kuon glanced briefly at Yashiro, who understood the soundless instruction at once.
The bespectacled man pulled the trigger, and the dealer emitted a horrible gargling sound, before falling to the ground in a pool of blood.
He was dead.
A/N: I wrote this short piece almost a year ago and I came across it again today among my old documents. I figured I might as well post this and share it rather than let it rot in my computer forever. I hope readers enjoyed this new AU. xx