Lookie lookie! A new chapter! See I haven't forgoten about it or the people who enjoy it so much! I wasn't kidding when I said it was hard to find the time to write. (notices last update) OK so it is kind of, almost difficult. But here it is anyways. I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Do I really need to repeat it? I don't own Inuyasha or the rights to it. There! Happy now!
Kagome sighed and reluctantly covered the piece with a sheet, hoping against hope that she would be able to hide her feelings as easily as she hid this latest bit art from the rest world.
The Shape of Love
"Stupid man!" came a muttered oath from Kagura's back office. Kagome looked at the numbers on the desk before her head dropped down once again onto the books that Kagura was paying her to keep in order. Normally she didn't have any trouble doing this. But her mind had trouble focusing on the task before her and it was all his fault. "Stupid egotistical bastard!" How dare he kiss like there was no tomorrow, practically blow her socks off and walk away like that? And then not even attempt to talk to her again for almost two weeks? Who does he think he is? "Jerkface! Horse's ass of a man!"
And it's not like she should care. Nope. He wasn't worth it. There were tons of other guys out there that were at least twice the man he was. Hell, they could probably kiss better than him too. Who was she trying to fool? "Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid!" Kagome lamented while banging her head on the desk.
"Now where is a camera when I need one?" came a voice from the door.
Kagome looked up and removed the piece of paper that had stuck itself to her forehead. "What do you want? Can't you see I'm trying to work?"
"Uh huh, sure." Kagura laughed as she came forward and pulled a paper clip off Kagome's cheek. "I just hate bothering you while you're being so productive too. But it seems I have no choice."
"Kagura, I'm really sorry. I'm just having a hard time concentrating on work today."
Kagura waved it off as she sat on the corner of the big mahogany desk. "Don't worry about it. You've done enough today. From what I can see here you've already got me caught up for the month."
"Any other reason you came back here then, other than of course watching my downward spiral into insanity?"
"Yes actually. You have a visitor. And no, it's not my horse's ass of a cousin."
"Am I that transparent?"
"Only to those who know you. Besides, I happen to like that little nick name. May use it on him myself once in a while. If you don't mind that is?"
Kagome laughed as she stood up and smoothed out her clothes before stretching a bit. "Feel free. So who is here to see me then?"
"A man by the name of Miroku Sedna. Says he is here to discuss business with you."
Kagome pondered this for a moment before her eyes lit up with recognition. "The Miroku Sedna? Of Sedna International Art Galleries?"
Kagura just shrugged as she slid back to the floor of the desk. "I guess so although, be careful about him, Kagome." She said putting a hand on her friend's shoulder. "There is something, not right about that man."
Now more curious than before, Kagome nodded to her friend before walking out onto the shop floor. Kagura's boutique was tastefully decorated and set up with lots of sunlight and soft peach and cream colors. In the center of the shop on a pedestal was a three foot tall bronze sculpture of a mermaid sitting on a rock doing what looked to be pinning up her long hair. Kagome had made it as a gift commemorating Kagura's success in her first store. Instead of finding the apparent owner of a world famous art gallery studying the sculpture, Kagome found him wondering among the lingerie, checking out the faceless mannequins and asking any of the women shopping there if they needed a second opinion.
'You've got to be kidding me!' Kagome thought to herself as she walked up to the tall obsidian haired man. "Excuse me but are you Mr. Sedna?"
The man in question turned around and smiled at the vision before him, wondering at his good fortune. "Why yes of course I am, my dear. But please, call me Miroku. I sincerely hope that you are Miss Kagome Chiba?" He said, raising her hand for a kiss.
'Good grief! Kagura was right about him.' Not used to this type of reaction from the opposite gender, Kagome couldn't help the blush that stained her cheeks. "Yes I am. It is a pleasure to meet you as well Miroku. Although I must warn you, Kagura wouldn't like the idea of you accosting her friends and customers in her store."
Miroku let go of her hand and threw his up in mock defense. "Perish the thought! I was actually only offering to assist their purchases. Totally and completely innocent I assure you. But helping your dear friend's business is not why I'm here. I have a business proposition for you Miss Kagome, and I was hoping you would be interested in hearing it."
"Business proposition? About what?"
"Your art of course. A friend of mine called to show me a couple pieces of yours, insisting that I take a look at them to judge their quality for myself. And as I've never once been lead astray on his judgment, I followed his advice and booked a flight from Paris to take a look at your pieces. Kagome, an artist of your scope and talent needs to be properly showcased. Sedna International Art Galleries needs artists like you to keep in business. That is why I am offering a partnership of sorts."
Miroku smiled. "I thought you might. Although, I normally don't talk business while standing in the lingerie section of a boutique, not that the scenery isn't splendid mind you. Is there perhaps somewhere we could speak that would be more, private and professional?"
"You can use my office in the back, Kagome." Kagura said while coming up behind her. "And I hope you don't mind but I took the liberty of calling Sango if any legal questions should come up."
"Splendid! That should help things move along even faster. Ms. Kagura your face seems rather familiar. Where have I seen it before?"
"There is a billboard or two around here advertising my shop." She said coolly.
"No, no, I don't think so. Oh well, it will come to me later. Shall we go to this office than to begin business?"
Kagome had a hard time catching up with things. While she was shocked that Miroku Sedna had seen her work and thought it interesting, the fact that he actually wanted to showcase it was absolutely mind blowing. Yet Kagura didn't doubt the sincerity of the offer at all if she had already called Sango over. She wondered if this was how Alice felt as she tumbled down the well.
When they reached the relative quiet of Kagura's office, she heard Miroku breath a sigh of relief as he sat on one of the over stuffed chairs in the corner of the office. There were two of these chairs set before the large desk. Kagome took the opposite chair and drummed her fingers on the armrest as she waited for Miroku to continue.
"Now, where was I?" His unique lavender eyes took in the movement of Kagome's fingers and he smiled. "You artist never can keep still can you? What I really want to discuss with you, Kagome, is the potential for your work. From what I understand, you have been under marking the prices of your pieces. And while that kind of sentimentality is cute, I'm sure it doesn't put food on the table."
"I've heard what you are saying before. My family and friends are always telling me that I should charge more for my pieces. But, I feel it is a crime for art to only be enjoyed by the wealthy. I don't want something I've put my heart and soul into to sit in some rich man's vault while they wait for me to die and hopefully put some value on the piece."
"Would you believe me if I said I understand? That is the soul reason I created Sedna International Art Galleries. I want to bring art to the world. And not just any art, but the emotional kind. I want pieces that have heart in them. I don't want just splashes of color or ink on paper, or lumps of plaster. The art that I showcase is the best in the world. Not because it is done be people who have studied all the greats or immortalize themselves because they created a piece only they could understand. I want art that speaks to everyone no matter who they are because it moves them. Kagome, your art moves me. And I've been investigating your work and found that it moves everybody who sees it.
"Did you know that there is not a single person who comes in this store that doesn't spend at least five full minutes standing in front of that mermaid out there just staring at it? Not only that, but their eyes are continuously drawn to it. That, my dear Kagome, is the power you have, the power your art has. And I want to help you bring that talent of yours to fruition."
"Wow." Kagome breathed as she considered the handsome man before her. "You're good. Ever consider a career in politics?"
Miroku just laughed as he leaned back once more in his chair. "What can I say; I'm a man who knows what he wants and how to get it."
"Sure and no one can doubt that. But tell me; let's say I believe everything you just said. How is your company going to accomplish this? Because I'll let you know right now that I have no intention of handing control of my art to someone else. I will not go and make 200 little souvenirs to sell at a gift shop or anything else like that. When inspiration comes to me I create, when it doesn't it doesn't. I will not have someone breathing down my neck waiting for the next piece."
"I was told you could be a spitfire when it comes to your art. I like that. As for asking you to make any amount of souvenirs to sell anywhere, we won't ask you to. And you will be allowed to create whatever you want, whenever you want. The only time we will be bothering you is when we are selling a piece or setting up a show. The only part of the art process that Sedna International Art Galleries will control will be the selling part. And that will be 100 controlled by us. Anything you wish to sell will have to be done through us with the prices set of course, by us." He held up a hand stopping Kagome's protest. "That doesn't mean however that you can't give away any of your pieces as 'gifts'. Any time you wish to make something for a close friend or family member, feel free to do so."
Sango had walked in at the last part of the conversation and now sat in the chair behind the desk. She smiled over to Kagome, noticing the shell shocked look on her face, before reaching out to shake Miroku's hand.
"Well I must say that does sound pleasant and all, Mr. Sedna is it?"
"Please call me Miroku. You must be the lovely Sango?"
"Yes, well as I was saying," Sango narrowed her eyes at Miroku as she laced her fingers together, resting her elbows on the desk to look over her hands as she spoke. "As pleasant as that proposition sounds, lets talk numbers shall we? What percentage of Kagome's profits is your company planning to take from the sales?"
"Beautiful and intelligent? What do they put in the water around here? To come into contact with three of you in one day..." then, noticing the glare coming from the lawyer behind the desk, Miroku cleared his throat and changed the topic. "Yes, well, ah…that is a good question. I do believe 40 percent would be a fair amount."
Miroku smirked while Sango smoldered. "Greedy aren't we? After all, it is our necks on the line here. We market it, display it, and house it. That costs money you know. It is our reputation at risk, don't forget. 45.
"That is robbery and you know it. I could have you investigated by the Better Business Bureau and we'll see just what that does to your reputation. 35."
"Can't we all just get along?" said Kagome in the corner while she watched the two powerhouses collide.
"I agree with the lady. We'll just settle it right now. 30 percent and I refuse to go any higher!" Miroku said with a smirk as he took in both Kagome and Sango's startled faces.
Not one who liked to be taken off guard, Sango was quick with the rebuttal. "Fine, but I want to see it in the contract before…"
"Right here is the contract. I had it drawn up today in fact. Feel free to go over it yourselves. I'll just stroll around the boutique and pick out some gifts for my mother. Kagura looks just her size; maybe she can model some for me. That is where I remember her from. She used to be a model and a very famous one at that. I knew it would come to me. Do you think she will give me an autograph?" Taking in the still shocked expressions on the ladies in the room, Miroku saluted before walking out and shutting the door.
"I don't believe it!" Sango said while going over the contract and breaking Kagome out of her semi-trance. "That man planned on setting the profit distribution at 30 the whole time! I can't believe it!"
"Neither can I. Sango, is it true? Is this really happening?"
Sango smiled at her friend across the desk. "It sure seems that way. And it's about time too. I had my assistant Trish do a background check on his company while I was on the way over here. They check out. So much so that I would highly recommend them over all the other art galleries simply because they seem to be the best. Almost every artist they have ever showcased has made it big. And even those that don't make it huge still do well distributing their art through Sedna. They do clean business too, no doubt about that. Not a single black mark against them, except of course for that man out there. From the prospective of your lawyer, this is a wonderful opportunity for you and there is minimal risk to you should you decide to go this route."
"What does my friend say?"
"Your friend wants to know how you feel about it."
Kagome sighed as she leaned back, trying to get her thoughts in order. Here it was, the opportunity of a lifetime. There was no one bigger or more respected in the art world than Sedna International Art Galleries. Many artists would sell their eyeteeth for an opportunity such as the kind presented to her. But... "I'll be honest with you, Sango. I'm scared. I mean, this is so much bigger than me, bigger than anything I've ever done. What if I fail?"
"Last I checked failure had never been an option with you. Sweetie I know it is scary but that is because it is big. This is the chance to share your art and vision with the world. And if you happen to become obscenely famous and crazy rich, who cares! That is just a bonus. Just don't forget us little people when you finally make it to the top! Because I swear if you do not take this chance, Kagome, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Kagura and I will make sure of it."
Kagome made a un-lady like snort. "As if it were possible to forget your families. Both of whom happen to be multi-billionaires if I'm correct. You could never be considered 'Little people'. But the contract does check out?"
"Yes, would you like to read it over yourself?"
Sango handed it over while Kagome skimmed through the pages. She didn't understand any of the technical legal jargon but she understood the important key notes. Plus it helped having a lawyer for a best friend telling you if the contract was a safe one or not. Taking a deep breath to steady her pounding heart, Kagome set the contract back on the desk and looked up into her best friend's face. "Sango, call the incorrigible man back in here. Tell him to bring a pen."
Sango just smiled and hugged her friend as she got up from the desk and proceeded to do so.
An hour later all three woman were standing in front of Kagura's boutique, shaking hands and talking with Miroku Sedna. "This is a fine day for Sedna International Art Galleries, Miss Kagome. And a fine day for you as well. This is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship!"
"I trust you will keep your end of the bargain, Mr. Sedna." Kagura said as she shook his hand. "I will hold you to it."
"Really," Miroku said, wincing from the sudden pain in his hand. "It was a misunderstanding. I didn't mean to offend you when I asked for a quick demonstration of your catwalk performance skills. Honest. I will never make that mistake again."
Kagura narrowed her magenta eyes at him. "See that you don't."
Yet refusing to let go of her hand, he added injury to insult when he brought it up to his mouth to rub his lips across her knuckles, smiling at her quick indrawn breath. "Allow me, Ms. Kagura to make it up to you with dinner."
"I have plans tonight."
"That is fine. I wasn't asking for tonight, but it is flattering to know you are so eager. Tonight I will be celebrating with Kagome and a few other artists from the area that I have signed over at the Utopian Hotel. Perhaps another night this week while I am here?"
"You just signed a business contract with my friend; it is not professional to mix business with pleasure Mr. Sedna." Kagura glanced over to Sango and Kagome hoping for a little back up, yet found them busy discussing some of the finer points of the contract. No help there. She looked back at Miroku to find him standing much closer than he had been a moment ago. 'The man looks like a damn pirate.' Kagura thought, taking in his deep violet button up shirt, with the top three buttons left undone, and his black slacks. Even his hair was reminded her of a pirate. A deep shade of black, long enough to be put in a low ponytail that went just past his shoulders. He even had an earring in his left ear, a small silver loop. 'Too damn confident too.'
"Finished checking me out?" He smirked with a raised eyebrow.
Kagura sputtered, "I was not checking you out…"
"Really, Kagura, again you flatter me. Besides, though it is true that I signed a business contract with your friend over there, it is not her I'm asking out on a date. The pleasure I seek is with you, not her. So it doesn't matter." With one last wink directed at the speechless woman, Miroku walked back over to where Kagome was standing. "9:00 right? Do you need me to send a ride to pick you up?"
"Nope. I'll see you at the Gardens in the Utopian Hotel. I'm really grateful for the opportunity you've given me, Miroku. I just can't believe you would sign a nobody like me to showcase."
"Everyone just needs a chance to prove their worth, Kagome. I look forward to seeing you take the art world by storm. Dear Sango it was a pleasure meeting you today as well. If ever you wish to become my lawyer, feel free to do so immediately."
"Ha, not in a million years. I'd be fighting off sexual harassment lawsuits left and right. But don't worry. I'm sure we'll be seeing each other often enough."
Miroku slid his lavender eyes over to glance once again at Kagura to make eye contact, before smiling and looking back at Sango. "Count on it. Have a good evening, Miss Kagura Drake." He called, stepping into the car that had pulled up to the curb.
Kagura just nodded towards him before walking back to her shop. "Mr. Sedna."
Sango and Kagome just stood there dumbfounded as the watched the car drive away and heard the shop door close softly. They looked at each other for a moment before saying in unison, "What was that about?" Both women turned to march into the store to find Kagura in her office muttering to herself while pacing before her desk.
"Ok, spill it! What's the deal with whatever happened out there and what's with all the crazy 'sex' vibes that were practically radiating between the two of you?"
"Shut up, Sango."
"You hadn't met him before today have you?"
"Sango, she didn't know who he was this morning when she told me he was here. Hadn't even heard of him I don't think." Kagome supplied as she too stared at her friend with a calculating look.
"No, I had not met Mr. Sedna before today and no, Sango, there were absolutely NO 'sex' vibes between the two of us."
"Did you hear that, Kagome? She refuses to say his name. Gets all proper and stuffy about it."
"Do you think that she's afraid if she actually says his name he'll magically appear and accost her?"
"You mean like "Beatlejuice" only more 'R' rated and less scary?"
Kagome nodded. "Exactly."
"Hmmm, well in that case…Hugh Jackman, Hugh Jackman, Hugh Jackman." Sango opened her eyes and looked around. "Nope. No such luck."
"I think I hate you both."
Kagome sighed as she sat down on one of the overstuffed chairs. "Well if you would just tell us what is going on, we wouldn't have to guess."
"If you must know, that insufferable man asked me out on a date." Seeing the lack of response from her friends, Kagura threw her hands up in the air. "Well…aren't you going to get angry or worked up or anything?"
"Kagura, dear," Sango said, resting an arm across her friend's shoulders. "If we got worked up every time some guy asked you out on a date, we would have died of a heart attack years ago."
"You're not helping."
"She has a point, Kagura. What is so different about this time?"
"I don't like him."
Sango sighed. "Than what is the big deal? Why did we come in here to find you pacing and muttering to yourself not five minutes after he leaves?"
"He just riles me is all."
"Is it?" Kagome said with a smile.
"Yes! Besides, why are we talking about me when you are the one who just signed a contract with one of the biggest art galleries in the world? Sango we are in the presence of a world famous artist!"
Kagome blushed. "I'm not world famous."
"You will be! Hey Kagura, we should get started on our autobiographies of what it was like growing up with someone so famous."
"Already trying to cash in on my fame?" laughed Kagome.
"What are friends for?" Kagura said as she pulled Kagome in for a tight hug. "I am so happy for you, Kagome. You deserve this so much! Even if it means you have to work with that crazy man."
"He does seem a bit crazy, doesn't he. Yet he built his company up from a tiny shop in New Jersey all on his own. Crazy as he may seem, I think he may actually be a genius."
"If you say so. But regardless of all that, you should head back to the house to tell your mother the good news!"
"That's right, and I have to go." Sango said looking at her watch. "I've put off my actual job long enough today. I'm sure Trish is overwhelmed." Sango gave Kagome a hug before she left. "Congratulations, girl! If you have any questions about anything just call me. Tell your mother I said hello."
"Thank you so much, Sango. I couldn't have done this without you." Kagome turned back to Kagura. "I require one last thing of you today after letting me use the office this afternoon."
"I need a dress to wear for tonight. I don't really have anything that would be suitable for eating at the Gardens so…"
"That, Kagome, just so happens to be my forte. Come my friend and not only shall I get you the perfect dress, but some jewelry as well."
"I'll pay for these as well. Turns out Miroku had bought a few of my pieces from the gallery down the street. I'm a rich woman today, Kagura. I plan on spoiling myself."
"You have come to the right place."
Sesshoumaru focused more on the glass of vodka in his hand than on the words of the man across from him. He had been correct in his assumptions that Ianov would insist on lots of the heady alcohol and talk incessantly of his twelve daughters.
"Marriage is vhat a man like you needs, Sesshoumaru. Marriage is vhat makes this world go 'round, as they say." The Russian accent getting thicker as the night wore on.
Sesshoumaru tried very hard not roll his eyes as he glanced discreetly at his watch. 9:00, they had been talking and drinking for about two hours. If he kept this up, he would be getting a room here at the Utopian instead of driving home like he planed.
"Marriage is a fine institution, Ianov. But I've already told you that I'm not ready for an institution." Sesshoumaru took one last swig of the glass before him and declined the offer to have it refilled.
"Nonsense." The larger man said, refilling Sesshoumaru's glass anyway. "You need a wife. No man is complete without one."
"Is that why you have had so many?"
"But of course. I loved each of them equally. Surely there is some woman out there that makes a fire burn with in you?"
And just like that, a vision in peach flowed into the doors of the restaurant. Surely that was the most delicate looking dress ever to have been made. It looked like a mist the color of clouds in the sunset had wrapped itself around her body, hugging her curves while leaving her shoulders and legs bare. Sesshoumaru felt himself reaching once again for the glass of vodka before quickly downing in one gulp. Legs that seemed to go on forever came to thin white sandals exposing soft pink painted toenails. Her dark hair had been done in an elegant twist yet what could have been a simple up do was made exotic by the two large white flowers pinned to the twist. Some hair was left to escape and framed her face, bringing attention to a face that held two gorgeous blue eyes that sparkled even at this distance.
It was a good thing he recognized the man who came to greet her. But why the hell was he kissing her hand? Why was she smiling at him? He knew Miroku would be in town to discuss signing Kagome as one of his latest artists, but that didn't mean he had to take her to a hotel to discuss it. He couldn't possibly have brought Kagome here in an attempt to seduce her, could he? Sesshoumaru's blood boiled at the thought. That would not be happening. No on his watch. His golden eyes glittered dangerously as he watched the duo make their way through the restaurant over to a table that already had people there waiting for them.
"So it seems there is a woman that sets your passion afire, Sesshoumaru." Ianov chuckled as he watched Sesshoumaru down yet another shot of vodka. "Too bad it seems the flower has already attached herself to another man. Were you not man enough to keep her, my friend?" The older man said, aiming the barb low and aiming well.
"She hasn't even begun to see what a real man can do." Sesshoumaru quietly said; not even realizing the words had left his mouth.