BONUS! Sneak Peeks of "With This Heart"…
It was her who made the first move this time. She pressed her lips to his, clutching his wrists so tightly she was probably bruising them. The skin of his wrists scorched the palms of her hands, inflaming the wounds she'd received just the previous night. His lips singed hers, and he knew so, for he tried to press lightly. But she wouldn't let him. She didn't care right now how badly it hurt. This was the last time she would be kissing him for a month. She didn't care. "I-I… I'm going to m-miss you so much," she whispered against his lips, tears rolling down to soothe the burns.
"Hey! Get off me! Stay away from me!" She pushed the boy, who she had just at this moment decided to nickname "Muscle Head", back from her. "As I keep telling you, I have a boyfriend! And if you don't stop getting all handsy, he's gonna come all the way out here just to kick your ass!"
It felt so good not to worry about being careful when she hugged someone. For the last month that she had known Yuki and his family, she'd had to watch herself, especially in public. But she didn't have to worry about that when she was with Jayden. As his arms encircled her, she could hug him back and not worry about him transforming into a snake or a monkey… or a rat. It made her smile, something as simple as human contact. He let go, and smiled at her. "You know, you're a special girl, Becks. I gotta say, whoever he is, your boyfriend is a lucky guy."
She grinned, and watched him leave. All of a sudden, she remembered the times she had hugged Yuki. They felt good, too, and she got to see him turn into an adorable little rat, then she got to hug him again to make him turn back. A sinking feeling filled her up, and she brought a hand to her head. What on Earth was she doing?
"Yuki, I can't believe you're not trying to see my side of this!" Becky gripped the phone even tighter. "I've been living with my dad and Bret for two weeks, and I gotta tell you, my dad isn't such a bad guy! He's just… he's not home a lot… and Bret… Bret has to do practically everything by himself! He has to take care of himself, 'cause when my dad is home—"
"When he is home," Yuki interrupted, sounding angry, "he's smoking, drunk, stoned, or all three! You do realize this is the same guy whose smoking gave me an asthma attack the first time he showed up over here? He's not responsible enough to take care of children! You cannot want to stay there!"
"And who the hell are you to tell me what I can and can't want, Yuki Sohma?"
"I'm your boyfriend! And I thought you cared about me a lot more than you're acting like! Because you're acting like you don't care how your decisions will make me feel!"
"And you're acting like they're not my decisions to make! You are not ME!"
There was silence on the other end for a few seconds, which made Becky a little worried that Yuki had hung up on her. "Yuki? Are you still there?"
"… Are we… Are we fighting?"
She looked at her clock, which read one-fourteen. She sighed and picked up the phone, not knowing who to expect. "Hello? Who is this and why are you calling me at one in the morning?"
She became slightly annoyed when she heard Momiji on the other end. "B-Becca-chan?"
She shook her head and blinked. "What is it, Momiji?"
Her heart broke when she heard him sniffling on the other end. "I-I m-miss…" His voice broke, and he sobbed once before trying to speak again. "When are you coming home, Becca-chan?"
"I… I came here… I had to leave my mother, my boyfriend, all his family who were my friends… and my boyfriend and I… we had this horrible fight over the phone…"
"Heh." The brunette smiled faintly, her blue eyes taking on a far away look, as if she could see something nobody else could. "I used to have a boyfriend."
Becky blinked. "What happened to him?"
Her eyes closed, her hands going limp in her lap. "Don't let one fight break you up, okay? You might regret it later."
Becky began to get scared. "Where's your boyfriend?"
"… He died two years ago."
"I thought you weren't going to call me anymore."
"… I know I said that. But I didn't mean it."
"Oh? And what changed your mind?"
"… Yuki…" She wiped her eyes. "I… I'm really, really sorry about everything I said. I'm really lucky to have you… and… and I forgot that."
"You know it wasn't my choice to keep you here. I was under orders."
She lifted her head and gave him the most horrid, furious expression she had ever given anybody. "You could have decided to break orders! You didn't have to chain me up in this hell!"
"You're not in chains… yet."
"You're not one to follow the rules! Please let me out! Don't I matter?"
"Of course you matter." He turned, a hand on the doorframe, and let his head hang. "… But I must think of my family before you."
"So…" She snatched the remote from him and flicked the TV off. "I want to know, Yuki."
He looked at her with dull eyes, apparently still not feeling very well. "You want to know what, Rebecca?"
She tugged a strand of his hair. "Stop playing dumb, because I already know that you're not! You know very well what I want you to tell me!"
"And that would be?"
She took a deep breath before looking at him. "… You know how the Sohma curse is broken. Tell me how to do it."
Her mouth dropped open and she gaped at her mother. "You weren't even MARRIED, Ma?"
She looked up at her mother. "You know, this could be classified as an invasion of privacy, Ma," she whispered.
"Oh, she's my sister." Nancy had whipped out a pair of binoculars from nowhere and was now looking through them. "She won't mind."
"You know, I wouldn't think Lola would ever fall for a snake."
"She fell for that jerk who we now refer to as Jake the Snake."
All she could do was stare at the girl who was kneeling on the floor across from the brunette. She was so… well, she looked kind of like a boy. Her hair was vanilla white and it was short, most of it hidden by the cap she wore. She sported a loose-fitting black T-shirt advertising Metallica, and she wore a pair of jeans. She had no shoes, and she sat straight up.
She pointed at the girl, who had done nothing but stare down at the table with a sorrowful look in her blue eyes. "Ritsu-san… who's this?"
Ritsu tried to give her a smile, but it came out to her as a little bit painful for him to do. "Oh, Re-chan!" He gestured to the girl, blushing, and swallowed before continuing to speak. "Th-This… This is my… my… g… girlfriend."
He sniffed, and raised an eyebrow. He walked closer to her and put his nose to her hair, then pulled back. "… Rebecca, you smell like smoke."
She blinked, blushing. "I just spent a month with two smokers. I'll need ten showers and my clothes'll need three good washes before the smell's gone."
Before she could do anything, he reached into her pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He looked at her disbelievingly. "Rebecca… why do you have these?"
"Rebecca…" He sighed, placing a hand on her face. His touch felt good against her skin, as he pressed his forehead against hers. "I'm not… sure what you want me to do. I don't know how to love you if… if you're just going to… not appreciate me anymore. I do as much as I can for you, and… I just… I thought it would make you see how much I care."
"You were trying to make me see you cared? By canceling our special Valentine's date, not giving me a reason… oh, and deliberately sabotaging Lola's date?"
"I wanted what was best for her. Loving a Sohma is not best for anyone."
"Is that what you think, Yuki? You think that… that you Sohma men aren't worth anyone's time?"
"You know, Rebecca… I'm very lucky to have found you. And I appreciate that you love me. But I find myself unworthy of your time. You deserve someone better."
She felt the anger rising in her. If that was how he felt, maybe she should just get away from him so she didn't make him feel bad. "Do you wanna break up, Yuki? Is that what you're saying? Is that what you want?" She almost couldn't believe she'd just said that.
His eyes widened slightly, but then returned to normal. He glanced away for a moment before answering her. "… I don't know. Is that what you want?"
The next thing she just blurted out without thinking. "Maybe."
She couldn't believe that had just come out of her mouth.
"If you didn't want to kiss her, Ritsu, then why did you agree to marry her when she asked you?" She seriously entertained smacking him on the arm. "I swear, men are clueless!"
"B-Because…" He began to cry. "U-Uncle arranged this marriage for me. Sh-She's from another family… with a curse. He p-planned her… asking that… and my parents agreed to the marriage." He buried his face in his hands. "Oh, Re-chan, I don't know what to do! I don't love her, but I do care about her as a friend! I don't want to marry her… but I simply don't have much choice in the matter! The arrangements have been made… her family is expecting a wedding… and most of all, I just don't want to hurt her! Can you please tell me what to do, Re-chan? I don't want to marry her if I don't love her… but it will be far worse to hurt her feelings by telling her that I don't love her! WHAT DO I DO?"
She pulled away when she realized what she'd done, and then was surprised. He hadn't transformed! Why…? She had hugged him and he hadn't transformed. She didn't quite know what to say. "I… I… nii-san! Why didn't you transform?"
He gave her a wide smile, and pulled her back into a hug of his own. "Oh, it was my beautiful little Lolita! She broke my curse!"
Her eyes widened. "Sh-She… She broke the Sohma curse? She's only been here for three weeks!"
"So, uh, Becks… I was wondering what you'd say to dinner tonight." He flashed her that irresistible smile, moving ever closer to her. "How about it? Just you and me? I mean, I came all this way…"
She felt her cheeks flush. "Uh, well… I don't know… maybe…"
"Step away from my girlfriend."
"You know, I've been hearing wedding bells for weeks, but I just don't think they're that into each other. I don't know what Father plans to do about the fact that they have no chemistry."
She ran into the kitchen, where her mother, Ritsu, and Shigure were sitting at the table drinking tea. She held out the cardboard box to Nancy, swallowing hard, and almost wasn't able to talk. "Ma! Ma, look at this!"
Nancy grabbed the box, almost spitting out her tea. "My God, Rebecca! An EPT, really? You and Yuki are not this serious and so help me if you've had sex—"
"Ma, no!" She pointed to the box. "That's not mine!"
"Well then, whose is it?"
"I… I found it in Lola's bathroom."
Her mother's eyes widened. "Oh, my God…" She stood up, knocking over her cup, which smashed to the floor. "I'm gonna kill my sister – RIGHT AFTER I KILL THAT SOHMA BASTARD!"
"Yuki… there's something I've been wanting to say to you… for a really, really long time. I just… I've tried to say it… to really mean it…"
"Shh. No." He pressed a finger to her lips. "Let me speak first. I have a feeling that the thing you're going to say to me… is the thing I desperately want to say to you. So, let me go first. You know… when we first met… could you believe I thought those notes were annoying? And then… when you found out about the curse… and when I found out about yours… I wasn't sure what to think or feel. And our first date… it seems so long ago now, and to know we were being listened to by my father when we shared our first kiss… it was rather foolish of me not to get upset. And when I found out you were leaving… I was just… I was heartbroken. Even when we fought… there wasn't one day during December that I didn't wish I could have you back with me. And then… lately… it just seemed like… I don't know. We were growing apart. But I don't think that could be the case, because… well, Rebecca…"
"Yuki. You're taking longer than it took Shakespeare to write his entire collection of plays and sonnets. Please just spit it out."
He chuckled, and then took her hands. "Alright. Then let me get out with it, then."
"So…" She gestured with her hands, telling him to get it rolling.
A small smile formed on his lips and parted as he said what she'd been dying to hear.
"Rebecca Bridges… I think I love you."
Will Becky choose to stay with Yuki? Or is their relationship beyond repair and will she go running to an alluring suitor?
Who is Lola, and whose curse does she break?
What happens to Nancy while Becky is in Nebraska?
Will Ritsu take the plunge and marry a woman he doesn't love… or will he learn to love her?
Will the Sohma curse and the Bridges curse finally be broken once and for all?
More importantly… why am I asking YOU all these questions when I should be typing it up?
For these answers and more, stay tuned for the exciting sequel, "With This Heart"!
Signing off for now,