*Okay so I am back. After I acquired a new lap top, moved to a different state, and then moved back. I love Chicago, and now I have a cold. But your reviews have meant so much to me. Sorry I have not been able to answer each one of them individually, but I have been sooo busy and now I have a cold.

Mameha had once said that Nobu and I had an "en". I suppose that meant we had an unbreakable connection, an enduring relationship. I found that it served to tell me when he was near. I could sense his presence in a crowded room. I guessed he felt the same. Or at least I thought he did. It did not allow me though, to understand his feelings or gauge his reactions. That alone could only be done through experience.

I had realized that he had followed me outside the tea house. Although I wished that there would be no further discussion, it was not to be.

I glanced quickly around the street, trying to figure quickly where I could go to avoid Nobu-san without being overly conspicuous. I only saw closed shops and empty restaurants. There was no escape. I would have to face him.

"Sayuri!"

"Nobu-san." I gave a little bow.

"What in the world is the matter with you?" Nobu scowled angrily at me. I hurried to put on a blank face.

"I have no idea what Nobu-san is referring to."

"What was all that about in there? Have your tea ceremony fumes gone to your head? What is all this foolishness about? In a public place no less."

"Forgive me, Nobu-san. I have not been feeling well today. Forgive me for speaking out of turn." I turned my head away from him and looked towards the street.

"You said you were feeling fine earlier!" Nobu snapped.

I looked at the ground, suddenly ashamed of the way I had handled my outburst. It was not in any way suave or graceful. I had not gotten my point across, and it seemed beside that point that I would ever get that chance. Nobody cared about such things except me.

Suddenly I wanted to cry.

I brought my long sleeve to my face. I tried to wipe away some of the moisture that was gathering near the edge of my eyes.

At times like these, any soft words or gestures would have brought on an onslaught of tears. Like the day I had first encountered the Chairman, a kind gesture would have laid me open for all to see. I would have been vulnerable.

Nobu was not a man for soft gestures or kind words. At once I was grateful and resentful of this.

He said nothing. He offered nothing. Cars and rickshaws passed us by. We stood in silence for a few moments. Finally, a man who appeared to be Nobu's driver came up to him. Nobu told the man to get the car.

I waited with my face still turned towards the street, unsure of what to do. It would be rude to leave without first seeing Nobu-san off.

The man came to the curb with the car. Nobu got in and motioned for me to follow. I hesitated.

"Get in, Sayuri."

I got in, carefully folding my sleeves and once again turning my face away from Nobu, looking out of the window and at the street.

Nobu told the driver where to go.

We went out of the geisha districts and into the business sector. I guessed that we were going to Nobu's office.

"Where are we going?'

"Does it matter?" Nobu asked. "It's not as if I am dragging your dead body off to be buried somewhere. Stop looking so morose."

"Forgive me" I offered tartly, still refusing to look at him. Nobu sighed.

"What is this about, Sayuri-san? I am tired and I do not have the patience for geisha foolishness today."

I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. Nobu became impatient.

"Well? I don't have time for this foolishness. I won't tolerate this type of behavior from you."

"I am sorry" I murmured, not meaning what I said. "What type of behavior should I exhibit?"

"The right kind" Nobu snapped.

"What does that mean to you?" I boldly shot back, incensed. Nobu pursed his mouth and didn't answer. It seemed that he finally recognized the meaning or direction of my anger.

My obi dug into my back. There was no way to sit comfortably in the car as it moved over the rickety streets. As we went further and further away from the geisha district, we begin to pass factories and lots.

My eyes strained to see anything in the sparsely lit area.

"We are going to your office?" I asked. Nobu said nothing but his body radiated angry silence.

At last we came to an empty lot. Nobu motioned the driver to park the car. Without waiting for the driver to open the door, Nobu yanked the door open and stepped out. Without warning, he grabbed my arm and almost hauled me out.

My kimono hem almost caused me to trip. Nobu steadied me with his one strong arm and then led me forcibly forward. I looked back at the driver and wondered at the state of Nobu's mind. Before today, one thing that I was absolutely sure of was that Nobu would never do anything to intentionally harm me. Suddenly I was reminded of the Western romance novels that the other geisha's had giggled and laughed at. There always seemed to be some detective who was saving a girl from being killed by a savage killer.

The attempted murder was always staged at night.

We traveled the empty lot to the entrance of a building. There was a small white sign with the kanji symbols for Iwamura. Nobu fumbled around in his pocket for a set of keys. He found one and unlocked the door.

Desk after desk was lined up side by side to create an aisle that led to who knew where. I imagined that rows of neatly dressed secretaries sat at these desks every morning, taking dictation and answering the phones in their over polite Kyoto accent. Nobu and I passed through this aisle until we reached a door that had a glass window. It required another search for keys.

Nobu unlocked it and stepped through. Hesitating, I followed him. Walking close behind, I noticed glints of grey in Nobu's hair as he switched on the blaringly bright office lights. I always knew that Nobu was not a young man, although he certainly worked with the vigor of a young man's energy. Once he became my Danna, he had boasted one evening that I had made him feel ten years younger. I was not sure of his exact age, although I did know him to be younger than the Chairman.

I wondered how old he was feeling now.

He went to a cabinet and opened one of its drawers and retrieved a bottle. He found an empty glass on the side of a desk that was placed in the middle of the room. He poured the dark liquid into the glass. From the sudden sharp smell, I knew it to be scotch.

Without offering me any Nobu picked up the glass and downed the contents quickly. He did not grimace. When he was done, he slammed the glass back down and turned towards me. Aside from the chair behind the desk, there was one other chair that stood before it.

"Sit" he ordered. I sat, carefully arranging my robes.

He took a deep breath, and I saw veins begin to pulse on his forehead.

"What is this about Sayuri?" When I didn't answer, he began to pace the room, glaring at me.

"What I should say I suppose is, what having you heard, Sayuri? Geisha are a talkative lot and I am sure you heard something in your Okiya or perhaps Mameha…."

"Mameha-san told me nothing" I said, folding my hands. "I heard it in my Okiya." I bit out the last words like they were a piece of bitter fruit. They tasted like metal in my mouth.

Nobu sighed angrily.

"What was it that you heard? I'm being in earnest Sayuri. I want to know what was said."

"I was told that Hatsumomo…" I paused, gathering the strength to go on "Was going to have your child."

Nobu stopped pacing and rolled his eyes upward in an annoyed fashion.

"I brought you here so that no one would interrupt or more importantly, overhear what I have to tell you. Do you understand?"

I nodded.

"That geisha…Hatsumomo is it? She is not having my child." My eyes teared up suddenly. I guessed the emotion was overwhelming relief. My shoulders sagged and Nobu came towards me quickly, guessing that I was about to become hysterical.

He gripped my shoulder in an almost painful way.

"I don't understand!" I got out, between heaving gasps.

"You don't have to!" he yelled, once again full of impatience.

"A woman living in my okiya has told me that my Danna acknowledged started a child with her and you tell me it's not true. I think…I think I deserve to know the truth behind the matter of this."

"Will you not be satisfied knowing it wasn't me?" Nobu asked.

"No"

"Fine. That geisha is carrying the Chairman's child." My head spun giddily. Nobu tightened his grip on my shoulder.

"The Chairman?" I gasped.

"No one can know. At this moment the Chairman is negotiating his daughter's marriage to the son of a business empire. He means to adopt that son and let his inheritance pass through him. He won't be able to do that if the family finds out that he is expecting an illegitimate child."

"So you offered yourself up to save the Chairman's face?" I asked bitterly.

"The geisha is the one who suggested it. I went along with it because I owe the Chairman."

"Nobu, there is no honor in covering up this man's mistakes."

"Sayuri-san…" Nobu's voice was full of warning.

"You traded my pride for his "I accused quietly.

"I traded nothing. We know the truth, what else matters?"

"You are going to pay for this?" I couldn't bring myself to say "child". Nobu nodded.

"You have to understand the position I am in. For the first time in my life I am in a situation where I am able to do this. To save another man's happiness." I looked up, intrigued.

"You have saved me Sayuri. Before this, I would have done this for the Chairman, but I would have reservations. I know this is not the best situation, but with you in my life, I can handle anything."

"If this is so, then why jeopardize our situation?"

"What is it that you want, Sayuri? I barely know this Hatsumomo. You have everything at your disposal now that I am your Danna. You need only to ask, and I will give you whatever it is you want."

"If I asked you, you won't give it to me."