Prologue

      The young raven-haired girl sat on the upper porch of the popular brothel.  Her eyes scanned the gradually brightening horizon behind the mountains.  The air was fresh and clean, and the birds sang softly on the branches of the trees.  The atmosphere upstairs was quite different from the bustling activities on the first floor.  The girl absently fingered the silky material of her kimono.  This intricate piece of clothing was cut unlike most kimonos.  Its purpose was to show her more…desirable features.

      Kamiya Kaoru sighed, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear.  Today may be the last day that she had to stay in the brothel.  Orphaned at the age of fourteen, she was accepted by her mother's best friend into the brothel.  She had worked there every since, serving her customers in every way, except for full penetration, much to Kaoru's relief.  Her Aunt had not allowed her to be ruined, reprimanding every man that tried.

"Kaoru-chan," a soft voice murmured.

      Kaoru snapped out of her peaceful reverie.  "Ayami…"

"They are waiting downstairs for you."

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      Hiko Seijirou was a powerful man.  He was wealthy, had strong connections in the Meiji government, as well, he was a businessman who dealt exclusively with Europe.  Tall, broad and muscular, he was intimidating, and always caught the attention of anyone nearby.  He always had a few people around him that were anything but bodyguards.  It was rumoured he was a master of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu.  He wore a great heavy mantel over his European style suit, and if one were to look carefully, one would be able to catch a hilt of a nihoutou. 

It was also rumoured that the great Hiko Seijiro had trained the Hitokiri Battousai as well, the Battousai being Japan's most proficient hitokiri during the Bakumatsu five years ago.  Still a top fighter, he remained with Hiko Seijiro after the war.  Most people considered him to be the surrogate son of the prominent man, since his past was so shadowy.  Flaming red hair with a mysterious cross scar on his cheek, quite small in stature compared to Hiko Seijiro, but still incredibly handsome.

"Hiko-sama, pleasure to have you here today," Yuna, the owner of the brothel, greeted.  Though already reaching her middle ages, she still had some of her youthful beauty.

"Yuna-chan," he murmured, his voice deep and rich.  Some of the working girls were already swooning at his voice.

"Please, come this way.  The girls will be ready to be presented in a few minutes."

"Aa."

      The Battousai, also known as Himura Kenshin, kneeled beside his master.  He was not sure if he was to enjoy this or not, choosing a girl.  Though his best friend, Sagara Sanosuke, had other ideas. "You lucky bastard.  The kitsune wouldn't even let me out."

      Then he remembered the small talk between him and his Shishou during the carriage ride to the brothel.

"You need a woman in your life baka deshi."

      Kenshin glared at his Shishou, as the old nickname rolled of his Shishou's tongue, never to die.  "I've had a woman in my life already."

"That didn't count.  What you need right now is a woman you can spend the rest of your life to love, and one who will bare your child.  Then perhaps your inner frustration as a hitokiri will diminish."

      The red-head kept his tongue in check, less he offended his Shishou and be Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu Kuzu Ryu Sen-ed out of the carriage. 

"So enjoy yourself today baka deshi."

"One question Shishou, if you wanted a proper lady, why not force me to choose a noble lady to marry into."

"Because those bastards just want wealth.  I want you to marry for love, and I think you'll like the girl there that I have in mind.  She's what you need to keep the hitokiri inside."

"That is still arranged."

"Don't be smart with me baka deshi.  I've raised you, I know what's best for you."

      Kenshin grumbled something underneath his breath and looked out the window.  If this was the way it was to be at the age of twenty-four, then fine.

      One by one girls were paraded out for Kenshin to see.  His Shishou just sat there with his usual cocky smile as he chatted with the owner of the brothel.  Kenshin wondered when that one girl he was supposed to like would appear.  Hiko's other people were happy, each having one or two girls beside him.  A lovely small brunette came close to Kenshin and smiled a seductive smile.

"Battousai," she murmured.  "I can bring you all the pleasure of the world."

      Kenshin shook his head and looked away.  He was getting bored.  It was all the same, girls beckoning him with a naughty glint in his eyes.  This was far from what Kenshin had wanted in a woman.  His eyes scanned the rest of the room, ignoring the half-dressed girls.  He looked outside, and into a room across from theirs.  He saw a girl working in the other room.  She was bringing in tea for a customer.  Kenshin whispered in one of his associate's ear.  The man nodded and spoke up, "Himura-san would like to take a closer look at the girl in the other room."

"The other room?  Kaoru?" Yuna asked.

"Yes."

"She's not for sale."

"I'm willing to pay double," Hiko announced.  "I want that girl in here."

"Yes Hiko-sama."

"I want to see her without the make-up and her hair down," Kenshin murmured softly.

"Hai," Yuna replied bowing as she went to fetch Kaoru.  The girl in the other room looked up in surprise as she saw Yuna bound into the room with a happy look on her face.  "This is your day child," she said.   "Go upstairs and take off the make-up, then go into the next room."

      Kaoru walked back downstairs free of the powder and rouge, along with the intricate hairstyle.  Her long ebony hair now cascaded down her back, contrasting with the white silk of her kimono.  She entered the room, and immediately found several pairs of eyes on her.

"This is Kamiya Kaoru, she is seventeen…and a virgin."

"I didn't think you kept any of those around here," Hiko snorted.

"Oh you shush," Yuna chided.

      Kenshin rose to his feet and went to the girl standing before him.  Just as he thought, she radiated natural beauty.  He could see delicious curves underneath the white kimono.  She had sapphire coloured eyes beneath a pair of thick long lashes.  Her mouth was delicate and pink.  Kenshin allowed his eyes to wander down her slender neck and to her chest.  It was not overly large, and he wondered what it would be like to cup one in his hands, and brush the tip of the other with his thumb.  He had to suppress his wicked thoughts until later as he continued to enjoy the view of the girl in front of him.  Coming in front of her, he ran his hand from the upper side of her body down to her slender waist, to rest on her not too wide hips.  She had a long pair of legs that peaked out from underneath the long slit of her kimono. 

      She did not realize the man that wanted to see her was the infamous Hitokiri Battousai.  He was as handsome as the girls had told her.  With flaming red hair, and a pair of exotic violet eyes, that had flashed amber.  His gaze was heated as he assessed her, making her shiver internally.  From the small smile on his lips, she knew that he liked what he had seen.  His touch was warm and surprisingly soothing as he ran a hand down the side of her body to her hips.  She was pulled closer to him, and now their faces were only inches apart.

"Why do you have the ki of a warrior?" Kenshin murmured, his voice barely a whisper.  "You have much hidden, goddess."

      Kaoru had an answer at the tip of her tongue.  However, when she raised her eyes to meet his, she realized his had turned amber.  The sheer intensity of his gaze knocked away all her ability to speak.  The golden light in his eyes was feral and held a dangerous glint.

      He placed a soft kiss on her lips before returning to his spot beside his Shishou.  Kaoru watched him murmured something softly to Hiko Seijiro, and watched Hiko nod his head in agreement.

"You have chosen Himura-sama?" Yuna asked.

"Kaoru…"

"Aa…all right then.  Go upstairs and pack child.  Bring only your yukatas, and all of your personal belongings.  I will finish this business transaction here."

      And that was the start of Kamiya Kaoru's new life within the Hiko household…