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Was she oblivious?
Juice dribbled from the corners of her mouth and her tongue darted out to catch the droplets. One escaped, sliding down her chin. He hurriedly glanced away from the girl. What if someone thought he was staring?
What if someone knew what he was thinking?
What if someone noticed that her 'innocent dining' was stirring things in him he'd rather not have to deal with at the dinner table? It was warm enough without her adding to his discomfort. But his eyes darted back to her a moment later, unable to help himself. The fruit was again at her mouth, her lips parted around it, sucking, biting into the skin. She slurped at the juice that seeped from the bite in the tender flesh.
She moaned softly in delight, oblivious of his gaze upon her, lost in the simple joy of her favorite seasonal fruit. No, it wasn't really a moan it was a delightful humming, but in his ears, it was a moan.
When, he wondered, had eating it become so … sinful?
Why hadn't anyone said anything to … stop her?
Conversation about the table continued on as usual. Glasses clinked and clattered as they were moved about. Chopsticks were raised and lowered and mouths opened and closed with both speech and food.
Shiro cracked half-amusing jokes and Omasu and Okon dutifully smiled while Okina laughed, always more amused at the semi-crude jokes the young man was prone to offering up. Misao seemed not to be paying them the slightest mind. She was always less apt to participate in crude humor of any sort and the others had long since stopped shielding her from some of their more lascivious comments. Misao seemed to pay them little mind either way at the moment; she was fully engrossed in eating.
Her mouth opened again as she raised the half eaten fruit to her lips. When she brought it away, one bite smaller, he could see her chin was wet, as were her fingers. Liquid dripped down her slender digits to the palm of her hand. He could see one droplet glistening from the back of her wrist and longed to raise that tiny hand to his mouth and lick it top to bottom.
The stirring in him grew and his body became more heated. He tingled below the waist, his blood churning. He could all but feel the stickiness around his own mouth. He wanted that stickiness; he wanted to lick every drop of it from her skin. He looked away again, flustered. He needed to get control of this before he had a … a…. situation … at the dinner table! How would he stand to leave with a…. in full view?
Okina burst into laughter, at what; Aoshi was baffled and didn't dare look up to find out. He was half fearful the old man had noticed his distress but didn't dare look to confirm or deny it. He concentrated upon his bowl staring at the white grains of rice as though they would reward him with the meaning of life if he stared long and hard enough.
Across from him, Misao slurped once more and he dropped his head, his eyes sliding closed.
"Aoshi-sama, are you unwell?"
It was not Misao, but Okon who finally noticed his misery. He lifted his head, his eyes darting of their own volition toward Misao and then quickly to Okon.
"Minor headache," he answered dutifully. It wasn't untrue, he'd have one before he left the table, he was certain of that.
She nodded accordingly and offered to fetch him an herbal remedy and some tea after dinner. Absently, he declined, turning his gaze again toward his rice bowl. He wasn't sure his sanity would survive until after dinner. He couldn't even bring himself to eat, his appetite had switched to something entirely different. The bowl of rice was half empty and his plate remained the same. His filet of fish was half ingested. Misao had opted to all but inhale her dinner and then skipped ahead to devouring the tiny bowl of peaches on the table, hence his current anguish. He looked back to his rice bowl.
The delicate pattern of flowers painted in blue beneath the fine glaze on the bowl caught his eye. It was a lovely pattern, wasn't it? It swirled and twisted and the leaves were gently delicate. He was able to distract himself for a few minutes trying to identify the blossom on the bowl but when she loudly slurped, he was again lost. He lifted his eyes, unable to resist, seeing the flesh of the fruit had disappeared. Her tongue darted from her mouth to flick along the large rough textured seed in the middle. He watched her, even as he tried to look away telling himself he shouldn't, as she popped the core of the peach into her mouth. It disappeared between her lips and she sucked on it happy before popping it back out and dropping it onto her plate.
"Really, Misao, I'm surprised you don't try to eat the seed," Shiro remarked casting her an amused glance.
"Shut up! Peach season comes once a year! Do we have anymore?" she asked, her eyes bright and innocent. Her teasing was unintentional.
He hoped no one else had noticed.
"In the kitchen, we just got them today," Omasu smiled. "Just for you."
"I'm so there!" Misao shifted back and jumped up; her bare legs suddenly seemed long and sensuous and the uniform far too inappropriate for a lady her age. He vowed to make a point of it later. He tried to gather his thoughts and reorient himself. He tried a few meditation techniques but she returned far too soon and plopped back down again across from him with two more peaches.
"Mmmmm, I love these! Want one, Aoshi-sama?" Her voice was soft and inquiring and… normal. She was not offering more than the fruit.
He declined. He didn't want more than the fruit; that was wrong. He was being a pervert. He glanced up just in time to see her bite into the fuzzy skin of her newest acquisition and checked a groan. Parts of him twitched that ought not to be active at dinner.
Perverted indeed, he thought. What would his men think of this infraction?
No, he knew what they would think.
Beshimi and Hyokkoto would laugh. Shikijou would tease him mercilessly and try to egg him into acting while Hannya would remain stonily silent. Hannya had always been a man torn between revulsion and desire, but that was another problem and a far more complex one. He would not think of it now.
He realized with startling clarity he'd been staring, completely lost in thought and that not only had Misao noticed, the others had also. They were all casting curious glances in his direction and he hurriedly looked away but the damage was done.
"Aoshi-sama, you sure you don't want one?" Misao asked.
"No, thank you."
He would never look up from his bowl again he vowed.
He shifted slightly, suddenly extremely uncomfortable in the room. The delightful twitch and twinge of his partial erection ceased as his embarrassment intensified and his desire shrank.
Did they know?
What he was thinking?
He prayed not.
He sat, lost, staring into his bowl of rice as his dinner turned cold. The others continued to glance at him quizzically but he didn't notice.
His head snapped up. From the corners of his eye he could see the others had gone. He viewed the empty table with curiousness. Had he truly blocked it all out?
"Aoshi-sama?" He looked toward her once more.
"Are you all right? You barely ate anything. Do you want something else to eat, I can make you something else."
He shook his head absently. "No," he murmured softly. "I…need to rest." He stood. His appetite was gone. "Would you-"he motioned toward his dishes.
"Of course." Immediately, she began to clear his place at the table but not without casting one last inquiring glance at him.
He didn't notice.
"You're crazy, he was not!" Misao exclaimed, in sheer disbelief. "There's no way he was looking at me like that. Not Aoshi-sama!"
"Misao… we wouldn't lie to you about this, truly," Okon answered.
Omasu nodded enthusiastically. "He was staring; you should've seen the look on his face. He was enthralled."
The kitchen was warm, permeated in the heat of summer, it hung thick over everything like bulky cotton. The counters were bare and clean and it smelled of something strongly herbal. Gingery. The post dinner clean-up had resulted in more than just dishes.
"So…" Misao continued. "He can… well… Why are you telling me this?"
The two women exchanged glances and Okon drew an arm out from behind her back. Cradled in her palm gently was a ripe, fuzzy peach.
"Really, you don't need to ask, do you?"
Misao stared at the fruit and then the two women blankly. "Is this some stupid joke you're going to use at the dinner table in a couple of days?" Misao asked skeptically.
Okon sighed dramatically and grabbed Misao by the wrist pressing the peach forcefully into her hand. "Take it. Go upstairs to Aoshi-sama's room and share it with him!"
"Misao…" The two women leaned forward almost conspiratorially. "Don't make us spell it out for you. You, him, fruit, just think of the possibilities."
Misao stared at her as though she'd sprouted a second fire-breathing head. "I'm not sure Aoshi-sama is as big a fan of peaches as I am. I'm not sure I've ever even see him eat one."
"He is not interested in the fruit. Take it and go and you'll see exactly what we mean."
Confused, Misao sighed, shook her head and walked away with the fruit. The last thing she heard was the excited giggling.
Aoshi looked up at the soft knocking upon his door. "Enter," he called, keeping his voice even. If this was Okina to tease him he'd kick that old man down the stairs.
The door slid open shyly and Misao peeked her head in. "Aoshi-sama? Can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Um…" she stepped in and closed the door behind her softly. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
His eyes flickered up to meet hers. "I am well," he replied.
She looked so uncertain. Why had she come and why were her hands behind her back that way? She brought her hands around and she cupped her palms displaying the fruit. "You didn't eat very much at dinner so I … brought you…" she trailed off awkwardly, a faint stain to her cheeks.
Did she know? She knew didn't she?
"Thank you, but I do not feel very hungry. Please… help yourself."
"Er, no, that's okay… I'm…" she shifted her weight on her feet awkwardly.
"They are your favorite, are they not?" he asked.
Would she eat another? Should he tempt her to? Did he want to indulge in this petty sin? Should he send her away? Was he a perverse old man for thinking in such a way?
"Yeah, they're my favorite but I ate three already. I thought I'd save you one," she answered softly, smiling.
He shook his head and made an open motion, inviting her to sit. She did so still holding her offering, cradling it her lap as she looked small and nervous in front of him.
"Is everything okay? Omasu said that at dinner you were … well…"
"I was what?" he prompted.
"Staring at me?"
She looked soft and inviting and … innocent. He felt nothing deceptive about her presence. Was it naive curiosity that had led her here?
"Was I?" he asked.
What was her motivation? His eyes flickered over her briefly. She was still wearing her standard day attire, her shorts, her shirt… so few ties… Hastily, he dropped his eyes to the floor.
Maybe he should send her away. For her own good. For his.
She shrugged. "I don't know, I wasn't paying enough attention, really, Omasu and Okon said it."
He looked up, dreading her answer. "Did they send you up here?"
"Er…" she looked away. "Yes?"
She blinked. "But… I… I…" she stood; she floundered for a moment and then snapped her mouth closed. "I'm sorry Aoshi-sama; I didn't mean to upset you."
She turned and slipped out the door. He sighed softly in relief at her departure.
"What are you doing back down here so quickly?" Omasu asked. "Go back!"
Misao shrugged. "He told me to leave."
"And you went? MISAO!"
"I don't understand! What am I supposed to do with it?"
The two older woman came around the counter and stood at her side. "Misao, listen… he spent all of dinner staring at you. There was nothing unintentional about that."
"That's right," Okon picked up. "He stared, shifted, and stared more. When he wasn't glaring at his dinner plate, he was staring at your mouth."
Misao frowned. "So? I'm a slob most of the time, he was probably disgusted."
The two women exchanged glances. "That's not a problem."
"No, definitely no."
"He looked at you like he wanted to lick it off you."
Misao blinked. "No way!"
"Everyone has something that… interests them… For Aoshi-sama it seems to be watching you eat. Think of this as one great opportunity…" Omasu offered.
"That's right!" Okon exclaimed, suddenly inspired. "Aoshi-sama's moment of weakness. His walls are so pitted right now one good shove should you get you right through and straight into his bed and what better way to prove you're no longer a little girl, right?"
Misao stared at them unconvinced. That didn't sound like a good idea to win him over, that sounded like an idea that would get her a year's worth of guilty avoidance from him.
Omasu and Okon's enthusiasm dimmed. "You haven't had much luck with anything else. Go back upstairs and try again. Eat the fruit yourself, get him to eat it, offer to share it… "
"Right. Tell him you're worried he didn't eat very much, tell him you're upset about something and want his advice, tell him anything, just get that fruit in your mouth or his and I'm telling you something will happen."
Misao stepped away and headed out into the hall and away from them. Was that really a good idea? Deciding that she'd never know if it was or not and maybe it was an opportunity that she could miss… she headed back upstairs.
She was back.
He heard her footsteps outside the door. Hesitantly, she knocked and he called for her to enter. She faltered in the doorway for the second time that night.
He just stared at her, waiting.
"Are you… well… can we talk for a minute?"
Did she come to talk? Just to talk to him?
"If you like," he answered.
"Um… I was just thinking about earlier… when I took your dishes to the sink and… did you eat enough?"
He blinked. She was lying, he could tell by the quiver in her voice. What had brought her back to him?
"Are you sure? I could bring you some more-" she even turned toward the doorway as if to slip right back out.
Now she wanted to leave? He stared at her in confusion, and then he noticed her eyes dropped to the table where the peach she'd brought him still sat.
"No," he answered. "I am fine, thank you."
She nodded quickly and the motion looked awkward, forced. What had brought her here that was upsetting her?
"Sit," he ordered.
He'd find out, he determined. Her eyes darted to the peach again. Did she want it? Was it the last peach and she wasn't sure how to ask if she could have it? He looked back to her only to see her staring at the wall behind his head.
"So…" she started uneasily. "Jiya was telling me about a shortage in the market. Something about bugs damaging the trees."
She did want the peach, didn't she? He reached for it and held it out to her without a word. She blinked, surprised and slowly reached for it.
"Take it," he replied. He wanted the damn thing gone anyway. He didn't want it lingering in his room tempting him to find out how it would taste on her skin. He didn't need that, didn't need it at all.
Holding it up, she stared at it looking at it as though she expected it to move suddenly or spout foliage. It didn't do either and so she looked back up at him. He just stared back. After a moment's indecision she raised it to her lips and bit into it. The juice dripped down her chin and dropped down onto her blouse.
She wasn't eating it because she wanted it. She was staring directly at him was staring at him as though waiting. He watched her chew, swallow and bite into it again…
She was still staring. Their eyes met and held… his surprise quickly converted into heat that pooled low in his belly. She was … Had she seen him watching her at dinner? Had the others sent her back?
Did he care?
It took only a moment and the fruit was ripped from her fingers and he was virtually on top of her. His body was radiating heat and it overwhelmed her. She heard a dull thud and realized he'd dropped her peach onto the floor and briefly mourned it before the impact of his chest against hers caused her to lose her balance and fall straight onto her back. He loomed down over her, his mouth dropping to lave his tongue along her jaw.
He followed the droplets of fruit juice across her jaw, her chin, her lips. She gasped briefly as his tongue slipped into her open mouth only to quickly withdraw and slid down her chin and neck. She felt his fingers dig into the material at her waist and tried to move away, to shift when she felt the tie at the front of her blouse slid apart.
Air brushed over her bare torso as he pulled open the garment and Misao was lost. Okon and Omasu were right! Her wandering mind escaped Aoshi's hold only briefly. He sat back from her and she saw the peach was back in his hand. He was clenching it hard as he stared at her, his eyes dark with intensity, his expression tight.
He licked his lips as he lowered his hand, pressing the gaping wound in the peach against her jaw, rubbing it down her neck. Astonished, she moaned at the silky, wet, erotic feel of it.
She squirmed and shifted until he turned his eyes up to hers. He lowered her head so the fruit was caught there between her chest and her chin.
"Don't drop it, don't move."
She swallowed, feeling awkward, strained. He curled his fingers into the waist band of her shorts and slowly dragged them down her hips. He lifted her without assistance. He slid them down her thin thighs and over her slender ankles and let them fall where he released them.
Pressing his palms to her knees, he spread them and she cried out. "Aoshi-sama!"
Astonishment or rebuke or embarrassment, he wasn't sure… he didn't care, she didn't fight it. He slid his hands inward, running his palms and his sweat against the inner face of her thighs marveling at the softness. He leaned down and pressed his cheek to that soft skin, in awe of her.
She shifted, squirming impatiently and he lowered his mouth with a groan. Misao seemed to explode, the cry from her mouth a shout, a scream. He'd never touched a woman this way before, but this was Misao…
She was soft.
She was clean.
She was his.
There was no part of her that was dirty to him.
He snatched the peach from beneath her chin and she dropped her head back to the floor, relieved to be rid of it and equally tense.
Misao was past the point of coherency but her half gasps were all he needed. His clothes were too tight, he needed her now. He pulled at the tie of his yukata, but it was knotted and he was impatient.
"Mine, Misao?" he murmured.
"Yes, Aoshi-sama, always yours."
"Always mine," he repeated softly, pressing deeper.
Beneath him, Misao lifted her hips; her eyes closed tight, her teeth digging into her bottom lip. She raised her pelvis to meet his as though wanting more. Sweat and moisture clung to his skin, his back; his thighs… his muscles trembled and twitched with strain.
He lowered himself onto her, panting, his chest heaving for hair, his head empty.
"Aoshi-sama," she murmured and he realized they hadn't spoken at all.
"Aa?" he questioned, sitting up. He pulled his yukata together and stood and Misao moved to stand also, much slower than himself. He turned his back to her and moved to his futon cabinet, withdrawing his needed things. He threw them to the floor wondering at Misao's silence. He could hear the soft rustling of cloth and knew she was redressing herself.
He couldn't make himself turn back and tell her not to. She didn't move or speak in the few minutes it took for him to prepare his bed. He knew she was waiting, gathering her courage to speak.
He turned back to see her and she opened her mouth to speak and then abruptly stopped. He watched as she brought her legs together and seemed to be holding very still, her eyes wide.
"Undress…" he murmured. "Come to bed."
"She hasn't come back," Okon grinned.
"Score! You know Okon, we are so good!" Omasu grinned.
Okon smirked in reply. "Right on! Just think, if we hadn't been watching, Misao would've missed her chance!"
The other woman nodded. "Now all we need to do is hatch a plan for Hiko and I have got one!"
"If Aoshi-sama is enamored with the way Misao eats and Hiko-san likes sake, we could try out a sake perfume!"
Okon frowned. "Wouldn't that just make us smell drunk?"
They shared a moment of silence and then laughed.
"He might like that…"
This is old. The uncensored version is on my site somewhere.