CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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After more than twenty minutes of walking in the rain, Luka saw a building through the downpour. She hugged herself tighter as her teeth chattered, but hope shone in her eyes.

The house's color was indeterminate. A sign stood in the yard, informing the visitors who didn't come on rainy days (and thusly were able to read the words) what the building was. Luka walked up to the front door and knocked as hard as she could. Stepping back, she shivered weakly on the porch.

The door opened.

"Yes- Oh my!" A motherly-looking woman stepped aside. "Come in, come in. Oh dear!" She worriedly took in the sight of the pink-haired woman in the soaking wet clothes.

Luka shuffled in through the door, leaving a watery trail behind her.

"You poor thing! Let me get you a towel." The woman moved to shut the door, but stopped as she saw someone else coming through the rain. She walked out onto the porch. "Come inside, dearie. Your wife's already made it."

Luka was shivering too badly to hear what the woman had just referred to her as.

Gakupo all but fell into the woman's arms after exhaustedly making his way up the mere three steps to the porch. She helped him inside and deposited him into Luka's arms before closing the door and rushing out of the foyer to grab some towels.

As he dropped gently into her arms, Luka had reflexively caught Gakupo. His eyes looked briefly into hers before shutting with a small exhalation.

Luka could barely handle standing on her own, let alone support Gakupo's weight. She collapsed to the floor.

The woman appeared in the doorway with a few other people who surrounded Luka and Gakupo with towels and lifted them gently from the floor. Luka's last sight before passing out was Gakupo's wet purple hair bobbing in front of her eyes.

When reaching consciousness again, Luka didn't want to open her eyes. She was warm again, nested beneath fluffy blankets by the feel of it. She was in a half-dreaming state where she thought she was at home, where her boyfriend still loved her and she still loved him. But as she finally let her eyes open to the dim lit room with a ceiling that was the wrong color, that dream shattered and reality hit her. She was unloved and alone in a strange place.

Where am I?! Luka thought with panic. She turned her head to the side. The man with the purple hair lay next to her, a white gauze bandage covering most of his head. Luka immediately sat up in bed and scooted to the far edge. The covers were as tight as could be. What is he doing in the same bed as me?

"You're awake!" a voice to her left stated with relief.

Luka whipped her head around to see a small, kind looking woman sitting at a table with a book in her lap. "What?"

"You collapsed nearly as soon as you got through the front door. Your husband had a nasty bump on his head. We patched it up, but it still looks rather nasty. He's running a fever currently. He should be fine after some rest but he's out of it now. You poor things, having to walk through the rain like that. Your car slid off the road, didn't it? These roads are treacherous in the rain."

Luka's brain raced. What was this woman saying?

"It's a good thing there weren't more than the two of you. This was the last open room and Mrs. Shikanori refuses to let more people stay than we have beds for. She's a funny woman. Very strict and old-fashioned." She lowered her voice. "It seems she absolutely hates it when unmarried couples try to get a room here. That's how old-fashioned she is. There have been a lot of complaints about that, but I suppose it is her inn. I heard someone got kicked out once because they accidentally let slip that they weren't married."

Luka's eyebrows knit together before she asked "Where am I again? I mean, where are we?"

"Oh, sorry. I forgot to mention. The Shikanori Inn. It's the best honeymoon spot for miles. And quite isolated too. My husband and I came here for our one year anniversary."

Luka looked around. Thick curtains hung over the window, a peaceful maroon color. Unlit candles covered the dresser, nightstand, and the mantle above the in-room fireplace. The light switch had a dimmer function.

I'm in a love hotel?

"Is something wrong?"

Luka brought her hand to her head. Suddenly everything clicked in her hazy mind. They think we're married! And if they realize we're not they'll kick us out into the rain!

The woman watched as Luka rubbed her temple. "Where's your ring?" Her eyes darted to the purple-haired man, but his hands were under the cover.

Damn it! "We- uh- well, we just got married." Luka hurried to create an excuse. "We're on our… honeymoon." The words sounded rushed to Luka, but she couldn't help herself. "There was a mix-up and we never got the rings in time."

"Oh no!" The woman gasped.

"No, it's alright. He didn't mind at all. It was so sweet of him."

"Well I hope you get them soon. That's a shame."

Luka was dying from all this high-stress small talk. "Do you think you could leave us for a while? I'm still feeling rather tired."

"Oh, yes. Of course. I'm Yumi, by the way."

"Luka."

"What's your husband's name?"

"You know, I'm really tired, Yumi." Luka could have screamed at this point.

"Ah, sorry." She stood up and went to the door. "Mrs. Shikanori will come by to check on you in the morning. You should probably get some more sleep. Rest well." She shut the door slowly behind her.

Luka got out from under the covers by pulling as hard as she could. Once free, she stood up and took a better look at what she was wearing. A pink satin robe covered her body. Nothing else. Cursing internally, she tied the sash tighter. She was not pleased to be left alone like this in a room with a strange man she knew absolutely nothing about.

Now about that… Luka crept slowly around the foot of the bed. The man was breathing deeply but who knew if he might wake up. His wallet lay on the nightstand, made of plain, worn leather. She picked it up and with one more glance at his sleeping figure, she opened it up. The driver's license was the first thing to come out. His photo was like a work of art it was so perfect. Luka found it hard to look away for a few seconds. His name is… Gakupo Kamui. Gakupo. What a unique name. She looked back at his photo. In an attempt to convince herself not to find him attractive, she settled with the description of unique-looking. She slipped the license back into its slot. Continuing her search she found a credit card, a library card, an insurance card, and a business card for a bar. She flipped it over and read the hand-written message on the back. "Call this number for emergency contact."

A bar? A bar is his emergency contact? She looked around and saw her cell phone lying on the table on the opposite side of the room. When she picked it up, however, it wouldn't turn on. She cursed her luck and picked up the old-looking room phone. Peeking over her shoulder one last time at the immobile figure, she punched in the numbers of the bar, and feeling suddenly weak in the legs, sat down in the chair.

"Hello?" Someone picked up the phone on the second ring. "The Red Magnolia. Neru speaking."

"Yes. I was wondering about one of your… well, someone connected to your bar."

"Yes?"

"Gakupo Kamui."

"One moment please." Luka could have sworn that she heard the voice scream "SHUT UP YA RAGING DRUNKS" and the noise of the bar in the background stopping immediately, but a hand had covered the speaker, so she could have been wrong.

On the other side of the phone, Neru handed the phone to Meiko as the entire bar crowded around. Meiko hit the speaker button so everyone could hear. "Hello. This is Meiko, owner of the Red Magnolia. Do you have a complaint about one of our employees?"

"Well, I was calling about Gakupo Kamui. I assume you know him since you're his emergency number."

"Yes, he's one of the employees here. Best we have in fact. Always on time; always respectful of the customers."

"Oh, he's a bartender then?" Luka's face took on a bemused look.

"Yes, ma'am. Is something wrong? I'm a bit confused as to your intent in calling this number. Is Gakupo in some sort of trouble?"

"No. Not really. But I found him in the back of my car this afternoon with a hangover and I am rather interested in knowing how he got there."

"Really?" On the other end of the line, Meiko tried to make herself sound as concerned as possible. "Last night… well, he was really torn up about a personal issue. The other employees were trying to cheer him up and it went a bit over the top. We last saw him when we dropped him off in the parking lot of his apartment; he insisted he could get back inside without any help. Is he there? Can I speak to him?"

"Well, there was a sort of… accident and he has a high fever right now… Do you think you could come pick him up? We're near Kimamoto at this little hotel off road a bit."

Meiko's eyes went wide. "You're in Kimamoto? You know they're experiencing heavy flooding down there?"

"Flooding?"

"Yes. I think you two will just have to wait it out. Sorry, but I need to get back to work now. Make sure to take care of him." Meiko hung up the phone with a slightly giddy giggle.

Everyone stared at her.

"I can't believe this crazy plan is working," she said with a smile.


Hello readers... *bows deeply* Sorry for the unannounced hiatus... But here's another chapter yay!