Burning anger pulsed through her body, immobilizing her. He didn’t know anything about girls like her. That’s completely untrue. Girls like me intimidate boyfriends away. Girls like me have never been asked out by a single boy. Girls like me have to find their own way, make their own luck. I’ve had to fight for every success in my life, and I’m going to fight for this. I’m going to get good at sex, and then I’ll finally be able to entice the right person into being mine.
She would face her enemy. And die with honor.Her sight blurring from the thickening smoke, Mariko pushed Chiyo aside, her hands trembling despite her best efforts.
A shout rang out in the darkness. The man near the norimono twisted around at its cracking toll.The cries were followed by the snarl of an animal. The growl of several more.Another shriek. The echo of a death knell. With it came the cries of feasting animals.
The nightbeasts! The man with the torch pivoted again, his flame leaping with his motions. They’re attacking our flank!Check the girl, the first man insisted. The girl is more important than—
The prince’s bride is as good as dead! With that, he threw his torch on top of Mariko’s norimono, whirling away as he sealed her fate. Collect our fallen. Leave nothing behind, he yelled to men she could not see.
Mariko bit back a scream as clanking metal and rustling bodies converged in the nearby shadows. Chaos grew with each passing moment. The flames in the norimono leapt higher. Faster. Their heat turned her skin pink. She clasped her fingers tight, smothering her coughs as she shrank farther into the corner. Tears streamed down her face, leaching her of all resolve.Again the feeling of being near him unnerved her. That same all-but-undetectable hum. I’m not surprised. Venom tinged her retort, while blood rampaged through her body. Based on my observations, you don’t hit much.
The instant she mocked him, a jolt of fear passed through Mariko.Laughter rippled around them. The front ridge of Ōkami’s saddle dug into her stomach and chest. If Mariko hadn’t thought to bind her breasts tight in a long length of muslin, she knew she would have been suffering far more discomfort.
The little lord is right, the gruff voice of the cook called out from behind them. What took you so long to best the giant, Ōkami? Are you losing your touch?The little lord didn’t let me finish. Ōkami bent forward. I said I wouldn’t hit him . . . He was so close, his words pulsed across her skin.