10. Girl Crazy (4)

The yakuza narrowed his eyes. “She’s not my girlfriend,” he said.

First, there was silence. Then, Ryu watched the mercurial Clément change once again.

“Look,” he spat, his thin gray face becoming rock hard, like something carved out of stone. “Look, I’m tired. You dragged me back here and I came along. Do you think I had to come back with you? Think about it. Think about ME and what I am capable of. Don’t you think that at any moment I could have given you the slip? Why do you think I let you bring me back? For power? I already have that. For Orison? He’s a fool blinded by his lust for power and the possibility of harnessing the supernatural—as if that were possible. For money? Would I come here for that? Or maybe you think I came back to do you a personal favor?”

Ryu felt as if a snake were uncoiling before his very eyes, a cobra rising up. It was a feeling that started at the root of his groin and drove up through his entrails filling his chest, his throat, threatening to choke him. It ended in heat and flame at the very top of his head. He felt like a volcano. He felt like his head would blow off.

Clément regarded him pityingly. “You don’t understand do you?” he whispered. “You, with your soulless efficiency, your pathetic devotion to the yakuza organization: a collection of thieves and whoremongers and murderers—you have no concept of what I am in it for. Of course you don’t. You are no more than a puppet.

“Why do you think I let you bring me back? I want only one thing from you, Ryu,” he said. “And it isn’t money or power or loyalty or respect. In fact, there’s only one thing I want in all the world.” He paused. “In this world and the next, actually,” he added dramatically. “One thing only, Ryu, and you are going to help me get it.

“I want the girl.”

—DEAD LOVE/Chapter 10.4/Girl Crazy

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photo by Linda Watanabe McFerrin, courtesy of Linda Watanabe McFerrin

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