11. Blame it on the Fugu (2)

Ryu laughed awkwardly and answered in less than perfect English.

“No, Elin,” (he could never seem to say “Erin”). “It is only poisonous if it is prepared incorrectly. Yamada-san knows exactly what to do with this fish. Honto.”

All right. I believed him. I nodded and put my hand on his chest, right over his heart. I let it rest there, unmoving. Ryu smiled tightly, took my hand from his breast and let it go. If he’d looked into my eyes, he would have seen the questions flickering in them, perhaps the unhappiness and doubt. But he didn’t. We entered the restaurant.

The restaurant was one of those places that you’d never find unless you were looking for it, unless you were Japanese. When Ryu entered, heads turned. Of course, Ryu has been to Yamada’s restaurant many times, though never with me, and I certainly had little in common with the usual clientele. Mrs. Yamada, the owner’s wife, rushed up to greet us.

“Matsuda-san, good evening,” she said, glancing sideways at me. “We are so honored to have you here tonight.”

Ryu’s narrow, dark-lashed eyes darted sideways. He grunted a response.

“We’re here for fugu,” I whispered to the matron, conspiratorially.

“Oh, yes-u,” she said in English and smiled. Our eyes met and I think she understood my excitement, the thrill of having fugu for the very first time.

“This way. Dozo,” she said kindly, directing us to a small blue booth.

“Yamada’s wife loves to dance,” observed Ryu. “If she knew you were going to perform in one of Nakamura’s productions she’d ask for your autograph.”

“Mmmm, and you? Would you like my autograph, too?” I put my hand over his, unfastened a cuff link, and pushed the stiff white fabric of his sleeve up, revealing the snaking tattoos. The starched cotton folded, almost like paper, over the dark markings on his skin. Ryu’s name means dragon, and I liked the way the tail end of this particular dragon had wrapped itself around his arm. With an index finger, I traced the coiling serpent up under his sleeve. We are like famous lovers, I thought—star-crossed, of course.

—DEAD LOVE/Chapter 11.2/Blame it on the Fugu

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  • boldlow

    Hi Erin – lovin' each excerpt you post … weekly or in Dead Love … your story is so compelling. Thanks for the Daily Slice.

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