Mitsuyama only grinned more widely in his slightly inebriated state and beckoned to the geisha. Mitsuyama clearly knew how to make good use of his extravagant cultural accessory. Mitsuyama turned to his son.
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Before he was ushered away, Mr. Ichiro breathed a minimally polite good-bye and made a sketchy bow.
When his father was gone, he sighed. A few eye daggers were still being flicked in her direction. She handed him her empty cup. My mother is expecting me to do some errands for her this afternoon, and I hoped to have time afterward to give Rika her phone back. He looked down at his shoes. For a moment she thought he was going to kiss her, then he stepped back, remembering they were in public, and saluted her with the sake flask.
Thank you. It was noon.
Surely Rika would be awake by now. Hesitating, she remembered she ought to inquire after Mrs. Enjoying the cherry blossoms? Are you there? Yumi frowned. It was Mrs. The phone in her hand vibrated, startling her.
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Two people who. Rika was in a car with two dead people? Is she all right? Ozawa stifled a sob. I saw her. I identified her. Yumi sank to her knees. She tried to choke out some words, but none came. She hung up. Are you all right? She glimpsed the concern on his face before everything dissolved in the first wave of tears.
Let me take you home. The Mad Hatter himself was behind the bar tonight. Small and forgettable-looking except for his hats, the Hatter had never been seen without one. Everyone called him Boshi-san, as if Hatter were 39 40 Nightshade his last name. He nodded at Yumi.
She stood out from the rest of the crowd because she was the only mourner in the bar wearing regular street clothes. They affected different interpretations of the Bo Peep look but were united in their commitment to a sisterhood more mannerly and chivalrous than the one inhabited by girls in jeans and T-shirts. At the center of the Circle were the GothXLoli magazine staff, where Rika had started as a fifteen-year-old cover model but graduated to writing music reviews, fashion tips, and helping style the photos that defined hot and not.
Even the most relentlessly pastel Sweet Lolitas wore black armbands for Rika tonight. The crowd parted as Yumi made her way toward the bar. The Lolitas gathered around, led by Midori, whose tall figure and waist-length, perfectly-ironed black hair were often featured in GothXLoli fashion spreads.
Her feet were laced into calf-high boots, her tight black jacket nipped in at the waist, over a full skirt of striped cotton and netting. Tonight her eyes were an improbable turquoise, fringed with thick lashes and outlined in black.
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Midori set her drink on the table and pulled up a chair. Did she tell you what happened? The police said they committed jisatsu. The plastic Alices looked on as the Lolitas buzzed at the news. Rika told her she was doing a story for him, but Coco said it looked like Rika kind of, you know, liked him.
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Mei and Kei exchanged glances. Usually Rika just did little pieces for Kera and Egg, but about three weeks ago she got really 42 Nightshade secretive about what she was working on. Like she was going to a costume party or something. Kept checking the time, as if she was worried about being late for something. I think the police are wrong. Did they even investigate other possibilities? Maybe it just looked like suicide.
Maybe someone killed them. Who were they, anyway? She was pretty broken up when I talked to her. Maybe those people had something to do with the story she was writing. What if they were sources and the story was about the kind of thing someone would kill to keep hidden? Yumi The next morning, Yumi sat on the hard, vinyl-upholstered couches in the lobby of the Komagome Police Station, handbag clutched firmly on her lap.
Wanted posters scowled down from the bulletin board, a few accompanied by helpful diagrams showing which fingers the fugitive gangsters were missing. Policemen arriving for work crossed to the elevator and lapsed into shoptalk while they waited for the lift. Yumi checked her watch. He stopped, staring at Yumi. Good morning, Nakamura-san.
Then recognition dawned. In childhood, it had been easy to identify Kenji Nakamura even from a distance, because of the huge mole right next to his nose. Plus, he was always the tallest kid in the class. Irritated at being paired with a big, clumsy-looking boy, Yumi figured she would end up doing all the work, but she soon discovered that Kenji was much better at model-making than she was. He left school for a while and went to live with relatives in Osaka; when he returned, he and Yumi never quite reconnected.
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Some things never changed. But others had. Ashamed to discover she was so shallow, she resolved not to make the same mistake with Ichiro. Chapter 10 Monday, April 8 A. Kenji The bell jangled its welcome as Kenji pushed open the heavy glass door and held it for Yumi.