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Chapter One ivine Thunder, are you flirting with the silkworm D girl? my husband, Tem, telepathed to me. “Hmm?” I tore my gaze away from her beautiful face. “No, my love,” I lied, glancing back at the slender, attractive Japanese girl as she took a sip of her green tea and giggled. I hastily refilled her cup and Tem glared at me. She was eyeing the fresh and fragrant steamed Look Fun. “You want some, Momoko?” “If it is made with shrimp, yes, please, Jimmy.” She called me by the name all my business associates did, but she managed to make it sound sexy. Her long, dark hair made me want to strip naked and roll into it. I wanted it running down the length of my— Scratch that. I hailed the waitress, aware of my husband’s furious stare. I had no clue what had come over me either. I was mesmerized. I tried not to stare at her perfect, perky breasts in the delicate white top she wore with slim, pinstriped black pants. I’m gay, as I always say, not blind. I can admire beauty, but Tem takes a dim view of my 1 .
AJ Llewellyn leftover…appreciation of a woman’s obvious assets. That’s as far as my appreciation goes. I focused on Momoko’s long, tapered fingers as she took the warm pot of sweet soy sauce and dribbled it over the food. The waitress removed the lids of other bamboo containers, trying to palm off the same egg rolls she’d been peddling from her cart since we’d arrived an hour ago. She almost succeeded in surreptitiously sliding one onto the table with the dishes of Look Fun, except that Momoko caught her and waved the basket away. Momoko was young, twenty-two, and she was like something out of an antique dealer’s porcelain cabinet. I shifted my attention to the other women at our enormous table. Tem and I were playing hosts to our new silk workers and they were all lovely. My gaze came back to Momoko. She was different. She was something else. She sparkled in her demure way. I could not keep my eyes off her. A bunch of kids ran in wearing Halloween costumes. It was the big day already and Tem was beyond excited. We were having a huge Halloween party that night. Tem watched the kids run to the kitchen. “We want you all to come to our party tonight,” he said, returning his attention to our group. “Don’t we, Div?” “Absolutely,” I agreed. 2 .
Devil Night “We’re having a spook house and food, dancing and music. And costumes.” Tem adored Halloween. He’d been planning this event for months. “Do you celebrate Halloween in Japan?” I asked Momoko as she used her own personal red lacquered chopsticks to slide a portion of the noodles onto her plate. She handed the rest to me. I made quick work of giving Tem a slice and then scooped up the rest, signaling for more. This mollified our waitress somewhat. I bit into the melting noodle dish and moaned. It was wonderful. Tem could hardly argue that point and suddenly, the world broke, uninvited back into the cloud cuckoo land in which I’d been floating. I was back at Legend Seafood, the busiest, noisiest, best dim sum restaurant in all of Waikiki. “Oh, yes,” Momoko said, her voice pleasant and lilting, like water over stones. I shook my head. What had gotten into me? “We have Obon festival in the summer,” one of the other girls said. I remembered her name was Ming. Momoko’s dark eyes fell on her and the girl lapsed into silence. Interesting. Momoko liked to shine. She liked to be the star. Oh, this beauty had a sharp edge to her. I bet she was a tigress in the sheets. 3 .
AJ Llewellyn She reminds me of your ex, Nonita, Tem telepathed to me. Dang, he had a point there. Nonita however, was a friggin’ head case. She was now in Tokyo opening a chain of strip clubs with Blossom, our unofficial family matriarch and queen of Waikiki’s vampires. “Go on, Ming,” I said. The young woman’s cheeks turned pink, her gaze flittering from Momoko to me. “The Obon festival, where we honor the dead, is in summer. But in Japan we have started, over the last few years, to celebrate Halloween.” She lapsed into silence and bent her head to her rice bowl. “We have something different. We don’t trick or treat. We call it Kosupure,” another girl said. “I read about that.” Tem’s eyes gleamed. “Costume play. Tell me, are the costumes wonderful?” Tem loved fashion and owned an operated a very successful clothing line, Thunderwear. Fabrics were his passion. We had hired these women to teach us about natural silk, all the rage in Asia and Europe. “Some of them are,” Ming said and glanced fearfully at Momoko. 4 .
Devil Night Momoko’s iron gaze shot from Ming straight to a new cart coming toward us piled with the taro puffs, a delicacy on the islands. “Oh, they’re fried,” she mused. “Maybe I shouldn’t—” “Don’t be ridiculous. These are the best. Try it.” Tem snatched at a plate as our waitress inked the correct price code for the dishes on our tab. “You, too, Div.” I sighed. “Okay, birthday boy.” Tem sure was milking his big day for all it was worth. I couldn’t say no to him on his birthday. I winced. I could never say no to him…ever. “In Japan on Halloween,” another girl ventured as Momoko bit into the feathery pastry, “we dress up in our favorite computer game characters, or anime. People also dress as ninja or samurai.” “Computer game characters?” Tem asked. “Which ones?” “Oh,” Momoko broke in, her face radiating sheer pleasure as she tasted the smooth, warm taro and pork filling. She giggled. “I could eat these all day.” Tem smiled. She’d just saved me a heated argument later on by saying those words. His face darkened when she asked for shark fin soup. Yes, it was a delicacy but Tem abhorred how the fins got into the soup, the cruelty that came with such a dish. 5 .
AJ Llewellyn I had to look away when another soup circled the table. I saw a huge eyeball in it. I couldn’t tell if it was a pig or a calf’s eyeball, but Momoko inhaled it. For some reason, this tickled me. She passed on the egg tarts for dessert but she did enjoy the mango pudding. And as I took care of the check, she rose like a supermodel. She slipped on a sheer white blouse, covering her arms, and slid white and black polka dotted gloves onto her hands. She’d been in Waikiki two days and never left the factory during the day without a parasol and her black hat. The sun, she told us, never touched her skin. Momoko was the group leader and she made sure her ten co-workers, who traveled the world teaching companies like ours how to harvest and farm worms for commercially produced silk, were right behind her. Tem and I followed their orderly line through the Chinese Cultural Plaza, past the statue of the Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, and across Beretania Street. Honolulu’s Chinatown is the oldest one in the whole of the United States. I took pleasure in the period architectural details blending with new additions. “You’re in love,” Tem grunted and I took his hand in mine. “Only with you, my love.” 6 .