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Kenji, Second in Command

Countdown to publication--Day 14

Well, everyone loves Kenji. He's younger than Shino, is smart, funny and has a way with the ladies. What's not to love? My critique partners, my story editor and even I want to give Kenji his own book. Whether it will be a whole novel, a novella or a short story is yet to be determined. Here's a few excerpts the day they finished their samurai training and are out on their own:

Several hours after leaving the temple, Kenji glanced at Shino and blurted out, “I’m as lusty and hot as a Saru monkey. I need a woman, dono.”

“You’ve never been with a woman. How would you know you need one?” Shino said with a grin.

“I know, but I’m also tired of self-satisfying my bokken. I want to celebrate the end of our training with learning all about a woman. We must stop at a tavern and find us a saburuko.”

Shino laughed. “You can’t learn all about a woman in one night. But you’re right. You need to enjoy the warm charms of one, today of all days. It’s time. I know a place a bit ahead.

We’ll stop there.”

“What do you know of women, dono? Tell me about the creatures.”

“Remember when we went into Heian Kyo for the Tendai uprising?’

“I remember you were days late coming back to Enryaku-ji. Oh! You were with a woman then?”

“I went to an inn and a certain shirabyoshi dancer happened to be there. They usually only dance privately for courtiers, but she was dancing with the saburuko who performed there that day. She liked me and took me to her house. She was most talented that night—” Shino shot him a smile, and then winked. “—and for many nights after that.”

“Oh, Shino, tell me everything. I want all the details.”

“I’ll do better than that. I’ll allow you to find out for yourself. We’ll go to the Kohaku Inn. I’ll order a lot of rice wine and hand-pick a woman for you.”

Paper cutout art by MIYATA Masayuki

(1926~1997), Japan 宮田 雅之

While eating their morning meal the next day, Kenji said, “I want to stay another night.”

Shino laughed and slapped him on the back. “I’m sure you do, but we must find work.

Playtime will have to wait until you earn your own money or have something to trade.”

At Kenji’s frown, Shino changed the subject. “The girl I slept with, told me of possible work for a landowner in the next district. She said the lord has dealt with a lot of raids of late and might need our help.”

With a chuckle, they left to begin their new life as warriors…

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