Kagome comes home after eleven years only to find out the torch she we was carrying for her first love still ignites.
Hello!! I hope you'll find time to review. I'm pretty excited about this.
Huge snowflakes drifted down through the night sky, splashing against the windshield of Kagome Higurashi's rental car. The cool night air was a hit to the face and Kagome drew a deep breath. The flight from New York had been late getting into Chicago and by the time she'd arrived, the airport hotel had given away her room. Left with nowhere to sleep, she'd decided to drive the two hours to her parents' lake house rather than waste time searching for a room.
After eleven years of living in Manhattan and seven years of working the cutthroat world of public relations, she'd learned to be very efficient with every minute of her day. She didn't waste time on anything that couldn't get her ahead in the world professionally. She belonged to seven different professional organizations because all those names looked good on her résumé. And she had worked sixteen-hour days for seven years because that was the way to get herself a partnership.
“So what am I doing in Yudanaka, Japan?” she muttered.
Her younger sister, Sango, had called a few weeks ago, insisting that Kagome come home for the week before Valentine's Day. Sango had a very special event planned at the lake house, but she refused to give any details, only that every one of the Higurashis should be in attendance. Kagome's parents had been married on Valentine's Day thirty years ago, so it hadn't been difficult to guess at the purpose of her sister's plans.
A ring interrupted her thoughts and she glanced over at her cell phone sitting on the passenger seat. Snatching it up, she looked at the caller ID, then tossed it back onto the seat.
He'd called at least twenty times since she'd left New York for a business trip in San Francisco a few days ago. So far she'd avoided answering.
She and Kouga had been exclusive for nearly two years and he'd planned to come to Yudanaka with her and meet the family. But at the last minute, he'd canceled, begging off because of work commitments. It was at that moment Kagome realized her relationship with Kouga had become a waste of time. Between out-of-town business trips and busy schedules, they'd spent three nights together in the past month—not much considering they lived in the same apartment.
Even after years of being away from this place, and in the midst of a chilly winter night, she felt a familiar sense of excitement course through her. But Kagome had always had other things on her mind. With each mile that passed, she'd grown more excited, the anticipation building, the nerves fraying. What would he look like? Would he be exactly as she remembered or would he have changed? Had she changed? Would he see her differently? Would this summer finally be the summer when she'd kiss him?
Year after year, drive after drive, her every thought had always been focused on him. Even now, Kagome found herself falling back into old habits.
He'd been her fairy-tale prince, her knight in shining armor, her schoolgirl crush and her first love, all wrapped up into one incredibly hot boy.
His family had the summerhouse next door. They'd all summered together for years: the three Takahashis and the three Higurashis, an unruly tribe of kids known around their subdivision- Inuyasha, Miroku, his older brother Sesshoumaru and Sango, Souta and she. For years she'd looked at Inuyasha like her brother, Souta—an icky, gross, burping and spitting cad who had more cooties than she cared to count.
Then, one day they were swimming out to the raft and Inuyasha dunked her under. She'd gone under as an eleven-year-old girl and surfaced a teenager with her first crush. He'd been thirteen that summer and a handsome boy. Even now she recalled his golden eyes and his perfect teeth. How little droplets of water had clung to his dark eyelashes as he smiled at her and how his face was so smooth and tanned, she felt compelled to reach out and touch his cheek.
When she had, Inuyasha had slapped her hand away, a confused frown wrinkling his forehead. But from that moment on, she'd been in love. It was only later that her hormones had turned chaste puppy love to teenage lust. And later still to feelings that bordered on obsession and finally, ended in humiliation.
She drew in a deep breath and sighed. Over the past eleven years, she'd managed to visit the lake house only when Inuyasha was certain to be elsewhere. Yet, with each visit she'd secretly hoped that maybe she'd run into him again, maybe she'd have a chance to undo the mess she'd made the night of her eighteenth birthday.
Her phone rang again and Kagome cursed as she picked it up. But this time, she didn't recognize the number, only the Manhattan area code. Now that she'd been named a partner, her boss was free to call her at any time, day or night, and John Walters had taken advantage of that fact more than once. Kagome wondered what kind of emergency had come up at nearly 4:00 a.m. Manhattan time.
She flipped open the phone and held it to her ear. “Hello?”
“I figured you were screening so I was forced to call from the payphone on the corner.”
Kagome recognized Kouga's voice and bit back another curse. “I really don't want to talk to you. I said everything I needed to say before I left. It's over.”
“Kagome, baby, we can work this out. You can't just end it. Everything was going so well.”
She laughed, shaking her head at his ability to spin the situation. Kouga was one of the most successful young lawyers on Wall Street. Like her, he could put a positive spin on the worst disaster imaginable.
“How can you say that?” she asked. “We barely see each other. And when we do, we have nothing to say. We talk about work.”
“What do you want? I can talk about other things.”
“That's not the point,” Kagome said, growing more frustrated. Usually, she was able to express her views clearly and unemotionally. But this time she had no idea what she wanted. She just knew she didn't want to come home to Kouga anymore. For a long time, her life had felt out of balance and this was the only way she could think to fix it.
“What is the point?” he asked.
“I—” she took a deep breath “—I'm not happy.”
“When has that ever made a difference to you? You work nonstop, you never take a vacation, and every minute of your life is planned. Of course you're not happy. Who would be? But, Kagome, that's the way you like it.”
“Not anymore,” she said. “It just doesn't feel right.” Suddenly, she felt a panic grip her body. Was this the right thing to do? Was she really ready to give up? A buzzing in her ears made her dizzy and for a moment she thought she might pass out. “I—I have to go. I'll call you when I get back and we'll sort out all the details. Goodbye, Kouga.”
Kagome quickly pulled over to the curb and rolled the window down, breathing deeply of the cold night air. For the past month, she'd been fighting these panic attacks. They'd become an almost-daily occurrence. She'd blamed them on the stress of being named a partner, on living in Manhattan, on her doubts about Kouga. But Kagome sensed that none of these factors were really the cause.
The houses along the shore were dark, most of them unoccupied in the winter, and she squinted to see the mailboxes through the snow. She passed by the sign for the Takahashi' driveway; the next one belonged to her parents' house. A small light glowed at the end of the drive and she turned in and steered the car down the steep slope through the leafless trees, holding her breath the entire way. She switched off the ignition and stared at the house through the icy car window. It was even more picturesque in the winter, the roof covered with snow, icicles hanging from the gutters on the white clapboard facade. Looking at the peaceful setting, Kagome knew it would be impossible to get any work done while home with her family. And though she felt she needed a break from work, she knew she couldn't. So she had made a reservation, starting the next night, at the inn downtown. Kagome was certain she'd need a place to hide out.
Kagome stepped out of the car and grabbed her bags from the back seat. She couldn't help but glance over at the Takahashi's' house. There was a light on in the kitchen, but the rest of the house was dark. No doubt Tashio and Izayoi Takahashi would be at the anniversary celebration. But there would be no reason for their children to be invited. Still, Kagome had to wonder if there was a chance she'd see Yash. And if she did, what would it be like between them. Would he remember that night on the beach? Would he pretend as if nothing had happened?
It had been eleven years. Maybe it was time to let it go, Kagome mused. She'd been a kid with a crush. She hadn't seen Inuyasha since the night before she left for NYU. Until now, the memory of that night had always brought a surge of regret and utter humiliation.
She smiled. Once, they'd caught a squirrel in a live trap and let it go inside the police chief's cruiser. Then there had been the time she and Yash had stolen a bike from the town bully. The next morning, the kid found his bike bobbing up and down on the raft just off the public beach. That trick had gained them a lot of admirers, although they never admitted to it.
The house was dark and silent as she slipped inside. No one ever locked the door when the family was at home. She stood in the spacious foyer and took a deep breath, the familiar scent teasing at her nose—a mix of the lake and leaves, old wood and furniture polish and the vanilla candles her mother loved to burn to take the damp out of the air. Once, she'd known every inch of this house, every secret hiding place, every sun-drenched window. It had been her very castle.
Kagome slowly climbed the stairs then walked down the hall to her bedroom. But when she pushed the door open, she saw the room was already occupied—Souta's kids, two in the bed and the youngest in a portable crib.
She carefully closed the door and walked across the hall. Sango would probably have room in her bed. She slipped inside her sister's room and closed the door behind her. Kagome set her bag down and walked to the bed. The room was chilly and Sango had found a down comforter and was buried beneath it, her pillow pulled over her head.
“San?” Kagome whispered as she stood over the bed. She shrugged out of her jacket and kicked off her shoes. Sango had always been a heavy sleeper. She sat on the edge of the bed. She could probably find an empty couch downstairs, but she was too exhausted to search. She'd catch a few hours' sleep and check into the inn for a long nap in the morning.
Kagome slipped out of her jeans and crawled beneath the comforter, pulling it up to her chin. She closed her eyes, her mind drifting back to the last summer she'd spent at the lake house. Inuyasha had been home from college that summer after his sophomore year. From the moment he'd arrived, Kagome had been completely and thoroughly obsessed with him. He was gorgeous, lean and tanned and so incredibly sexy that Kagome was sure she would die if she couldn't be with him.
Finally, on the night of her eighteenth birthday party, she had decided to make a bold move. College was just a few days away and she didn't want to leave for NYU a virgin. So she'd screwed up her courage, gotten him alone on the beach, torn off her shirt and asked him to make a woman out of her.
Kagome groaned inwardly, pulling the comforter up to her nose. Even after all these years, the thought of her stupid offer was enough to bring a blush to her cheeks. She closed her eyes and said a silent prayer that Inuyasha wouldn't show up in the lake house until she was gone.
He was probably miles away, she mused. Maybe even sleeping beside another woman. She frowned at the tiny sliver of jealousy that pricked at her thoughts. He probably had everything in life he'd ever wanted. And she was still trying to figure out what she needed to make herself happy.
Maybe a week away from New York and the life she'd built there would give her some perspective, a quiet moment to figure things out. She yawned, threw her arm over her eyes. She'd have plenty of time to think about all this tomorrow. Right now, she needed sleep.
The sound of a cell phone ringing dragged Inuyasha Takahashi out of a deep and comfortable sleep. He groaned softly, then realized that the electronic jingle didn't belong to his phone. It was only then that he felt the warm body beside him.
At first he thought he was dreaming, but the weight of her leg thrown across his thighs was real, as was the citrusy scent of her hair. He tried to move his arm and found her head nestled against his shoulder.
A name, he thought to himself. He was in bed with a woman and he couldn't remember her name. Though he'd indulged in a number of one-night stands in the past, he'd pretty much given that up as of late.
The phone continued to ring and then stopped suddenly. Where had they met? Where had he been last night? Inuyasha waited for the signs of a raging hangover to seep into his consciousness, but strangely enough, he knew he hadn't been drinking. If that was the case, then why couldn't he remember the woman?
“Think,” he whispered as he slowly opened his eyes. His surroundings were completely unfamiliar. But then, slowly, he realized where he was. The Higurashi's' lake house- Sango's bedroom. But if that was where he was, then who the hell was in bed with him? Surely not his future sister-in-law!
He pushed up on his elbow and squinted at the clock. Six a.m. He looked down at his bedmate, then carefully brushed the wavy dark hair away from her face.
“Oh, shit,” he muttered, snatching his hand away. It had been years—eleven, to be exact—but there was no mistaking that beautiful profile, the upturned nose with the light dusting of freckles, the flawless skin and the long lashes.
She was exactly as he'd remembered her, only Kgome Higurashi was no longer a gawky teenage girl. She was a woman. His gaze drifted down to her lips, soft and full and slightly parted. A very sexy, soft, warm woman. But what the hell was she doing in his bed?
Inuyasha fought the urge to bend closer and touch her face. God, he remembered those urges. Funny how they all came back so quickly. Just how many times had he thought about kissing Kagome over the course of his life? A hundred, maybe two hundred?
The summer she'd turned eighteen it was all he could do to keep his hands off of her, from the moment he'd arrived at the lake house until the moment he'd left. He'd deliberately avoided her, just so he wouldn't have to think about it.
And now he had the chance. Why not take it? Why not see what he'd been missing all these years? He smoothed her hair away from her face and leaned over, then touched his lips to hers. As he drew back, she stirred and her eyes fluttered. A sigh slipped from her lips and she smiled.
Inuyasha watched her warily. She obviously wanted something to happen between them or she wouldn't have crawled into bed with him. It was a pretty bold move, considering her parents were sleeping just down the hall. But Kagome had been known for her bold moves and she obviously had become bolder since he'd last seen her. She lived in Manhattan. Hell, he'd seen Sex and the City. He knew what single women in New York were like.
“Do you want me to kiss you?” he whispered.
“Ummhh.” She snuggled closer, resting her hand on his bare chest.
“Ummhh” could be construed as a negative reply, but Inuyasha decided that, coupled with her sleepy smile, it indicated a positive response.
He stretched out beside her, furrowing his hands through her hair and gently covering her lips with his. She seemed to melt into him, her body pressing against his as another sigh slipped from her throat. In his youth, kissing Kagome had been an obsession and now that it was a reality, Inuyasha was stunned by the sensations that coursed through his body.
It was just a kiss! But it was as if all of the pent-up desire from his teenage years had suddenly been released. And now, he could actually imagine what might happen between them.
His reaction to the kiss was immediate and intense. It had been a while since he'd had a woman. During the past year, he'd found himself searching for something that had been difficult to find—a woman who was strong and independent and not afraid to be herself. He was through with women who were willing to remake themselves into whatever they thought he wanted.
Yash smiled. He'd known Kagome for years and what you saw with her was what you got. Even now, he imagined that she was just as stubborn and opinionated and determined as she'd been as a kid. God, he'd always admired her. She was the only girl he'd ever met who challenged him.
Her hand moved down his back, her palm warm against his skin, then slipped beneath the waistband of his boxers. He held his breath as she moved her fingers forward, to his hip. Though he hadn't woken up to a morning erection, he'd managed to remedy that situation in quick order by kissing her.
He pulled her beneath him, his fingers still tangled in her hair and molding her mouth to his. Her hips rubbed against his, his shaft hot and hard between them. There was something so exciting about touching her, something almost forbidden.
“Inuyasha,” she whispered.
The sound of his name on her lips was like fuel on a fire. His desire surged and his kiss deepened, his tongue plunging into her mouth hungrily.
This was Kagome, the girl he'd known all his life, the girl he'd so carefully avoided. But she could be his, here in this bed. There was nothing to stop them. In the past, the time had never seemed right, but now, every instinct in his body screamed that the time was perfect.
As he kissed her, he found himself caught up in a fantasy that he'd lived a thousand times in his dreams. He slipped his hand beneath her T-shirt and gently cupped her breast, rubbing his thumb across her nipple through the silky fabric of her bra.
She shuddered, then arched against him, but still her eyes were closed. An uneasy feeling came over him and for a moment, he thought she might be asleep and dreaming. Inuyasha drew back and stared down at her face, watching her as he continued to caress her breast. “Kagome?”
“Yash?” she murmured.
“Open your eyes.”
Her lashes fluttered. She looked at him, at first with a blank stare and then with growing confusion.
“Morning,” he murmured.
Kagome frowned and rubbed her eyes with her fists. A cry of alarm slipped from her lips and then, in a rush, she pushed away from him, tumbling backward onto the floor, her bare legs tangling in the comforter. “Wh-what are you doing in my bed?”
“I think the more appropriate question would be, what are you doing in my bed?”
“Not your bed. This is Sango's room. It's her bed.” She blinked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “And you're not her.”
“Sango's staying at the inn in town so she can have a little peace and quiet. Our house was full, so your mother offered me the last empty bed.”
Her phone rang again and Kagome looked around the room, then crawled across the floor to retrieve her purse. She watched him warily as she flipped open the phone. “Hello?”
Inuyasha grinned at her, letting his gaze take in her long, naked legs and the lacy black panties. Yes, the gangly teenager was gone, replaced by a long-limbed, incredibly sexy woman.
“Yes, John. I understand. No, I'll get right on it. You'll have it by the end of the day. All right. You, too. Goodbye.” She closed the phone.
“Boss,” she murmured. “You were in this bed last night. With me?”
Inuyasha nodded. Oh, hell, she had been asleep.
“Yes. But I wasn't with you. Not in the biblical sense. We were just next to each other. And then, well, then you woke up.”
The last thing he needed was Kagome to go running downstairs, accusing him of being a pervert.
“Hey, it was an honest mistake. It was dark. I looked like your sister. How could you have known?”
A frown wrinkled her forehead. “Then we weren't just…I wasn't…Nothing happened, right?”
He winced. “Well, there was a little something, but that was an honest mistake, as well. I just kind of assumed you'd crawled in bed with me for a reason, so—”
She touched her lips. “You kissed me?”
“But you kissed me back. And there was some localized touching going on, but only through the clothes. Except you did put your hand down my boxers.”
Her phone rang again. Kagome opened her mouth and snapped it shut, then looked at the caller ID. This time, she decided not to answer. Instead, she grabbed the corner of the comforter and pulled it off the bed to cover herself, leaving him in nothing but those boxers. She watched him warily, waiting for him to make the next move.
“Did you think I was someone else?” he asked.
“Yes,” she snapped. But from the guilty look on her face, he could tell she was lying.
He grabbed a corner of the comforter and pulled it over his lap. It would be hard to sell the “nothing happened” story with a raging hard-on pressing against the front of his boxers. Inuyasha cleared his throat and forced a smile. “So, how have you been? It's been a while. How long? Eleven years?”
She nodded, clutching the comforter to her chest. Her cheeks were flushed and her breath was coming in quick gasps. And her hair, thick and wavy, was tumbled about her shoulders. She'd never looked more beautiful. Yash's gaze drifted down, stopping at the perfectly painted toes peeking out from under the blanket. She'd always had really pretty feet. He'd spent a lot of time looking at her feet when he was younger, simply to avoid looking at her breasts, which were also pretty incredible.
“Your mother said you wouldn't be arriving until this morning,” he commented.
“I decided to drive directly from the airport. When did you get in?”
“Yesterday,” he said. “So, what have you been up to?”
“Not much,” she replied. “Just working. I'm still with that public relations firm that I joined right out of college. I was made partner last month. What about you?”
“I have my own design firm now. I'm doing mostly residential architecture. I kind of specialize in vacation homes based on classic camp designs.”
“Interesting.” She drew in a sharp breath, impatient with the idle chitchat. “What are you doing home? Why would you want to come to my parents' anniversary party?”
A slow realization dawned. Sango hadn't told her what was going on. Inuyasha wondered if he ought to be the one to break the happy news or if she should hear it over the breakfast table. For now, it might prove a distraction from what had just happened. “This isn't an anniversary party,” Inuyasha said. “It's Sango and Miroku.”
She frowned at the mention of Yash's youngest brother. “Sango and Miroku?”
“They're getting married.”
At first she gasped, then regarded him with disbelief. This was the Kagome he remembered. She always found a way to disagree with him, even if he was only claiming the sun rose in the east and set in the west. “Not funny.”
“It's the truth,” Inuyasha said. “That's why we're all here. It's going to be a small wedding at the Episcopal Church in town on Valentine's evening. She's got the dress and they've got the license.”
“They aren't even dating,” Kagome said.
“I guess they have been. They've been secretly seeing each other for the past three summers. They didn't want anyone to know. You know how our mothers are and how they've dreamed about making a match between the Higurashi and Takahashi. They got engaged on New Year's and decided to get married right away, before your mom and my mom could plan a big event.”
“But they're only twenty-one,” Kagome said. “That's too young. What do they know about marriage?” She drew a ragged breath and stared at him, as if she were taking a moment to digest the news. Then, her eyes slowly dropped, first to his chest and then his legs. She pulled the comforter up beneath her chin. “Do you think maybe you could get dressed and—”
The door to the bedroom swung open and Inuyasha's older brother, Sesshoumaru, stuck his head inside.
“Hey,Yash. Are you going to—”
His words died in his throat as he took in the scene in front of him.
“Hey, Kagome. You're home.” He strode forward to kiss her cheek before glancing over at Inuyasha, then forced a smile. “You two get down, breakfast is ready,” he murmured as he closed the door.
“Oh, no,” Kagome moaned, scrambling to her feet. “No, no, no. Now he's going to go downstairs and this is going to be the subject of breakfast conversation. The two of us, in our underwear, in the same bedroom.”
“And in the same bed,” he said. “We could always crawl back under the covers and really mess with their heads,” Yash offered. She sent him a withering look and he held up his hands in mock surrender. “Bad joke. Sorry.”
With a low growl, Kagome scrambled to her feet and tossed the comforter aside. “You haven't changed at all, Inuyasha Takahashi. Everything is always a joke to you. You never take anything seriously.”
Yash watched as she searched for her pants. “Don't get your panties in a twist. I'll explain the mistake. Although I'm not going to give them all the details.”
“The state of my panties is none of your business. And I don't remember any of the details. Why? Because I was asleep.”
Inuyasha laughed. To think he'd dreaded seeing her again, knowing how uncomfortable it might be. But they'd slipped right back into their normal dynamic. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, fighting the urge to grab her arm and pull her back on top of him, to remind her of her reaction to his kiss.
There had always been a heat between them, an attraction that he'd been reluctant to act upon. She'd always been too young, too naive. And he'd known she was in love with him, so it could only end badly. He'd thought he'd done the honorable thing that night so long ago, the night she'd offered up her virginity for his taking.
His rejection obviously still stung. If not that, what else could she possibly be angry about? “If you're still angry about—”
Kagome gasped, then threw a shoe at him. “I'm not angry about that. Just forget about that. I was young and stupid and I've slept with plenty of men since then and all of them much better lovers than you could have possibly been. Some women might find you attractive, but not me.”
Her phone rang for a fourth time. He jumped off the bed and caught her arm, then pulled her against him. Without a second thought, he brought his mouth down on hers and kissed her, deeply and thoroughly. He felt her soften in his arms and when her knees buckled, Yash grabbed her waist to steady her.
When he finally drew back, her face was flushed and her eyes closed. He felt his own reaction in his boxers, the desire returning immediately. This was going to be one helluva week if this was how they were starting, he mused. There had always been a sexual curiosity between them. Maybe it was time to satisfy it.
“Are you going to answer that?” he asked.
“It can wait,” Kagome replied breathlessly.
“Yeah,” he murmured, “that's what I thought.”
Nothing had changed. He wanted her just as much as he always had.
Kagome opened her eyes and stared at him, a sigh slipping from her lips. “I-I'd better get dressed. Everyone is going to be expecting us at breakfast.” She quickly grabbed her overnight bag and rushed to the adjoining bathroom, then slammed the door behind her.
Inuyasha sat down on the bed and smiled. This was a start and maybe that was all he could hope for. He glanced around the room, grabbed his jeans from the bedpost and tugged them on. He found a clean T-shirt in his duffel and pulled it over his head. He'd find a way to continue what they'd begun later in the day.
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