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Chapter One

“What did you have to promise Shiori to convince her to let us borrow her private jet?”

Amery felt Ronin staring at her beneath his sunglasses.

“Nothing. You realize she does not own this plane? It belongs to the company.”

“Same difference. It’s been here, in Denver, at her disposal, since her arrival. And it’s not like Okada is missing it, right? How many personal aircraft does your grandfather own anyway?”

Now Amery suspected Ronin had narrowed his eyes beneath the dark lenses. “Five. Three airplanes and two helicopters. Do you have a problem with that?”

She wasn’t quite sure how to answer that question. Although she and Ronin had been married for six months, she hadn’t gotten used to the perks of having the heir to a corporation worth billions as her husband. Ronin didn’t live ostentatiously—if she didn’t count his penthouse suite atop the building he owned, or his SUV, or his sports car, or his custom motorcycle. But every once in a while the magnitude of his fortune hit her.

Like now.

Ronin stopped in front of her and pushed his sunglasses on top of his head. Then he curled his hand around her face. “Baby. Having access to a private jet just means we don’t have to worry about airport security confiscating the bags of ropes I packed for us.”

“Bags? Is that why you insisted I could pack as many suitcases as I wanted?”

“No.” He feathered his thumb across her bottom lip. “We’ll be gone for two and a half months. I want you to have anything you need from our home to help you to settle in.”

She kissed the inside of his wrist. “All I need to feel at home is you, Master Black.”

“You humble me, Mrs. Black.”

“Mmm. You still love saying that.”

“And I always will.”

“Mr. Black?” a male voice spoke behind them.

Ronin’s stern mask dropped into place before he turned around. “Yes?”

The blond pilot, a male somewhere in his fifties, offered his hand. “Mark Beauchamp. This is my copilot, Bernie Samuelson.”

“Pleased to meet you both. This is my wife, Amery.”

Another round of handshakes.

“We’ve done the preflight checks. We’re scheduled to refuel in Hawaii. Then we’re flying to Osaka. Do you have any questions?”

“Can I see your aviation orders from Okada?”

Amery’s gaze moved between the two men. What were aviation orders?

Pilot Mark pulled out a manila envelope and handed it to Ronin.

Ronin removed three papers and read the first one, then he lifted the paper up to the light. After he read the second document, he scanned the third and handed the paperwork back to Pilot Mark. “Glad to see it’s all in order.”

“We’re familiar with protocol with Ms. Hirano.” He pointed to a burly man standing about twenty feet behind them. “Carver will handle your luggage. As soon as we’ve finished final checks, Nick, your flight steward, will bring you onboard.”

“Appreciated. Thank you.”

“Our pleasure, Mr. Black.” Pilot Mark smiled at Amery. “Mrs. Black.”

Before she could ask Ronin a question, he strode toward Carver and handed him the luggage claim ticket. Then he returned to her. “You okay?”

“This is all really weird. What paperwork did he give you?”

“Authorization papers. In Japan, Okada has an aviation crew on standby. While this plane is here, it doesn’t have a regular crew so we hire a local aviation company. Due to kidnapping threats, my grandfather has a set of protocols in place for any crew who flies an Okada heir. Even on an Okada jet. It’s up to me to verify this crew is the crew that Okada hired.”

“So they passed?”


“Ever had a crew not pass?”

“Once. No nefarious plans, just a clerical error that resulted in them losing Okada’s business.” Ronin took her hand and led her to the big window overlooking the tarmac. “There it is. A Gulfstream Five.”

She studied the airplane. It didn’t have the Okada Foods corporate logo on it anywhere. “It’s a lot bigger than I expected.”

He chuckled in her ear. “A phrase a man loves to hear.”

When she didn’t tease him or call him a pervert, he turned her around to face him. “Are you nervous?”

“About flying? No. It’s just surreal to think that we’ll be living in Japan for ten weeks.”

“For me too.”

Amery gave him a skeptical look. “Why? You go to Japan at least twice a year for weeks at a time.” She left the rest of it unsaid. You were raised in Japan; you know the language and the customs—you’re not a foreigner like I am.

“But I always go by myself. While I’m there, I train. I sleep. I do that for two or three weeks, then I spend a few days with my family in the craziness that is Tokyo and I return to Denver more worn down than when I left.”

She brushed his hair off his face. “That makes me sad.”

“But this time will be different. I’ll get to spend three weeks with you. Just us, seeing the sights.” Ronin squeezed her hand. “And after my daily training sessions, I get to return to you every night.”

“But what if—”

Ronin slanted his mouth over hers and kissed her very softly. “You and me, Amery. Nothing else matters.”

As much as she wanted to believe him, his claim wasn’t entirely true. Master Black would spend six weeks training with his sensei, Daichi. He’d already warned her that the regimen was grueling. Fourteen-hour days, every day, for three weeks. Then they’d take a week and sightsee between session one and session two, but then they’d return to the remote village where Ronin would train for three more weeks—the last week of which he’d spend sequestered. That’s when Ronin’s mother would squire Amery off to visit the Okada Foods factories that were mass producing her packaging designs.