Page 14


“I don’t want to sound like a fucking pussy, but this session feels less focused on my technical errors and more critical of my personal struggles and choices.”

“Master Daichi is giving you the smackdown for getting sucked into the underground fighting world?”

“Some. And he’s right. Those were impulsive decisions that affected people other than my stupid self.”

“So he’s pissed that you had three concussions and had to wait for medical clearance before you could come here to train?” she said sharply.

“Sounds ridiculous when you put it like that. But yeah. He’s not happy with me.”

“But he’s pushing you to the absolute limit anyway, knowing that you’ve been on medical restrictions? Does he even care that his training demands might be further injuring you?”

“In his mind as long as I’ve been medically cleared there’s no reason to take it easy on me.”

Amery counted to twenty. Then thirty. She had to temper her reaction because she knew how much Ronin respected his sensei and he’d excuse his mentor’s behavior.

“Say something.”

“It hurts me to see you like this, Ronin. Withdrawn, exhausted, defensive. Master Daichi may know you as a fearless jujitsu master, but he didn’t see you struggling to define yourself as more than just that when you were on medical restrictions.”

“That’s part of his issue. He’s says I’m too distracted to train properly.” He rubbed his cheek on the back of her head. “Sensei is convinced I’ve lost my edge because I’m—”

“Married?” she snapped.

“No, baby. He claims I’m distracted because I’m happy.”

Amery angled her head to gape at him, knowing her mouth hung open in shock.

“He’s right. I am happy. He’ll be waiting a long damn time if he expects me to apologize for that.” He closed his eyes. “He just seems . . . older. Some of the shit he spews makes me wonder if he’s going senile. One moment he mocks me, accusing me of getting soft and complacent; in the next moment he’s praising me as how the ‘old’ Ronin would’ve done it. Nothing I do pleases him. So I end up reworking techniques I’ve had mastered for years instead of him teaching me new ones.”

“I don’t suppose you can have a rational discussion with him about this?”

“In the past, after we’ve been out of the formal training session, we’d talk. These past two and a half weeks he just drills me from dawn to dusk. Then he tells me to go home, sleep in my soft bed, next to your soft body and reflect on why I’m no longer the hard man he’d trained me to be.”

Again, she had to temper her response. “Oh, sweetheart. That is awful. It sounds to me as if he’s feeling sorry for himself for spending his life alone.”

“You may be right.” Ronin maneuvered her around until they were face-to-face. He teased her lips with his. A nibble. A lick. A feather-light brush of mouth on mouth. “Take a drink of your sake.”

“I thought we were talking?”

“We’re done. And I feel a whole lot better, baby. Now take a drink.”

She tipped the rest of her drink into her mouth. Before she could swallow, Ronin fit his lips over hers and sucked the rice wine into his mouth.

“Mmm,” he said as he swallowed it down. Then his smile broke the seal of their kiss. “I like sake better when it’s warm and it’s so much sweeter when I drink it from you.”


He cut her off with a kiss and then pressed his forehead to hers. “I’m sorry I’ve been distant.”

She breathed a sigh of relief that her pushing him to talk hadn’t pushed him away. “Thanks for talking to me about what’s going on. Even if it did take you two weeks.”

“I’ll do better next time.”

“You’d better.”

He dropped his hand into the water and moved her arm out of his way. “I’ve missed touching you.”

“What a coincidence,” she murmured, “I’ve missed you touching me too.”

His hand followed the outside curve of her body to her hip. “Let’s do something about that.”

“Right here in the sacred onsen?” she teased.

“I need to be up in that sacred pussy, baby, so straddle me on your knees and prop your hands on the ledge behind me.”

There was her take-charge man. His words sent her heart racing. Her blood pumping. The extra blast of heat in her body owed nothing to the steamy water surrounding them.

Ronin grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled her head back, baring her throat to his greedy mouth. He licked the water from her skin. He bit the cords straining the side of her neck until she moaned. “I missed hearing those sexy little fucking noises when my mouth and my hands are on you.”

While his lips and tongue and teeth worked her into a writhing mass of need, his other hand gently stroked her breasts, then tweaked her nipples. His fingers glided down her belly over her mound.

One maddening fingertip circled her clit. The man had mastered her body, knowing precisely how to rev her up in no time. Pushing his long finger in and out of her channel, he teased her G-spot while he worked her clit with his thumb. “You always heat up so fast.”

“Wait,” she panted. “I want to come when you’re inside me.”