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“How far away is it?” Amery asked.

“Below Okinawa,” Ronin said. “It’s a long haul but Ojisan’s plane is picking us up in Sapporo tonight. We’ll be on the ferry to the island tomorrow morning.”

“I wish you safe travels.”

Amery faced Ronin after Yasuji walked away. “We’re leaving tonight? But I’m not packed.”

“Yes you are. There’s a suitcase on the plane with swimsuits and summer clothes for both of us.”

“But . . . how do you know my size?”

“You’re really asking me that with all the times I’ve had my hands on you?”

“Point taken.”

“Besides, if I have my way, you won’t be wearing anything at all for the next six days but a suntan.”

Amery kissed him. “You have the best ideas.”

Chapter Six

After their idyllic week in the tropics, they’d returned to training camp so Ronin could finish his final session. The last two weeks had flown by and now she was faced with spending an entire week apart from her husband.

“Baby, you’re killing me here.”

“I don’t want to say good-bye.” Amery pressed her lips together to keep them from trembling.

Ronin’s soft lips brushed her hairline. “I’ll make it up to you when I get to Tokyo.”


“Find something you want to do, someplace you want to go, and I’ll take you there, no questions asked. Just the two of us.”

“I’ll miss you like crazy. Don’t work yourself into a coma.” She sighed against his neck. “But you’ll do whatever Master Daichi wants.”


“It is my right as your wife to worry about you.”

“I love you, baby. So much.”

“I love you too.”

The door blew open and Tamara Okada strode toward them.

She held out her hands to her son.

Ronin kissed her cheeks and gave her a quick hug. “Mother. You look amazing as always.”

“And you, my son, look exhausted.” She faced Amery, offering her the same kiss, kiss, hug greeting. “Amery, you look beautiful as ever.”

“As do you, Tamara.”

“Thank you.” Her gaze bounced between them. “Have you two said your good-byes so Amery and I can take off?”

“Yes, we have. You’re planning on three days for the Okada factories tour?” Ronin asked.

“Yes. But it’ll be four days before we’re in Tokyo.”

“I plan on showing my wife all my favorite spots there, so don’t steal my thunder, Mom.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it. But you should know your grandfather will be back in Tokyo the day before you arrive, and he’s requested I host a cocktail party for the newly married couple.”

Amery watched Ronin’s eyes harden. “Please tell me you refused.”

“I did not. I think it’s a great idea. So be prepared to suffer through your grandfather’s pride in you as you introduce your wife to his friends and business associates,” Tamara said dryly.

“Fine. But she doesn’t meet Ojisan until I can introduce her to him, understood?”

“Of course.”

“And one other thing.” Ronin switched to Japanese.

Before he uttered more than five words, Amery poked him in the arm. “English, ninja. Especially if this concerns me.”

Tamara smirked at her son. “Care to start again?”

“She’ll want to shop and I pay for everything. I don’t care if she wants to buy a potato peeler or an entirely new set of bedroom furniture for our apartment, it will come from my accounts.”


Then he was in her face. “This is a nonnegotiable point, Amery. You are my wife. I provide for you, whether it is food, clothing, or home furnishings. Period.” He paused and exhaled. “Don’t deny me the pleasure of making sure you have everything you need, okay?”

When he put it that way, and added the puppy-dog eyes . . . how could she refuse him? “Okay.”

A man approached and spoke so rapidly that Amery couldn’t make out one word. So much for her Japanese language lessons.

Tamara gestured to Amery’s bags and they were whisked off to be loaded onto Okada’s plane.

Ronin framed her face in his hands. “I hate we’ll be out of contact for the next week. But I’ll be in Tokyo before you know it.”

She stood on tiptoe to press her mouth to his. “I’ll miss you every moment. But I can’t wait to get the inside scoop on Ronin as a boy from his mama.”

Without breaking eye contact with Amery, Ronin said, “No embarrassing stories from my childhood, okay, Mom?”

Tamara laughed. “No promises about that, Ronin-san.”

He groaned.

One more kiss, one more softly whispered I love you, and she forced herself to follow Tamara onto the tarmac.


It’d been a hellish week. No Amery. No respite in his training.

“Pay attention!” Master Daichi shouted. “Ten more.”

Ronin’s arms and legs were as limp as ramen. In all the years he’d trained with Daichi he’d never given up, never refused a command, never complained.

Evidently that was about to change.

He managed the spider crawl on the inside of “the box.” Halfway down, his body just gave out and he fell the last eight feet. With his years of jujitsu training he’d learned to make safe falls, so nothing was hurt worse than his pride.