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  Toshio started twisting his arm out of this girl's reach, finally having to yank it out forcefully. She spoke Japanese, so he spoke Japanese.
  “Than.. THANK YOU. You can let go now.” He breathed in through his nose and exhaled, pulling the wrinkles out of his vest, twisting on the cuffs of his gloves – though that was more for her benefit: don't touch, he hoped it said.
  
“You're welcome,” she stated, brushing down her dress.
  
They stood in a hallway off the main room, catching their breath.
  
“What makes you think.. that you know anything about these people?” she asked, crossing her arms in front of her. “What are you, 20? 23?” She used her hand to show Toshio to himself, head to toe. “Did you think they would take you seriously?”
  
“They..” Another breath, relax. “They have before.”
  
“When Daddy was around?” She smirked at him, if she were a man, he thought, his fingers curling into a fist.
  
“And you know better? Does age matter? You tell me.” He sizes her up with a sneer, forcing the insult onto her.
  
She tilted her head and looked at him as if he were a newborn. “Yes.” she stated. And he knew she was right.
  
Emma pushed off of the wall and turned towards the open ballroom they had came from. “It hurts, doesn't it? To know that you know as much as they do.”
  
She looks back at Toshio. “Or more.” She turns and points to the beeper hooked on his belt. “You're not wrong. That's the next step.”
  
Toshio visibly relaxed, finding himself again as he stands up. I wish I were taller, he thought, standing next to her. She pointed at his pager, he plucked it off his belt, looking at the LCD display.
  
Eventually this will be a phone, in our hands, he thought, turning it over with his fingers. She was validating his quip about Docomo.
  
He looked up at the girl and smiles slightly. “Anyone ever tell you have more smarts than looks?”
  
Emma raised her hand and pointed at Toshio, despite his grin. “If I slap you, how much security will show up?”
  
In response, Toshio said nothing, but pushed off the wall and turned, arcing his elbow out to Emma, waiting.
  
“Really?” she asked, though after a moment she did take his arm and walked with him out towards the ballroom, the tall girl and the big man.
  
At least he felt that way that night.

  He stopped caring about the others in the room that night, instead, the two of them sat together with each other, a circular coffee table between them, right up against the bright glass separating them from the rest of the city.
  
“You're four years younger than me?” he balked, then glanced down at the glass of chardonnay she tipped at him, which meant she was at most, nineteen. And has no business drinking, he thought. Toshio didn't make a move to take it away from her, though, it was only her first or second anyway.
  
“So I assume you are in college?” She nodded, glancing over the crowd as they mill about in front of the two. “Where, if I may ask? I attended..”
  
“Tohoku,” she stated, then turned and points at his cocktail. “Want another? I want another one.” She plucked the glass out of his hand and stands up, walking over to the bar.
  
He simply stared where her body would be, not even noticing that she's long gone by the time his brain processed that this white girl was attending one of the top universities in Japan. He turned to look at her back as she ordered refills. Who in the hell is this woman? He thought, rubbing his cheek with his hand thoughtfully.
  
She had said her name was Emma, but that didn't mean anything to him, she hadn't given her surname yet. She's here at this party, so she must have connections, or relations. Emma walked back to him and gave him his glass, a vodka tonic. Had she even asked him what it was to begin with?
  
“I'm sorry to interrupt, you were talking about university? Which did you attend?” she inquired. Toshio was about to answer when he suddenly realized he was embarrassed to say. He didn't attend any slouch of a school, but it wasn't Tohoku.
  
“I.. I attended Keio, here in Tokyo. I just recently finished my graduate studies. But that's not.. just who are you, Emma?”
  
She peered at him over the rim of her glass, taking a sip and tilting her head. “You know my name already, riOH. Oh! You mean last name. Apologies, it just slipped my mind. Matsuri, Emma Matsuri. Pleased to meet you.” She held out her free hand to Toshio.
  He shook her hand, searching his mind, the name sounded so famili--
OF MATSURI SECURITIES?!” he exclaimed, clapping his free hand over his mouth at just how loud it echoed through the room. Emma ducked her head as if hiding would help, a laugh escaping her at his outburst.
  
“That.. yes, my parents run Matsuri Securities, shush!” She lightly batted the hand that covers Toshio's astonished mouth. “Yes, they are my parents.”
  
“That explains why you're here, but.. they're not?” Toshio scanned the room, looking for them. He had seen their profiles, but never met them in person.
  
“They're not here tonight,” she offered, “They said I didn't have to come, but I figure if I'm going to be a proper Matsuri..” She shrugged.
  
He hadn't even considered that, the Matsuris were both Japanese, but they had a white daughter?
  
“About that..”
  
“Adopted.” She cut him off before he could ask the question she always got. “Mom and Dad couldn't.. conceive, so.. here I am.” She opened her arms wide at Toshio, smilingly slightly. It bothers her, he thinks.
  
“Do they..” He paused, searching for the words. “Are you going to take over when they retire?”
  
She ran her finger around the rim of the glass, thinking to herself. “I haven't thought much about it. They only ever asked that I pursue what makes me happy.” She squinted at him, as if she wasn't familiar. “Which isn't a very Japanese thing, is it? I mean no offense.”
  
Toshio took a sip from his vodka tonic, shaking his head. “It's not offensive. I figure stereotypes are there for a reason. Japan expects its youth to work hard for the sake of parent and country.” He almost parroted, something instilled in him from an early age. “Present company not withstanding,” as he looked at the rich boys and girls around the room.
  
There are so many questions I have and none of them are appropriate to ask in any situation whatsoever, he thought. Why was she adopted in Japan? Was one of her biological parents Japanese? Is it a corporate adoption?
  
She rest her arm on the back of the couch they sat on, smiling a bit. “You seem awfully confused, Toshio.”

  Toshio.

  “I.. I.. well, yes.” He deferred for the moment by taking a gulp of his drink, “I don't..” he looked at the exit nearby, then turned to her. “I don't want to be here anymore. Do you want to..” get out of here..
  
She grabbed his hand and pulled him up with her as they both walked towards the door. “Yes, I do.”

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About the author

drac

Bio: apologies for everything about me, it might get better.

updates will be once a day for the next seventy days since i am migrating from another platform and have those chapters - and more - ready to go. (from 8/9)

feel free to come hang out in the discord, if you like.

[email protected]

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