Chapter 5 – Enter Yuki
“Slow down, I promise if anyone tries to take your burrito away, I will… watch as you gnaw off their fingers,” Yuki teased.
I glared at him over the top of my burrito. When I managed to swallow my mouthful, I intended to tell him what I thought of his remark. Instead, he cleverly distracted me by pulling out a file and sliding it across the table. “What’s this?” I asked.
“What do you think it is?” he asked in a mocking tone. I blinked back at him. “This is the contract for our marriage that you will agree to as payment for my translation services. You’ll notice in article three, I have spelled out that, when you are rich and famous for your comic, you will indeed buy me a pony I can name ‘Chuckles’ and ride to the market.”
I shook my head to process what he had just said. It did no good. “Huh?”
With a sigh, Yuki flipped open the folder and pointed to the papers inside. He had printed the email and under each line of it translated its meaning and his understanding of it. “This, my dear Jordan, is the translation you had me do.”
“Okay, thank you,” I responded as I picked it up and started to read it over. Nothing in it seemed all that surprising. “So why did you want to talk to me in person?”
He rolled his eyes and took the folder from me. He started pointing at different sections. “This part says, if you are successful after three months, they will agree to a year’s contract with you. It also says they will help you publish your comic in tankōbon form if you sign a one-year contract. You will also have the ability to change the storylines you want to publish in the magazine.” He looked up at me with a face full of excitement. “Why are you not bouncing off the wall? This is huge for you. You get artistic freedom and retain your rights.”
I nodded calmly, closing the folder. “It’s all very exciting,” I agreed, starting to process that it was really happening. Yuki suddenly pulled out another folder and handed it to me. “What’s…?”
“Just look at it,” he said, motioning for me to open it. As I thumbed through the contents of the folder he continued talking. “These are living stipends and visa approvals for people who want to live in Japan and work in the field. Couple that with the fact that you are half Japanese, Jordan, and you really could go live in Tokyo and make a real living.”
I shook my head. “I have to get through the first three months. People have to like me and my comic. They may not.”
Yuki reached across the table and placed his hand over mine. I stared at it for a moment before meeting his eyes. “They will. You have a lot of talent and I know you can do this.”
I took a deep breath and pulled my hand free. Without another word, I returned to my second burrito. Yuki watched me closely. The quieter I was the more his smile broadened.
The rest of lunch was spent in nomming silence. When we pulled up to the office, Yuki raced around the car to open my door. “What are you doing?” I asked gingerly.
“Being a gentleman,” he offered.
“Since when are you a gentleman to me?”
“Since I realized somewhere along the line you were a girl. I’ve been extra nice to you for the last six or seven years.”
“Is that what you call it?” I faked a shocked look. “What do you call leaving me stranded in California?”
He was silent for a moment. “Justice.”
“And telling my last boyfriend I may have an STD?” I asked.
“First of all, I saw the guy before him. You might have. Second, the last guy was a douchebag. You should thank me for getting rid of him.” Yuki’s smirk was just a little too self-satisfied.
“I didn’t have anything. I had been tested, twice, before we started dating. You saying things like that implies I wasn’t being honest about my health,” I argued. He just shrugged. “Fine, what about your brother’s class ring?”
“Oh my god, this again?” he snapped. Without warning, he reached into his shirt and pulled out the aforementioned ring where it hung on a chain. Mumbling to himself, he unclasped it from his neck and moved to hang it around mine. “I can’t believe you are still bringing it up.”
“Yes, you can. I bring it up every year.”
“Well, just keep it this time,” he said insistently into my ear. When he finished clasping the necklace, he let one hand rest on my hip and the other on my shoulder. The nearness caught me off guard and my heart sped up. “There, are we even now?” he whispered.
I stepped back, pulling myself out of his grasp. “This is a start,” I said, turning towards the office entrance.
“Hey, and I bought you a burrito,” he joked.
Despite myself, I laughed. “Another fifty burritos and it may make up for California… may.”
With a dashing smile, he started to return to his car, then stopped. “Should I send a bouquet of burritos?”
“I’m pretty sure there isn’t such a thing,” I said.
“Enough money and I bet there is. If I send one, do I get a second date?”
“When was the first date?” I retorted. He motioned to me and I rolled my eyes as I stepped into the building. I grabbed my phone and quickly sent a message.
Just so you know, today was so not a date.
Just so you know, next time will be!