Michael Holden wakes up in an impossible reality: mid-nineteenth-century Japan, face to face with Shinjirō Kaminishi, a samurai warlord Michael has seen in a dream. Imprisoned by the warlord and interrogated about the future, Michael has no idea if what he’s experiencing is real… and then he finds himself back in present-day America.
Lord Shinjirō’s commanding presence and smoldering sexuality draw Michael again and again to the past, where dangerous information is revealed and Shinjirō’s life is threatened. Through the mists of time and in the reality of modern Japan, Michael searches for the truth—and for the man who now owns his heart—Shinjirō Kaminishi.
1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, February 2011.
THERE WAS something missing in the eyes. He’d gotten their look essentially right, but the gaze was still lacking some element he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
The pencil sketch of the man, inelegantly taped to the wall above his desk, had become his favorite place for his eyes to linger. He didn’t suppose a Japanese man in the nineteenth century—even a samurai warlord—would be that tall, but something had made him draw the white silk kimono as though it draped beautifully down long legs. The clean lines of the kimono mimicked the smooth strands of raven hair flowing down below the warlord’s shoulders, accentuated by the knotted tail at the top of the head toward the back. The warlord held his curved samurai sword in an odd one-handed grip, horizontally across the front of his body.
The face was classically Japanese, with high cheekbones, dark slanted eyes, and pale porcelain skin like a mask. The man was perhaps thirty years old, and the look in his eyes was that of a born leader.
Michael rubbed his eyes tiredly, turning back to his textbook on the late-Edo period in Japan and trying to find where he’d stopped reading. Finals began in three days, and in the midst of studying, filing the necessary forms to graduate, and everything else, he’d been having unexplained dizzy spells; one moment he’d be fine, and the next he’d be leaning against the nearest wall or solid piece of furniture. After a few moments of closed eyes and deep breathing, it would go away.
Stress-induced vertigo, Ellen would say. Get out and ride a bike; go for a walk in Tilden Park. Stop living in your head. She was a civil engineering major and a black belt in karate, equally qualified to build a bridge or kick your head in. He wasn’t sure if he had eventually bored her into stopping the sexual part of their relationship or what else exactly had gone wrong. Ellen was less emotional than he was and had never told him. The name “Nakamura” was still under “Holden” on his mailbox downstairs, and she still had the key to the apartment. Let’s just be friends for a while and see what happens, she’d said on her way out the door.
He stared up at the sketch again. For an Asian studies major, he supposed it wasn’t actually odd to dream about a samurai warlord, although he would’ve felt more comfortable if he’d dreamed about geishas instead.
Michael blinked. Where had that thought come from?
He needed a break.
He went to the bathroom and bent over the sink to wash his face. He grabbed the hand towel, dried himself off, and looked in the mirror.
His eyes were bloodshot, and his face overall was looking a bit haggard. Finals would be over soon, and he could sleep then.
Until then, however, his schedule sucked.
Michael closed his eyes, then opened them once more to really look at himself.
His light brown hair had gotten shaggy; he needed a haircut. His blue eyes and even features stared back at him from the mirror. Ellen hadn’t been the first girl who’d told him he was attractive, but he still couldn’t see it himself. The looks he got from girls, the hints they dropped around him, and the invitations to social functions and hiking clubs and other coed group activities had always left him cold.
It wasn’t that he disliked the young women who invited him to these things with their eyes hopefully gazing up at him. He just didn’t feel any real pull toward any of them.
That he wasn’t sure what he was going to do next in his life added to his sense of being unsettled. His circumstances allowed him to do whatever he wanted without thinking about money. Ironically that left him more indecisive than ever.
He could take a year off, travel to Japan and around Asia, then maybe apply to grad school. His grades were good enough to get into the better universities. Maybe he’d try the East Coast schools. He’d always lived in California. Perhaps a change of scenery would help….
He returned to his bedroom and to his desk, resolving to get down to his studies again.
Suddenly the dizziness was back. He was glad he was sitting down. Closing his eyes, he rubbed his temples briefly and then lowered his head to the book, resting his forehead on the open pages.
Just a few moments… and it should pass….
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Jan Suzukawa started out as a science fiction fan, and discovered slash fan fiction while in her teens, which was several eons before the invention of the Internet. Her tastes turned to yaoi when she became a freelance editor of manga and anime-related books for Digital Manga Publishing, Tokyopop, and other publishers. As an M/M romance author she has combined her slash roots with her love of yaoi, and she is delighted that M/M stories are now considered quite acceptable in polite company these days.