Chapter Ten: Heart Blossoms:
Simple dates work the best. Anna sat in front of her husband. He had time tonight to come home for dinner. The gentle night breeze blew over their heads. She smiled as she lowered her chopsticks.
"How's the case?" she asked.
"Good," Tsuzuki said over his convenient store rice. "We have a lead."
"Who?" she asked. He shook his head, chewing.
"Can't," he said. "It's an active investigation." Anna play-pouted at him.
Anna frowned. "Damn it!" She took another bite of rice.
"How's your job?" Tsuzuki asked.
"Good," his wife said. "Already helped two people."
Anna lowered her chopsticks. "Which reminds me, one of my clients gave me a gift you would like. Hang on." She stood up and went into the apartment. Five minutes later, she returned with the bag of taiyaki and handed one to her husband.
"Try it," she said. "They might not be fresh, but they're still good."
"Thanks," her husband said. Anna took her seat in the grass and waited as he took a bite.
"Well?" she asked. Tsuzuki smiled.
"These are good!" he said. Anna clapped her hands together.
"That's good," she said. "Though, I have one little question."
"What?" Tsuzuki asked.
"What exactly does the ad say?" she asked. The husband paused with his chili and vegetables halfway to his mouth.
"All of it?" he asked.
Tsuzuki tried to remember off the top of his head. "Grief counseling through summoning the souls of the dead, e-mail at miyazakikifan .jp. No cash accepted, only exchanges in gifts. I think…" He noticed her frowning. "Something wrong?"
His wife sighed. "That sounds like pandering to the kitsune."
"Well, you can't accept money," he reminded her. Anna puffed up her cheeks.
"I know, I know."
"Hey, you get something out of it at least."
"Well, yes…" She noticed the worried look on his face. "Babe, what's the matter?" Tsuzuki turned his eyes on her. He was about to lie and say "nothing," but stopped himself.
"Actually," he admitted. "There is a potential problem."
"What?" Anna asked. Tsuzuki looked at his hands as he tried to put together how to word this.
"Can you stay calm when I say this?" he asked. "Promise you won't freak out."
"I think the kitsune is starting to feed."
"You mean when we…" she began to say. Her husband nodded once.
Anna looked at her hands. "Oh…" She looked her husband. "You sure?"
"Well not yet," he replied. "I took a blood test yesterday."
"It can be detected that way?" she asked.
"Yes," Tsuzuki answered.
"How long before you get the results back?"
"Day after tomorrow."
"That long?" she asked. Tsuzuki pressed his lips together as he nodded. The cherry blossoms swirled over their heads under the moon. The information of this scenario gave Anna goose bumps on her arms.
"So, what happens if the results are positive?" she asked.
"Well, the kitsune would be feeding on me," he said. "I would get weaker."
"And then what?" she asked. Tsuzuki drew his mouth closed. The look in Anna's eyes made it worse. Yet, he couldn't let her know how lost he was himself. Aloud, the man chuckled.
"What are you saying?" Tsuzuki asked. "We'll worry about that when it comes."
"Asato-kun, I'm serious!" she said.
"And so am I," he said. His wife drew her mouth closed.
"Look," he said. "I don't even have the results yet. It could be nothing. When I find out, you'll be the first one I tell." Anna looked at him with big eyes.
"Promise?" she asked.
"I promise," he said. He patted his knees. "Well, shall we go in? I'll clean up everything here."
"You…" Anna began to say. Tsuzuki shook his head.
"No," he said. "I've got it. Go inside." Anna closed her mouth and rose to her feet. Tsuzuki watched as she walked into the apartment. That should hold for now. Only thing to do now was to wait for the results and one more day too. Tsuzuki shook his head and picked up the empty plastic trays off the lawn.