"Don't move, yeah like that,"
I moved my brush while looking at my model in front of me. Her small pale yellow bill parted as she sang out a soft melody. Her black eyes wandered over bloomed white flowers around her. Her dark yellow chin and white abdomen were moving up and down as she sang her song. Her bright blue head, back, tail and wings were contrasted with the fresh green leaves and white flowers. My lips curled up when the tiny bird moved head side to side as if she was enjoying her little time.
My name was Minami by the way, but my friends always called me Nami. I was a brave, funny, easy-going type girl- it was what my friends told me -and not forget, short-tempered. There were two things I liked the most in this world. First was nature because I liked beautiful things. I thought nature was the most beautiful thing in this entire world, although I only knew my village- I was a girl and being a girl didn't allow me to travel around. Okay back to my favorite thing, the second was painting. I liked painting and mostly I painted nature. Just like now after finishing my job- I helped my mother gathering edible plants -I thought to paint something before going home. I always brought brush and paper inside my robe. Today I wore my father's old hitatare (men's robe). Since I had to climb mountain and walk inside forest so my mother allowed me to wear men's clothes. Usually I wore kosode (women's robe), but honestly I preferred hitatare so most of the time I wore hitatare. Although my mother would always complain, at least my father allowed me. My mother was strict while my father was very kind. But it didn't mean I don't love my mother. It was just...sometimes I thought she didn't love me.
A loud noise from behind broke my thought. "Oh no,"
I sighed as my little model flew away. I pushed body up, taking my tools. Luckily it was almost finished. I brushed dirt off my robe. I turned around when there was sound again. "What's that?"
I hoped it wasn't big animal. Holding brush and paper in hand, I walked toward the sound. I pushed away tree branches and walked in the lowest sound I could manage. If it was a bear I better prepare myself. I lowered my body as I passed through branches. I let out a cry when my hair was caught on a branch but quickly covered my mouth. That was when I saw a man.
He glanced at my direction. I quickly lowered my body, waiting. When the man turned around, I pulled my hair off slowly and let out a curse. I looked back at the man. 'What is he doing in the middle of the forest?'
He was a tall young man. He must be close to my age. My brows furrowed deeper as he raised his hand. He was holding a katana (Japanese swords).
He then started to swing it. Even from my standing place I could hear the sound of katana cutting the air. My eyes glued to the man in front of me as he swung his katana up, down and aside. Seeing a man with katana wasn't unusual thing for me but he was different. His movement was quick yet smooth and delicate. It was like he was doing a dance instead of doing a practice. Couldn't help myself, I stepped closer, standing behind a tree not far from him. My eyes never left him.
His movement astonished me that it felt like I was hypnotized by him. I let out a breath I didn't realize have been holding and raised my hands. I put my paper on tree trunk, wetting my brush with tongue. I started to paint. I took a look at him before turning back to the paper. With only a glance, I could remember his movement. My hand moved quickly over the paper, drawing lines after lines. My lips curled up as his figure slowly appeared on the paper. I turned my head to look at the man but he was no longer there. 'Where's him?'
"Looking for me?"
I was startled by the voice. I turned around and gasped as I found him. He was standing in front of me. I took a step back to run but stumbled on tree root. I lost my balance.
A pair of arms grabbed my waist and the next second I was staring at deep brown eyes. I couldn't breathe as my face was close to him, way too close that I could count his eyelashes. I gained my composure, pushing him away. "Get off me!"
But he tightened his hold on my back instead. I was about to push his shoulders when he looked aside.
"You can paint,"
"What?" I asked, confused.
He gave a nod with his head toward the paper in my hand. I quickly moved hand behind my back but he grabbed the paper from me. "Give it back," I said. I tried to take the paper back but he raised his hand so I couldn't reach it.
"Is that me?"
He turned his gaze to me. I could see his lips curled up a little.
"This is great, you did paint very well."
I tried to reach the paper but once again he put it up. "That wasn't you. Give it back to me or I swear I'll…"
I greeted my teeth at his smirk. "I'll…" My words died in my throat as he leaned closer. The next moment I felt his lips over mine. It felt like everything went blurred; my eyes, my mind, everything was blurred. My heart beat faster as I felt his lips. I had never kissed a man; I had never been in relationship before. I thought man's lips were rough but his were soft. And his eyes were deep. It felt like I was pulled into them.
Usually I would punch this rude man but I couldn't move my body. For a while I just froze until sound of my brush fell onto forest ground broke the moment. I pulled back, pushing him away.
"What are you doing!?" I shouted. I raised my hand but he was fast. He grabbed my fist right before it could touch his smooth cheek. 'What kind of man has a smooth skin anyway?'
"That's for sneaking and painting my picture without my permission."
I chuckled sarcastically. "I said it wasn't you, and for the record I am not sneaking around, I was gathering vegetables." ‘Oh I forgot my vegetables. Where did I leave them?’ His laughter broke my thought.
"Whatever. But I like your painting, and you."
My jaws dropped down. "What?" I tried to release my wrist from his grip. "You're crazy man, let me go!" I demanded. I yanked hand off and fell back when he released my hand. “Ouch!”
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," I said with glare. I slapped his hand away as he offered to help. He just chuckled and stepped back. I pushed body up, brushing dirt off my kukuri-bakama (short pants usually wore by men). I picked my brush and paper.
"You're a girl, aren't you?"
"A woman," I stated.
"A woman right, are you really?"
"Of course I am, are you blind? You seem to have a problem with your eyes too," I said. The man just stared at me and then let out a laugh. His voice wasn't deep as other men. A sudden sound behind us made me looking aside. But I saw nothing. When I turned back to him, I was surprised to find his face right in front of me.
"I must get going, can we meet again?"
A gasp slipped out my mouth before his lips were once again over mine.
"Hope can see you again beautiful."
The man gave quick wink before running through trees. I turned around as I heard sound of horse neigh. Between trees, I saw the man riding a white horse. Another black horse with a man on it followed behind. After they left, I let out a long breath. I looked down at the paper in my hand before raising another hand to touch my lips.
"Crazy man, next time if meet him again I'll punch his nose. Who did he think he was to kiss me?" I huffed. "No one dares to kiss Nami, everyone knows that," I said aloud. Of course I didn't get a reply.
I turned around when a rabbit came out, staring back at me. "You know it too, right? Of course you do."
I gave a wave toward the rabbit before walking down the forest to my forgotten basket.
I dismounted from my horse, walking toward camp. I let out a sigh when I saw someone standing in front of my tent. My father.
"Where have you been young man?"
"Just doing my practice," I replied, pointing at the katana on my belt when the older man crossed his arms. "You can ask Jiro, right Jiro?" Jiro glanced at me before looking back at my father and nodding.
"Yes, we…have been practicing," Jiro said.
"Fine, get ready. We have a job to do."
"Yes, father," I said. I watched as my father who was also our leader left to his tent. I then turned to Jiro. "You won't say any word, got it?" Jiro raised a thumb, wriggling his brows.
"You know I've got your back," Jiro said. "Anyway, who's that girl?"
"What girl?" I laid my katana beside bed before taking off my upper robe. We were inside my tent.
"Come on, don't think I didn't see it," Jiro said as he took his performance robe. "From this village? I've never seen her before."
I threw my long white robe on and tied the belt. "I don't know. Never seen her before," I said. I sat in front of dressing table, starting to apply makeup.
"Maybe we should look around the village, it's boring here. What do you think? After the show?"
I let out a chuckle, applying cream over my face. "Not tonight, I'm tired."
"Okay, I'll go by myself and perhaps meet your girl."
I took the cream away when Jiro reached over for it.
"She's mine," I said.
"Woah, easy there. It's not like I'll take her or something."
He reached for the cream but I moved hand away.
"If you see her you'll tell me, understood?" I said before handing the cream, continuing my makeup. I heard a chuckle from him.
"Fine. Wait, don't tell me you like her."
After done with makeup, I released my long hair. "None is your business." He let out another chuckle.
"I guess your fangirls will have broken heart to know that."
"Shut up," I said. I changed my shoes, taking my fan, and heading door. "Hurry up, we'll be late."
"You really won't come tonight?"
"Nah, I'm good. Just don't get yourself in trouble," I said before leaving tent.
"Ray, wait up!"