As I returned to the hostel, I found Emile, grinning through his teeth, in the lobby.
“Somebody didn’t sleep in his bed last night. I presume you got along well with your guest?”
“Yamamoto san? Yes, she was fine.”
I gave him a look.
“Gentlemen don’t tell, mmm?” he persisted.
I dismissed him with a wave of my hand and went upstairs to get a few extra hours of sleep before the next shift at the Mansion.
My third night at work was uneventful. I served multiple customers over a relatively short time and I found myself thinking of Mrs Yamamoto more often than I should.
The next evening I was waiting with anticipation for her to come, hoping I wouldn’t be assigned to somebody else’s table first.
“Nik, there’s a man waiting to be served, table 3,” said Emile.
“I should wait. I’m pretty sure Mrs Yamamoto will request for me again.”
“Is she here?” Emile looked around the room. “I don’t see her. Get your ass to work.”
I was about to protest when I saw her entering. “There she is.”
“Perhaps, I shall be her butler today,” said Emile and rushed toward her.
Surprised by his action, I watched hopelessly from the counter as he escorted her to the same table she sat at the last time. I tried to make eye contact with her and when she finally saw me, she said something to Emile that sent him right back to me.
I turned my hands palm-up, bewildered. “What the fuck, Emile--”
He shoved the menu at me. “She wants you, you lucky bastard.”
I was relieved and excited to see her. She greeted me with her warm smile, looking very elegant in a grey suit and a purple blouse.
As we indulged in sushi plates and wine, she spoke about her daughter, who was finishing a Ph.D. in microbiology, and her son, a lawyer, married with two kids. Both lived in the US. She would visit them twice per year, and once per year, they would come to Japan.
“And your husband?” I asked carefully.
“My husband and I live together in our big house in Osaka. He has his own floor of the house and I have mine. You see, my husband and I, have an understanding.”
As I remained silent, she continued: “In our society, it’s sometimes easier to keep up appearances. We share a very big, family company and if we were to split this could hurt our image.”
“So, you prefer to live in a lie.”
She chuckled and waved her hand dismissively. “Oh, no, it’s not a lie at all. It’s a very strong partnership, a partnership with great respect for each other.”
I shrugged indifferently, even though I wasn’t completely convinced. “If you say so.”
“Our ways are not easily understandable.”
She took a sip from her glass and closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the taste of the wine. We opened our second bottle.
“David san, I noticed, you did not take the envelope I left for you in my hotel room.”
“You didn’t owe me any money.”
She looked at me for a while, evaluating my answer.
“We both satisfied our needs,” I added.
"So desu ne, I see. And would you be willing to accompany me tonight as well?”
“I would.” I replied, without thinking too much about it.
Once in her room, she asked me to treat her in the same manner as last time. With my confidence boosted by the wine, I enjoyed playing with the power she gave me over her much more, and in the end, we both fell onto the bed exhausted.
She lay on her back next to me, with her hand below her head and stared at the ceiling. I observed her silhouette in the dark.
“Why do you want me to be in control?”
She turned her head to me, her eyes gazing at me for a prolonged moment, then looked up again as she began to explain.
“I’m the CEO of my company, as well as the head of my family. My husband, he doesn’t possess the character for such a role, he’s always been more of an artist. So, I’m constantly in charge and sometimes, I need not to be.”
“And for that you go to the Mansion?”
“Well, in Tokyo it’s easier. There’s more anonymity and I’m more free to do things, which I cannot afford to do in Osaka. A friend recommended me the Mansion, for excellent food, as well as for the service.”
“So you’ve been with other butlers before?”
“Yes. Does that bother you?”
“No, not really.”
“Well, you’re the only one that didn’t take the money.”
I ignored her remark. Working in the Mansion was not exactly the most dignified job, but the thought that I would get paid for sex disgusted me. I slept with Mrs Yamamoto because I wanted to, and while sexual desire was part of the reason, I also liked just being with her. The feeling of loneliness certainly acquired a new dimension since I came to Japan, and I hated to admit it to myself, but I missed having a closer connection with another human being.
“What’s your name, Yamamoto san?”
She turned on her side and we were now facing each other.
“Will you tell me your real name too?”
I smiled. “Sure. I’m Nik.”
“Niklas. But only my grandmother used to call me by my full name, nobody else does.”
“Oh, is your grandmother still alive?”
“No, none of my grandparents are. My grandmother on my father’s side was the only grandparent alive when I was born. She died, quite soon after my father.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It was a long time ago.”
“How old were you?”
“I was 17 when my father died. My grandma died a year later. Look, I don’t really want to go into this kind of talk. It’s all in the past.”
“Of course, as you wish.”
“So what is it?”
“My name is Asami.”
I couldn’t resist it. I passed my hand over her face and removed a few strands of her hair. “It’s a lovely name.”
She took my hand, gently removed it and took some distance from me by turning on her back again.
“Nik san, would you tell me why you came to Japan?”
“Maybe later. First you should come over here.” I turned on my back as well and uncovered the blanket. Her confident composure soon changed into a timid and obedient one and she complied.
After sex, we both fell asleep and the next day I woke up again alone in the bed. A note reminding me I can stay until 2 pm in the room was waiting for me on the desk. I was tempted to stay longer, wait for her to return and see her reaction, but in the end, I respected her wishes. The boundaries she set for our relationship were very clear.
Another two days passed before Asami revisited the Mansion. As we enjoyed the dinner, she spoke about her company, which she inherited from her father. Initially, they produced high-quality kitchen knives. After she took over, she expanded the production, eventually turning it into one of the most known companies in the country for kitchenware.
“It’s not easy to be a woman CEO in the corporate Japanese world. I constantly need to prove my authority to other, male CEOs, who always ask me about my husband and would prefer to discuss business with him. But my husband has never been interested in business matters. He has contributed to the company as an artisan and a designer. I, on the other hand, love my job, even though it can be tough sometimes, and I’m also very good at it.”
Her eyes lit up, as she spoke, revealing her passion for her work. I could relate and felt closer to her for that.
“Asami, I don’t work on Sunday. Would you like to meet and go somewhere?” It took me a while to pose this question, and as the words left my mouth I felt very awkward about it. When she did not answer immediately, I regretted I asked.
“I can’t. I’ve already made plans for the weekend,” she replied flatly.
That night she didn’t ask me to accompany her. She told me, she had an early meeting in the morning and she wanted to be fresh and fully prepared.
“I guess I see you on Monday then?”
“Most certainly,” she assured me with a warm smile.