Like a Cunning Plan
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by Michael M. Jones
Category: Erotica/Erotic Fantasy/Fantasy
Description: Everyone loves a trickster. Armed with a clever smile and a quick wit, they act as agents of change, leaving chaos and confused victims in their wake. In Like A Cunning Plan, gods and mortals alike interact in sexy, playful, sensual ways, and it's anyone's guess as to who comes out on top. Featuring stories by Nica Berry, N. Violett, Nadine Wilmot, Elizabeth Schecter, Gayle C. Straun, Kaysee Renee Robichaud, and Sunny Moraine, these erotic fantasies are sure to surprise and satisfy.
eBook Publisher: Circlet Press, 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: June 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [189 KB]
Reading time: 122-171 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
The old man had come into the tea house every night this week. Aiko would have paid him no mind, since all he'd ordered was a bottle of rice wine and didn't seem interested in sharing anyone's pillow, but whenever he was down in the main room serving food or soliciting customers, he watched Aiko.
Strange old man, Aiko thought as he took another pair of wine bottles to a table. He couldn't tell the man's age, but he was old with hair gone entirely white and wrinkles creasing his face. His hair had been pulled back into a ponytail and then separated into nine thick locks, which draped past his shoulders onto a faded gray kimono.
On stage, one of the young men sang, his voice sweet as he warbled about the samurai who'd fallen for a young, pretty boy and risked his livelihood to spirit the boy away.
"Beautiful tune, is it not?"
Aiko jumped. It was the old man who'd spoken.
"Certainly, my lord," he said, even though the song roused feelings he'd rather discard. No boy he'd known had ever been spirited away by a lovelorn samurai. If anything, they were promised shelter and love by their patrons only to find themselves abused and abandoned a month later. He didn't intend on being one of the unlucky ones.
"Why don't you care for it?"
The old man must have seen his distaste. Aiko schooled his face into something more pleasant, chagrined that he'd been so easily read. "It's a tale. Such things are pleasant on the surface but empty beneath."
"Rather like you?" The old man set a palm against Aiko's chest and slid it down over the fine silk to rest on his groin. The squeeze between his legs elicited no response.
Aiko's face burned. If he'd had another means of earning a livelihood, he would have scolded the man and hurried back to the bar, uncaring of his keeper's ire. But he could not afford to alienate even the crudest customer, so he stayed.
"You're so pale and cold. No wonder the men call you Yuki-onna despite your fine cock. Will you freeze me with your breath if I displease you?" The corner of the man's mouth drew up into a wrinkled smile.
"I'm no spirit," he said, though he'd heard the whispers in the tea house. Several of the men placed bets to see if any of them would be able to melt Aiko's icy exterior. None had succeeded, but most enjoyed their attempts. "Perhaps you'd like to wager on that?"
The old man's smile didn't fade. "I have no need to make bets."
He dropped his hand. Annoyed, Aiko snatched the empty bottle and went to the bar. When he looked back, the old man was gone.
* * * *
The old man didn't return the next night or the one following. Aiko forgot about him in his steady rush of customers, several of whom shared his pillow as well as the rice wine. He didn't care for any of them, nor did he believe their plaintive proclamations of love and desire. He gave them his body because he had to eat but found no enjoyment in their coupling.
Then, on the third night, the old man was back at his usual table with his usual bottle. When Aiko went within earshot, the man waved. "Sit with me."
He did, reluctant not because the man repulsed him but because he had other, more lucrative customers to attend to.
"I'll make it worth your time," he promised. "I want to touch you. Will you let me?"
The formality surprised Aiko. No one else bothered to ask; they simply took, figuring that everything inside the tea house was for their pleasure and consumption. He recalled the man's statement of making no bets, which implied the old man was certain of his success. Aiko resented the idea of being claimed or won and intended to prove him wrong. "If you'd like, my lord."
He expected the man to feel beneath his kimono to examine the merchandise before he bought. Instead, he gently cupped Aiko's chin and whispered in his ear.
Aiko had no memory of what he said or how long they were together, but as the old man spoke, Aiko's thoughts turned to places he'd never seen: a temple at the side of a lake as cherry blossoms drifted down, a forest silent save for birdsong, a rocky seaside with waves sending sprays of white crashing against the rocks. And through all these, Aiko wasn't alone. A man was with him, holding his hand, and finally bending down to kiss him. At first, Aiko reached for the coldness that protected him from physical awareness, but as the kiss grew more passionate, a sliver of heat traveled through his body and down to his groin. "You're beautiful," the man said, and kissed Aiko again and again until Aiko actually wanted him to.
By the time Aiko came to his senses, the man was gone and his body was awhirl with sensations that he found both frightening and arousing. He hadn't let himself feel such things in years and hated the old man for causing them. "Bastard," he muttered, then caught the glint of metal.
On the table was a pair of gold ryos. He was flipping them idly between his fingers and marveling at his good fortune when the keeper approached. "Those aren't the sort of stones you ought to be playing with," the keeper said.
"Stones?" he asked in confusion. "The old man paid me."
"What old man?" The keeper snorted. He snatched the ryos from Aiko's hand. Aiko blinked; the keeper held not coins but round, flat rocks. "Lazy brat. You've been daydreaming the entire night. Alone." He yanked Aiko roughly to his feet. "Get back to work."
He went, still unsettled by both the old man's lurid tale and his hallucination about the money. The rest of the night passed in a daze. Somehow he managed to say the right words and to be the pleasant companion his customers wanted and expected but it wasn't enough. When he failed to bring in sufficient coins for the night, his keeper beat him. Aiko thought of a blank, icy nothingness as blow after blow landed upon him. He didn't come back to himself until long after his keeper shared his pillow.