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Since an injury cut short his career as a champion martial artist, Hiru has lived a quiet dutiful life consumed mostly by his job and his ever-unsuccessful attempts to meet a woman. When his best friend and co-worker, Koji, finds love and happiness...with a man...and leaves the firm to pursue a new life, Hiru misses Koji so much he begins to ...
Since an injury cut short his career as a champion martial artist, Hiru has lived a quiet dutiful life consumed mostly by his job and his ever-unsuccessful attempts to meet a woman. When his best friend and co-worker, Koji, finds love and happiness...with a man...and leaves the firm to pursue a new life, Hiru misses Koji so much he begins to suspect his difficulty with women is something other than he thought.
Maybe...just maybe...he wants men too? Well, there's only one way to find out - stay at the White Tiger, Tokyo's most luxurious love-hotel for gay men and be massaged, caressed and...more by Quan Chan, one of Koji's incredibly handsome fellow White Tigers.
Quan Chan is still nursing a broken heart when he's asked to attend to Koji's friend Hiru. So he's completely unprepared for his sudden intense attraction to Hiru's boyish good looks and incredible brawny physique. Hiru is like a human supply of catnip to the White Tiger inside him. All Quan Chan wants to do is purr and rub up against the other man.
In spite of the temptation that awaits him back in Shanghai, Quan Chan spends an incredible weekend with Hiru, an encounter that launches him into ecstasy for the first time in what feels like forever.
However, when circumstances force Quan Chan back to Shanghai without the promise of return, the connection between him and Hiru proves stronger than a simple weekend of pleasurable exploration and Quan Chan finds himself suspended between Hiru and Wu Li, the most alluring and sensuous young man in Shanghai, a Golden Dragon, said to launch a man into bliss by a mere glance.
Back in Tokyo, Hiru feels Quan Chan slipping away from him. All he can do is follow his heart and hope it's not too late...
"Huh." Quan Chan opened his eyes. Kiku wasn't there. All he could see was his room in morning light. All he could hear was his own breath, as tight and urgent as it had been in his--
Ai yi. Not again. Quan Chan took a deep breath and looked down.
The covers were pushed down, exposing his lower body. His hand rested on his own softening dragon and the warm stickiness of his yang emission coated his body, the splash of release he'd felt during his dream. Masturbating in his sleep again. How humiliating. Good thing he didn't share this bedroom with anyone. It was bad enough Kiku was only a few rooms away, now cosily settled in with a lover who didn't give him visions, while Quan Chan pined away for the man.
With a deep sigh, he rose from the bed and went straight into the shower. After soaping his body, he stood under the hot spray a bit longer than usual, annoyed with himself for still missing the morning showers he and Kiku used to take at times. Both muscular, their combined brawn barely fit into the tiny stall, but that had been part of the fun. Wet, soapy skin gliding together as they turned to rinse.
A new erection threatened from the mere memory. Damn. He still had it bad for Kiku.
Sighing again, he turned off the shower, grabbed his towel and dried off. At the bathroom mirror, he found himself lingering again. He stared at his reflection, feeling his reluctance to get downstairs and start the day. There was always a lot to do around this place. Tending to guests, housekeeping chores, meditation, helping in the kitchen or wherever it was needed. Yet, in the weeks since Kiku had been forced to end their love affair, gettingup each day had gotten increasingly difficult, not easier, as Quan Chan had hoped it would.
Especially now. In recent months, Kiku's White Tiger Hotel had become a love nest of amorous couples. First Naoto had fallen in love with his guest, Koji, then Yuzo had come and stolen Kiku's heart. After that, Ryu, whose love affair with Kiku had ended for the same reason his own had, met Nat. The gorgeous cop had followed Ryu all the way from Thailand to be with him. Had given up his career and everything. The twins, Tatou and Mod, always had a little love thing of their own, and then in the middle of it all, Basho's long lost lover, an Englishman named Timothy, had miraculously reappeared after fifteen years, when the two men had thought themselves lost to each other forever.
A pang gripped his chest. It was hard to know what bothered him more--that he'd been forced to give Kiku up as a lover or that there didn't seem to be anyone out there who could love him the way Kiku now loved Yuzo or Nat loved Ryu, someone who felt he was worth more than anything else on Earth and that the way to heaven was through making love to him. For Kiku, their lovemaking had largely been a way to hell.
Enough. He turned to hang up his towel. What would Kiku think of his falling into self-pity? Better to meditate, have breakfast and begin the day. Self-pity only led in a downward spiral to more self-pity then rapidly to hopelessness. Not the place a White Tiger allowed himself to go when he was supposed to remain on the middle way, the Tao.
Quan Chan sat on his zafu and meditated, after which he put on the hotel uniform, an open white vest and shorts, and went downstairs to the kitchen. He pushed open one side of the swinging doors and paused. Timothy was embracing Basho from behind where Basho stood at the table, cutting vegetables. Timothy's eyes were closed and he was nuzzling the curve of Basho's neck.
Quan Chan suppressed a groan. Just what I need. Bracing himself, he went quietly in. The two men separated when they saw him.
Basho smiled at him. "Good morning, Chan Chan."
Quan Chan worked a smile onto his lips. "Good morning." He now felt appropriately guilty for his annoyance. Who was he to object, even inwardly, to this man's happiness? Basho had suffered horribly during his forced separation from Timothy, and had undergone experiences that left him burned and crippled in one leg. Not to mention also that Basho fed a hotel full of people, guests and residents alike, three unbelievable meals a day, as he'd done for years without one complaint.
He bowed his head in greeting to Timothy. The Englishman waved and smiled in a friendly way. Timothy truly was a good guy and his presence here had not only made Basho happy, but also brought more humour and laughter to the men of the White Tiger.
Basho indicated a place at the table where a covered tray of food sat. "That's for you," he said.
"Oh, thank you. I ... got a late start this morning."
Basho nodded, his expression sympathetic. It was no secret how Quan Chan was in love with Kiku and had literally been bumped out of Kiku's bed the night Yuzo showed up on the run for his life from his psychotic yakuza lover. "You're very welcome. Enjoy."
"I'm sure I will." He sat and uncovered the food. The aroma of miso soup floated up at him. He closed his eyes, said a quick blessing and picked up the bowl and a spoon, carefully fishing out a cube of tofu.
Just then the kitchen door swung open and Kiku walked in. Quan Chan set his bowl down and started to rise, but Kiku held out his hand, a gesture which told him to stay in his seat.
Kiku drew closer and Quan Chan saw an envelope in one large hand. Quan Chan's stomach tightened, not only from the sight of the letter, but from seeing Kiku. No doubt, the other man's second sight would pick up on the fact that he'd dreamt again of him, even though Kiku would be too polite to mention it.
"May I join you?"
"Of course." Quan Chan didn't hesitate. He never did when it came to having a moment with his friend. He watched Kiku slide back a chair and sit.
Kiku smiled at him while his eyes seemed to study Quan Chan's face. Apparently what he saw made his smile fade. "Are you all right, friend?" He leaned forward and gave Quan Chan's forearm a friendly squeeze.
Quan Chan fought the urge to close his eyes and savour the brief touch. "I'm all right."
Kiku frowned. There really was no fooling him. All Kiku had to do was look and he'd see that Quan Chan had once again recently entertained the brief idea of leaving here and returning to the White Tiger Temple in Shanghai. It seemed the reasonable thing to do, especially since Sun Lau was elderly now and probably wanted him to come back. It had been a year and a half since Quan Chan's last visit, the longest gap of time he'd stayed away in years. Though Sun Lau never complained or guilted him about it, Quan Chan could hear that Sun Lau missed him. It was in the sound of the elderly man's voice whenever they spoke on the phone.
Years ago, when Kiku had first asked Quan Chan to come to Tokyo and help him get this hotel going, Sun Lau had been keen on having a skilled emissary spread the White Tiger practices abroad. None of them had expected Quan Chan to end up staying. Eventually, this place had become Quan Chan's home and Quan Chan had so wanted Kiku to be his partner for the rest of their lives. Out of love for Quan Chan, Sun Lau had been forbearing with him, but there was no possible way Sun Lau could remain so patient with him. Many times Quan Chan had considered going back, to be a dutiful son to the man who'd saved his life. But his passion for Kiku had always won, and his insistence on staying here in Tokyo had been the one great rebellious act of his life.
"Chan Chan, I'm sorry ... about--"
"Please, Kiku, don't apologise. It's not like that. There's no blame." He looked down into his bowl, his stomach suddenly too tight to eat.
"I don't want to lose you. You're special to me. That has never changed. And yet, I wouldn't stop you from following your path."
The pain in his friend's voice made his heart squeeze. Kiku only spoke the truth to him. The bond between them was stronger than anything he could have imagined. Kiku was the one person in his whole life who'd truly grieved the things that had happened to him as a child growing up on the streets of Shanghai.
"I know that."
"Just so you know," Kiku said after a moment's silence between them, "I'm not saying this because I saw inside of you." He held up the letter. "This was in the morning's mail."
Quan Chan accepted the envelope from him and immediately recognised Sun Lau's scrawly handwriting. Of course, Kiku had known what the letter was before handing it to him.
"Thank you, Kiku," he said, then set it down by his place and picked up the bowl of soup. If he didn't eat, Kiku would notice and worry about him even more. He tipped the bowl to his lips and sipped some of the broth. Soothingly warm and tangy. Basho was amazing.
He thought Kiku would get up and leave, but his friend seemed to linger, and Quan Chan sensed that Kiku was about to ask him for a favour.
Which, of course, he would grant. Anything for Kiku.
"You probably know, Koji's friend Hiru is coming to stay here for the weekend," Kiku began, sounding a bit hesitant. He didn't like to ask Quan Chan for favours, especially after what had happened with Yuzo. "The man is ... confused. You know what I mean?"
Quan Chan nodded. Koji had spoken at times about the man he'd worked with for years at his computer engineering firm. "Of course. I'll tend to him, if that's what you need."
Relief infused Kiku's chiselled features. The man was so damn handsome he took Quan Chan's breath away. "I thought you'd be best to look after him. You know I wouldn't have asked you ... under the circumstances, but the twins, even one at a time, would, I think, overwhelm the man."
This made Quan Chan smile. This was true. Tatou and Mod, though sweet and very good with guests, would be too much for a man who was confused. "I understand, Kiku. Don't worry."
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