Ijust can't stop loving you

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I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

By Imari Jade

 

 

Copyright © March 2012, Imari Jade

Cover art by For The Muses Design © March 2012

ISBN: 978-1-936668-51-9

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

 

Sugar and Spice Press

North Carolina, USA

www.sugarnspicepress.com

Chapter One

 

“You have to admit, he does have a nice ass,” Satoshi Hayashi said to Cristal Gentry. He spoke of twenty-six-year-old Takumijo Yamazaki, the choreographer for the Japanese pop group Aomori as he stripped on stage in a skanky little joint on the outskirts of Paris, France.

“Yes, but I never thought I’d be seeing his butt quite like this,” Cristal said, not taking her eyes off Takumijo or the other male dancer on stage. And the two men were taking it off and shaking it down to Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams.” She’d never be able to listen to the song again without remembering this sight. She sighed. The six-foot tall Japanese did make a delightful temptation as he undulated and shook his muscular body. When had he learned how to work the pole?

“You’re really into this, aren’t you?” Satoshi asked as he drew smoke from a Cuban cigar.

“Not as much as those two,” Cristal said, pointing over to her left at the lead singer of Aomori, Yori Morioka, and the baby of the group, Ichiro Yoshida, who both had half-naked women gyrating above their laps. Cristal gazed over. Yori had a huge grin on his face as the dark-haired stripper danced for him. But Ichiro just watched the dancer through lowered lashes. Cristal turned up her nose. Both those bastards had wives back home in Osaka, Japan.

Yori’s wife Amaya was still recovering from a suicide attempt, and Ichiro’s wife Shaundra was recovering from a broken heart. Just a little over a month and a half ago, Shaundra had learned that Ichiro had cheated on her. Since then, Shaundra hadn’t spoken a word to him and right now, it didn’t seem like Ichiro cared.

Satoshi blew a circle of smoke her way and Cristal turned her attention back on her sexy, dapper-dressed partner-in-crime and piano man for Aomori. Talk about a heartthrob. Satoshi was the man of her dreams…a pretty, girly-man face, deep chocolate brown eyes, and an aristocratic chin, all set in a vision of porcelain skin. And he had the sweetest-looking lips. Oh, God, her panties would be drenched if she didn’t stop staring at him.

Cristal turned back toward the stage. “He’s not really going to take it all off?” she asked Satoshi.

“I hope so,” Satoshi said, smiling.

Cristal shook her head. Though pretty to look at, Satoshi had a strange attachment to Takumijo and Ichiro she couldn’t explain.

The other dancer on stage, an equally tall and very blond Frenchman, had stripped down to his G-pouch. Cristal eyed the pouch curiously. Nice, but she’d bet anything Takumijo had a nicer package.

“It’s killing you, isn’t it?” Satoshi asked. “I mean the suspense. Will he or won’t he?”

Cristal bobbed her head up and down, mimicking the Frenchman’s G-pouch as it bounced to the saucy song. “I’d pay anything to see you on that stage.” She gasped.Did I just say that aloud?

“Keep your money,” Satoshi told her. “I only give private performances.”

Cristal pouted. She’d fucked up royally in that area a couple of months ago. She had been so close to getting Satoshi in her bed when she’d foolishly answered her cell phone that night and left him hanging to talk to her now ex-boyfriend Yi-jun Lee. Had she ignored the call, she’d probably be back home in Osaka, pregnant, and Satoshi would be in Paris getting a lap dance.Oh hell no!

Takumijo was down to a pair of skimpy black bikini briefs and grinding over the bent body of the Frenchman.

Cristal bit her lip.So sexy, she thought as she wrote yaoi fan-girl prose in her head.

“Let’s go,” Satoshi said, breaking her fantasy. “They’re signaling for us.”

Cristal took her attention off Takumijo and the stripper and put it on another man beckoning for them to follow him. She rose with Satoshi’s help and followed him past the stage to the back of the strip joint. They passed several exotic dancers, both male and female, in various stages of undress. A couple of women eyed her up hungrily. Cristal smirked, ignoring them, and thankful that she’d been blessed with height and a nice shape. But she wasn’t into women, no matter how pretty or well-endowed.

The man led them into a smoky room filled with people sitting at tables gambling. She smirked again.Now this is more up my alley. Her and Satoshi were the best card players in the group, and had won a sizable chuck of change since arriving in Paris. She’d learned about back room gaming on her last trip to France with Yi-jun. Of course, he wouldn’t let her play because she was a girl.Stinking male chauvinist. Satoshi, on the other hand, had no qualms about this. He had always treated her as one of the guys when they went out. He offered her a cigar once they sat down and got into the game. Cristal accepted the cigar and a light from the handsome dark-haired Frenchman on her left. Satoshi rolled his eyes comically at her as the man gazed down at her bosom. Cristal sighed. Sometimes it was great being a girl.

 

****

 

Ichiro Yoshida paid the dancer and sent her on her way. Takumijo had finished his dance and disappeared backstage to dress, leaving him alone with Yori, their fearless leader.

“Are you meeting the dancer later?” Yori asked him.

Ichiro shook his head. “She’s nice, but not exactly my type.”

Yori just shrugged.

Ichiro sighed. Yori had no problem since all women were his type. “What about you?”

“Maybe,” he said. “If nothing better comes along.”

A handsome male waiter walked past them, catching Yori’s eye. Yori nodded and smiled at the young man, who walked off blushing. Yori nodded toward the waiter.

“No!” Ichiro answered quickly.

“But we’re in Paris,” Yori pleaded with big anime eyes.

“Still no. If I wanted some pretty boy entertainment, I’d spend the night with Takumijo.”

Yori laughed at his joke. “You better not tell him that. He’d drag your pretty ass out of this club and back to the hotel before you could bat an eye.”

“No doubt.” Ichiro smirked, knowing Yori spoke the truth. Takumijo had been sniffing behind him since they were teens. “So not interested,” Ichiro said, lifting his drink.

A black female took the stage. Now she was more up his alley. The young woman had nice long legs, creamy brown skin, big obviously fake breasts and a nice flat stomach.

Yori looked up at the stage and sneered.

Obviously, he admired her too. Funny, after all these years they still had a lot in common, including the possibility of the paternity of Shaundra’s babies. Ichiro wiped the thought from his head as he watched the young woman on stage. In a couple of days, he would know if his darling wife had cheated on him with one of his best friends, or possibly her boss. Before he left Osaka, he’d taken a paternity test and would have the results when the babies were born. He could move forward with his life once he found out.

“She has a nice body,” Yori said. “Perhaps we could share her.”

Ichiro gazed over at him. “Maybe.” He’d seen Yori naked before. He had a lean, sinewy, muscular body and stellar abs that were almost as impressive as Takumijo’s.

Takumijo picked that moment to appear fully dressed and wearing a big smile.

“I hoped you showered,” Yori said sarcastically.

“And wore a raincoat too,” Takumijo said as he sat down.

Ichiro shook his head. Takumijo was scandalous. He signaled for the waitress. She arrived carrying her order pad.

“What will you gents have?” she asked in the Queen’s English.

“Bourbon for three,” Yori said, ordering for them. “And a smile.”

The waitress smiled at him.

Yori winked at her and she left to fill their order. Yori could charm the pants off a nun. The waitress returned later with a bottle of Bourbon and glasses.

“Merci,” Yori said in French.

Ichiro noted how the waitress had her breasts in Yori’s face. They all got an eyeful when she put the bottle on the table. She left smiling with a big tip in her hand.

“She’s going to expect to go home with you tonight,” Ichiro told him.

“What she expects and what will happen are two different things,” Yori said. “I promised Amaya I wouldn’t stray.”

Then what had all the previous talk been about between them before Takumijo arrived? Yori had just been fucking with him. “You, monogamous?”

“Yeah, I figured I’d give it a shot. What about you?”

“That’s none of your business,” Ichiro said angrily. He knew Yori was just trying to find out where his head was at.

“True,” Yori said. “But take it from someone who knows. Don’t fuck up a good thing.”

Ichiro scowled, angry because he’d done that already, and there was nothing he could do to make it right.

“She still hasn’t forgiven you?” Yori asked.

Ichiro shook his head. “She won’t even accept my calls.”

“Do you blame her?” Takumijo asked. “She’s hurt. You were her baby…the love of her life.”

Was? Did Takumijo know something he didn’t? “I made a mistake.”

“The biggest, so I hear,” Yori said. “Never ever mention another woman’s name in the heat of passion. And an employee no less.”

Ichiro shrugged. “Shaundra won’t listen. I never slept with Eri.”

Yori looked at him like he didn’t believe him. “Then why did you call out her name? You must have thought about doing her.”

“Thought. She’s very pretty and desirable, but I never touched her, even though the opportunity presented itself.”

“Not even a kiss?” Takumijo asked.

Ichiro lowered his head. “Well, she kissed me.”

“Fire her,” Yori said plainly. “Get rid of the temptation.”

Ichiro stared at him. “What? I can’t just fire her. She hasn’t done anything, and she’s a good waitress.”

Yori leaned his way.  “Then what you’re trying to say is that you value her more than you value your marriage.”

Hope glowed in Yori’s dark eyes. Could he just step aside and allow Yori a second crack at Shaundra? “No, nothing is more important than my marriage. But I can’t just fire a perfectly good employee for no reason.”

Yori leaned back. “Suit yourself, but you’ll never convince Shaundra you didn’t have sex with Eri.”

Ichiro pouted. There had to be a way.

“I would take Eri off your hands, but I’ve currently reached my limit on beautiful Japanese women. Amaya is a handful.”

But had Yori reached his limit with beautiful black women? “I’ll figure out something,” Ichiro said. “How long can she hold a grudge?” He lifted his glass and sipped. The liquid burned the back of his throat.Why in the hell am I drinking Bourbon?

Yori slid his sunglasses down the bridge of his nose. “We’re talking about Shaundra here.”

Ichiro gulped. Shaundra still hadn’t forgiven him for calling her a whore months ago. He’d made her so angry she’d left his ass high and dry.

Yori looked over at him and chuckled. “Life would be so much easier if you would have chosen Satoshi over her.”

Takumijo nodded in agreement.

Ichiro frowned at both of them. He did not do pretty boys.

 

****

 

Satoshi saw the dealer slip cards out of his sleeve and pass them to the man on his right.They’re cheating. The player on the right laid his cards down and won the hand…another one.

Cristal looked at him, nodded toward the dealer, and frowned.Good girl. She was on to them too. But what could they do? They’d lost a considerable amount of money and they were outnumbered. He didn’t know about Cristal, but he wasn’t leaving without his money.

The dealer reshuffled the deck.

Satoshi cleared his throat to get the dealer’s attention.

The dealer looked toward him.

“I think you’re cheating,” Satoshi said. He wasn’t one to beat around the bush. The dealer was a big, brawny man who outweighed him by at least fifty or sixty pounds, maybe more.

“What are you implying, sir?” the dealer asked in French.

Besides Cristal, everyone in the room was French and probably regulars. His guess was that the ones at the table were all in this together and planned to clean out the gullible foreign players. “You have cards up your sleeve.”

“What?” one of the other players asked.

Hmm, did he have an ally? “He has cards up his sleeves and he’s passing them to the gent on his right.”

Cristal raised an eyebrow at him. Did he just impress her with his manliness? He couldn’t be sure with her. She had her phone in her hand and was texting someone. Was she texting Yi-jun?She better not be.

The man on the dealer’s right rose. “Are you calling me a cheat, pretty boy?”

“Yes,” Satoshi answered. “And I want my money back.”

“Me too,” the other man answered.

Several men had the three of them surrounded before they knew it.

“What did you tell them to piss them off?” Cristal asked as one of the Frenchmen glared at her angrily.

“Does it matter?” Satoshi asked, ducking the blow of the big, burly dealer. He rose, landing a solid punch in the man’s gut.

“Your brother is going to blame me for this,” Cristal said, hitting one of the men with her purse. “Who in the hell goes to Paris and gets into a back room brawl?”

Cards flew everywhere as the fighting escalated. Some of the other guests ran out of the room. One of the men punched him in the gut. Satoshi groaned but did not fall. He had to protect his face. It was his meal ticket. He stood up and hit the man back.

Yori, Takumijo, and Ichiro appeared in the room. How? He wondered. They must have heard the ruckus out front. Or one of the fleeing gamers told them. A few seconds later, all hell broke loose when someone touched Ichiro’s hair.Oh shit, Satoshi thought.Bad move. They hadn’t been in a brawl in a while. The last time, Ichiro ended up kicking Yori’s ass and Yori had been hauled off to jail.

Ichiro kicked the man and sent him flying across the room. More cards and chips flew haphazardly in the air. Yori and Takumijo worked another man over.

“Get Cristal out of here,” Satoshi shouted at Yori.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Cristal said, still beating the hell out of a guy with her purse. What did she have in that thing anyway? The man tried to wrap his big, meaty arms around her, but Cristal ground her spiked heel into the man’s shoe. He screamed in agony.

Yori grabbed her and dragged her out of the room while the rest of them fought with the crooked dealer and his friends. But it was too late for them all. The police arrived, burst inside the room, and forced Yori and Cristal back by gun point.

Satoshi grabbed their money and crammed it into his pocket.

“Police. You are all under arrest for illegal gambling and fighting,” one of the officers said.

Cristal threw him a murderous look and Satoshi shrugged at her as the officers handcuffed them.

“You said you wanted adventure.”

 

****

 

“You guys are so grounded,” Masaaki Fugimoto, their manager, said later that evening when he arrived to post their bail. “I’ve tried and I’ve tried to give you guys the benefit of the doubt and give you some freedom, and what do you do? You go get yourselves arrested for gambling and fighting. Do you want me to have a heart attack and lose my job?”

“But they were cheating,” Cristal said in their defense. “What did you expect us to do?”

“I expect you not to be in sleazy strip joints gambling,” Masaaki told her. “Mr. Niigata is going to have a fit when he finds out.”

“Then don’t tell him,” Cristal mumbled. In the year that she had worked for Niigata Enterprises, she’d been grounded twice by Masaaki and Mr. Niigata. Hell, she was twenty-six years old and could do what she wanted to do.

“Don’t be flip, Ms. Gentry,” Masaaki said. “I bet your father will be very disappointed to find out that you’re in jail.”

“You’re not going to tell Daddy are you?” Cristal asked nervously. “He’ll make me come back home to California.” Her father was a retired four star general and he and her boss Goro Niigata were good friends. Mr. Niigata had promised to keep an eye on her if her father allowed her to remain in Japan and work as Aomori’s publicist.

“I have a good mind to call him. I expect such things to happen to these guys, but you’re a girl.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Cristal asked.

“Girls are supposed to be dainty and smell like flowers, and stay home knitting or something, not hanging out in bars and getting into fights.”

Satoshi sniffed her. “She smells like a fine Cuban cigar.”

Cristal pushed him. “You’re not helping.”

“At least you had the decency to keep your clothes on. The last thing I needed was for one of you to get arrested for lewd and indecent exposure,” Masaaki said.

“Yeah, that would be a shame,” Takumijo said.

Cristal rolled her eyes at him. Had the police arrived an hour, earlier they would have busted him shaking his thing on the stage.

Takumijo winked at her as if reading her mind.

“Can we leave?” Cristal asked. “I’m tired and my shoulders hurt.”

Takumijo laughed. “You did swing a mean purse.”

Satoshi laughed and clutched his stomach. “Ouch. I think it’s broken.”

“You’re lucky you didn’t get hit in the face,” Masaaki told him. “All of you. You have another concert to perform in two weeks in Amsterdam. Lucky for you I got the strip joint owner to drop the charges.”

Cristal wondered how much Masaaki had to pay him for him to do that.

Masaaki turned to Ichiro. “I’m surprised at you. I thought you were packing. You’re supposed to be on a plane tomorrow headed home to be at the hospital for the birth of your babies.”

Ichiro rolled his eyes at Masaaki. “I’ll be there.”

“You better,” Masaaki said. “I promised Shaundra you’d be there.” He walked out of the holding cell and the rest of them followed.

Cristal smirked. She’d bet Ichiro wasn’t looking forward to going home. They’d all planned to be on a plane tomorrow and fly back to Osaka to be there for the births. They’d finally got Mr. Niigata to agree and now this had happened. “Can you hold off telling Mr. Niigata until after we’re in Osaka?” Cristal asked Masaaki. “I really want to be there for Shaundra.” She batted her eyelashes at him like a girl.

“Well,” Masaaki said. “I guess it can wait. But you better go straight to bed when we get back to the hotel.”

“I promise,” Cristal said. She kissed Masaaki on the cheek and walked over to the claim window to get her things.

“Suck up,” Satoshi said to the back of her head.

“If I rear my head back fast and hard, I can break your nose,” she told him.

“You are so violent,” Satoshi said as she moved away from the window with her purse and high heeled shoes.

Cristal waved the purse at him. “I am not afraid to use this on you.”

Masaaki looked at her.

“I’m just teasing,” she said.

The others collected their belongings and followed Masaaki out of the jailhouse.

Cristal looked at her watch. It was nine at night and they had a six A.M. flight. She supposed she’d just have to sleep on the plane.

Kenshin, their driver and the fifth member of Aomori, stood outside the limousine waiting for them. He smirked. “I am so glad I did not go with you guys.” Kenshin often accompanied them on their adventures, but had been sticking close to the hotel since he was always on call for Masaaki and Mr. Niigata. He didn’t get in as much trouble as the original four members, but he wasn’t innocent either.

“Shut up and drive,” Cristal told him.

He poked his tongue at her like a kid and helped her inside. The rest of the guys climbed in and he drove them away from the curb as they headed for the hotel.

Takumijo was asleep before they made it to the highway. The rest of the guys looked tired too and her shoulder still hurt.

“Do you think Shaundra will be surprised to see us?” Satoshi asked her.

Cristal nodded. “She won’t be expecting us. I can’t let her go through this alone.”

“She’s had other babies before,” Ichiro said sullenly. “She prefers doing things by herself.”

Cristal ignored him. Most of this was his fault anyway. The rest of it was Mr. Niigata’s fault for booking the tour near Shaundra’s due date. It was bad enough they had to leave her on her own for two months with just a nurse to look after her. Takumijo and Satoshi had gotten the nursery together just days before they left Osaka. She hadn’t had time to arrange a baby shower for her friend, or be there for her after Ichiro destroyed her world. She’d bet anything Shaundra was spending her days crying her eyes out for the gorgeous blue-eyed idiot. Cristal gazed over at him when he wasn’t looking. What had possessed him to cheat on such a good and loving wife?  And why had Yi-jun chosen some blonde haired-starlet over her? Cristal sighed. Men could be so inconsiderate. If she was Shaundra, she’d divorce his cheating ass and marry someone like Harper. The man loved her and would do anything for her while Ichiro put everything before her.

Kenshin drove the limousine up to the front of the hotel and parked, but did not turn off the motor. They got out and walked up through the door while Kenshin drove off to park the car.

“Go straight to bed,” Masaaki told them like they were a bunch of kids. “We’ll be leaving for the airport at five.”

Everyone groaned, but did not argue with him.

Cristal said good night to everyone and entered her room excited but tired. In two or three days, Aomori would be welcoming two little additions to the fold.

 

****

 

“You got arrested?” Amaterasu Yamaguchi asked Takumijo as they left the restaurant where they’d just had a very late dinner.

“Yes,” he answered. “Are you appalled?”

Amaterasu smirked. When she did that, her eyes twinkled mysteriously and made him go weak in the knees. “No,” she answered. “What happened this time?”

Takumijo shrugged. “Satoshi got us involved in yet another fight.” It sounded horrible even to him.

“You guys are the worst,” Amaterasu said with a laugh. “Shit, how did I miss out on that? Did you guys tear the place up?”

Excitement flashed in her eyes. As far as girlfriends went, Amaterasu was the best. “Yeah, Mr. Niigata is going to have a fit when gets the bill.”

“I don’t see any bruises,” she told him.

“I protected my face,” Takumijo said.

“I knew you weren’t an angel when I met you.”

True, Aomori was notorious for getting into trouble, but instead of it turning her off, she seem to thrive off the knowledge that her boyfriend was a troublemaker. The only other people who would see the levity in the situation would be Cristal and Shaundra. That little revelation surprised him. Unlike some people he dated, Amaterasu would have no problem fitting into the Aomori menagerie. He guessed Masaaki thought so too when he hired her on as a backup dancer for Aomori without an argument. The other dancers liked her too, which meant less squabbling and cat fights. The only person in his life who didn’t like her was Osamu, which didn’t surprise him. Osamu was jealous of anyone who tried to get close to Takumijo.

“So, how did you guys get out of jail so fast?”

“Masaaki paid our bail and got the club owner to drop the charges.”

“Wow, he must be a great manager,” Amaterasu said.

“He has his moments,” Takumijo said, looking over at her. She looked lovely in the short gold lame after-five dress that showed off her spectacular legs. She’d done her long black hair differently for their date. Instead of pulling it back in a ponytail, she’d pulled it to the top of her head in a chignon. He kind of liked it that way. It made her look classy and adorable at the same time. And it warmed him inside to know she’d gone to all this trouble for him.

Kenshin drove the car into the driveway of the nightclub, but didn’t turn off the motor. Takumijo assisted Amaterasu out into the crowded parking lot. He slipped on his sunglasses to disguise his appearance, and then escorted Amaterasu into the club. Kenshin drove away, but would be returning for them in an hour.

“This place is nice,” Amaterasu said as he led her over to a booth.

It took a bit of research on his part since he didn’t know that much about Paris, but he’d lucked out and found a club where he could take her dancing. He’d snuck out after Masaaki sent them to their rooms after they were released from jail.

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