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Not This Life

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You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ~Khalil Gibran


Steve got home from his final appointment the next evening, surprised to find a sleek black Jaguar in the driveway. Danny was still with his client and was not due home for another hour. Steve cautiously left his truck, unlocking the front door. The house was undisturbed. As he was standing in the living room, trying to decide what to do next, he noticed a man standing near the beach at the end of the yard.

Steve left through the sunroom door, standing in the grass to study his unexpected guest. It was Hiro Noshimuri. Steve had no idea what to think of this turn of events. That Hiro was alone was even more of a surprise.

“Aloha,” Steve called, Hiro turning to look up at him. He gave a friendly wave before crossing the grass toward the house.

“I know this is a surprise,” Hiro said, looking up at Steve.

“That’s an understatement,” Steve said. “Would you care for a drink?” Seemed the polite thing to say.

“If it’s no trouble,” the older man said, following Steve into the house. Steve poured two glasses of bourbon, handing one to his visitor. “I owe you an apology.”

“An apology?” Steve echoed, inviting Hiro to have a seat at the table.

“I have added considerable difficulty to your life these past few weeks.”

“On purpose?” Steve asked, enjoying Hiro’s laughter.

“Yes, on purpose,” Hiro said, sipping from his drink. “I have found myself in the unenviable position of acquiring several deadly enemies.”

“Never an easy thing to live with,” Steve said. “You know I’m not one of them, don’t you?”

“I do. I’m the one who has provided unreliable information to Mr. Harrington through reliable channels. I regret making your friend doubt you.”

“Why spread those rumors about me?” Steve asked, not particularly worried about anyone’s opinion about him, with the exception of Danny.

“I need to die,” Hiro said. “Not literally. But my enemies must believe I have. As you dispatched Makaha, I knew you were capable of ending my life as well. I fear you will be an even greater target when I disappear.”

“I’m not particularly worried. There’s a certain… expediency to being thought of as someone not to be crossed.”

“Indeed,” Hiro agreed. “I will be leaving Hawaii, permanently, within the next week. I plan to make it look as though you are at fault.”

“That I killed you,” Steve clarified.

“Yes,” Hiro said in some regret. “Before I ‘die’ I will transfer two million dollars into your account. Untraceable. No doubt it will be believed to be blood money paid for my murder.”

“That’s extremely generous of you,” Steve said.

“It will help with the start-up of your club,” Hiro said, seeing the surprise on Steve’s face. “Yes, I know of your plans. It is an excellent idea. I have a few recommendations for employees and suppliers I will send you. Whether or not you accept my referrals is entirely your decision.”

“Can you transfer half of it into Danny’s account? Keep them guessing.”

“Certainly. You will no doubt wish to be honest with Mr. Williams concerning my untimely death. But I must request your indulgence in not telling anyone else the truth.”

“It will make things harder but I understand,” Steve said. “How exactly am I going to kill you?”

“Publically would be best but far too messy.”

“Abduction prior to killing seems a safe way to go,” Steve suggested.

“Yes,” Hiro agreed. “That makes a certain sort of sense.”

“When do you need to die?”

“I have a few details I must wrap up. Do you have time Wednesday?” Hiro asked as though they were discussing plans for tea.

Steve took out his phone, checking his calendar. “I’m free from 10 a.m. until 4:30.”

“All right,” Hiro said with a nod. “I have a meeting at the bank Wednesday at 11:30. If you can come at 12:30, you can take me at gun point.”

“Then what?” Steve asked politely.

“You’ll take me to a private air strip. I’m arranging transport off the island. The less you know about that, the better,” Hiro assured him.

“Did you arrange my father’s murder?” Steve asked.

Hiro sipped his bourbon before meeting Steve’s eyes. “I did not. I know you suspect me. I would suspect me if I were you. I am blameless in it.”

Steve believed him. What point would there be in lying? He would never see Hiro again after he ‘killed’ him. “Does your family know the truth about your imminent death?”

“Sadly, no,” Hiro said. “Letting them believe I am dead is incredibly difficult yet better for their safety.”

“I’m pretty sure they’d trade less safety for the truth,” Steve said.

“It would make you less of a target as well,” Hiro had to acknowledge.

“Perhaps when you are safely away, you can inform them.”

Hiro considered that but didn’t say anything. He stiffened when a key turned in the front door.

“It’s Danny,” Steve assured him. “Hey babe. We’re in here.”

“We?” Danny said, coming into the sunroom and stopping when he saw the identity of Steve’s visitor. “Well.”

“Hello, Danny,” Hiro said.

“This is a surprise,” Danny said, accepting a glass when Steve had it poured for him.

“We were in the midst of discussing Steve’s plan to dispatch me,” Hiro said, smiling at Danny’s frown. He and Steve explained, Danny considering all they had said.

“It will make your life easier,” Danny had to admit, even though all of the color had drained from his face.

“Make sure you are with a client at 12:30 Wednesday. Or better still, go and see Sam. You can hand deliver the incorporation papers,” Steve said.

“Excellent idea,” Hiro agreed. “Be seen on tape. Have the Lieutenant Governor vouch for you.”

“Or I can meet again with Billy. I think there’s a certain poetic justice to being with him when it happens,” Danny said, not sure if it was appropriate to laugh. He thought he might be about to be sick at the idea of what they were planning. Sick or hysterical – he wasn’t sure which.

“Go see Sam. Then go out to lunch with him,” Steve advised.

“Where is this happening?” Danny asked.

“The Bank of Hawaii on South King Street,” Hiro said.

“We’ll have lunch as far away from there as possible,” Danny said. “I’ll ask him to meet me at a restaurant on the other side…of the world.”

“That’s a good idea,” Steve agreed. “I’ll take your car. Harder to track than mine.”

“And you can stash me in the trunk,” Hiro said.

“Yes,” Steve confirmed. “I’ll put in extra blankets.”

“Thank you,” Hiro agreed.

“Is there anything else I need to know?” Steve asked as Hiro stood.

“You will have my gratitude, always. I know that I am asking a great deal of you,” Hiro said sounding sincerely regretful.

“I understand your reasoning,” Steve assured him. “I’ll try to make your death as quick and painless as I can.”

“I appreciate it,” Hiro said, extending his hand. Steve shook it, Danny doing the same. “Thank you both.”

He left the house, Steve looking at Danny with the same expression Danny wore – discombobulated.

“Oh. My. Fucking God,” Danny said, dramatically dropping into the chair.

“I know,” Steve agreed, pouring him more bourbon. “Imagine my surprise when I found him standing on the beach.”

“Why you?” Danny asked. “I mean, I know why. But why?”

Steve smiled and shook his head at that. “I think he knows I can handle myself. You might want to consider moving out for a while.”

“Not a chance, buddy-boy. Somebody has to watch your back.”

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Steve said, leaning closer to kiss him. “The two million dollars will help ease some of the more troublesome aspects of being thought a murderer.”

“One of those millions is mine,” Danny reminded him. “I’m going to use it to…well, I don’t know. Buy a Ferrari maybe. A bright red one so it’s even more obvious, if that’s possible.”

“If you want a Ferrari, I’ll buy you one,” Steve promised.

“You can’t afford one any longer. We bought you a boat, remember.”

Steve shrugged at his words. “We’ll buy you a Ferrari as soon as the money is in our accounts.”

“No,” Danny sighed. “We’ll use it for the club. Even if it blood money.”

“Bloodless money,” Steve corrected. “Do you want me to take you out to dinner?”

“No,” Danny decided. “Did you talk to Stan today?”

“I did. He said it won’t be any problem. He’ll arrange an appraisal on Monday. I called Holokai and he said Monday was fine. The boat appraiser will call the harbor-master on Tuesday.”

“Good,” Danny said. “How was your day? Before you entered murder-for-hire?”

Steve told him about the clients he’d seen, including Jonathan. Jonathan was so excited about the club, they ended up talking the whole time. They both agreed not to see one another again in their current relationship. They would only meet officially to discuss the club.

“You?” Steve asked, watching Danny like he’d found everything he ever wanted wrapped up in a small, blond-headed package.

“It was a fine day,” Danny said waving it off. “I’m glad we’re opening the club. I don’t want to pretend to care about some of these people any longer.”

“I know what you mean,” Steve said. “We aren’t therapists.”

“They think we are,” Danny said. “We need a therapist on call for the club.”

“We do,” Steve agreed. “Do you know any massage therapists?”

“Ones who also have sex with their clients?”

“Doesn’t matter. Vanilla therapists or hooker therapists. As long as they are licensed to give massages.”

“I don’t,” Danny realized. “Kono probably does.”

“Probably. She’s bringing her cousin Kamekona with her Friday. He’s apparently in charge of security.”

“Huh,” Danny said. “We’ve given her authority to hire personnel?”

“Again, you want to be the one to tell her no?”

“Absolutely not,” Danny said. “We need a bondage…person.”

“We may need two,” Steve said, considering it.

“One male, one female,” Danny agreed. “Will they be there full time? Or only when someone wants an appointment?”

“I have no idea. We need to talk to someone who does it professionally.”

“We do,” Danny agreed, putting down his glass. “I know it’s not full dark yet. But let’s go to bed.”

“Sounds good,” Steve agreed, standing up and taking Danny’s hand to pull him upstairs.