He wasn’t sure of the precise moment she had stood out from the other kunoichi. The moment she had awoken desires buried so deep, he thought they were dead. It was more of a flutter of circumstances that formed a whole picture. Now he found he had a hard time keeping his thoughts and eyes from her, she was more than distracting, and Shingen looked forward to it.
Ren stood in the courtyard below, shooting archery with Sasuke. Cherry blossoms fluttered on the warm spring air. Her bow was odd. It seemed to be extremely short with extra strings and some sort of pulley system. Her accuracy was nothing short of astounding.
Ren’s short white-blonde hair ruffled in the light breeze, Shingen had honestly never seen a woman wear her hair that short. It fluffed in sharp spikes from the top of her head, the back was shaved almost to the skin. The top she wore was sleeveless and tight, leaving nothing to the imagination. Straps wrapped around her breasts that seemed to both separate and lift them in an eye-catching manner. There was no feminine jiggle of flesh from her chest as she moved. Her arms were corded with long, lithe muscle. The dark floral hakama fluttered in the wind outlining the sensual curve of her hips. She wore it slung low, like a man’s. Shingen could see her abdomen muscles flex as she took another shot, she was poetry in motion.
Ren laughed at a comment Sasuke made, and Shingen felt his heart constrict.
He turned the feeling over examining it. She wasn’t his to be jealous over. Mentally he shook the feeling off as she took another twenty paces back from the target. They had already been at an extreme range. Shingen looked on with interest taking another bite of his sweet bun.
Ren flashed a hand signal at Sasuke, two arrows hit the center of the target, she then walked backward rapidly firing three more to join them.
Sasuke laughed. Shingen raised an eyebrow at the rare sound from the man.
Money exchanged hands. More friendly banter. She stepped back farther then turned and fired toward the balcony, the bolt sank into the wooden railing inches from his cup.
“Lord Shingen, are you enjoying the show?” There was not an ounce of fealty obedience in this one. His lips spread in a wolfish grin.
“My Lady Ren, how could I not stop to worship such a magnificent performance from the Goddess of the hunt? As always, you are a feast for my eyes.”
She laughed, running a black-gloved hand through her spikey locks.
“Would you like to join us?”
Would he? Looking over her lithe form in that attire, he had a different appetite then archery this beautiful spring morning. That swath of bare skin between where her top ended just below her breasts and where the Hakama was tied, several inches below her navel, was beyond distracting. Shingen cleared his throat, returning his gaze to her sharp-featured face.
“I will simply enjoy the glorious view.” He pulled the bolt from the wood, dropping it to the ground for her.
Yuki joined him on the balcony, “She’s an odd one. Aren’t you afraid? She could have hit you.”
“My dear Yuki,” Shingen flashed him a languid smile. “If she intended to hit me, I would already be dead."
“Ren, he’s watching you again.”
Violet eyes rolled under snowy lashes, “believe me, Sasuke, I’m aware. If the man’s lustful gaze burned any hotter, I’d be on fire.”
Sasuke’s lip twitched in what for him was a grin. “I know you have the hots for him, just fuck him already and get it out of your system. I’ve never seen you pine this long over a guy.”
Ren took another shot, muscles flexing. She laughed, “And then what? Sorry, my Lord have to head back to the future now, it was amazing getting to screw my history class hero.” She more than had the hots for him, Ren mused. She had long admired his historical figure, respected his social plans in a feudal era, the way Kai was run before it was taken from him was commendable. His elite kunoichi and the fact that he even employed women for that purpose was nothing short of amazing for the time period. And now because of Sasuke and his damn nerdy science, they were in that time period. She was working for her hero, and christ if she didn’t have a crush on the devastatingly attractive man. Not that she could ever act on her feelings. When they arrived through the wormhole two years ago, Sasuke had calculated it would take four years until the next time rift opened to take them home. They were separated briefly upon arrival in the Sengoku period. After an incident on the battlefield, Sasuke became Kenshin’s ninja.
She was recruited by Chiyome, Shingen’s head kunoichi.
The work was honestly about the same as what she was accustomed to. Information gathering, assassination, seduction when necessary. It amazed her how little spy work had really changed in five hundred years. Her hand to hand combat training was significantly better than what was available now, which was likely what caught Chiyome’s eye.
“Let’s make this a little more challenging, shall we?” She walked back twenty paces through the fluttering cherry blossoms. The gardens really were quite lovely at this time of year.
“A bet? I bet you can’t hit the center five times from this distance.”
“You do realize you are betting against a bow you made for me?” She smirked, lining up the shot. “Sasuke, are you saying your craftsmanship is less than stellar?”
“I’m saying I think you’re distracted by a redhead with some sweet buns.”
She flipped him the finger and took the shot. Two bolts soared to the target, thunking solidly into the center. She walked backward quickly, firing off three more.
“Obviously, I’m not that distracted, pay up Nerdboy.”
Sasuke laughed, money exchanged hands.
“Seriously though Ren, we are here for two more years minimum. Why not have a roll with the Tiger of Kai? Rumor has it his nodachi is impressive.” Another lip twitch smile from her best friend.
“You heard that or experienced it for yourself?” She smirked, nocking another arrow.
Turning, she fired the arrow at Shingen with intent to startle.
“Lord Shingen, are you enjoying the show?” The infuriating man not only did not flinch, but he graced her with one of his panty wetting smiles.
“My Lady Ren, how could I not stop to worship such a magnificent performance from the Goddess of the hunt? As always, you are a feast for my eyes.”
She ran her hand through her hair, covering a blush, damn the man for doing that to her. She inwardly laughed at herself. Years of training and this man breaks through it with a few smooth words and a smile that could melt steel.
“Would you like to join us?” She felt his gaze lick hotly over her. She stood tall, inviting him to enjoy the view. Hells, she’d love to spar with him again. It got her wet just thinking about it. Even better if he did it topless. An image of a sweaty Shingen in just a hakama flitted through her imagination. Ren licked her lips, looking upward to the balcony three stories above the courtyard. Shingen had shoulders for miles, he’s a challenge worth taking on, it was a shame he rarely hit the training ring these days.
“I will simply enjoy the glorious view.” He dropped her bolt back to her…Ren let out a sigh, what a shame he had such a promiscuous reputation, otherwise she’d climb that mountain and stake her claim. Ah well, it was better not to mix work with pleasure, and technically, he was her boss.
Approximately 2 years ago
The kunoichi entered his room, taking a knee before him. Glancing up, he was surprised it wasn’t Chiyome. This one was dressed not in fancy kimono or temple garb meant to blend in like his other mitsumoto but in tightly fitted dark garments. Her long black hair was tied back in a tail…no he realized with another glance, that was a well-crafted wig.
She was efficient and to the point, almost militant, her voice clear. He vaguely remembered Chiyome speaking to him about an impressive new recruit. She wanted to use this person to train the others in combat. He listened to the report, his brush continuing to flow across the page.
Shingen paused, lifting the soft bristles from parchment.
“What is your name?” He asked, interrupting the conclusion of her report.
“My Lord?” She looked up, startled.
He raised his head to see eyes so blue they were violet. She was wearing makeup to make those eyes look more almond-shaped, to color her lashes black.
“Remove your wig.”
She unpinned the black wig sliding it from her short platinum blonde hair. She ran a gloved hand through the spikes self-consciously.
Blonde, he could see why she chose the wig to blend in.
“Your name? Or shall I just call you, princess?” Shingen put his best sensual purr into his voice with the intent to disarm her.
“Ren, my Lord”
“Wren? Like the little brown bird?” A smile tugged his lips. “That hardly seems fitting for a beauty such as yourself.”
“Ren for the lotus flower.” Her eyes met his, there was steel in her gaze. She was bold. Far bolder than he was accustomed to, Shingen was intrigued.
“Chiyome has spoken highly of you, Ren. Where did you say you were from?” He stood walking around the desk to sit on the tatami mat near her.
“I did not say.” Her eyes flicked to the side, warily following his movement. He offered her a cup of tea.
“Please relax, sit with me a while.” He sipped his tea, studying her. Her skin was pale white, he could see under the carefully done black makeup her lashes and eyebrows were just as blond as her hair.
“You are not Japanese?”
“I am half, my mother was Japanese, my father was from the west.” She shifted, allowing herself to relax slightly.
“And you arrived with the ninja Sasuke.” He eyed her, watching her expressions, what she said, and what was left unsaid.
“He has been a friend since childhood, we were traveling together when we ended up in Uesugi lands.”
“Oh, you are not a couple?” Shingen raised an eyebrow. He already knew they were not, but he couldn’t resist getting a rise out of her.
“Is my personal life that fascinating to you, my Lord?”
Oh, the delicious sass, how unexpected.
“I am only checking the availability of the sweet angel I have found in my midst.” He turned on the charm, smiling warmly at the blonde. He placed his now empty cup down, resting his hands on his thighs. Her eyes flicked to his hands, she shifted again almost imperceivably.
“Indeed.” He saw the trace of a smile on her lips.
“And are you…available?” The question was blunt, but he was interested.
She rose to stand before him. His face was at the level of her taut stomach, every line of her was lithe, muscled, trained to the point of perfection. He wanted to slide his hands over the delicious swell of her hip, cup her bottom, and bring her to his lips, drinking in her sweet nectar and listen to her song. He gazed up at her, grey eyes smoldering.
“My Lord Shingen, may I speak freely?” The light made her eyes appear to shift from the deep violet to a hot magenta.
He smiled, oozing sensuality, “Yes, of course, Goddess mine.”
“The Tiger of Kai will find no prey here. I suggest he prowl elsewhere if he seeks bedwarmer tonight.”
“Perhaps the Tiger seeks a Tigress tonight.” He stood, towering over her. His kimono gaped, showing an enticing view of his bare chest nearly to his navel. Ren’s breath hitched, she averted her eyes to somewhere over his left shoulder.
“My Lord, I am your blade, not your sheath. You would do well to remember that.”
He studied her unyielding eyes, she couldn’t meet his gaze, her hands were clenched in fists behind her back. Her nostrils flared, she tensed. His lips curled in a sensual smile, he’d give this lotus time to bloom.
“If there is nothing else you require, my Lord, I will depart.” She took a step back, bowing to him politely.
He refilled his tea, allowing her to wait.
“Ren, is there a reason things must be so formal between us?”
“Two, My Lord.” Her eyes were riveted to the door. He walked around her, slowly sipping his tea.
“Your reputation for promiscuity proceeds you, My Lord. I was never good at sharing.”
He chuckled softly.
“And the second?” She moved to the door, sliding it open, her back to him.
“Since you’ve lost Kai, you rule like a man writing his last will and testament, I don’t fuck dead men.”
Ren slid the door shut behind her.
She moved quickly down the hall, turning a corner, then leaned against the wall with a gasp. To hell with that man, why did he have to be so damned good looking, and that sweet musky scent …christ, was he just putting out pheromones? She slid down the wall pressing her forehead to her knees. Why did she feel the need to sass him like that? He was literally her superior in this time. Great job there, Ren, looking to just be put to death or what? She forcibly slowed down her breathing, trying not to hyperventilate.
Three weeks, she’d been in this freaking time period for three weeks with four years to go. Maybe longer.
Her knowledge of what was to come was always at war with what was happening now. She ran a gloved hand through her short hair, mussing it. Fuck, she’d left her wig in his room. Dammit, she’s been in the spy game for more than fifteen years, how did he fluster her to this level?
“Ren?” Sasuke slid down next to her “Hey, are you alright?”
“Yea, I’m fine, thanks.“ she took a deep breath and gave him her best rough-neck smile. “Want to go spar with me?”
“I’ve already been beaten by Kenshin twice this morning. He keeps leaping out and surprise attacking me to “hone my skills”.”
“Sounds like a dick move…is there a reason you stay with this guy?”
“Is there a reason you stay under Shingen.”
She paused. “Because choices are limited and this one isn’t that terrible, I respect his ideas.” They leaned against each other in comforting silence for a moment.
“Come on, I’ll take it easy on you.” She stood and offered him a hand.
“I’m sorry I got you into this mess Ren, I didn’t know we’d get stuck in the past.” She gave his shoulders a squeeze.
“It’s ok, at least we have each other, right? I’ll teach you some moves, we’ll make it through.”
He gripped the cup tightly in his fist as the door slid closed. Ren’s comment was unexpected, unforeseen, but brutally honest. The truth from her stung in a way that surprised him and made him grudgingly respect her more for speaking her mind. What else had she noticed? It was true he was simply looking to ascertain if she was interested in some “no strings attached” fun. He found it interesting her answer wasn’t so much “no” as it was, “only exclusively’”. And the dead men comment…no one knew of his illness, and lately, it had been in remission what had she seen? Worse, what had she heard? He frowned. He would hate to think he’d become that easy to decipher. Shingen moved to his desk to finish his current batch of missives, but his mind was already distracted. What if it wasn’t that he was becoming transparent as much as she was just that observant. He made a note to speak to Chiyome about her new recruit and what types of missions to send her on. Let’s see how sharp his new blade was.