A few nights after Hachmitsu’s arrival in Sakuragawa, a black, dark-windowed car pulled up in front of the Murasaki no Tsuki. The suit-clad driver hopped out and opened the rear passenger door, bowing energetically as the woman inside stepped out. She was tall by Japanese standards, and slender, wearing a trendy suit and with her hair dyed a stylish shade of light brown. Several loitering tourists scurried towards her, cameras raised in the hopes of catching a glimpse of some famous starlet or up-and-coming singer, but her sharp glares send them rushing away picture-less. Misaki opened the door to the restaurant and the woman stepped inside. The young hostess shut the door behind her, blocking her from the view of the outside world.
“Ah, Yamashita-san,” Keiksuke said, coming around from behind the bar to greet her. They bowed to each other, and he led her to a corner seat at the bar. “I presume you want a Sparkling Summer to start your night, as usual?”
“Of course,” Yamashita Yuna replied. The Sparkling Summer was a drink Keisuke had created and named for her as partial thanks for her financial support when he was building the Murasaki no Tsuki. She wasn’t entirely sure what was in it, but she thought it was delicious.
Yuna settled onto her bar stool, crossing her long legs and peering around the restaurant as Keisuke worked. “You only invited geiko as I requested, correct?”
He grinned. “Of course. I know your preferences by now. I invited Hinako from Hoshino, the independent Ishida woman, and…an interesting new arrival named Hachimitsu.” He glanced up at her. “She’s from Tokyo too. You don’t know her from there, by any chance?”
Yuna sniffed. “You know I don’t frequent the ochaya of Tokyo. Kyoto and Sakuragawa are more to my taste.”
“Well, she seemed proper,” he said. “I thought it would be good to give her a try. If it doesn’t work, I have Harukawa on speed dial and an agreement that Yaekano will come quickly if we need her.”
“Good,” Yuna said. Keisukei finished the drink and set it in front of her.
“Can I get you something to snack on while you wait?” he asked her. “I know you don’t like to go up to the banquet until the geiko arrive and set up.”
She shook her head. “No…I’m sure you prepared me a lovely dinner and I don’t want to ruin my appetite for it. Please just let me know when they are ready for me.”