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Please enjoy the blurb and the excerpt below!
One year into their relationship, Reina and Aiko embark on a journey into the world of academia. For Reina it's about changing her situation in life, even it means returning to a world ran by a foreign religion and young women who claim to be both her best friends and worst enemies. For Aiko it's proving to her mother, to the world, and to herself that there is more to life than husband hunting. For them both it's late nights finding unconventional ways to study for tests as they find new reasons to love each other.
Adulthood lurks in every shadow, from coming to terms with mortality to straining against the shackles that threaten to keep their lives stagnant. Reina wants to find direction in her life; Aiko wants to control her own destiny. Together they want what will become the foundation of their relationship - love, safety, and the exploration of their burning joshoku, or the passion that leads one to women again and again. Even if one of them is an impostor herself.
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“Excuse me,” Aiko said, stopping a saleswoman and holding up a green bra. “Does this come in any other color?”
While the saleswoman took the bra to go look in the back, Reina dangled a silky black bra and panty set in front of Aiko.
“You should get this one,” she said, jerking the hanger back and forth. “I bet you’d look really sexy in a piece like this.”
Aiko glanced around the shop, only temporarily relieved when she saw no one paid them any mind. The cramped store was stuffed with racks of underwear and women talking over one another as the cars on the street drowned out their voices. Nothing could drown out Reina’s voice, however. It was right in Aiko’s ear, taunting her with that seductive tone that had once awakened her inner lesbian.
“I need something practical.” Aiko tried to be collected, but whenever her girlfriend teased her like that, she turned into jelly. She busied her hands by flipping through a rack she had already inspected twice before. “That material would scratch my skin if I wore it all day.”
“You’re not supposed to wear it all day. This is shit you wear to make you feel sexy and to make your girlfriend want to jump your bones.”
“Like you need help with that.”
The saleswoman came back with a pink version of the bra Aiko liked. “Would you like me to open a changing room for you?”
“That would be great, thanks.”
Reina stayed out of the changing area while Aiko was shown into the one at the far end of the hall. After locking the door, she stripped off her top and the one bra she had left that Reina had yet to destroy with her pawing. One strap drooped down her arm as she admired – as in criticized – her figure in the mirror.
Have I gained weight? Aiko turned to her side and stuck her leg up in the air behind her. It made her back suck in and flatten her stomach. Maybe not. Skin stretched across her abdomen as she twisted it around to get a better look. By the time she decided she was not obese – yet – both of her bra straps had fallen down, reminding her of what she came in there for.
Three bras hung from the door, each one the usual style and colors Aiko liked. When a woman knows what she likes... She hopped up and grabbed the pink bra she wanted.
Trying on clothing of any kind was a test in patience. There was getting the damn things on; making sure they fit snugly, but not too snugly; checking to see that the color matched her skin tone; looking for any spots that would itch or irritate her later; turning in every direction to catch the best angles; pretending to be a model in a sexy magazine. Aiko spun on her heels and laughed in frivolity as someone pounded on the door.
“I’m fine!” she called, assuming it was the saleswoman. “I’ll be out in a bit.”
Another thump. “Ai-chan!” It was Reina. “Open up! I wanna show you something.”
“Eh?” Aiko snatched her shirt and held it up to her chest. Slowly, as if the dressing room was full of people ready to check out her nipples, Aiko eased the door open and gazed at her girlfriend through the crack.
Reina swung the door open and marched into the changing room, arm laden with bras.
“Are you trying something on?” Aiko dropped her shirt and bent to pick it up again. When she stood, she saw her girlfriend latching the door shut, a sinister smile on her visage. “I didn’t think you wore...”
The sexy black bra popped into her face. “I brought some stuff for you to try on.”
“What? Me?” Aiko backed against the mirror. “I already have things to try on.”
The black bra did a dance in the air, and puppet master Reina continued, “Nothing sexy.”
“I’m not buying anything sexy like that.”
“Aw, come on, you’re not even gonna try them on? How boring.” Reina dropped the bra to her side. I’m still not used to this haircut. If it weren’t for those thin lips and the usual clothes Reina wore, Aiko would not recognize her without long hair. “Not even for me?”
“Why would I do it for you?”