Velvet Kisses Ch. 09byvirgofemme©
*Sorry for the long wait! I know I've been slow on updating lately, and I do apologize for that. I hope you enjoy this chapter, and thank you all for the continued comments and votes!*
Also known as Little Osaka, Japantown was a section located in the Western Addition of San Francisco. Consisting of six city blocks, Japantown was home to a number of supermarkets, hotels, electronics vendors, malls, and Japanese restaurants. Although it was only ten thirty in the morning, the streets were already filled with a number of cars, but being the excellent driver that he was, Dane effortlessly maneuvered his gray Prius along the congested road.
Uncharacteristically silent and giving off an anxious energy that was palpable, Jeneda was situated in the passenger's seat right beside him, rifling through a small stack of notecards that were in her lap. Perhaps noting his fiancee's uneasiness, Dane allowed his eyes to briefly drift from the road, and with a faint smile, he offered some comforting words.
"No need to be nervous, sweetheart. My grandparents have already met you, and fully approve of you in every way."
"Glad to hear it, but I'd still like to learn a few Japanese words so I can converse with them in their language."
"Their English isn't that limited," he said. "And whatever they don't understand, I'll translate."
Rather than offer a response, Jeneda only continued to shuffle through the notecards, which had a variety of greetings and respectful phrases for one to offer when speaking with elders. Although terrible at pronouncing Japanese words, Jeneda figured the least she could was make an effort to greet Dane's grandparents in Japanese.
She was so determined that she'd spent the entire car ride endlessly revising, and although she was now pretty confident in both her pronunciation and understanding of the various words that she'd learned, she did still have a few questions.
"Obaachan, or obaasan?" She asked Dane. "Which one should I use when greeting your grandmother?"
"Obaasan is more formal, so I'd go with obaachan, since you've already been introduced to the family."
"And your grandfather would be ojiichan, correct?"
"Yes, very good." Dane's lips curved upward. "I'm impressed with your pronunciation."
"Thanks." She returned his smile before looking back down at her notecards, but the feel of Dane's hand caressing her thigh broke through her concentration.
"You look beautiful, by the way." His eyes flickered from her petal shaped earrings to the garment that she'd chosen to wear.
Outfitted in a pale blue dress with satin lining and a delicate lace overlay, Jeneda was perfectly dressed for the occasion they were en route to, which happened to be a pre-marriage ceremony that would take place at a Japanese tea house.
Thanks, you look nice too." Her eyes traveled from his well-cut velvet blazer to his black jeans, which slightly outlined his crotch in the most delicious way. "Very nice."
Noticing where her eyes were focused, Dane gave her a smile, then watched as she slowly ran a palm over the slight bump of his denim clad manhood. The friction that her touch created caused him to faintly groan, yet despite the arousal that he clearly felt, he removed her hand and gently placed it back on her own lap.
"You keep touching me like that, and I'll have a full-on erection by the time we arrive."
"Can't help it if your performance this morning left me craving for more."
"Your libido is off the charts, babe." His hand, which was still resting on her leg, moved further upward to venture beneath the hem of her dress. "You just can't get enough of me, can you?"
"So you can touch me, but I can't touch you?" She lightly pouted. "No fair."
"You can easily hide your arousal, darling. I can't." As if to test this theory, he brushed the tips of his fingers against the warm, moist crease that lay between her smooth brown thighs.
"Okay, stop," she said. "I didn't bring a change of panties, so It'd probably be best if you didn't touch me anymore.
He lightly chuckled, then removed his hand from beneath her dress before saying, "Now you see why I didn't want you touching me."
He turned onto a street that was lined with flowering plum and cherry trees, and after pulling into a parking lot that was located behind the Japanese tea room, he parked the car and they both got out of the vehicle. Except for a few white, puffy clouds, the sky was clear and vibrantly blue.
The air, which was pleasantly crisp, had a clean, earthy smell that only came after days of heavy rain, and although Jeneda wasn't the slightest bit cold, she did appreciate how lovely it felt to be bathed in the soft rays of the sun.
"This celebration that your parents arranged for us today," she said as they walked hand in hand to the front of the establishment, "What's the Japanese word for it again?"
"Yuino. It's a special ceremony to celebrate our upcoming union and the joining of our two families."
"Yuino." As she repeated the word, she noticed how nicely it rolled off of her tongue.
It wasn't until they reached the front of the building that Jeneda began to once again feel nervous, but as she spotted a familiar figure standing in front of the door to the tea room, she broke out into a smile.
"Mom, you made it." She quickened her pace, and upon reaching her mother, pulled her into a hug. "So glad you're here. Thanks for coming."
"No need to thank me, baby. What kind of a mother would I be if I wasn't here to take part in this special event?" She gave her daughter a kiss on the cheek, then pulled back from the hug to look at Dane, who was patiently waiting to exchange greetings.
"Great to see you, Dane."
"Wonderful to see you too, Monica," he said while enveloping her in a hug. "We're happy to have you here."
"And It's wonderful to be back in San Francisco," she said. "What time is the ceremony beginning?"
"As soon as my side of the family gets here." He glanced at his watch before saying, "Which should be at any moment."
"No rush, I can wait." Monica slipped her fingers through Jeneda's hair, which had been freshly washed and flat ironed earlier that morning. "Your hair looks fantastic, Jen Jen. And your skin is gorgeous. What are you doing to it?"
"Nothing special. Just keeping up the same old routine I've have for years."
A smile tugged at Monica's full lips. "Guess it was silly of me to ask. Of course you're glowing, you're in love."
Jeneda returned her smile. "I spoke to Riley's nurse yesterday. She told me he's been using some sort of gait harness system. Supposedly it's a top of the line product that will get him walking again."
Monica nodded. "It's sort of like a walker, but designed to support his body so that he doesn't fall down."
"Does he exclusively use only that, or is he still reliant on his wheelchair?" Dane asked.
"The gait harness is only for use while he's in physical therapy," Monica said. "So he hasn't quite reached the point where he's completely independent of his wheelchair."
"But he has been making steady progress," Jeneda added. "His nurse Penelope says that he's becoming more confident, and that his leg muscles are getting stronger everyday."
"That's wonderful," Dane said. "So things are getting better, then."
"They are, but he's not quite over the hurdle yet," Monica said. "One day at a time, that's what I keep telling him."
Dane offered a nod and warmly smiled. "I'm sorry he couldn't make it out here to be with us today, but we do still hope to see him at the wedding."
"He wouldn't miss it for the world. Everytime I visit him at the nursing home, all he can talk about is how excited he is for you and Jeneda's wedding."
"Glad to hear it," he said. "Once again, we really do appreciate you traveling out here for the yuino. Especially considering you'll have to fly back out here for the wedding in another two months."
"It's no problem at all," Monica said. "I'm more than happy to do it."
No sooner had Monica spoken those last words, was her attention suddenly diverted to two cars that were pulling up to the curb. The first vehicle was a white Bentley that Jeneda immediately recognized as belonging to Kitty, and the second was a silver Mercedes so fresh off the production line, that the plasticky aroma of new car drifted out as the driver's side door was opened.
Clad in a tailored suit that was just as sleek as his Mercedes, Bradley pressed the button on his key fob to engage the locks, then strolled towards Dane, Jeneda, and Monica with hands casually tucked into his pockets.
"You must be Jeneda's mother," he said upon reaching Monica, and extended his hand for her to shake. "I'm Bradley, Dane's cousin."
"Nice to meet you, Bradley. I'm Monica."
"Pleasure to meet you, Monica. It's great to have you here." He offered a charming smile, then turned his attention to Dane and Jeneda. "So, the big day is only two months from now. You two getting the jitters yet?"
"Not at all," Dane said. "If I had it my way, we'd get hitched tomorrow."
"Ditto on that." Jeneda briefly focused her eyes on Dane to give him a look of adoration. "No point in being nervous when I'm getting married to the man of my dreams."
"You two are so perfect for each other, that you almost make me want to get married," he said before quickly adding, "Emphasis on the word *almost*."
"It'll happen one day, just wait." A faint smile played at Dane's lips. "Somewhere out there, your future wife is already waiting for you."
"Oh yeah?" Bradley lightly chuckled, then checked out his reflection in the glass window of the Japanese restaurant. "Well I don't know about that," he said as he ran his fingers through his slicked back hair, "but the girl I'm seeing right now *is* pretty special."
This brought a smile to Jeneda's lips. "I'm glad to hear things are going well between you and Luna."
"Exceptionally so," Bradley said. "As a matter of fact, we're planning to meet up later this evening."
"You taking her out to dinner?" Dane asked.
"Nope. We're spending a quiet night at my apartment."
"Nice," Jeneda said. "Well I hope you enjoy your evening together."
"Yes. We definitely will." Bradley's brilliant green eyes sparkled, as if to suggest that he were imagining something a little naughty, but as his gaze came to rest on the well-dressed couple that was exiting a white Bentley, he offered a smile. "Aunt Kitty and Uncle Naohito...good to see you."
"Bradley. How are you, my dear?" Kitty gave him a cheek to cheek air kiss before focusing on Monica, who extended her hand.
"Hello. I'm Monica, Jeneda's mother."
"Katherine, but everyone calls me Kitty," she said while clasping palms with Jeneda's mother. "And this is my husband, Naohitio."
"Pleasure to meet you, Monica." Dane's father gave her a warm smile as he shook her hand.
"Nice to meet you, as well."
"Please forgive us for being late," Kitty said. "We do apologize."
"No problem," Monica said. "I had these two to keep me company.
Noting that Monica was gesturing to Dane and Jeneda, Kitty warmly smiled at the couple, then gave her son a hug and a kiss before greeting Jeneda.
"As always, you look wonderful, Jeneda. And that dress is lovely."
"Thanks, Kitty. You look great, as well."
Along with a cream colored boatneck dress, Kitty was wearing a pair of designer pumps that probably cost more than Jeneda's entire outfit. A string of flawless pearls surrounded her long, graceful neck, and her smooth, blonde hair was fashioned into a side-parted bob.
"Thank you, my dear," Kitty said before gesturing to a small group of people that were waiting to be introduced. "This is Rebecca, my mother. And my father, Howard."
The older couple exchanged pleasantries with Jeneda's mother before stepping back to allow Naohito's parents to be introduced.
"This is my mother, Mitsuko." Naohito motioned toward a petite woman with silvery gray hair that was swept up in a decorative hair comb, before gesturing to the man who stood beside her. "And Shinji, my father."
The elderly couple bowed their heads in respect, and in return, Monica did the same. Last to be introduced was Naohito's sister Rosalind, as well as her husband John, who faintly resembled the actor Daniel Dae Kim.
"Well now that we're all properly introduced, why don't we head inside and begin the ceremony?" Kitty asked, and with Naohito by her side, she led the way into the Japanese tea room.
As soon as they entered, a geisha attired in a peach colored kimono and white, split-toed socks was there to greet them, and with small, shuffling steps, she led them towards a private, sectioned off area. Before entering, the geisha gestured for them to take their shoes off. Then with bare feet, they all followed her through a square doorway that was so small, they had to hunch over in order to cross the threshold.
Along with several tatami mats, the room was outfitted with a low, wooden table which was just large enough to comfortably seat all twelve guests. There were pillows on the floor so that they could comfortably kneel, and globe-shaped paper lanterns hung from the low ceiling.
In traditional Japanese style, one of the translucent sliding walls was fashioned from rice paper, and had been slid back to showcase a gorgeous Japanese-style garden, which had a quaint wooden bridge that curved over a pond full of koi fish.
If that wasn't enough to exude tranquility, there was also a bamboo water fountain located in the corner of the room, which emitted the smooth sound of gently flowing water.
With a sweep of her arm, the geisha motioned for them to kneel around the table, and once they were comfortably on their knees, she lowered herself as well.
With keen interest, they all watched on as she bowed over a variety of utensils. Then with ritualistic grace, she began cleaning a variety of cooking objects, with included a small iron pot, a whisk, a tea bowl, and a bamboo tea scoop.
Once the instruments were cleaned, she poured a scoop of green tea powder into the iron pot, and after mixing it with the hot water, she poured the green concoction into the large tea bowl. The geisha then bowed towards Shinji, Dane's grandfather, and offered the bowl of tea so that he could take the first drink.
Shinji took a generous sip, then turned the bowl before passing it to his wife, Mitsuko. She took a sip as well, and after turning the bowl so that the next person's lips wouldn't touch the same place, she offered it to her son. After taking a drink, Naohito passed it to Kitty, who then offered it to her father and mother.
Once Bradley, Rosalind and John drank from the bowl, Dane took a sip of his own, then handed it to Jeneda, who took a drink before passing it to her mother. With no one left to sip from the bowl, the geisha accepted it from Monica, and with just as much attentiveness as before, she began slowly and consciously cleansing the equipment.
Once she was done, the geisha collected all of the utensils and wrapped them in a quilted piece of fabric. And with an elegance that was admirable, she slowly rose to her feet and made shuffling steps towards the door. Upon reaching it, she turned to face the twelve guests who were still kneeling at the table, and with a deep bow, she bid them goodbye before hunching over and exiting the small door.
For a few moments everyone just sat there in silence, as if afraid to disrupt the peaceful quietness that pervaded the room. But after half a minute passed, Dane's grandfather, Shinji, rose to his feet. Then with cane in hand, he made small, careful steps toward a sunken hearth that was built into the floor.
He added more charcoal to the fire so that it was rekindled, and after lighting a funny looking pipe that he'd retrieved from the pocket of his suit jacket, he retook his seat next to his wife.
Noticing that the pipe was much smaller and slimer than ones she'd seen before, Jeneda watched as Shinji took a deep drag from it. As he exhaled, a cloud of smoke swirled around his face, and after passing the pipe to his son, he made an announcement in Japanese.
"My father says It's time to present gifts to the engaged couple," Naohito translated before taking a puff from the pipe, and after blowing out smoke, he passed the pipe to Kitty's father.
Since Dane's grandparents were the eldest at the table, they were given the privilege of offering their gifts first, which were wrapped in ornate rice paper. Dane and Jeneda accepted the gifts with a bow of their heads, and with equal eagerness, they opened the package together.
As the contents were revealed, Jeneda curiously eyed the fishy smelling object, which was phallic shaped and had a wood-like texture. Puzzled as to what it was, Jeneda offered Dane a questioning look, causing him to lightly smile in return.
"It's katsuobushi," Dane said. "A dried fish that's similar to tuna."
"Oh." Not wanting to appear rude, she offered both Shinji and Mitsuko a polite smile, then bowed her head and said, "Domo arigato."
The elderly couple bowed their heads in return, then spoke a few words that Jeneda guessed were meant to acknowledge her appreciation.
"Do you know what katsuobushi is for?" Dane asked as she once again lowered her head to eyeball the thick slab of dried fish.
He lightly chuckled. "Of course you eat it, sweetheart. What I meant was, there's a special reason that they gave it to us."
"Okay." She lifted her eyes to his as a signal for him to explain.
"It represents virility."
Suddenly feeling very self-conscious, Jeneda allowed her eyes to drift towards Dane's grandparents, who were giving her a direct gaze that made her feel more than a little awkward. As if she wasn't already feeling uncomfortable enough, she could feel the eyes of everyone else watching her as well, and not knowing what else to do, she allowed her attention to drift back to Dane.
"So do I just cook it whole like this, or..."
"My mother will show you how to make it," Naohito chimed in.
"Okay, great." She glanced at Mitsuko and gave her a little smile before once again bowing her head.
The next gift from Dane's grandparents was a package of dried seaweed, so Jeneda had no doubts as to what its use was. But since the gifts they were receiving all had a special meaning behind them, she found herself curious about the symbolism.
"This type of seaweed is called Konbu," Dane said. "It's supposed to bring us many happy and healthy children."
"I see." Jeneda smiled and bowed her head before saying, "Arigato," to Dane's grandparents.
In response, Mitsuko spoke some words in Japanese, and with patience, Jeneda waited for Dane to translate. Yet rather than immediately interpret, Dane offered a few words in response to his grandmother, then lightly chuckled before sharing their conversation.
"Obaachan wants grandchildren," he said, and with a grin on his face he added, "She also says that the katsuobushi and konbu are potent fertility foods, so if you're not pregnant by summer, then she'll know that we didn't make use of her gifts."
More than a few people kneeling at the table let loose unbridled chuckles, and as Jeneda felt someone lightly elbow her in the side, she turned her head to see that her mother was wearing a broad smile.
"You better get busy cooking, Jen Jen, because Mitsuko Isn't the only one waiting for grandkids."
"Yeah, okay. No pressure at all, right?" Her lips tugged upwards as she reached for the next package in the stack of gifts.
"This type of folding fan is called Suehiro," Dane said as the gift was revealed. "It's hand painted, and represents a happy future."
"Wow, this beautiful." she said before offering thanks in Japanese to Mitsuko and Shinji.