It was one of those bars where people went to relax, hang out, drink and chat; it wasn’t a pick up spot by any stretch of the imagination, not the kind of place one expect to find singles, but rather groups of people and couples ensconced in booths.
And so it was, that Miho sat with Kyobashi.
“Are you sure you’re sure?” he asked with a smirk. “Come on Fujiwara, for old time’s sake.”
“You have no shortage of bed warmers, Kyobashi,” she dismissed casually. “We’ve both enjoyed our time together but, I’m settling down now.”
At this, Kyobashi chortled.
“I can really see you with two point five kids, a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, a dog and a cat,” he snickered.
“Everything except the kids part I’m fine with,” she replied airily, taking a sip from her brightly coloured cocktail. “Eh, maybe not the cat, I have allergies.”
“And you’re not even going to tell me who this guy is?” he poked, adjusting his glasses. “You know I could find out if I wanted to.”
“Yeah? Well, don’t,” she sniffed, putting her glass down and peering at him seriously. “He needs to tell his boss and colleagues first, shit, he needs to tell his family.”
“Still haven’t met Mum and Dad?” he chuckled, not at all put off. “And no kids huh?”
Miho shifted in her seat a little, frowning.
“Nope, and the jury is still out on how he feels about that to be honest.”
“You don’t think maybe you should have discussed that before you agreed to marry the guy?” Kyobashi laughed again.
“He proposed to me, I accepted,” she scowled.
“But you already knew he didn’t want kids from his profile, right?” Kyobashi pushed, teasing and persistent.
“Shut the hell up, Kyobashi,” she muttered. “It’s not as if you’re a font of virtue.”
“Sore spot huh? Fine, whatever. You know I’m just sad we won’t be having any more sleepovers.”
“As if we ever slept,” she scoffed, smoothing her brow.
“True,” he agreed, tapping his toe against hers under the table, and for his trouble he received more than a death stare.
“Hands and feet to yourself, unless you want me to break something off and beat you to death with it,” she growled, and even Kyobashi, who joked all the time, took her threat seriously.
“Ahh, here’s our girl,” he declared, clearing his throat and motioning with his head to the red head who had just entered the bar.
The uncertain look on her face was evident from across the other side of the room but the fact she was here was a good start. Once she clocked Kyobashi and his mystery female friend, she walked towards them. No signs of nervousness in her stride despite the narrowing of her eyes on the woman sat with Kyobashi.
As she got closer, the un-done baggy shirt she was wearing over a plain vest top, swayed with her movements and revealed the curves hidden beneath.
“Don’t let the outfit fool you, Fujiwara,” Kyobashi grinned, looking Rose up and down – no shame at all, “she’s got it where it counts.”
Miho was a whole lot less creepy about her appraisal.
“I don’t know… I kind of like the look,” she mused casually, smiling slightly as she met Rose’s eyes. “I think perhaps our clientele might expect something a little more refined by having said that, I have been asked to wear some very… interesting… things in my time. Won’t you join us Miss Hiraoka?”
Kyobashi had probably come from work so he was in a dark grey suit, and Miho could easily have come from some stylish boutique somewhere – nothing over the top or garish, just smart, befitting her shape, and certainly not cheap.
“Rose,” the redhead said, the use of her last name making her voice come out in a very defensive tone.
Either she hadn’t noticed the way she sounded or she didn’t care, Rose just continued to openly inspect the other woman as she took her seat next to Kyobashi.
The clothes the unknown female were wearing seemed familiar somehow, perhaps her parents had sold them in their boutique. Rose internally rolled her eyes, her parents fame was always in every direction she turned.
Despite that irked feeling, the mystery lady was a sight to behold and Rose was struggling to not pull out her sketch book and pencil, even with Kyobashi’s hand resting rather comfortably on her thigh. Mystery woman was elegant and her welcoming smile was beautiful – there was something behind her eyes that caught Rose’s attention though. Perhaps some inner conflict in her personal life and Rose found herself desperate to capture that struggle on paper.
Then the mystery ended, well, part of it at least.
“I’m Fujiwara Miho,” Miho greeted, offering Rose her hand, reaching across Kyobashi to do so. “But since we’re dispensing with formality, Miho is fine…”
Then she sighed and eyed Kyobashi sideways.
“What did I just say about hands and feet?”
“Just because you’re nesting, doesn’t mean she is,” he smirked, giving Rose’s thigh a slight squeeze.
Rose eyed the pair very unphased by Kyobashi’s touch, quickly deducing that Miho once entertained Kyobashi in the same way she does now. But instead of asking, she decided to remain quiet and observe.
She was good at that.
When Kyobashi first told Rose about meeting his ‘friend’, Rose was almost certain it was for his sexual gratification in some way. Not that she minded, not at all. But he was very evasive when she asked if it was a ‘threesome’. And that presented a lot of questions.
Ones that Rose wanted to know the answers to.
Miho let out a quiet snort, rolling her eyes a little before turning her gaze to Rose.
“Before we have a more casual and open conversation, I have to ask if you careful read the documents our mutual friend here passed to you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the non disclosure documents, then now is definitely the time to raise them.”
Rose shook her head, not entirely sure what she was meant to ask. Other than ‘What the hell is going on and why do I need to sign a nondisclosure form when meeting a stranger?’
Of course she had read over the form, it’s not everyday you get given a form to sign when meeting someone for the first time. But it was as vague as Kyobashi was about the whole thing. It was all a little strange but Rose was as fascinated with strange things as she was with beautiful things. Hence why she was still sat there enduring Kyobashi’s increasing pressure on the inside of her thigh.
Not oblivious to Kyobashi’s antics and complete and utter lack of capacity to not capitalise on any opportunity to satisfy his appetite, Miho now ignored it. She was also not unaware of what Rose’s lack of verbal responses might have meant.
“Hmm, Kyobashi, you did tell your lovely friend this was a job interview, didn’t you?” Miho asked plainly, turning her cocktail glass on the table top slowly in a counter-clockwise direction.
“I might have mentioned it?” he responded, and Miho found herself wanting to sigh again – but she didn’t.
Instead, she gave Kyobashi’s shin a light kick with the toe of her shoe, enough to make him cringe.
“Okay, allow me to clarify so you can decide whether you actually want to be here or not,” Miho levelled. “My business partners and I run a marriage matchmaking and wedding planning agency, MJS, and the process through which we make these matches goes that extra mile.”
“Mile high,” Kyobashi put in under her breath.
“Traditional agencies profile clients in many ways,” Miho continued. “Financial elements, health, interests, occupation, life goals, and of course desires and preferences, sexual and not. This, is not especially new.”
Miho then held out her hand, palm up.
“And if you’ve signed those documents then I can tell you the rest of the story.”
Rose looked at Kyobashi and resisted the urge to pinch the back of his hand until it bruised. She was not dressed for a job interview or prepared in any way for one.
Sighing, Rose reached into her bag. She needed a new job – the cafe campus job was not paying enough to give her a steady living and pay for her university fees. So there was no harm in having this interview.
Pulling her sketch pad out of her bag and placing it on the table, Rose flicked through the pages until she found the page she safely tucked the disclosure form between.
The moment Rose passed the documents to Miho, she grinned.
“I’d say feel free to punish Kyobashi for his clear oversight, but we both know the man is glutton for it,” she sniffed. “Better just to deprive him of what he wants most.”
“Hey,” Kyobashi exclaimed, but Miho ignored him.
“I’m curious then, Rose. If you didn’t know why you were meeting us here today, what did you think this was about?”
A little struck by Miho’s smile and question Rose shrugged before she answered, trying to choose her next words carefully albeit in vain given what she thought originally this ‘meeting’ was about.
“Well, Kyobashi was extremely evasive about the entire thing and given his reputation, my first thought was ‘threesome’,” Rose wiggled against Kyobashi’s grip as he chose that moment to trace a finger along her covered nether regions. “But I’ve never had to sign a non disclosure form for a threesome. Honestly, I had no idea what I was walking into but here I am.” She continued, ignoring Kyobashi’s attempts to affect her.
“Well it wouldn’t be our first threesome, would it Kyobashi?” Miho mused, glancing over the documents to make sure they had been signed correctly, before she tucked them into her bag. “For the moment, however, Detective, I have business to discuss so keep your hands out of her pants – what you do after that is none of my business.”
She paused to lean back and take a sip from her drink, more relaxed in her demeanour now the paperwork was sorted.
“Kyobashi and I did used to have a lot of sex,” she admitted openly. “One of the perks of the job is that MJS employs men such as he, to write sexual performance reviews for our female clients. When they’re not undertaking that particular role, they’re exceptionally willing to entertain and fulfil the needs of well… us.”
She could have been talking about the weather for all the concern she was showing about the topic of conversation.
“To that end, what you do with him outside of work hours, is fair game,” she added. “Now you, you’re here because I’m getting married, at some point,” she continued, “and as such can no longer undertake the sexual profiling I used to. Suddenly, job vacancy.”
Rose wasn’t surprised by Miho’s revelation of once being one of Kyobashi’s ‘girlfriends’, she had figured as much. Crossing one leg over the other, trapping Kyobashi’s hand uncomfortably between her thighs to stop him from freely touching her while she was at job interview, that he seemed to forget to mention – Rose leaned back in the booth, looking at Miho’s left hand where she fiddled with a ring on her ring finger between her pinky and middle fingers.
The job itself was a little surprising though. Delving in the art world, Rose had encountered many an obscure thing, whether it was people or forms of art. But this, was the first time she had heard of a job that entailed having sex with a man to help find him a wife.
It made sense really. People shouldn’t marry if they weren’t compatible in bed, that’s one of many things that could lead someone to stray.
“Congratulations, bet you’ll be glad to be rid of this ass,” Rose nodded her head to Kyobashi, still a little pissed off he didn’t tell her this was a goddamn job interview, but more relaxed by how open and direct Miho was.
Rose thought for another moment as Kyobashi’s fingers tried to wiggle between her thighs but were unsuccessful. Getting paid to profile someone in bed sounded like a win-win to her and as a bonus set up hopefully some happy couples.
This interview was getting more intriguing by the sentence.
“Thanks,” Miho smiled, glancing affectionately at her engagement ring, before her face became a little more serious when she looked back at Rose.
“It’s important to understand what we do is not prostitution,” she explained. “In fact, you may end up profiling individuals during their date scenario who have elected not to go so far as sex, and sexual profiles are not an optional extra a client pays for – it is simply there should they wish to enhance the accuracy of our reports, and better able us to match them with a partner who is sexually compatible as well as compatible in all other aspects of their life.
“If you’re interested, you’ll start as my intern, sitting in on the entire process from beginning to end – minus the sex of course.”
“I can help with that,” Kyobashi put in, but Miho just waved her hand.
“I think you’ve caused enough trouble,” she muttered.
Rose nodded her agreement, a little more eagerly than she had intended but didn’t stop as she began to actually articulate her desire to work for Miho’s matchmaking service.
“Yes I’m very interested,” she began, releasing Kyobashi’s hand from between her thighs and removing it before turning to him. “Thank you for considering me.”
Rose bowed her head slightly.
“Well this was all kind of sudden, so I appreciate that you’re interested. It makes my life easier certainly,” Miho smiled, tipping her drink in Rose’s direction before digging MORE paperwork from her bag. “Take some time to look this over. It’s your employment contract, medical consent forms and this and that. When you’re happy with it all, it can be returned to the MJS office – and when all is completed, you can get started.”
Rose took the papers and nestled them safely in her sketchbook and then tucked it away into her bag.
“I’ll be sure to do that, it may take me a little while to get them back to you. I have a project I need to finish up. If that’s not asking too much, of course.”
“Generally our clients are pretty understanding folk,” she nodded. “Worst case scenario we give them a discount to allow us a little more time to find them a perfect match. Ultimately they want happiness, and while we have a reputation to maintain, they also want us to do a good job.”
“Naturally,” Rose nodded and cocked her head slightly as she openly stared at Miho again now that the interview was coming to a close. “Could I perhaps ask a favour?”
“Watch it Miho,” Kyobashi grinned.
“You can certainly ask,” Miho chuckled.
“Would you allow me to draw you as part of my project?” Rose realised that wasn’t something you asked a potential employer but she couldn’t miss an opportunity like this – A beautiful woman, filled with so much confidence and grace with eyes that showed her vulnerabilities like she was stripped naked.
For some reason, Kyobashi’s face was split with a huge grin.
“I want to be there for that,” he declared staunchly.
“Draw me in what capacity exactly?” Miho enquired. “I’m not exactly model material and I’m certainly not very good at sitting still for very long.”
Rose had only just remembered Kyobashi was still there when from the corner of her eye she caught the sleazy glint from his glasses.
“I don’t want to paint you ‘like one of my French girls’,” Rose rolled her eyes, she knew Kyobashi well enough to know exactly what he was thinking and about to say so she beat him to it. One way to spoil his fun. “My project is about eyes. And yours hide unspoken words that I want to capture.”
Rose immediately put her hands up and waved them in front of her as if to dismiss the scowl she was expecting to form on Miho’s face.
“Um, I mean no offence, of course.”
“Disappointed,” Kyobashi sighed.
“Unspoken words hmm?” Miho mused. “Okay, I’m game; I’ve never been drawn before.”
Work mode was thoroughly gone, and now Miho looked comfortable and relaxed.
“Name the date and time.”
Rose smiled for the first time through this whole process, well it was barely a ‘smile’ more of a twitch at the corner of her lips.
“Thank you, do you have time now? You won’t have to sit for long. If you start to get uncomfortable I have a camera with me to take some pictures. Providing you’re okay with that?” Rose reached for her bag again as she heard an audible groan of disappointment come from Kyobashi’s direction.
“I’ll draw you like one of my French girls if you promise to be quiet.” Rose almost growled as she glanced at him before returning her gaze back to Miho.
Miho snickered, then emptied the remaining contents of her cocktail class.
“I’m good to go now,” she then asserted. “Here? Somewhere else?”
“Hotel room,” Kyobashi put in, totally incapable of getting his mind out of the gutter.
“Location is entirely up to you. I’d say pick somewhere that means something to you – good or bad, proving the bad doesn’t cause you too much stress,” Rose then turned to Kyobashi. “Y’know I said be quiet right? You just missed out on the steamy hand print on the rear car window.”
“Damnit,” Kyobashi grunted.
“There is a great park not too far from here, but it’s not really somewhere you go at night, so perhaps tomorrow?” Miho offered.
Rose nodded but sighed when she caught the narrowing of Kyobashi’s eyes and the smirk on his face knowing she now had free time.
“Tomorrow is great,” Rose smiled more genuinely before muttering, “providing I can walk.”
“Done,” Miho declared with a decisive nod, then slid out of the booth with her bag. “Don’t break my intern Kyobashi, oh I’m going to be mighty pissed off.”
Rose stood to give her farewells to Miho, her potential new employer.
“Don’t worry,” Rose smiled, somewhat sinisterly. “I’ll break him first.”
And with that, Rose bowed to Miho and thanked her once more.