Miho’s and Goto’s wedding was finally over and Jazz could breathe easier again. It had been a very touching ceremony, a wonderful party. It had made Jazz want to have a ceremony, too, but she hadn’t told Kuni about that yet. There was so much else that they had to take care of first.
Jazz had had the operation the day after the bachelorette party and so far there were no complications. She had a scar on her belly but it was tiny, only slightly rosy now and smooth. The first few days it had been dark red, ragged and uneven. The first time she had changed the bandage she had cried, not because of the scar itself but because of what this meant for her, for Kunihiko and her. For them.
Jazz shoved those thoughts aside and smoothed down her shirt to cover the scar. Today she had another follow up appointment at the clinic and afterwards some more work. With Miho and Goto in their honeymoon Jazz was the only senior partner at the agency left and she was dead set on keeping the business running smoothly. Kunihiko had told her to take it easy for now but she needed something to take her mind off the whole ‘I just lost an ovary’ disaster.
“Should I take you to the clinic?” His arms enveloped her from behind and Jazz snuggled against his chest with a tiny sigh.
“No, I’m fine. I can take a cab or the train. No need for you to be late for work.” She turned in his arms and hugged him tightly. Despite the brave face she was making she couldn’t hide how on edge she was every time she had to get another check up.
Kunihiko’s hand wandered over to her belly, gently rested there, his warmth seeping into her skin.
“I’d rather be there for you in a time like this. Being late isn’t a problem at all today.”
“I know. But believe me, it’s fine. It’s only a routine checkup. Last time they already told me that everything was looking really good. Don’t worry about me, I call you if anything is off.” She cupped his face and smiled. “You’re giving me so much strength, Kuni. Even if you’re not with me. That’s why I can be so at ease.”
Their kiss was soft and only lasted for a second, but it conveyed so much love, so much warmth.
“Okay, if you’re insisting. I’m off to work now. I love you.” Reluctantly he parted from her, his hand rested on her hip although he had already taken a step back.
“I love you, too. And now off with you, before Osanai calls and gives you a lecture again.” With a last kiss she practically pushed him out of the door, laughed when he peeked in again to sneak another kiss.
Once back in the office Jazz was diligently working, creating proposals and profiles, answering calls and emails. In her lunch break she sent Kunihiko a quick text, telling him the checkup had been well. Her doctor had told her they could start trying for a baby if they wanted to, but also reminded her not be impatient and not to get frustrated if it didn’t work right away. With only one ovary it was still possible to get pregnant, but not that likely. Still, the doctor advised they should simply try for now and take measures if it didn’t work after a year.
“It is important that you don’t stress yourself. That wouldn’t help at all. Relax and just let nature take its course. You are still young and healthy enough for it to just happen.”
Jazz had nodded and thanked her doctor, but couldn’t help the nagging unease. Work was meant to distract her and so far it was serving this purpose well.
They needed a solution to their latest loss of test drivers. Ever since Rose got serious with her puppy boyfriend and H was – somehow distracted, MJS was at the same point where it had been almost a year ago, when Miho and Jazz decided to get an intern. Maybe they had to change their approach and cancel the test driving all together.
The ringing of her phone dragged her from her thoughts, the florists had questions about an arrangement for a wedding.
“Hey, Kuni?” Jazz handed him the veggies to cut for their dinner and he pecked her cheek as a thank you, humming to prompt her to go on with her question.
“I was thinking… how about we find someone for the bar? You know, lately you don’t have much time to actually stand behind the counter anyway, but I like the atmosphere of the bar. I like that your friends, and now also my friends, can gather there.”
His hands stopped cutting the carrots briefly before he went back to preparing their dinner.
“Actually it’s a good idea. I have thought about that already. I’d rather spend my time with you than cleaning the bar anyway.”
Jazz grinned. “Well, we have combined that already. Although we didn’t really ended up getting much cleaning done…”
Ever since Jazz had gotten the diagnosis she had shied away from intimacy, not comfortable in her own body anymore. Sure, she had offered him relief in different ways and he hadn’t pushed her into anything she didn’t want to do, but by conjuring these memories now she signaled that she was ready to at least think into that direction again. A smile appeared on his face.
“I remember… that was a very pleasant night in the bar. But I guess you were driving at something else.”
Jazz giggled but nodded. “I was thinking, how about we ask H if she wants to manage the bar? She might need a new job soon, as things are at the agency right now.”
“You don’t want to close the agency, do you?” The concern in his face was surprising her, Jazz had assumed that he wasn’t a big fan of MJS.
“No, just changing some things. I’m not sure if we should continue with the date scenarios, after all it caused so many problems in the past and it’s difficult to find suitable girls to take care of it.” She shrugged. “I still have to talk with Miho about it, but I guess we’re going to get respectable and all.”
With a mocked shudder she turned to him. “I guess Miho just got the shivers, too, and has no clue why.”
Kunihiko laughed, pleased that Jazz was joking again. For some days she had been withdrawn and gloomy, although she had tried to hide it behind a smile that never reached her eyes. She knew that she had been worrying him but she really felt so much better now and was grateful for his support.
“But the wedding planning will stay unchanged?” he asked further, grabbing some bell peppers, and Jazz nodded.
“No need to change anything if it’s working just fine, right?”
He hummed in agreement but Jazz frowned lightly.
“Say, is something the matter? You seem a bit distracted.”
“What makes you think that?” he asked back, looking like being caught.
“You’re washing those bell peppers for the third time now.”
He immediately turned the water off and grinned sheepishly. “You are a sharp one, I should have know that I can’t fool you for long.”
“Right-o. And now, Mister, spill it.” She took the peppers and started slicing them.
“Not sure if I really want to tell you when you’re handling a sharp knife,” he joked but Jazz only glared at him. “Okay, okay. I’m telling you already. So, I got a call today. My grandmother wants to meet me tomorrow for lunch.”
Her hands stopped. His grandmother – well, that was unexpected.
“But it’s a good sign, isn’t it? Does that mean she starts to accept our marriage?” There it was again, the faked smile.
“I really hope so. At least it didn’t sound as if she wanted to disinherit and cast me out of the family anymore.” He carefully took the knife out of her hand. “You okay?”
“Sure, yeah. I mean, it’s not my grandma. Actually my family is pretty happy for us. They were surprised and confused at first, but now they are happy.”
She chuckled briefly, remembering the awkward Skype-date she had set up with her parents and grandparents to introduce Kunihiko to them. Being caught as the interpreter in the middle she had done her best to convey the reaction of her family properly but she couldn’t deny that they had all been bewildered that the Japanese man she was married to was another Japanese man than the original one all of sudden. They had just learned about Jazz being divorced after all.
“We will have to visit them soon,” Kunihiko pointed out.
“I would love that. Whenever you have a few days off.” She kissed him, snatched the knife back and returned to cutting vegetables. “But for now, get back to cooking, I’m starving.”
Jazz had decided not to worry so much about people accepting their love anymore. There were more severe things to worry about in the world, they couldn’t get the blessing of everyone after all.
After her second cup of coffee in the lobby of a fancy hotel Jazz grew impatient. Her client she was supposed to meet here was late without a notice and if she wouldn’t arrive in the next ten minutes, Jazz would leave her a note and go back to the office.
No call or text, no apology or explanation. Jazz had checked the mail with the time and place several times already and she was definitely in the right hotel, it was the correct day and she had already waited for half an hour. Not exactly a tolerating person when it came to tardiness in the first place her mood was close to hitting rock bottom when she looked up and saw something that made her blink several times, just to make sure it wasn’t an hallucination.
There was her husband, a pretty young woman hanging on his arm. Definitely not his grandmother. She was smiling at him but he seemed tense, glancing around uncomfortably. Jazz stomach sank and her heart started to race. This was bad. Why was Kunihiko with another woman in a hotel?
She quickly scribbled something down on a piece of paper and hurried to the front desk when other two were out of sight, asking the receptionist to hand the note to her client if she would ever show up. Jazz had to get out of there, needed fresh air and some answers.
It took all her willpower not to simply storm after them, or wait for Kunihiko in his office. There had to be a good explanation and she refused to jump to conclusions without giving him a chance to tell her about it.
That night Kuni came back home late. Very late. It was almost midnight, the dinner Jazz had thrown together absentmindedly earlier was long cold but she didn’t feel like eating anyway. She felt like drinking but she had stopped ever since she had learned about her medical condition, besides drinking alone had never been very appealing to her.
So she was sitting on the couch, trying to read but after she had stared at the same sentence for more than ten minutes now she admitted defeat and put the book away. Her heart leapt a bit when she heard the door. Kunihiko was back. He tried to sneak in as silently as possible, stared at her in bewilderment when he came into the living room to find her sitting there, no TV or music running, just staring at him.
“If that isn’t my lovely wife,” he cheerfully greeted her, but it couldn’t hide his tired expression. “You are still up.”
“I was waiting for you.” With pride she noticed how calm she sounded, not the nagging wife men seemed to hate.
“You shouldn’t have. I wanted to call and tell you I will be late today, but things were really crazy in the office.” He came over and leaned down to kiss her, frowning lightly when she turned her face away, only accepting a kiss on the cheek.
“Only in the office?” It was hard to keep the unease at bay, to not start screaming or crying just to get rid of this pressure inside of her.
“Actually, no. I told you about the lunch with my grandmother, right?” He sat down next to her and sighed, loosened his tie a bit and pulled the hairtie from his hair.
“Uh-huh…” Now was the time of truth and honestly, Jazz wasn’t sure if she really wanted to listen to what he would tell her next.
“I guess it’s safe to assume that she hasn’t accepted out marriage yet. She has set me up on a lunch date with the granddaughter of one of her friends. I know her since she was a child and it was so awkward. I’m a married man, I felt stupid sitting there with a girl that had barely finished college.” He dropped his head on the backrest and closed his eyes, missed the relieved smile on Jazz’s face.
“A childhood friend?”
“Not really. I mean, we met on some occasions, but I’m ten, maybe twelve years older than her. I don’t really remember. Anyway, she used to be a quiet child, but now she’s rather forceful. I have no idea what Grandmother has told her, but she seemed to assume that we will get married soon.” He sounded so tired and Jazz’s heart clenched when he turned to face her.
“Sorry, but I guess my family isn’t as happy about us as yours.”
She ran a hand through his hair, smoothed down the waves a bit and smiled. “No, I am sorry. It must be hard to go against your family like that. And sorry that you had to go on a date with some pretty 20something year old.”
“She isn’t even that pretty,” he waved her off but Jazz shook her head.
“No, she’s plenty pretty. It’s okay, I know that there are beautiful women out there. Doesn’t mean that I get insecure.”
A crease appeared over the bridge of his nose when he furrowed his brow.
“How do you know what she looks like?”
A dry chuckle accompanied her answer. “Well, I think you’re not the only one who got set up today. I was there, in the lobby. I saw you, arm in arm with a pretty girl.”
Kunihiko groaned. “Oh god… Jazz, I swear, there was nothing going on! She said she had sprained her ankle and begged me to steady her while walking. I figured it would get me out if there quicker if I just – you know, just let her lean on me a bit.”
“It’s okay, really. I trust you.” Relief made her giddy a bit, but there was enough of sass and sarcasm left in her to add: “Besides, you know I would probably kill you of you ever cheated on me. Or even better, I would sic Miho on you.”
His eyes widened. “I would never cheat on you. I love you, Jazz, you and no one else. And I will remind my grandmother that you and I are married after all, not just dating casually. There is no one who could take your place, not here in my home, nor in my bed and especially not in my heart.”
“I feel bad that you are having trouble with your family because of me,” she admitted, still smiling softly.
“It’s not your fault. Besides, you are my family. That’s all I need.”
That night they went to bed and only kissed good night again, but Jazz felt closer to him than in weeks.
“She did what?” H blinked in disbelief and Jazz shrugged.
“Set him up on a date. And it wasn’t only that, obviously they had planned it so that I had to catch him red-handed with that other girl.” She straightened some papers and handed them over to H.
“Wow, that’s really low.”
“You know what bothers me the most? Obviously his grandmother expected that I would – I don’t know, either quietly leave, broken hearted, or make a scene, cause a fight. She has probably thought I wouldn’t believe him if he tells me it was only a misunderstanding and that I would demand a divorce, convinced that he’s cheating on me.” She shook he head slightly. “But did she not expect us to actually talk? I mean, didn’t she think we would sit down and he would tell me about his strange day and I about mine? That weak plot she made up is so easily rumbled, all it takes is five minutes of honest conversation. She must think I’m stupid.”
And was what made Jazz angry. If his grandmother would have taken five minutes of her time to actually talk to Jazz she would have realized that Jazz was a smart woman. Yes, she had been easily fooled when it came to mattes of the heart before, but she had also learned a lesson each and every time.
“But is everything okay between you and Kuni again?”
“Huh? Oh yeah, of course. I know he loves me and he knows that I’m crazy about him. We are fine.” Jazz smiled at a visibly relieved H. “By the way, Kuni and I have been talking and – well, the bar is getting a bit too much work on top of our jobs and maintaining a happy marriage and all. And if we really end up having a child some day… long story short, could you imagine working in the bar? Part time at first, but if you like it and it works fine…” She let her sentence taper off, gauging H’s reaction.
“Me? Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I mean, when you’re not on date simulations you still have plenty of time, don’t you? And you could earn some more money.”
H beamed. “Sure! I mean, I’ve never worked in a bar but I have experience in the service industry. So yeah, I’d love to give it a try!”
With a satisfied nod Jazz leaned back in her chair. Another thing taken care of.
It was strange. Never before in her life she had troubles initiating intimacy or sex, but as long as she didn’t have sex she couldn’t get pregnant on purpose. Not getting pregnant because her body wasn’t able to, was a completely different thing. So although the doctor had said it was fine, she was full of doubts. It was somehow easier to defend their marriage against dangers from the outside than to deal with her own fears and insecurities.
“I will be back in three days and then we take some time for us. Maybe spend the weekend somewhere else. How about an onsen?” Kunihiko just packed his last things into the suitcase, took the tie she handed him and put it to the rest of his clothes.
“I will miss you,” she said, a slight pout on her lips.
She had missed him for a while now, even when he was right there with her. The distance she had created between them was there on her own free will and he had accepted it, considered it a part of her recovery. And somehow she had already forgotten how it was to be close to him, physically close. Their love was strong like always, but the physical connection they shared in the beginning had been lost and that she regretted deeply.
“I will miss you more,” he replied and kissed her, softly at first but when he tried to deepen the kiss she pulled away. She had forgotten how to accept what she was craving for, too scared for the consequences if she stepped out of the safe zone she had created around herself.
“Don’t forget to pack your scarf. It’s going to be cold up there,” she reminded him and stepped back, right back into her safe zone. His smile wavered a bit but he nodded.
“Sure. Sapporo can be cold after all.”
Jazz felt bad for turning him down like that, but she couldn’t help it, torn between longing for him and hiding herself away. Grateful for the way he simply accepted her moods she embraced him again, this time without kissing.
When he closed the door behind him, leaving for a business trip, Jazz wondered why she just couldn’t let herself fall into the embrace of her husband anymore.
She woke up in the middle of the night, the darkness in the bedroom so absolute that it made no difference if she opened her eyes or not. Lazily she turned around once, smiled when she realized she wasn’t alone in bed anymore. After two nights without him Jazz was glad that Kunihiko was back in their shared bed.
Still, it almost made her jump when she suddenly felt his hand on her cheek but she relaxed and inched closer, an awkward kiss in the dark, without being able to see each other, but they still managed to meet each other’s lips.
And just like that the distance she had so elaborately crafted vanished, took all her doubts with it, left her only with her love and desire for her husband. Kunihiko sleepily grunted when she pressed her body closer to his, wrapped his arms around her and rolled them around until he was on top of her.
Jazz got lost in their kiss, in his touch, eagerly wrapped her legs around him, felt his length hardening against her. When his hands slid under her comfortable and definitely not sexy pajama top she encouraged him by arching her back, pressing her body even closer. As soon as the top was out of the way she reveled in the feeling of his naked skin on hers, grateful for the fact that he was sleeping only in pajama pants. Which had to get off next. Still kissing him Jazz shoved her hands into his pajama pants, pushed them down over his ass, giving him a light squeeze. He chuckled briefly before his lips descended her neck, towards her chest, further down her stomach. She flinched when he kissed her scar but relaxed again when he started tugging off her pajama bottom and panties, waited for him to fully take off his pajama.
But she didn’t want him to linger down there, impatiently tugged at his hair until he came back up, kissed her again. It was strange, the darkness around them seemed to make this even more intimate, more meaningful.
A gasp escaped her lips when he pushed into her, made him still hesitantly until she grabbed his hip and pulled him closer. It had been some time since they had actual sex but suddenly she couldn’t remember why she had been so shy, so insecure. This was what she wanted after all, being close to him, as close as possible, until their hearts beat in the same rhythm again.
It wasn’t the ecstatic fireworks, but it didn’t lack passion and especially not love. Under the comfortable blanket of the darkness they found each other again, closed any distance that was between them, moved together to new highs.
Afterwards Jazz fell asleep again in his arms, snuggled close to him, and only opened her eyes again after the light of the morning drove the darkness away.
They never talked about that night and Jazz half expected it to have been just a dream, but she could tell something had changed. They were back on track, the touches and kisses less careful, more casual again. And after a while they had sex just like they used to, whenever and wherever they felt like it. She didn’t even think about her condition, her body or the scar that much anymore. The lightness came back and made it easier to breathe, to laugh, to love.
The next few weeks were uneventful in a good way. Both Jazz and Kuni had a lot of work but at home they were closer than ever. While Jazz was planning their wedding ceremony Kunihiko did his best to come home before midnight every day and they spend each evening some time together, talking about their day and the plans for the near future. It was perfect.
It was perfect until Jazz got an unexpected visitor one day. She was sitting in her office, working on some proposals, when her door opened and a woman sauntered in, followed by Izumi who seemed out of breath – probably from chasing after the visitor.
Jazz needed a moment to remember when and where she had seen that face before. Oh yes, snuggled close to her husband in that hotel lobby.
“Sorry Mrs. Aikawa, she just ignored me,” Izumi apologized but Jazz waved him off, noticing the way the eyes of the other woman narrowed at how Izumi addressed her.
“It’s okay, Izumi. Please hold my calls for now.”
The other woman smiled sweetly at the receptionist before she took a seat in front of Jazz’s desk without asking.
“Coffee, please. Black.” With that she waved Izumi off who glanced at Jazz who shook her head. No coffee for that behavior. Jazz waited until Izumi closed the door behind him before she went back to work, ignoring the woman in front of her.
“Hey! I came here to talk to you!”
“One moment, please.” Without glancing up Jazz raised a finger and continued scribbling notes on a piece of paper, circled a word and put the pen down.
“What can I do for you?” She smiled politely but her heart raced. Putting up this act was also meant to give her control over this situation, but it only partly worked.
“You can listen to me!” The other woman pouted, very impressively so. She was really pretty, in her early 20s.
“Well, you are the one barging in here without an appointment, at least let me finish what I was working on first before you demand my attention.” Jazz took her glass of water and sipped, seemingly calm.
“So you really are a money grubbing bitch,” the woman said, obviously pleased with her observation.
“No, I’m someone who has to run a business and my time is precious. So get to the point or get out.” She wouldn’t back down, not in her own office.
“You know who I am?” That was straight to the point and Jazz shrugged.
“Barely. I don’t know your name or what you’re doing, just that you are loosely acquainted with my husband.” She relished in the way the other woman reacted to that word. Husband.
“My name is Yui. Aikawa.” A triumphant smile appeared on her rivals face – was she even a rival? Jazz wasn’t sure yet but she didn’t like the way Yui said her last name.
“I would say ‘pleased to meet you’ but we both know that would be a lie. So, Yui, why are you here today.” Not raising to the bait Jazz made a mental note to ask about that last name later. Someone else preferably.
“I thought I’d do both of us a favor and end this charade already. Kunihiko is mine and you should know it.” She raised her chin lightly, silently challenging Jazz.
“Funny, last time I checked I was married to him. So, care to tell me how exactly he’s yours?”
The smile on Yui’s face only widened. “I’m the reason he’s ‘working late’. He will leave you for me soon and then I will be his wife.”
Jazz’s first instinct was to yell. To tell Yui to shut the fuck up and get her ass out of Jazz’s office, but that wouldn’t answer any question. So she sucked a harsh breath and let it out in a chuckle again.
“Dream on, kiddo. As long as your name’s not Aikawa-Mihachi fusion you’re definitely not the reason he’s at work for that long each day. Just because you got the support of his grandmother doesn’t mean you have the man himself, you know?” She leaned back in her chair and kept smiling, but it was strained, the corners of her mouth twitching lightly.
“That’s what he wants you to think. We thought it would be better to have everything hashed out before presenting you with a fait accompli. We are planning our wedding, a real ceremony with our families, not some secret stunt like you pulled it. It should have occurred to you already back then when he didn’t want anyone to know that he might not be serious about you.” There was pity in Yui’s voice and that was something Jazz just couldn’t take.
She clenched her fists, trying to suppress her anger. Her patience was already thin on good days but this now was really putting it to a test.
“Listen, Missie, I have no idea what you’re thinking, but I don’t believe you, okay? And honestly, I get a bit tired of this farce, so would you-“
“I’m pregnant. With Kunihiko’s baby.” Yui reached into her purse and handed Jazz an envelope. “Open it.”
With trembling fingers Jazz pulled an ultrasound image out of the envelope. It was mostly black and white but there was a small human being recognizable. A wave of nausea washed over her.
“For how long?”
“Six weeks already. We are seeing each other for longer of course.”
Six weeks. Jazz quickly counted back in her head. The day she had seen both of them in the hotel? Or at least around that time.
“Get out.” She didn’t look at Yui, simply spat the words out, forced them through the anger that welled up again.
“I just thought I’d give you a fair warning. Maybe you are honorable enough to simply let him go instead of making it hard for him and his new family.” Yui got up and smirked. “Keep the picture. As souvenir. It will be all that you will be having left of him.”
“You say you’re sleeping with MY husband but I am the one lacking honor here?” Jazz grumbled after Yui was gone, struggling to keep her breathing even, willing her emotions aside. This wasn’t the time for a tantrum. It was the time to act.
Quickly she grabbed her phone and called the only one who could help her now.
“Takao? Sorry to disturb you, but I need some advice. Legal advice. Say, what can you tell me about divorces?”
There had been a note with Yui’s phone number in the envelope, probably for when Jazz decided to cave in. Now she nervously called that number, still thinking about how to deal with all this. Takao had enlightened her in some points of divorce law and a quick internet research had answered some of her other questions so she was steeled for this encounter, not taken by surprise like the last time.
She knew exactly what she had to do and even if Jazz dreaded confrontations like that – with inevitable tears and screaming – she wouldn’t back down now. A clear cut, that’s what they needed now.
She pumped herself up mentally before she dialed the number.
“Yes?” Yui sounded very pleased so that Jazz gritted her teeth briefly, praying for countenance.
“I think we should talk.”
“Hm, yes, I think so, too. Are you still in your office?” There was a barely hidden triumph in Yui’s voice that riled Jazz up even further.
“No. And I don’t want you to come here again. I’d prefer somewhere else. Maybe a café or something.”
“A public place? For your safety or mine?” It was easy to see through Jazz’s suggestion but she didn’t care.
“How about that lobby? You know, the hotel where everything started?” Yui suggested, not without malice.
“Sure. In about an hour?” Jazz had to take back the reins or she wouldn’t survive that talk.
“I will be there.” With that Yui hung up, leaving Jazz with an unsettling feeling in her guts.
Of course Jazz was fashionably five minutes late when she walked into that lobby without hurry. Spotting Yui was easy, the younger woman was beaming with smug self-satisfaction, it was like a neon sign.
After a last deep breath Jazz walked right over, waved the waiter away who appeared immediately.
“No thanks, I won’t stay long.” She dropped her purse on the table and took her coat off.
“So, did you decide what to do?” Yui took a sip from her coffee cup and leaned back in her seat.
“I did. I had to make some calls but now I know what I have to do. The only thing. The right thing.”
Jazz reached into her purse and took out a stack of papers.
“I called Osanai – he said you have visited Kuni in the office a few times…”
“I did. Sorry, I don’t like the whole sneaking around behind the back of the wife thing, but Kunihiko was – not ready yet. To tell you.”
Nodding her head slowly Jazz forced herself to look at Yui. “And now he is?”
The younger woman had the decency to hesitate, avoiding eye contact. “Well, given the circumstances I figured I couldn’t wait any longer.”
“True. Given the circumstances… but you know what really bugs me? That he didn’t have the balls to tell me himself. That he had to send you, you of all people…” Even Jazz thought that her sigh was a bit exaggerated, but she couldn’t stop now.
“You know how he is, far too gentle and kind to do it on his own.” Yui’s eyes flitted over to the papers. “What’s that?”
“Divorce papers. I thought I better come prepared.” Takao had delivered quickly and Jazz was grateful for that.
“So you decided to actually let him go?”
This was it, the moment of truth.
“No. Actually those are my divorce papers from my first marriage. I just brought them so you could see a tiny detail. See those signatures down there? Where both spouses have to sign to legally end the marriage? That’s the point – we both would have to agree on that. And honestly? Neither I nor Kuni will do that.”
She exhaled deeply, now that she had said her piece she felt much better.
“But Kunihiko wants it! He’s going to have a family with me soon! With me, not with you!” Yui was already half out of her chair when Jazz raised a hand and motioned for her to sit down again.
“I won’t accept this until I hear it from Kuni directly. But of course we can ask him – and tell him that he’s going to be a father soon. Or have you told him that already?” With a smile Jazz waved towards the entrance where Kunihiko just arrived.
“I took the liberty to call him. After all this is about him, too.”
Yui paled when Kunihiko reached their table, frowning in confusion at the unexpected sight of those two women together.
“Jazz? What is going on here?”
She greeted him with a kiss before she quickly explained. “Yui here told me she was having an affair with you and that she’s pregnant now so you want to break up with me to be with her.” Jazz shot a sweet smile into Yui’s direction. “Did I sum that up okay?”
Kuni’s frown deepened. “Wait, what? That’s – Jazz, that’s not true! I never – I mean, you know I wouldn’t cheat on you!” He stared at Yui who tried to make herself smaller. “Why are you saying something like that?”
“Yes, Yui, why? I mean, slandering his name, calling him a cheater – that’s really low. Do you have an idea how much that could affect his business? Spreading lies and rumors like that?”
With a satisfied grin Jazz watched Yui squirm. She had always been a fan of honesty and right now she knew she had been right. Why should she rush off and do something stupid without at least listening to what Kunihiko had to say to these allegations? In what world did that work?
“Is that why you kept coming to my office?” By now Kunihiko seemed less confused, more angry. Between Jazz and Kuni Yui could barely get a word in edgewise.
“And what about that bullshit about you being pregnant from me? We never even kissed, let alone had sex! And then you run to my wife, trying to manipulate her? What kind of snake are you?” Now Kuni was in full swing and Jazz had to place a hand on his arm to remind him to stay calm. Other guests were already staring, not that Jazz minded. A public place also meant public humiliation, something Yui apparently hadn’t considered. At least not for herself.
“I just – I tried to – I thought…”
“No! You didn’t think at all, that’s the problem! That faked, set up date was one thing, but this? A full-fledged scheme to make us break up? That’s – god, that’s so incredibly stupid and low!”
“Kuni,” Jazz whispered, “take a deep breath. I know you’re angry-“
“Damn right, I am!” Jazz had never seen him that furious, not even during their worst fights, but she kept talking.
“– but I guess she gets it now.” With her gaze on Yui again Jazz’s tone got sharper. “And I guess she understands that meddling like a toddler in kindergarten won’t bring her closer to her goal. I don’t know how much of this little scheme actually comes from you or if that was someone else’s idea, but you better remember now: We won’t fall for that shit. Because we actually talk to each other. We know each other. And I trust him – unconditionally.”
As if to prove her point Kunihiko grabbed Jazz’s hand and squeezed it lightly. They had their fair share of jumping to conclusions and making mistakes, but in the end they were both willing to make it work, to fight for what they had. Jazz wouldn’t throw that away just because some girl came along with that kind of story.
“Oh, and I don’t know where you got that ultrasound image but you can have it back.”
Kunihiko blinked. “You even got an ultrasound image? Where the hell-?!”
“Internet.” Yui’s voice was only a whisper but Jazz had no sympathy with her. Not after Yui had pulled that stunt. Going along with that date Kunihiko’s grandmother had set up was one thing, but this? Yui had crossed a line that Jazz would never dare to even get close to. A girl needed at least a bit of class and pride after all.
“Next time – pay attention while researching. And now excuse me, my husband and I are leaving. I suggest you never show your face around us anymore. Never.”
Jazz felt sick. Physically sick. Kunihiko ranted on and on, only interrupted by apologies and affirmations of his love for her.
“It’s okay, love, I’m just – can you take me home? All this was a bit much…”
“Yes, of course. I still can’t believe it… do you think my grandmother is behind all that? Or did Yui come up with that nonsense on her own?” Kunihiko flagged down a cab and helped her into it.
“I have no idea. Maybe you should talk to your grandmother again. God knows I’m not keen on that conversation.” She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder.
“I will. Sorry, I never thought something like this could happen. And Yui just showed up out of the blue in your office?”
She nodded with a sigh. “Not even three hours ago. I had to find out some things on my own before I could tell you. Sorry, I should have called you first thing after she left. I just –“ Another sigh and Jazz squirmed in her seat. “I had to ask Takao if there’s a way for anyone to MAKE us get a divorce. He said that was only possible if one of us was declared incompetent so the marriage could get declared invalid after all.”
She grabbed his hand and kissed the palm. “Nothing could make me give you up. Not after all we had to go through to get here.”
“But she even came with an ultrasound image… I mean, every other woman would have gotten suspicious at that point. But you still trusted me?”
She swallowed. Obviously it was another moment of truth. Jazz had planned it differently but now as good as any other time.
“I trust you. You said you would be honest with me and I believe you. Besides… that picture she showed me. She said she was six weeks pregnant but that embryo in the picture was at least 12 weeks, maybe even later. And I figured if she lied to me about that, the rest might be a lie, too.”
She could feel him tensing up, his attention now focused on her.
“How do you know that? About the picture?”
She pressed his hand that she was still holding against her belly, tears pricking in her eyes.
“I know how a fetus with six weeks should look like – because I have an ultrasound image of one…”
He stared at her, speechless, mouth agape.
“Holy – are you – really? You are pregnant?” His eyes were shining and he laughed happily when she nodded, biting her bottom lip to keep her own grin in check.
“You are pregnant! We’re having a baby? I can’t – that’s the best news I ever got!” He cheered so loudly that the driver turned around, congratulated them when he realized what the fuss was about.
“Since when do you know? Why haven’t you told me already?” Kunihiko wasn’t angry, just eager to know everything there was to know.
“I only found out two days ago myself. Actually I haven’t expected it to happen at all so I didn’t realize that all my symptoms lately were – well, symptoms.” Jazz laughed with him, unable to keep her emotions from bubbling over. “The doctor confirmed my suspicion yesterday. I haven’t told anyone yet because – actually I can’t really believe it myself.”
She reached into her purse to show him the blurry black and white ultrasound picture. “That’s our baby.”
Almost reverently he took the picture, eyes shining wet with unshed tears. “Wow…” he whispered. “It’s perfect.”
There was a lot to do now, preparations had to be made and decisions. But in that cab on their way home, nothing else mattered than their little, growing family.