Chapter Fifteen: Smooth Operator:

Tsuzuki turned to Airi. “I have just the place for dinner.” His date didn’t speak. He didn’t lose hope.

“Dinner will be on me, okay?” he said.

“Uh-huh,” she said in a flat tone. Tsuzuki sighed. This would take work. He wouldn’t give up though. Tsuzuki held out his hand to her. Airi gave him a flat look.

“Really?” she asked. Tsuzuki didn’t move. Airi rolled her eyes and took his hand. He led her further down the street.


They ended up at a small Italian restaurant. Airi started to perk up.

“Nice,” she said.

“Found it this morning,” Tsuzuki said. “Figured that we’d go for something small and intimate.”

“Heh,” Airi said. Tsuzuki walked up to the front door.

“After you,” he said. Airi walked up to the door.

“Thank you,” she said with clenched teeth. Tsuzuki followed her inside.

They got a table near the window. Tsuzuki got lost in the candlelight on her face. Still no smile though. He’d have to change that.

“We’re going to a wedding in December,” Tsuzuki said. “It’s in California.”

“Uh-huh,” Airi muttered. The shinigami tried to stay positive. Luckily, a waiter came by their table.

“Welcome to Little Italy tonight,” he greeted them. “My name is Sota and I will be your server tonight. What can I get you to drink?”

“Wine,” Airi said.

“Sparkling water, please,” Tsuzuki said. The kitsune gave him an odd look. The waiter took down their drink orders.

“And what kind of wine would you like tonight?” he asked. Airi looked over at Tsuzuki. He prayed she wouldn’t get anything expensive. The kitsune shrugged her shoulders.

“Just anything white,” she said. “I’m not particular.”

“Okay,” the waiter said. “I’ll be right back.” He turned and walked away. Tsuzuki breathed easily when he was gone. Airi raised an eyebrow.

“Oh come on,” she said. “I know don’t make that much money. I won’t run you broke.” The shinigami stared.

“Anyway, why sparkling water?” he asked. Tsuzuki cracked a smile.

“Secret,” he said. Airi wrinkled her nose.

“Uh-huh,” she said. Tsuzuki looked like a giddy schoolboy. She still couldn’t figure him out.


Dinner was nice. First came the antipasto.

“Have you had this before?” Tsuzuki asked.

“No,” Airi admitted. Her husband eyed her.

“Really?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Heh,” he said. The shinigami took another bite.

“This is good,” Tsuzuki said. Airi took another bite and nodded. Her eyes stayed on him. This man… He meant what he said about her. She was beautiful in his eyes. But why? Why her? Why did he find her beautiful? Why did he love her?

“I just do,” Tsuzuki said.

“Hm?” the kitsune asked.

“I love you because I do,” Tsuzuki said. “I don’t need a reason to.” Airi’s cheeks turned bright red.

“Shut up,” she whispered. The kitsune took another bite. Tsuzuki tried not to laugh. The main course them spaghetti. Airi put up her hand.

“Can I have some chopsticks?” she asked.

“Sure,” the waiter said. He turned and walked off. He came back with a pair of fresh chopsticks.

“Thank you,” the kitsune said. She broke apart the chopsticks and started eating.

“I’ve never tried it that way before,” Tsuzuki said. He put up his hand.

“Waiter!” he shouted. “I want a pair of chopsticks too.” The waiter came back with chopsticks for him.

“Thank you,” Tsuzuki said, bowing his head. He broke apart his chopsticks and resumed eating. Meanwhile, Airi couldn’t settle this feeling she felt through the whole night. Her chest felt so warm. The kitsune glanced down at her plate.

So stupid! Airi took another bite of her spaghetti. Tsuzuki smiled to himself the whole time.

Of course they had dessert. Coffee, chocolate, and peanut butter tiramisu.

“Yummy!” Tsuzuki said. He didn’t wait to dig in. Airi rolled her eyes.

“Idiot,” she muttered to herself. The kitsune took a bite of her cake.

“This is good,” she said to herself. Tsuzuki was too lost in his bliss to listen. Like he promised, he paid the bill. Tsuzuki wouldn’t let Airi take out her money.

“No, I’ve got it,” he said.

“Seriously?” Airi asked.

“Yes,” he said. “It’s on me, remember?” His wife rolled her eyes as she put her wallet back into her purse.

“Whatever,” she said under her breath.

“Thank you,” Tsuzuki said. He made the payment with cash.


Tsuzuki held Airi’s hand on the way home. Her cheeks were bright red. The kitsune’s heart pounded against her chest. She gulped as she remembered something.

Airi stopped in her tracks. Tsuzuki turned his head.

Airi-chan?” he asked. The kitsune lifted her head.

“Asato-kun,” she said.  She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. Tsuzuki slowly pulled her into his arms and kissed back. Not a smile tonight, but this would have to do for now.