Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Alone on his mountain, the kitsune Tadashi only wishes to be left in peace so he can mourn his lost lover and take care of his temple. Unfortunately, several townsmen who have no idea of Tadashi’s true nature have different plans for the "Jap on the mountain" and his land. When they push the kitsune too far, he reacts with horrific violence, leaving tragedy in his wake. Broken and terrified of himself, Tadashi represses his natural drives and shuts himself off from the world.
The intrusion of a lost little girl and her persistent veterinarian uncle, Berg, stumbling into Tadashi’s life, though, and turn his carefully ordered world upside-down. The reluctant hero needs to decide whether he is truly happier alone or whether he can once again embrace a truth he used to know, that life is for the living.
Please Note: This is a re-edited, second edition with 4 illustrations. No changes have been made to the story.
There will be B&W and Color print editions released.
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Tropes: Fairy Tales Revisited, Forbidden Love, Friends to Lovers, Coming Out / Closeted, Interracial Relationship
Word Count: 62000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Spring was alive and well on the mountain. Green buds covered the treetops, bushes bounced with the breeze, tulips and daffodils poked through the ground, and the smallest of forest creatures skittered about looking for their treasures from the previous summer and fall. Tadashi smiled as a familiar young squirrel scampered around his feet, chirping and squeaking at him furiously.
"I didn't take your nuts," chastised Tadashi, switching his broom to one hand. "You've forgotten where you've put them. Or they've decided to become wonderful new additions to the forest in the form of trees."
The squirrel stopped its angry barrage of noises and looked up.
"I'm telling the truth, Kou," said Tadashi. "I haven't hidden your nuts."
Kou chirped once.READ MORE
"Look over there, by the arches." Tadashi pointed at the gate. "Why do you think a Black Oak is sprouting? I didn't plant it there."
The squirrel's nose twitched. He stared at the seedling then took off in the opposite direction for his oak by the temple.
"Aren't you even going to say you're sorry?" called Tadashi, shaking his head.
Kou climbed up his tree and went straight into his nest.
Tadashi chuckled and went back to his sweeping. "Little pest."
He didn't mind the forgetful little squirrel. The temple would seem big and empty without him. Company, in the form of the squirrel, was a welcome reprieve from his duties. Tadashi would have to remember to procure some of Kou's favorite treats. He had some hidden away. The spring was always a rough time of year for the small forest mammals like Kou, the poor squirrel could use a break.
Though he wasn't so small anymore. Kou had just turned a year at the end of April. It felt like just a moment ago that Tadashi had been up nursing Kou back to health after his mother abandoned the litter early. Kou had been the only one to survive. He'd been a fighter and would continue to thrive, though Kou had to be hungry. The winter had been an unusual one, the cold extreme even for the mountain, and food was hard to come by at the moment.
Definitely not an easy time for the animals, their stomachs empty, and they were looking for a mate. Tadashi stopped sweeping the grounds and searched for the squirrel. No wonder Kou was so upset. He must be preparing to lure a female. Were there any around? Tadashi scanned the trees and the forest floor beyond the gates. He couldn't see them, but he could smell them. Quite a few in fact. All of them were scurrying about looking for food.
Kou knew what he was doing, wanting his nuts. Sneaky devil. But then, Tadashi raised him. He only had himself to blame for the squirrel's cheeky behavior and slight, oh, awareness.
A squirrel raised by a kitsune. He must be getting lonely. Him, a messenger of the god Inari, taking in such a small pest. What is the world coming to?
Tadashi picked up his broom and headed back toward the small building next to the temple. At the same time, Kou popped back out of his nest, pinecone securely between his teeth. The little pest did have food. Kou ran by, dragging the pinecone with him.
"Be careful once you pass the gates," warned Tadashi. "It's not as easy to protect you once you leave the shrine."
Kou stopped and tilted his head, observing Tadashi.
"Here at the shrine, my powers protect you," said Tadashi. "Step off the sacred grounds, only my luck travels with you."
It wasn't the good kind though. Hadn't been for years, not since the Japanese engaged the Americans in the World War seven years ago. But Kou didn't need to know that. His happy aura was one of Tadashi's only lights. He didn't want to damper it.
"Go, have fun."
Kou chirped and ran off, scampering away with a sense of purpose.
Tadashi faced the temple and bowed, asking a favor from his god, Inari. "I know you and I haven't been on the best of terms, but please, protect Kou."
Tadashi straightened then resumed his course to the small hut by the temple, ignoring the larger house behind the shrine. He ducked into the doorway and took several long steps to the dresser by his bed. Tadashi rummaged around the top of it. He had kept a stash of Kou's favorite nuts for an occasion like this one… somewhere. A small, brightly colored cloth bag finally peeked out from under a pair of socks.
He had used a little of his magic on the bag so it preserved and kept the nuts fresh. Tadashi grabbed the sack and stepped back. He gently placed it on the floor so he could grab it once he had shifted. Tadashi quickly pulled off his clothes, letting them drop to the floor.
Funny thing about real clothes, they wouldn't just disappear like the ones that formed when he used his magic. Getting tangled in real clothes was cumbersome and annoying. So was having to strip naked to shift.COLLAPSE