Harley shifted the bag in her hand so she could put the key into the lock. She didn’t want to put down her other bags since she had them arranged in just the right way for one trip from the parking lot to her front door. The bag she held with two fingers while trying to unlock her door slipped from her tired fingers, and the contents scattered around the shared porch.
“Let me help you,” a man behind Harley said.
“No, no. That’s okay. I’ll get them as soon as I unlock the door. Thanks, anyway.” She kicked the DVDs closer to her door and hoped the man didn’t come over and help.
Her prayers weren’t answered. The man ignored her and picked up the DVDs. Harley groaned internally. Don’t look at them. Just put them back in the bag and hand them to me, she pleaded silently.
Again, no such luck. The man looked at each DVD in turn then at her. “Nice selection you got here.”
She unlocked her door, chucked in her bags, and turned to get her DVDs back. “Thanks for your help.” She reached for her bag.
He held it away from her, still browsing the contents. “It’s not every day you see a woman carrying around a bag full of Japanese porn.” He grinned at her. “Let me guess… you and your girlfriend like to watch while you’re going at it?”
“No!” She snatched the bag away, thankful he let it go without a fight. “First off, I’m not dating. Second, I’m not gay.”
“What’s that mean?”
His grin got bigger. “Nothing. Nothing.”
“I just like hentai. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“No, there isn’t. As a matter of fact, you’ve got some I haven’t seen before. Where did you get them?”
“Huh?” She shook her head at the subject change. “Uh… there’s a store an exit away from that big truck stop down the road. Thanks to me, the owner stocks every hentai title available. He didn’t think it would sell, but he can barely keep it on the shelves. Even some of the sicker stuff sells fast.”
Well, this was a normal conversation. Yup, she usually talked about animated porn on her front porch with hot men she’d just met. And man, was he hot.
He was an inch or two taller than she, which made him five-six at the most. The man looked regal. That was the only word for it. High cheekbones peeked out from beneath his long, black bangs, which framed his jaw while the back was cut short. His Asian-slanted, dark brown eyes looked like they didn’t miss a thing.
She wished he’d missed her latest hentai haul. That was completely embarrassing.
“You wouldn’t have a name or a business card or something, would you?” he asked.
“You’re joking, right?”
“About hentai? Never.”
“Koi! Where’d you go?” called a man from inside the apartment across from hers.
She looked behind Koi at the man who belonged to the voice.
Good Lord, gorgeous men are coming out of the woodwork.
He towered over her by a foot and looked like he could bench press a luxury car, but he wasn’t all muscle. It was the way he carried himself, like he could squish dump trucks with a look but didn’t out of principle.
He had his flame-red hair in a herringbone braid slung over his shoulder. Couple that with dreamy green eyes framed in Nordic good looks, and…
The redhead kissed the top of Koi’s head.
They were gay.
Harley reined in her libido. Of course. Two hot guys living together. She should have figured that out as soon as she saw tall-and-hunky in the doorway.
“Who’s your friend?” the redhead asked.
“I don’t know. We just met.”
“Harley,” she answered, holding out her hand. “I live in apartment A.”
“I’m Davis in apartment D,” the redhead said. He reached around Koi and shook her hand in a firm grip. “This is Koijirou. We moved in last week.”
“I remember. I saw the truck. So you’re Japanese?” Harley asked, shaking Koi’s hand as well.
Koi said with a smile, “That’s what my mother tells me.”
“Do you speak the language?”
“Not a word. But, I love hentai. About that address…?”
“Oh… uh…” She dug through the bag. The owner always stuck business cards in with purchases. She was never sure how to bring up the store in casual conversation so she could give away the card, but dropping her bag of porn on the front step had solved that problem. “Here ya go.”
“Thanks. I’ll definitely be paying this place a visit.”
Koi said, “Shut up. If I have to put up with your naughty military boys then you can put up with my animated porn.”
“Whatever,” Davis said. He turned and went back into the house. Over his shoulder, he said, “Nice meeting you, Harley.”
“You, too.” She gave a half-hearted wave. It would have been nicer meeting you if you were straight and single, she added to herself. She looked at Koi. “Boyfriend?”
“Wow. How long?”
“Don’t you mean how?”
“It’s legal in some places. This isn’t one of them, but I figured you got married there and moved here, right?”
He nodded. “It was a nice ceremony too. My mom cried — happily. She was sure I’d never find anyone. She thinks I’m a snob.”
“Nope. Just picky.”
“Ah. So how long you two been married?”
“Five years, going on six in four months.”
Harley laughed. Her? Married? She’d have to date first, which would involve not scaring off every guy she met with her weird personality and eclectic tastes, including and not limited to her fascination — or would that be fetish? — with hentai.
She said, “Not even close.”
“That explains the porn, then. Got the toys to go with it?”
“You’re awfully nosy for someone I’ve just met.”
“That’d be a yes.”
Two could play this game. “You’re the cute little one. Does that make you the bottom?”
He answered her with such honesty and without a hint of hesitation, indignation or embarrassment that she couldn’t come up with a reply.
“Well, it was nice meeting you, Harley. I need to get back to my food before Davis inhales it all.”
“Sure,” she said absently. She looked at her bag. The world wasn’t fair. He got the hot husband, and she got animated chicks with unreal hair colors and breasts that should make them incapable of standing up straight — or at all.
“Hey, Harley, you doing anything this weekend?”
She shook her head and met his gaze. “Nope. Just me and the hentai.”
“Mind if I join you? To watch hentai, I mean.”
“Why would you?”
“Based on our conversation, I assume you have a great stash.”
“I never know what to buy. The back of the box is no help, and I don’t like surprises in the form of bodily functions.” He shuddered. “I’d rather test drive some before I commit.”
“I can let you borrow them. It’s not a problem.”
“It’s no fun watching them alone, though. Davis won’t. He’s stuck in the cartoons-are-for-kids mindset.”
“People like that should be beat.”
Koi winked at her. “That’s later.”
She laughed. What the hell? Why not? She hadn’t had a hentai-watching partner in ages. “Sure, I don’t mind. What time is good for you? I’m home all day tomorrow and Sunday.”
“It’s pretty pathetic you would admit something like that.”
“I have no social life,” she said, bowing her head.
“Well, that all changes as of tomorrow night. Say, seven o’clock?”
“Works for me.”
“I’ll bring Chinese. You like Chinese?”
“See you then,” he said, then retreated into his apartment and shut the door.
Harley did likewise. She walked to the mirror in the hallway and stared at herself. “You need a touch-up,” she said, touching her kinky roots. Her black hair flowed bone-straight to her shoulder blades, which was contrary to the natural order of things, but she liked swinging her hair like in the commercials.
No matter what relaxer she used or what hair care products, she couldn’t get her hair to flow like the black models on television. But she didn’t have a horde of hairdressers following her around. It was all she could do to get to her beautician once a month.
Money and time weren’t a factor. She just didn’t have the patience. The same could be said for why she never visited a gym, not even the free one the apartment complex provided.
Thankfully, her job as a glorified interoffice gopher — what they called administrative assistant, but she called training for Olympic track and field while wearing sensible pumps — didn’t allow her to put on much weight. She still had the little rolls at her middle she wouldn’t mind getting rid of but unless they fell off by themselves, she’d have to keep them.
Her best feature, in her opinion, was her eyes. They were light brown with green flecks. Everyone always asked her if she wore contacts. She didn’t, and said so, but they didn’t believe her.
Most of the guys she dated said her best feature was her butt, since her breasts were small — B-cup. Her unknown father had blessed Harley with an ample derriere. She knew it was her father because her mother had no butt, and neither did any of the women in her mother’s family.
It added a level of difficulty to clothes shopping, but snagged her tons of appreciative looks. She’d caught a few from her boss and his personal secretary on the odd occasion, though neither man would admit it. It had even snagged her a boyfriend or two, but her personality quirks drove them away.
Not enough of a “sistah” for the black men and a little too weird for everyone else. It wasn’t her fault she grew up in an eclectic household.
She sighed again and looked away from the mirror. “And the highlight of your weekend is watching hentai with a hot Asian guy who won’t lay a hand on you because he’s gay. Joy.”
* * *
“I’m done talking about it!”
“Koijirou, get back here!”
Harley looked out of the peephole at Davis and Koi. They looked to be fighting about something. In the five weeks since meeting them, she’d never heard them say a cross word to each other. Now they were yelling.
Koi stalked off toward his car while Davis stood glaring after him.
Curiosity got the better of her. She opened the door and stepped out. “Everything okay, Davis?”
He turned his angry look on her but it was replaced quickly with surprise.
“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it,” he said in a rough voice then cleared his throat. He ruffled his loose hair. “Aren’t you cold in that get-up? It’s seventy degrees out here.”
Harley looked at her short, cut-off jeans and tank top then back to Davis. “Temperate is my kind of weather. I’m loving this. I’ve got all my windows open.” She looked at the empty spot where Koi’s car used to be. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”
“It’s fine. Marital spat. Mountains and molehills and that sort of thing. He’s just gone to cool off and left me to do the same. Sometimes we have to do that or we start fighting.”
“So I heard.”
“That was yelling. I mean fighting.”
“That’s not fair to Koi.”
“Don’t let Koi’s skinny physique fool you. He may not know much about his heritage but he definitely fits into the Asian martial arts stereotype. It’s how we met, actually.”
“He was the student teacher. Look, Harley, sorry to cut this short but –”
“Oh, no, that’s fine. I’m sorry. I just wanted to make sure everything was okay.”
Davis looked her up and down then said, “No, you wanted to make sure my tiff with Koi didn’t make him forget your hentai date tonight.”
She heard the slight hint of annoyance in his voice. Was that the reason for their fight? She’d told Koi to invite Davis to hentai night several times, but Koi always made some excuse why Davis wouldn’t or couldn’t show.
Saturday was her favorite day of the week now. She and Koi would stay up until sunrise watching hentai. After five weeks, they planned ahead for the late night/early morning, and Davis didn’t bother them. But did he want to?
“Davis…” she trailed off, unsure how to proceed.
“I’ve told Koi to invite you to hentai night, but I don’t know if he has. You’re welcome to join us.” She hazarded a smile. “So long as you two don’t go at it on my living room carpet.”
“Not interested.” He walked toward his apartment.
“Not my thing. See ya, Harley.” He closed the door before she could say more.
Harley stood staring at it. She’d have a talk with Koi when he came over that night. If she was the reason for their fight, she wanted to make it right.
* * *
Koi laughed at her when she told him about the incident and her thoughts on the matter.
“It’s not funny, Koi. I don’t want to get in between you and Davis.” She stopped, thought about her words, then said, “Actually, I wouldn’t mind being between you and Davis — there’s a fun mental image. But, that aside, we can’t keep doing hentai night if it’s making you and Davis fight.”
“If he told you that’s what the fight was about then he lied.”
“He didn’t say it exactly, but his manner made it seem like it.”
Koi waved off her worry. “That’s not it. He’s not jealous about hentai night. He still thinks it’s cartoons.”
“We should drag him over here just to disillusion him, then.”
“Not going to happen, and if you force him it’ll just turn into another fight.”
She sat back with a pout.
Koi shifted, then shifted again. He set aside his tray and reached behind him. “What is this I’m sitting on?” He showed the small disturbance to her.
“The other half of my zill,” she said happily as she took it from him. “Thanks for finding it. I’ve been looking everywhere for it.”
“Thank my back. It poked me when I sat down. Now what is it?”
“A zill. You know the tiny cymbals a belly dancer attaches to her fingers? That thing.”
“You know how to belly dance?”
“I took classes in high school and then helped teach an aerobics course in college with my friend Celeste. Good money. She still teaches, but the dance studio where she works is thinking about cutting her program because of the low demand for it. I wish I could help her out.”
Koi made a thinking noise as he replaced his tray on his lap. “My dojo master wants to entice women into joining but most he’s spoken to aren’t interested in learning how to fight. He heard some of them complaining about the cancelled dance classes at the local gym and hit on the idea of offering a dance class of some sort. If you want, I could put in a good word for your friend.”
“Oh, that’s great! Celeste will be ecstatic.”
“He’s planning an exhibition match for the parents to come watch their kids Saturday after next. Before the matches start, you or your friend could dance.”
“We both can.” She held up one finger. “On one condition.”
“Davis has to do hentai night next Saturday.”
“I already told you he won’t –”
“Those are my terms.”
“What happened to helping out your friend?”
She set her food aside and went to the kitchen for a pen and paper. After locating her cell phone, she scribbled Celeste’s number and handed it to Koi. “There you go.”
“Celeste’s number. Give her a call and let her know I sent you.”
Koi shook his head. “You’re cold, you know that? Fine. I will get him here. But you better live up to your side.” He tucked the number in his pocket with a thoughtful look. “It’s actually not such a bad idea.”
Her joking manner faded, and she turned serious. “So, you two aren’t fighting anymore, right?”
“No.” He took a few bites of his lo mein noodles. “It resolved itself by the time I got home with the food. He’s over it.”
“So he started it?”
“He started it thinking I had already started it, but it was a misunderstanding. Stop worrying about it.”
“Put on the next movie, already.”
Harley smiled at the gruff command but did as he said. That was a load off of her mind. She hoped introducing Davis to hentai would help. Hopefully he’d like it enough to become a member of their little Saturday night parties. Having two good-looking men to stare at from the comfort of her living room wouldn’t be so bad, either.
“Is there a reason you’re staring at me instead of the TV?”
“You’re cute,” she said with a smile.
“I’m trying to figure you out.”
“What’s to figure out?”
“Why do you like hentai? I’ve been wondering that all this time. It’s mostly naked women with very few penis shots.”
Koi smirked at her. “I could toss your question right back at you. Or are you still a little confused about your sexuality?”
“Hardly. I like to imagine myself in place of the female lead — without the too-stupid-to-live factor. It’s great fodder for those lonely times. Now stop dodging and answer my question. What’s the deal?”
“I like sex, having and watching. That said, live action porn doesn’t interest me. I can’t watch it without laughing my ass off, but animated porn holds my interest and even gets me a little excited.”
“Live action does nothing for me either, but I like the soft cores that come on the premium channels early morning. The plots are fun even if the sex isn’t real.”
“You like watching porn and aren’t embarrassed to admit it. Why are you single? When I asked if you were married the day we met, you laughed like that was the most ridiculous question you’d ever heard.”
“It was.” She shrugged and munched on her egg roll.
“Is there a story behind that answer?”
She paused the movie since Koi wanted to talk. “I tried dating a guy I met at an anime convention. You know, date someone with interests similar to mine and all that. We hit it off, but he had a dead end job and lived in his mother’s basement. Talk about stereotypical geek.”
“That’s not a reason to break up, though. Those things are changeable.”
“If you want to change them, yes. But, he didn’t see a problem with living rent-free from paycheck to paycheck. He also couldn’t understand why I didn’t like staying over at his place. When I visited, his mother checked on us every fifteen minutes or so. Can you believe that? Like I was going to hurt her thirty-year-old baby boy or something.” She rolled her eyes. “I didn’t want to come in between the little mother-son bonding thing they had so I broke it off.”
She shrugged. “My looks tend to snag me guys who don’t mesh with my personality. Once they get to know me, they say I’m too childish because I like cartoons and anime and read comics.” She sighed.
“Liking animation and comics isn’t childish.”
“I know that.”
“The men who blew you off were idiots. They weren’t right for you if they got hung up on something so inconsequential.”
She debated mentioning the other thing that hung up most of her ex-boyfriends. “I think the biggest turn off was the lack of sex.”
“Shame on you for not putting out.”
“I’m sorry I’m not a slut.” She stopped and then shook her head. “Actually, I am sorry I’m not a slut, damn it. But, I don’t want to have a love life based on quick flings that go south when guys find out about my hobbies and interests. It’s depressing.” With a whole body shake, she heaved a huge sigh and then squared her shoulders. “Enough about my crappy love life. What should we watch next? Sex ninjas or gang banging magical girls?”