The Most Beautiful Day of My Life - Chapter 3: Afternoon

Mick watched dispassionately as his best friend beat the limo driver into a bloody pulp. His eyebrow arched, he snorted as the poor schmuck lost another tooth.

Ryo just kept pummeling at the guy’s face, sitting heavily on his chest. “Give me the name of the ship, you fucking son of a bitch!” he snarled, blood oozing over his knuckles.

Kato, the limo driver, stared, frightened shitless, at the enraged sweeper through swollen eyes. Every bone in his battered body hurt and he knew for certain at least two ribs were broken where Saeba Ryo had pressed on his chest with his heavily booted foot. Kato knew of City Hunter’s reputation, but he never imagined the infamous sweeper could be such a bloodthirsty beast. There was only one emotion on the sweeper’s darkened face, burning fiery red in his eyes. Rage. Blind, uncompromising rage. And all because of a woman. It was funny, really—in a morbid kind of way—Kato reflected as he felt his cheekbone crack.

“It happens to the best of ‘em,” he mumbled through split lips.

Saeba’s friend, the blond avenging angel of death, lifted a dispassionate brow. “Oh, look, Ryo, he can still speak,” he sneered.

Ryo’s fingers squeezed tightly around Kato’s throat, making him gag and roll his eyes backwards. “Then you won’t have any problems telling me the name of the ship, will you, mate?” He smiled viciously.

Kato managed to swallow. His eyes widened. He was petrified as he stared into the midnight depths of the sweeper’s merciless eyes. It was like looking at death. He was afraid he wouldn’t survive even after telling him everything he knew. The beast choking him smelled blood and it didn’t look ready to back out of its bloodlust.

“Ryo.” Mick nudged him with his knee. “You look a bit tired. Do you want me to take over for a jiffy?” He smiled humorlessly as he slipped on his brass-knuckles.

Kato swallowed again, his heart racing. Saeba Ryo scared him with his rage, but Mick Angel was even worse. There were absolutely no emotions on his face. He just stared at him coldly, detachedly. He didn’t look human. There was no chance in hell he was going to let Angel get his hand on him.

“V-ven-vendetta.”

Ryo cocked his head. “What was that?”

“The name of the ship.” Kato hoarsely whispered. “It’s Vendetta.”

“How fucking appropriate,” Mick murmured, taking a step back.

“Yeah.” Ryo’s gaze turned blank as he pulled the Python out of its holster, pressing it against Kato’s temple. “Say good-bye.”

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“Damn!”

Sayuri slowly opened her eyes, watching her younger sister swearing as she fumbled with the hem of her long dress. “What are you doing?”

Kaori looked up and grinned, her left cheek glowing bright red where Ichiro had struck her. “Making myself comfortable.” She hitched her skirt higher up, revealing shapely calves.

“By showing your legs?”

Kaori sighed, rolling her eyes. “I can’t kick their butts with this skirt tangling around my ankles, can I?”

“I still think we should wait for Saeba.”

“My future hubby can just sit home and wait for me. This time he ain’t playing the knight in shining armor.” Kaori tied the silky fabric around her waist, letting it reach the tops of her knees. “This thing is about us. I don’t want him involved. I’ll deal with this psycho myself.”

Sayuri lifted herself on wobbly legs. “He’s going to kill you.”

“Who?” Kaori lifted her eyebrow. “You have to be more specific, sis.”

Sayuri got it and smiled. “The psycho.”

“Ryo is a little bit psychotic sometimes, Say.”

“I meant Yurinoki-s—”

Kaori cleared her throat, her eyes narrowing.

“Ichiro.”

The younger sister smiled evilly. “I would like to see him try.”

The overhead lights snapped to life, blinding the two.

“Not only will I try, bitch,” the hoarse voice laughed from the iron door. “I will succeed. Your sister will be first, though. I will immensely enjoy seeing you suffer.” He grinned. “If Saeba happens to come by, I might kill him, too. You know, as icing on the cake and all.” His gaze flew over her. “Nice legs. I hope you’re not trying to seduce me with such a juvenile trick. It won’t work.”

“You’re sick, Ichiro-chan,” she taunted, smiling as she saw his face turn into a mask of fury.

As he descended on her, she lifted her knee, letting it collide with his groin. He didn’t even flinch. Her eyes flew wide. What is this guy on? Her head snapped to the side as his fist made a brutal impact with her jaw. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth and her head span. Dizzily slipping to the floor, she felt his foot against her stomach.

“You. Will. Address. Me. With. Respect. Bitch!” Each word was accompanied by a merciless kick against her midsection.

Kaori rolled into a tight, protective ball, trying not to give him the satisfaction to see her vomit. Her entire body protested at the abuse. Groaning internally, she closed her eyes, finding the inner pool like Ryo taught her to do.

“Breathe deeply, Kaori, and concentrate.” She could hear his deep voice as she reached her inner sanctum, trying to forget the pain that assaulted her senses. “You have to keep a tight rein on your emotions, baby. They could get you killed in the heat of battle. Never let them control you.” And still he went crazy with worry whenever she was in trouble. Hell, even a chipped fingernail sent him over the edge lately.

Ichiro looked at the woman curled up at his feet with blank eyes. This was the offspring of the man who killed his father. He was displeased for not feeling the satisfaction he should, seeing her on the ground, her eyes squeezed shut in pain. Makimura Kaori. The younger of the two sisters. She was tenacious, he had to give her that. The way she defied him with every breath she took. Her eyes snapping fire, each word a poisonous dart aimed at his heart.

He knew his father must have been turning in his grave, but he couldn’t shake the envy he felt for Saeba for claiming this woman. She was full of life. He’s been following her for weeks, before she was finally alone and during those excruciatingly long weeks, he came to know her...and admire her. He viciously kicked her again. Damn the bitch! He didn’t want to admire her. He wanted to hate her like he hated her father, like he hated her older sister—that pale, spineless shadow who was at the moment cowering in the corner, not moving a sole muscle to help the woman at his feet.

He felt like laughing demonically. If the situation were reversed, Kaori undoubtedly would have had his guts for garters by now. He kicked her in the stomach again for good measure. She didn’t even whimper. He admired her even more for that. And he hated her for liking her. The problem was, he couldn’t help himself. Observing her from afar, he came to like—he wanted to scream at the thought—the radiance of her smile whenever she looked up at that Saeba prick, the sound of her laughter, the way the sun caught in her red-brown tresses, making them burn...Disgusted with himself and these ‘mushy’ feelings she stirred up in him, he kicked her one last time, spat at her, and stomped out of the iron chamber.

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“No freaking way!”

Umibozu sighed, looking sheepishly at his friends. “Miki, would you please stop straining yourself? You’re still too weak.”

His wife, pale as the sheets enveloping her slender body, glared at him. “Kaori is my friend, too! There’s no chance I’m letting you go without me.”

“Want it or not, here you stay!” her husband bit out.
“You’ll have to kill me first!”

“They almost succeeded!” Umibozu thundered.

Miki quickly sat up, ignoring the wrenching pain in her head. “‘Almost’ being the operative word here. Falcon, some bastards shot at me on my wedding day and still I walk this Earth. You seriously don’t believe a few whiffs of gas are going to stop me!”

“Miki—”

“Don’t ‘Miki’ me! I’m not staying in bed while my friend is in danger. You need me!”

Ryo decided it was time to give a helping hand. “Miki, actually we can manage pretty well without you. Umi-chan is right, it was too close for comfort—” He snapped his mouth shut as she turned the full force of her incensed stare at him.

“Men! What is it with you and women being the weaker sex!? You’re all impossible!” Her eyes snapped like an inferno as she looked at the three males at the foot of her bed.

Saeko’s lips twitched. Miki and Kaori were best friends indeed. Only Kaori showed her point by keeping her hammer handy. “Gentlemen,” she chided. “Miki is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. She must be feeling much better if she insists on tagging along.”

“Thanks, Saeko.”

“You’re welcome.”

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Kaori’s muscles protested and she groaned. She could actually see the Milky Way in the back of her eyelids. Thank God, she only had a cup of coffee for breakfast. It wouldn’t do blowing chow all over her previously snowy white, now stained, rusty-brown dress. Her left shoulder, left bare by the strapless bodice of her gown, had gone numb after five minutes of laying on the cold iron floor.

Sayuri crept on all fours closer to her sister. Blinded by tears, she stroked her hair. “I’m so sorry, Kaori, please forgive me.”

Kaori slowly lifted herself from the floor, looking at her sister. “What is there to forgive?”

“I just sat there.” Sayuri’s lower lip quivered and her eyes misted.

Kaori rubbed her abused stomach, giving her sister a slightly pained smile. “You did the right thing, Say. There’s no point in both of us getting thrashed.”

“But—”

“No buts! I’ll be fine, don’t worry.” Kaori tried to stand up, but a fit of nausea made her drop back down. She smiled sheepishly, trying to keep the bile from rising. “Just give me a minute, sis.” Damn, he’s strong.

“Are you going to barf?”

“You wish.” Kaori rubbed her stomach again. “There’s nothing worth throwing up in here.”

“You haven’t eaten anything?”

“Nerves.” Kaori slowly climbed to her feet. “Ugh. I feel like I’ve been run over by a tank. That’s one psychotic mother f—” Kaori delicately cleared her throat. “Excuse me.”

“You can call him whatever you want, Kaori.” Sayuri’s skin crawled just thinking of their captor.

Kaori stretched her arms, inclining her head to all sides, making her neck crack. “All righty! No broken bones, no internal bleeding—at least I hope so, damn he has a big foot. Ouch!” She gave a quick inspection to their surroundings. A faint outline of light caught her eye. “Bastard!”

“Huh?” Her sister blinked.

“We appear to have a window.” Wiping her hands against her skirt, Kaori stood on tiptoes, feeling for the ledge with the tips of her fingers. “Too high. Give me a hand with that box over there, Say.”

The two women spent the next half hour hauling a large wooden case across their cell, heaving and sweating.

“Damn, this is one heavy SOB.” Kaori panted, hitching her bodice back into place. “Where is Ryo when you need him?! He would just spit on the floor and kicked this godforsaken thing under the window.”

Sayuri straightened, tying her long, shaggy mane into a knot. “I told you to wait for him.”

Kaori just arched an eyebrow. “Hah!”

“Okay, why don’t you use one of your hammers?”

“Have none.”

Sayuri fell on her face, a cute little black crow bouncing off her head.

“What?” Kaori blinked, helping her sister back up.

Sayuri grabbed her bare shoulders, shaking her lightly. “No hammers?! What’s gotten into you?!”

Kaori spread her arms out. “It’s not like they go with the dress.” After a moment of stunned silence by her sister, she hung her head. “Fine. I promised to Ryo he wouldn’t have to live this day in fear. No hammers. Who knew?”

“Great.” Sayuri hunched over the box again. “Now let’s move this sucker.”



Another half hour later, Kaori finally plucked the iron plate off the window with a satisfied grunt. “Grab the other end, Sayuri. Careful...Easy. If this thing falls, it’s going to wake up the dead.”

“What do you see?”

Kaori peered over the ledge. “The ocean.”

Sayuri hopped onto the box beside her. “And what else?”

“The ocean.”

Sayuri peeked out. “Jeez, we’re in the middle of nowhere.”

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Miki gulped down another aspirin and shoved her empty glass under her husband’s nose. “Refill!”

Umibozu rolled his eyes and, sighing, walked to the kitchen.

“Howdy, Umi-chan.” Ryo sat backwards on a chair, working his way down the beer bottle.

Mick was perched on the counter, doing pretty much the same. “Tough gig, huh?” He nodded towards the glass, firmly clasped in Umibozu’s fingers.

“She’s cranky as hell.”

Mick nodded. “Women tend to be like that from time to time.”

“Yeah, well.” Umibozu poured the water. “Cranky or not, she’s still my wife.”

“At least you have one,” Ryo murmured darkly, his face drawn.

Umibozu clasped his shoulder. “We’ll get her out of it, Ryo.”

Ryo smiled up at him. “Thanks, Um—”

Falcon!” The screech rattled the windows.

“Coming!” The giant left the kitchen, shoulder sagging, his two friends guffawing after him.

Miki was tapping her foot, waiting for him, Kazue keeping her company. “What kept you?” she asked, draining the glass in two gulps.

He never had time to answer, for the door burst open, and Saeko rushed in. “Coast Guard spotted the Vendetta!”

Ryo and Mick were out of the kitchen in a heartbeat.

“A police chopper is waiting down at the station.” She checked her gun. “We’re landing on a drilling platform. The Coast Guard is picking us up from there. Is everybody ready?”

Ryo’s fingers ran smoothly over the Python. Oh, he was ready. Ready to gut whomever stole Kaori from him.

Kazue helped Miki to her feet. “Ready!”

Mick did a double take. “No way, you’re going.”

“If Miki’s in, I’m tagging along, too.” She narrowed her eyes. “There’s no way you’re going to stop me, Mick Angel.”

“Wanna bet?”



Ten minutes later, they were boarding the chopper, with Kazue left pouting on the helipad.

As the helicopter took flight over Tokyo skyscrapers, Ryo watched the sun slowly set towards the horizon. Kaori, I’m coming!

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“Ryo,” Kaori murmured, watching the sun dip into the ocean. “I wish you could see this.”

Sayuri leaned her nose against the ledge. “Wow! This is what they call nature’s masterpiece.”

“Yeah,” Kaori smiled sadly. “Something you watch in the arms of a lover, wishing for happily ever after...” Ryo, I hope you know how much I love you.

Sayuri turned her head, noticing Kaori’s melancholic gaze. “We’re not going to make it, are we?”

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