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Chapter Seventeen: The Truth about Sakura-hime:

After breakfast, Akemi took hold of my shoulder and took me to the backyard.

“Akemi?” I asked. “Where are you taking me?” My sister didn’t answer me until we went out the door. The gray clouds in the sky indicated that it might rain later. I looked around puzzled.

“Why are we out here?” I asked.

“Close the door,” she told me. I slid the glass door open.

“Come over here,” Akemi ordered me. I tilted my head at her.

“What is this?” I asked.

“Come over here,” my sister repeated. I lowered my shoulders and walked over beside her.

“Now what’s this about?” I asked.

“What do you think of Sakura-hime?” Akemi asked without looking at me. A puzzled look came over my face.

“What?” I asked.

“Answer the question,” she said in a sharp tone. I dug in my mind for the right answer.

“Well…” I began. “She’s kind of like Hitomi in a way.” I tried to see where this was going. “Why?” I asked.

“She’s a sick woman,” my sister answered abruptly. I still didn’t seem to get it.

“Sick? What do you mean? Is she dying?” I asked. Akemi shook her head.

“Not sick in that way,” she said. “Kind of not right in the head, do you know what I mean?”

“I guess…” I said. “Where is this going?” She rested her hand on my shoulder.

“Do you really like her?” she asked. I shook my head, still confused.

“Not really,” I answered. “Why are you asking me this?”

“This is going to take a little bit,” Akemi said. “Can you handle it?”

“Where are you going with this?” I asked.

“Can you handle it?!” my sister demanded. I put up my hands at the sound of her tone.

“Okay, okay, yes,” I answered. Akemi took in a deep breath.

“Good,” she said. She pulled me in closer. “Sakura-hime is… rather fragile.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you know why she’s here?”

“No…”

“She ran away from home.”

I gave her a strange look. “What?”

“Her father… he was such a lowlife creep. He didn’t see Sakura-hime so much as a daughter as he did with any other whore he paraded through the house.”

“Oh, awful.”

“Yeah. She couldn’t take it anymore so she ran away here.”

I made a face at my sister. “I don’t get it. Why are you telling me this?”

“Because she’s fragile,” Akemi answered.

“Okay, so?” I asked.

“You… how do I put this? You’re…” she began to say. I raised an eyebrow at her.

“What?” I asked.

“You’re kind of a damaged chick magnet,” she said.

“Damaged chick magnet?” I asked. Akemi gave me a small shrug.

“Face it,” she said. “Hitomi was a perfect example of damaged. When I saw her, I thought, ‘Yeah, she’s going to be suicidal in a few years.’” I frowned at her. Akemi waved me off when she noticed my face.

“Hey, that’s just what I thought,” she said. “Anyway, Sakura-hime just wants someone stable to latch onto. You are the type to be a shoulder to cry on.” I blinked at my sister.

“What are you saying?” I asked. Akemi turned around to face me with a serious look on her face.

“I’m saying, be careful around Sakura-hime,” she said. I watched as my sister turned and walked back into the house. I came away more confused than when we first came outside.

Okay then… I followed after Akemi back into the house.

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