Greetings book lovers!
Today I want to share with you Yakuza by Lilia Blanc! This book was published by my company, Deep Desires Press. I loooove this book, but because of its sad ending, it’s been getting some rough love.
Take a look below, and keep in mind the sad ending (which is redeemed in the forthcoming sequel), and then click on through to get your copy!
The people of Tawano are used to the yakuza. They know to avoid them, to get off the streets when fights are brewing. At least, most of them do.
When college student Hiroshi makes a fatal mistake, and finds himself held at knifepoint, there’s only one person who can help him: Kazuo, the yakuza who controls Tawano, and the one who started the fight in the first place.
They’re completely different, and as their paths keep crossing, neither of them can understand the other—but it’s clear they’ll have to, or the dangers that follow Kazuo could claim more than just the lives of a few city-folk.
My right-hand man shook his head. Masao looked over at me from where he stood leaning against the wall of my elaborate office, arms crossed and eyes narrowed. He was disappointed, and most likely in himself. Masao always prided himself in getting the things I asked for without delay or hassle. But, I suppose there were some things that even the ex-assassin couldn’t do. I frowned as I looked away from his piercing hazel stare to the dark wood of my desk.
“Bastards,” I hissed to myself. I leaned back in the large leather chair and eyed the room we were in while I listened. A bookshelf to my right held odds and ends from my father, an old collection I dare not part with. To my left a printer was set up on a separate desk. My computer was to the left on my desk and a black jar holding a handful of pens sat next to it.
“They hide well,” Masao commented. He shoved off the wall and stepped further into the room. He still wore the full black clothing he’d gone out in the night before. I could see the handles of many knives clinging to the vest he wore. Masao sat down, the leather chair he’d chosen creaking as he sank in it and crossed one leg over the other. He tilted his head and gave a heavy sigh. The sway of the single earring in his right ear marked him as my right hand. “Too well and it reminds me of a certain someone we used to know a long time ago,” he added with an irritated groan.
I was afraid of that. I hadn’t wanted to hear it, yet it was being spoken in my private office in Kiyto. “No, that can’t be. I shot him. Watched the ocean wash that bastard away.”
“Ghosts don’t always disappear, Kazuo. Sometimes they have accomplices.”
“Then find this ‘accomplice’!” I snapped at him and he stiffened in the chair briefly. I sighed, regretting losing my temper with him. Masao was the best of my men, I knew he was doing everything in his power to accomplish the order I’d given him.
“I’m doing what I can to do that for you. We’ll find him. Soon.” The sharp edge to his voice added to the determination painted on his face.
“I hope you’re right about that. If I begin to lose too much money, Tawano is going to fall into a depression. Much like the one I fought so hard to bring it out of,” I answered him in a softer tone, hoping to make up for yelling at him.
“We know that. It’s why we’re doing everything we can to figure it out. Trust us, Kazuo. If not your men, then trust me in the least.”
“I do trust you.”
Masao sighed and leaned forward. “Sometimes I wonder if you really do.”
I frowned at him. “Of everyone here who I know would put their life in danger for me, I trust you the most. I know you’ll find this person, whoever they are. And when you do, we’ll deal with them as we’ve dealt with others before.”
Masao nodded and stood up. He gave me a deep bow before he turned to leave the private office. “I’ll give you their head on a silver platter if you wish.”
The door closed, leaving me to brew over my thoughts in silence. Masao would undoubtedly find them; the source of the leak. The one who was channeling a fair amount of money out of Tawano and into an unknown account. I’d been watching the money filter its way toward a number I didn’t recognize for a week now and we weren’t any closer to finding the culprit than we had been at the beginning of the investigation. Not even the police who worked for me could find the source. It was driving me mad.
• • •
Despite having told Masao that I trusted him, it was difficult to sit and just wait. I had to do something, anything. So I left Kiyto and took the hour drive into Tawano city. The downtown area was rather nice to cruise around once I got there. Bustling with people, clean streets, and holding the lowest crime rate; I was proud of my city. And I was determined to keep things the way they were in Tawano. I drove with no particular destination in mind. As I took turn after turn, watching the shops and the people who went about their daily lives, my mind wandered. It had been a handful of years since the streets had seen any dark horrors. In the clutches of a man who was bound and determined to run it to the ground, Tawano had once been the center of all kinds of crime. The death toll was one of the highest in the world and, in addition to that, the city had also been labeled the worst to even dare visit.
It took everything I had to overthrow the asshole who had nearly destroyed it all. Including me. If not for certain events, I was certain I’d have had a hand in the destruction too. If only … Izuya.I clenched the wheel a little too tightly, my knuckles turning white as I waited for the light ahead of me to switch to green. How long had it been? Six … seven years? I couldn’t recall. It wasn’t as if that part of my life was the most vibrant either. The only light that had been in my life at the time was Izuya.
When he found me in the dark alley, rain was pouring down on me. Three men dead because of the hit ordered on them and their blood soaking my clothes. Izuya had come out of nowhere. Instead of being afraid of me, he held his umbrella out over me, covering my body from the rain. Damn his light. His pretty smile. The overly large sweatshirt he wore that his slender fingers barely peeked out of.
A horn blared behind me and I started in the seat. The light was green and for how long I didn’t know because I had been daydreaming. I gunned it, tearing through the intersection while I frowned and glared in my rearview mirror. As if it were the man’s fault I hadn’t been paying attention. After a moment, I sighed and relaxed, slowing down as I cruised the streets. I couldn’t let myself get lost in old times. It wasn’t good for me, or any of the men that worked for me either.
They needed someone strong and unwavering. If I showed any of the opposite, I would be killed. Even Masao wouldn’t be able to stop it. We had far too many enemies. Tawano was a port city, perfect for trade. The ideal hot spot for any yakuza to take control of. And one that I had no intention of giving up. Some might have called me yakuza as well, but I wasn’t the kind of businessman who would destroy his place of operations. I was smarter than that.
And as my thoughts wandered yet again, I passed by another busy section of town. The university was blooming with ripe students. The wealth of the area was easy to see, as was the entirety of my city. Yet here, as I slowly rolled past the park, coffee shop, and library, my heart clenched so hard that I came to a hard stop without realizing it.
“Izuya…” I whispered his name, yet even as I did so I knew it couldn’t be right. It wasn’t right because I knew better. There was no possible way it was him. Yet, the young brunette looked exactly like him. Even his smile. I trembled as I watched the college student talk with his friend as they passed the university, either on their way home or to whatever part time job they held. It took everything I had not to get out of the car and call to him.
I wrenched my gaze away and glared at the street ahead of me. I forced myself to hit the gas and keep moving. Where had that young man come from? I scolded myself for even considering the things that ran through my head. Izuya wasn’t with me anymore and there was nothing I could do about it. I shouldn’t shove off my old affections onto someone else, let alone a complete stranger who had no idea to begin with.
I drove through the streets a little faster that time. It was already well into the late afternoon hours. Instead of heading to the office, I went out of the city and took the long hour drive back to Kiyto. There, at the very least, I could relax somewhat. Without the temptations of the city, or the brunette. I ground my teeth as I drove a little too fast through the streets to get to the highway. I hoped to hell that Masao would have something for me soon. Something else to focus on since I’d thoroughly managed to screw myself over.
Kiyto was a beautiful place — an ancient temple that was built in the wayo style — that I had inherited some years ago. Of course my father would be more than disappointed in how I was utilizing the grounds now. It hadn’t been a place for worship in many decades, even during his time. After overcoming the tyrant who held Tawano in his clutches those years ago, I found Kiyto to be the only sanctuary for myself and those that followed me. It was massive, housing the entirety of my men if they so chose. Currently it only held a small portion of the group, seeing as many had families to go to at the end of their workday.
I pulled into the gravel yard after passing the massive pitch-black gates at the front of the estate. Almost all of the vehicles in the yard were black SUVs large enough to hold a small army of men and powerful enough to rush through the city should it be needed. The only one that was different belonged to Masao. The sharp silver color was a stark contrast to the rest of the fleet of vehicles. And it wasn’t meant for a large group of men to go rolling around in either. Four was its max seating, and with it being only a two door, even that was pushing it.
The supra was his pride and joy. And I was happy to see it sitting in the yard. It told me that he was in Kiyto and probably long before I’d decided to return. I parked my car and got out. Gravel crunched under my shoes as I crossed the massive yard to follow the old bridge that crossed over into the sacred grounds. The rock gardens were immaculately kept, designs woven through the sands in intricate displays that immediately calmed my chaotic mind.
The small creek that flowed beneath the bridge gurgled softly as I passed, the wood creaking under foot. The rails were red and the sides that held it up were black, reflecting the temple that lay ahead of me. The old design recalled a time long past when Japan was still fighting over territories. Red pillars rose up high to hold the curving roof. Black walls gave off a sense of formidable elegance. I followed the path up to the steps of the place I called home.
I passed through the double doors, which were carved with dragons on either side, their jaws coming down as if to engulf the handles. Once inside, I was greeted by a good many voices as the men passed through the halls, busy with their own agendas. I replied as I saw them, not bothering to stop for too long. Masao was there and I had to see if he’d come up with anything for me. We had been dealing with the problem we’d spoken about that morning for weeks now. Masao was good, but I couldn’t help losing hope over the matter.
“I was just about to call you,” Masao said as he exited a room down the hall and caught sight of me.
“I decided to finish early.” I kept walking and he fell into step next to me. “Do you have anything?”
“I do. It’s small, but it might lead to something bigger. You’re not going to like it though.”
I frowned. “I think at this point, anything you tell me is something I’m not going to like.”
“He’s the one siphoning the money to that strange account. I don’t know why I didn’t catch it before.”
“Because we weren’t looking on the inside,” I replied, rage starting to seethe as I thought it through. Of course it was Gin, how could I have missed that. As of late he’d been offering a lot of opposition to our decisions. He was the only one to argue with me during meetings on where the group was headed next, what direction we were going to take. I’d ignored him, his reasonings weren’t sound enough to be of any worth. I was seeing my mistake now.
“I got him to agree to a meeting tonight. I didn’t say for what or why. He’d have bolted otherwise.”
“Good. He still might run, but at least we have a start. We’ll interrogate him and get to the bottom of this. He’s been a pain in the ass lately. I wonder who’s bought him out.”
Masao snorted. “Probably some half-wit who thinks they can waltz into Tawano and intimidate us with stealing money. And not even that much.”
“No, just an annoyance really.”
“An annoyance that’s got our attention,” he sighed. “I don’t know. I guess it feels odd. In any case, we’ll deal with Gin and get our hands on the asshole who’s pulling the strings.”
I nodded. “Tonight you said? What time?”
“Around eight. I figured he’d feel better if we met in the city. More witnesses for him.”
I shook my head as I gave Masao a small smirk. “Unfortunately, all of those witnesses are mine and no one will say a damn word should he end up with a bullet through his skull.”
“Well. They might say something, but it’s not a big deal. The cops here know about everything. They won’t listen to a story about the yakuza leader who disposed of a leak.”
“Get ready. We’ll see how it goes tonight. No doubt someone is going to end up with a hole in their body. And it’s not going to be me.”