Archive for December, 2014

My work as of the end of 2014

Yup New Year’s Eve is tomorrow and another year is almost over. One of the things I have been doing this month is putting together the spreadsheets that a long time bookkeeper just can’t seem to avoid. I have been keeping track of my sales since I started publishing on my own and while it both excites and depresses me, it it a helpful thing. Well I expanded my spreadsheets to keep track of my flash fictions, of my word totals, works in progress…well just about anything that a writer should think about.

As I mentioned over on my Suteko blog, my numbers are pretty close to what I had last year. As of 8am on December 30th (yeah today) I am within three sales of my totals last year. The difference comes in that last year I mostly sold short stories and this year I have sold mostly novels and collections. So cashwise I have done better.

Here is the list of sales by Title. Now obviously not every title i have had a sale in 2014 but I expected that. In fact out of all my titles there is only one that has never had a sale, Goodbye Daddy, the nonfiction piece I put up under my pen name has never sold a copy. Not that I expected it to. Even if I never sell a copy of those Letters to the Dead, I will still write them and put them up. It is a catharsis for things in my past. But back to what did sell.  Here is my list:

A Bargain made with Fur                     10
A Different Kind of Hunt                     1
A Moving Experience                         1
A Trap of Eyes                             2
All That There Was                         1
An Evening of Note                         1
And Darkness Claims It all                     3
And He Makes three                         1
Beginning Again                         4
Blackbird                             1
Cemetary Games                             1
Cha-cha-changes                         1
Christmas Snow                             3
Death Comes softly                         1
Death Is the Answer                         3
Death Was the Bargain                         3
Death Walks Through                         11
Descents                             1
Echoes of Elder Times                         4
Endings                             9
Escape                                 29
Fall Into Nightmares                         4
From the Snow                             2
Generations of Love                         1
Gaurdian of the Gate City                     5
Guess Wo Is Coming the Tanksgiving Dinner             3
Halloween Pranks and Mischief                     3
Holiday Flashes of Fiction                     8
Hope Everlasting                         1
I Can’t Love You Anymore                     1
Ice                                 17
If Shadows Could Speak                         1
In Space No One Can Hear You Scream                 3
It Jut Might be Gremlins                     1
Love, Loss and Loneliness                     1
Memories of Love                         1
Monsters of the Dark                         1
Never Pack Them Away                         3
New Performaer                             2
Night and Day                             1
No More the Smiles                         3
Not T oth Grave Go I                         1
Not Jst Another Mornig of buiness                 1
Now and Forever                         3
One More all hallows eve                     3
artings                             2
Possibilities                             1
Random Musings of poetic Mind                     1
Rebirth                             1
The Red Ghost Rides                         5
Revenge                             3
Smae Time Nexty Year at the Spaceport Cafe             7
Secrets can be deadly                         1
Shadows on the Wall                         1
Strange Nature                             2
Sudden Disappearances                         1
Surprises and Gifts                         1
Test of Trust                             1
The Dream Wish                             2
The Knight Protctor                         1
The Last Moonset                         3
The Pest House                             5
The Popsicle                             5
The Traveler                             10
The Words that Bring Peace                     1
To Save Face or Family                         8
Twas the NIght                             1
Under the Black Bridge                         1
When Witner Comes Roaring                     4
Where Angels No onger Tread                     11

As you can see some titles did better than others. Escape of course did the best because well, it was released this fall. That helped the numbers get up there after all. Now it is not my biggest seller of course. If I look at the spreadsheet totals certain titles are still up there.

Ice is still my most popular title with 44 sales so far (that is of course not counting and free copies that went out). Next up is The Traveler at 41 which is really nice. Finally is Endings (the first Loralil story) with 39. Now two of the three of these have been up for two years.  Yes I realize these are small numbers compared to so many authors. I have author friends who see this type of sales in a day and I envy them for sure but well I just need to remember that some day I will be discovered. After all some of the most famous authors were not discovered till they were dead! Okay here is hoping I don’t take that long!

Now if you are wondering how many titles I put out in 2014 here you go.

In 2014 I either put out or was part of 22 titles. That is down from 2014 when I published/added to 50 titles but the break down shows why I did less.

Anthologies 3

collections 3

Novels 2

novellas 1

short stories 13

Okay maybe I didn’t write as much. Though to be honest the novels were some of my longest pieces of finished work. The collections have new stories in them of course.

Now one thing i did not list above was the amount of flash fictions I have been writing over the past year plus. See anything under 1000 words I decided needed to be put in a different list. So here goes.

Of the 174 flash fictions I have written, only 43 are from 2013. Most of those are drabbles from when I first learned of the short form. So 141 were written this year. And yes I plan on writing a lot more of them through out 2015. I have of course put up the covers for those collections.

Expect to see a lot more collections this year. I don’t plan on releasing single short stories as much anymore. While I will release the first in new collections, don’t expect a pile of shorts alone. While I am working on revising/editing an old novel and I have started working on a new Flights of Fantasy novella I think that most of my work in 2015 will be short story/flash fiction collections and the next book in my novel series. Have a happy new year!

Advertisements

Five free titles till 12th night

Hey everyone! As a thank you for following this blog I have put five of my short stories under coupon over on Smashwords. You can pick any or all of these up for free and all I ask is that you read them and review them before the end of January 2015! So if you are interested in reading some of my odd tales here you go:

Partings smashword code SG65K
One More All Hallows Eve smashword code BQ44W
Night and Day smashword code HE87G
All That the Was smashword code PF75S
Blackbird smashword code QJ29C

Happy New Years everyone!

When will it come out?

As many of you know I am a short story author. I write in all lengths actually but short stories are my bread and butter so to speak. Well this month there will be two new offerings from me. A collection of flash fictions that I wrote and an anthology of christmas drabbles that I have donated to. I have put up the cover to my collection all ready for your readers to look at and I can’t yet put up the cover for the Christmas Drabble collection so I thought I would put together a cover for the collection that I will be releasing come Valentine’s Day.

Mythos of Love will be a collection of five tales. Four have all ready been published but the final tale, Singer of the Blood song, is totally new. I have spent the past few weeks going through and revising and editing the other tales to more reflect I how have evolved as a writer. As a bit of a sneak peak here is the working cover i have for this Fantasy Romance collection

mythos-of-love Look for this collection in early February!

Chapter four – Sins of the Father

Yup working through this tale. We are nearly at the halfway point.

Chapter Four

Enter Ryouga

or

What next?

Suteko left Ucchan’s to pick up her pack from a locker at the airport. Before she could get out of Nerima, she was stopped by a commotion nearby. Curiosity drew her through the crowd. As she worked her way toward the front she got glimpses of two figures fighting and she could hear a bit of the ongoing argument.

“Come on, man! I told you, I’ve been with Akane all day!”

“Stop lying, Ranma. I saw you going into Ucchan’s earlier. I didn’t see Akane, then!”

Suteko finally pushed her way to the front of the crowd. There she saw the boy from the dojo this morning. He was busy dodging another boy’s punches. She analyzed their techniques. Ranma was incredibly fast. He was out of the way of the other boy’s moves almost before they were made. As she watched, she found herself becoming proud of this boy who was her half-brother. He was good. Much faster than she herself could hope to be. The other guy never laid a finger on him.

The other guy wasn’t bad, though. The damage he was doing to the surrounding walls and buildings was beyond belief. It was like he was a wrecking ball. Just how strong was this guy? She didn’t ever want to be on the receiving end of one of those punches. As she studied them, she noticed that they were an interesting contrast. Her brother, definitely a good looking specimen, was sleek. He moved like an otter, in and out of the other boy’s wake. His opponent on the other hand was more muscular than Ranma. She could see his arms were solid. Not overdeveloped like the builders at home. He was slower than Ranma but he still had talent.

“Ryouga, stop!” This came from a girl’s voice. Suteko looked over toward the girls and saw another of the people from the dojo this morning. This was the girl who had joined Ranma in looking for her. She was a pretty girl with a bob haircut. She couldn’t quite understand Ukyo’s description of the girl, Akane, as the uncute fiancée. Must be jealousy, what with Akane having first claim on Ranma.

The other boy, Ryouga, looked up when he heard his name. Seeing Akane he lost his focus long enough for Ranma to land a solid punch. He stood still for a moment and then fell gracelessly to the ground. Akane ran over to him and lifted his head up onto her lap. “Are you okay, Ryouga?”

“How interesting!” thought Suteko. “Who was this Ryouga?”

“Ranma, you didn’t need to hit him so hard!”

“Come on Akane. This is Ryouga. You know he won’t stop and listen.” “Like usual,” he said to himself. Ranma stood over the downed boy. “He accused me of lying about who I was with this morning.”

“Well, you do, you know!”

”Not this time, Akane. Remember? I was with you all morning.”

“Jerk!” Akane stood up quickly, dropping Ryouga’s head to the pavement. “Why do you always have to pick on him. You know your a better fighter than him. Why can’t you avoid these fights? Better yet tell me what your fighting about!!!”

“Tomboy!” Ranma shouted back.

It sounded to Suteko like this was the beginning of an often repeated argument. Time to step in. She pushed past the last of the onlookers and stepped into the open. Crossing her arms loosely in front of her she spoke up, loud enough to be heard over the argument. “Hello, Ranma.”

Ranma and Akane stopped fighting for a moment to look over at the girl interrupting their fight. Their first reaction was surprise, as each jaw dropped. Their next was to turn to stand side by side and tense up, like they were preparing to fight. From the ground, Ryouga shook his head to clear it. Once it cleared, he had a clear view of the strange girl. He looked toward Ranma, then at the stranger and back again. He blinked his eyes and tried shaking his head. Nope, she was still there and so was Ranma.

Suteko just smiled. It was obvious that Ranma and Akane thought that she would challenge him right here. She uncrossed her arms and held out a hand to Akane. “Hi, you must be Akane Tendo.”

Akane slowly put out her hand to take the girl’s. “Yes….”

“Nice to meet you. I have heard some interesting things about you.” Suteko smiled and turned to Ranma, “Well, little brother, been looking for me very long?”

Ranma and Akane looked at Suteko for a moment and then at each other. Confusion was clear on their faces. Ryouga took this time to get up and stand on Akane’s other side. “What’s going on here?”

Suteko turned from her brother to Ryouga. “Well, hello there. Ryouga, was it?” He nodded. “Glad to meet you, my name’s Suteko.”

Suteko was laughing inwardly at the looks of confusion. The three teenagers in front of her had no idea what to make of her. Ranma and Akane had seen her challenge Genma just a few hours before and Ryouga had no idea what was going on. It was hysterical. She started to chuckle.

Akane went from confused to a little annoyed within moments. She elbowed Ranma, trying to get a response out of him. He just gave her a quick look and turned his attention back to the girl calling him “little brother”. Akane gave him a dirty look and decided to find out what was going on.

“Are you here to challenge Ranma, instead?” Akane bristled.

“No.”

Akane deflated a little at the answer. “What do you want, then?”

Suteko smiled, “Just to meet my little brother. I’ve never had one and it should be interesting.”

Ramna overcame the shock of her comment and blurted out. “Is this Atsuko your mom?”

“Yep.” Suteko answered, thinking, “This kid is a little slow.”

“And you claim that mister Satome is your dad?” Asked Akane.

“Yep.” Make that two slow ones. Suteko turned to Ryouga. “Your next, cutie. Got a question?”

Ryouga stood baffled by the dialogue around him. He slowly worked through the little information that he had. The girl in front of him looked like Ranma. Ranma was in guy form. Therefore the girl wasn’t Ranma. OK, got that. Akane asked if she was here to challenge Ranma. Girl answered no. No problem there. Girl hasn’t challenged Akane. Huh. Girl said something about her little brother. Ranma doesn’t have a big sister. “What’s going on here?” Ryouga asked the girl.

Suteko rolled her eyes. Wasn’t this guy paying attention. “Hello, Ryouga. My name is Suteko Saotome.”

It took a moment, then it hit Ryouga. “Did you say, Saotome?”

“You got it.” She smiled smugly. At the moment the resemblance between the two was clear. She looked just like Ranma.

Ryouga turned to Ranma, “Why didn’t you tell me you had a sister?” He was starting to heat up again. It was just one more thing to confuse him and Ryouga hated being confused.

“Hey, I didn’t know.” Ranma answered absently. “Your not going to challenge me?” he asked Suteko. He didn’t want to fight this girl, he wanted to talk with her. She was the first girl in a long time who wouldn’t be interested in him as a fiancé.

“Why would I do that? You didn’t do anything to my mother or me.” Suteko smiled. Boy, he must have been challenged a lot by his response. “I just wanted to meet my ‘little bro’, be nice having some family here.” She smiled, looking as innocent as she could. “More than you know,” she thought.

The four stood in silence for a few minutes as the crowd disbursed. Each of the young people had different things going through their minds. Both Ranma and Suteko were thinking about having a sibling, Ryouga was trying to work out how Ranma had pulled this over on him and Akane was just realizing something that Suteko had said. “She’s heard a lot about me? From who? She hasn’t been in town that long, has she?” Akane spoke up to break the silence. “What you hear about Me?”

Suteko just smiled for a moment. As she saw Akane start to fume she answered. “I heard that you were one of my brother’s fiancees. Set a date yet?” Suteko wasn’t ready for the response to her question.

“NO!!” Ranma, Ryouga and Akane shouted simultaneously.

“I am not going to marry….” Akane started.

“Who’d want to marry a tomboy like…” Ranma added.

“He doesn’t deserve her!” shouted Ryouga.

“Whoa, there, one at a time.” This was interesting. Did Ranma not like Akane or Akane, Ranma. And what did Ryouga mean. “What’s going on here?”

The three all started at once to explain but Suteko raised a hand to stop them. “I can see that this is going to take a while.” She turned to Ranma, “Why don’t you come with me to pick up my stuff and tell me your story. I really like to get to know you better.” Ranma looked over to Akane. She seemed nervous but she just shrugged. Suteko noticed the exchange. “It’s OK, guys. Ryouga here can walk Akane home and I’ll get her side of the story later.” At the still dubious expressions she added, “I promise I don’t want to harm Ranma. I just want to get to know him better. Um, tell you what, why don’t you met us at this little diner I just ate at.” She looked up at the sky, trying to remember the name. “Ucchan’s. That’s the place. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding it as the owner tells me she’s also Ranma’s Fiancee.”

Ranma placed a hand behind his head and chuckled. Akane just looked a bit more steamed. “Hot headed one there,” Suteko thought. “Better get Ranma out of here so we can talk.” Suteko placed a hand on Ranma’s arm. “Come on. Do you know a fast way to the airport. I left my bag there.” She pulled him away from the other two before they could get started again.

Chapter three – Sins of the Father

CHAPTER THREE

LUNCH AT UKYO’S

OR

A LITTLE EXPLANATION

Later that morning at Ucchan’s.

Ukyo had been busy preparing for the lunch rush — mixing up batter, preparing the grill, setting up spatulas, all the usual things. She quietly hummed a happy song as she knew that she would see Ranma sometime today. He had promised to stop by for dinner. She heard a customer enter the restaurant as she turned away from the door, and called over her shoulder, “Good morning and welcome to Ucchan’s.”

Suteko slid into a seat at the counter and looked over the menu board. “I’d like a number one please.”

“Coming right up.” Ukyo quickly prepared the okonomiyaki and slid it onto a plate. She gracefully placed it in front of the customer and smiled. “There you go, a number one fresh from the grill, that will be…..” Ukyo stopped in mid speech and stared. Who was this girl. She looked an awful lot like, “Ran-chan?”

The young woman looked up, “What did you call me?”

The voice was different. It had just a hint of a English accent. Maybe Ranma was working on someway of hiding out from Akane. “Ran-chan, what I usually call you.” Ukyo smiled weakly at the person she thought was her fiancé. “That’s a different look of you. Trying out the American styles now?”

Suteko looked at the girl behind the counter with confusion. “Who’s Ran-chan? My name is Suteko.”

Ukyo took a closer look. There were differences. This girl had black hair and green eyes. Ranma-chan had red hair and blue eyes. Maybe this wasn’t Ranma. “I’m sorry. You look just like my fiancé.”

Suteko, if it was possible, looked even more confused. “Excuse me, did you just say your fiancé looks like me?”

“Um, it’s a long story. He had a few things happen and well…”

Suteko listened with half an ear. This girl was sure hooked on this Ran-chan. “Sounds interesting.” Suteko responded absently. From all this girl was saying Ran-chan was Romeo, Van Damme and a boy scout all wrapped up in one. She took a bite of the Okonomiyaki in front of her and smiled. “Hey, this is good!” She quickly but daintily ate the entire thing and pushed the plate away. “They don’t make anything like that where I come from.”

Ukyo came out of her daydream about being alone with Ranma at the compliment to her cooking. “Thank you.” Intrigued about this girl who looked so much like Ranma, Ukyo stayed and talked with her only customer. “Where’s that, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Boston, Mass in the US.”

Ukyo let out a low whistle. “You’re a long way from home. What brings you here? You a transfer student?”

Suteko grimaced for a moment and then answered. “No, I’m taking time off from school. I’m here to restore my mother’s honor and get revenge on the man who took it from her.”

“And…”

Suteko debated internally for a few moments about telling family secrets but she was a bit sad and lonely after all this time and the girl in front of her seemed truly to be interested, so she spoke. “I’ve spent the last year tracking all over Asia looking for him. I finally found him this morning, right here in Nerima, where I started. I offered him a challenge and by tomorrow my mother’s honor should be restored and my life can go back to normal.”

“Here in Nerima?”

“Yes, he’s staying at a local dojo.” Suteko looked up at the ceiling, trying to remember the name of the place she found her father. “Um, the name was something like Tenso, Tenko or something like that.”

Ukyo was shocked for a moment. Someone staying at the Tendo dojo had damaged the honor of some woman from America. She had to ask. It couldn’t have been Ran-chan. Could it? “The Tendo Dojo?”

“Ya, that’s the place. He was surprised, to say the least.” Suteko’s eyes looked inward for a moment, remembering Genma’s reaction at Atsuko’s name. “He didn’t expect to have anyone come after him, after seventeen years.”

Ukyo was getting confused. After seventeen years. Well, that meant it wasn’t Ranma, he was only sixteen. Could she be referring to Mr. Tendo or Mr. Saotome or maybe even Happosai? The only way to find out was to ask. “Who didn’t expect you?”

Suteko looked back at Ukyo. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t tell you. I’ve been looking for my father. Genma Saotome.”

Ukyo’s face fell in shock. “Your father?”

“Yep. A little over seventeen and a half years ago Genma Saotome was dating a young woman by the name of Atsuko Fukusuu. They got very close one night and nine months later, I was born.” Suteko’s face hardened as she remembered her mother’s story about how he had dumped her.

“Wait a minute. You’re telling me that Mr. Saotome fathered a child and then dumped the mother, seventeen years ago?”

“Close. The day after he spent the night with my mom, he broke up with her. He told her some crap about being engaged to a…. how did mom put it … oh yeah, ‘a prettier, richer and more womanly girl than mom.’ Then she bashed him one good. She left him sitting, nursing a sore head. She told me she never wanted to see his sorry face again!” Suteko had started to glow just a little around the edges. Her anger was beginning to build. “That was before she realized that she was pregnant with me. By the time she knew, her family was in the US and, well, Uncle Jackie said he’d track down my father and make him marry her. Of course, by the time they found him, it was too late. He had married the other poor girl his family had chosen and mom was stuck an unwed mother. She had a long fight with her parents but she told them she was going to keep me, and Uncle Jackie agreed with her. He told them that he would take care of her and me. Well, he was the head of the clan in America, so that was that.”

“That must have been tough on your mom, being alone and all.” Ukyo was feeling very sympathetic. She understood feeling abandoned — and by the same man. Mr. Saotome seemed to be a real student of Happosai. He didn’t care whom he hurt.

“Actually, it was probably the best thing for her. She got to tell grandfather where to shove it and live her life the way she wanted.” The glow around Suteko died down as she smiled. “Grandfather didn’t believe in women running businesses, like a dojo. He trained mom when she was little, just for practice. He wanted a male heir for the place and hoped having a daughter trained in the Fukusuu staff work would attract a good husband. He never could admit that mom was better at it than he was.”

“You know, I’m not surprised. Genma always seems to wiggle out of things. He’s such a jackass.”

Suteko looked back at Ukyo. “What do you mean? What did he do to you?” Suteko was very interested in hearing what the girl had to say now. Had she found an ally here, so far away from home? First rule of the Fukusuu clan; Find someone with a like grievance to work with. (Someone to help get the revenge or to take the blame if it failed.) Uncle Jackie had loads rules. Suteko didn’t always agree with them but they were helpful sometimes. She turned her attention back to what the girl was saying.

“….. when Ranma and I were small, we were good friends. There was finally a day when our fathers talked, and my father offered me to Genma as a bride for Ranma. Dad even threw in our okonomiyaki cart.” Ukyo spoke quietly, remembering. “Genma took the cart but left me behind — abandoned me by the side of the road. I vowed that I would never fall in love and spent my life training as the best okonomiyaki chef in the world. After ten years, I tracked down Genma and Ranma and challenged them. He is such a jackass.”

Suteko looked surprised. Ukyo challenged her father but she was engaged to his son? Who was this Ranma? Was she engaged to two guys? What was going on here?

“When I found them, I challenged Genma but he put off the blame on Ranma. So I challenged Ranma to combat.” She stopped for a minute. “The funny thing about the whole thing was, Ranma had no idea I was a girl. So when his dad asked him if he loved me or okonomiyaki better, he picked the okonomiyaki.” She smiled. “You should have seen his face when he realized I was a girl.”

Suteko sat very still for a moment. Had she heard right? Did Genma have a son? Did she have a …? She took a small breath and asked quietly. “So, this Ranma is Genma’s son?”

“That’s right.”

“OK.” Inwardly she smiled. A brother, after all these years growing up an only child. All her friends had siblings but she had stood out. Being an only was one of the things that put off the kids back home. She spoke up after something hit her as strange. “But I thought Ran-chan was your fiancé?”

“He is. Ran-chan’s what I call Ranma.” Ukyo looked a little embarrassed. “It’s a pet name from when we were kids.”

“OK, Ranma is Ran-chan. Ran-chan is the girl I look like, right?”

“Yep.” Ukyo was getting a kick out of watching the emotions chasing across Suteko’s face.

After another minute Suteko spoke up. “Ukyo, do you know if Ranma and Genma stopped at a place in China called Jusenko?”

Ukyo was surprised. “How’d you know that?”

Suteko looked down, “Got some water?”

Ukyo’s jaw dropped. She got a pot of water and splashed Suteko. The girl transformed. One moment she was a woman, the next she was a blonde, muscular young man. An American version of Ranma. The clothes she was wearing got pretty tight where they had been loose before. With a voice an octave lower she spoke. “I followed Genma around Asia. I always seemed to get were he had been a month or more after he was there. About six months ago, I stopped at this tourist attraction call Jusenko. I speak a little Chinese and the guide told me about the pools. I thought he was kidding.”

“Kidding?”

“Yeah, we have places like it all over the US. Places claiming to be magic, you know, to bring in the bucks.” She shook her head. “To prove to him that he was lying I – um – “

Ukyo stood behind the counter in shock. “Don’t tell me you…”

“Yes, I jumped in.” Suteko looked, if possible, more embarrassed. “I was such a jerk. Mom always told me my tendency to jump without looking was going to get me into trouble.”

“That’s an understatement.” Ukyo turned and grabbed up a hot kettle and poured it over Suteko’s head. “Boy, your as bad as Ran-chan.”

Suteko rung out her shirt. “Well…,” She looked up. “Why don’t you tell me about my brother. I wasn’t paying much attention at the Dojo. I, um, have a tendency to be a bit single-minded.”

“Really?” Ukyo cocked a brow at that. “Interesting,” she thought. Aloud, she said “Well, do you remember much besides Genma from this morning?”

“Let’s see. Before I challenged Genma, there was a boy. He landed in the pool behind the house.” She snapped her fingers. “Wait a minute! He changed into the girl! So that’s Ranma.”

“Yep, anything else?”

“Well, after I challenged Genma there was this girl who tried to stop me.” Suteko crunched up her face in thought. “That must have been Ranma in girl form. There were, let’s see, three other girls and another man. One of the girls and Ranma tried to follow me when I left but they couldn’t find me, of course.” Suteko looked smug at that comment.

“Of course.” What did she mean by of course? Ukyo could see the resemblance to Ranma clearly with that comment. The girl was sure of her ability.

Suteko heard the touch of question in the other girl’s voice. She sighed. “Sorry, Ukyo. One of my family’s secrets is how to disappear from sight. No one from the Dojo could have followed me unless I had wanted them to.”

“If you say so.” Well this girl was like Ranma but she was a little less full of herself it seemed.

Suteko laughed. “So, Ukyo, who were the other people? Like the girl who followed me.”

Ukyo debated internally for a moment but she decided to tell the girl the truth. “The girl with Ranma would have been Akane, his other fiancée.”

Suteko interrupted. “His other fiancée? Are you telling me Ranma has two fiancées?”

“Actually, that depends on who you talk to. There are arguments about two others.”

“Four!”

“Yep, makes life real interesting.”

Suteko shook her head. Poor kid. Four girls. What did Genma think he was doing? One fiancée was bad enough but put the attentions of four girls on one guy and all hell would break loose. “How did that happen? Is Ranma some type of Casanova?”

Ukyo spoke up quickly in Ranma’s defense. “No! He isn’t. It’s not his fault! It’s all that jackass Genma’s fault.”

Suteko looked aslant at Ukyo.

“No, really. You see Ranma was engaged to Akane before they were born. Then he met this amazon named Shampoo and defeated her and according to their traditions that makes them engaged. And then there’s Kodachi, but she’s just crazy.”

“Along with you that makes four. Any others?”

“Not at the moment.”

Suteko was sure how to take that answer. Not at the moment. “So which one of you does this Ranma kid want?”

“Kid?” thought Ukyo. “She can’t be more than six or eight months older than Ranma. “Well that’s the problem. Ranma hasn’t decided yet.”

“Oh, boy. Now that’s got to be interesting,” Suteko responded. “Not that I really care about that,” she thought. “Ukyo, I have a serious question for you. I want you to answer me truthfully, OK?”

Ukyo looked a bit surprised. “Why would she make a point about truthfulness now? Haven’t we been pouring out our hearts here?” After a minute’s thought Ukyo realized that they were talking like old friends even though they had just met. Strange. She gave her head a little shake and answered the question. “OK.”

“Do you think that Ranma will give me any problems with my challenge of his father?”

Ukyo started to answer but stopped. That was a good question. “If you explain to him why your challenging him I think not. But that depends on what exactly you plan on doing to Genma. Are you planning on more than just shaming him?”

Suteko sat looking at the girl behind the counter. She hadn’t thought about that in quite a while. The past year had been taken up just tracking down her father. No one had ever asked her what she would do once she found him. “Ukyo, I don’t plan on killing him, if that’s what you mean.” Ukyo let out her breath. “I never planned on killing him. Mother and I knew from the beginning that he had to be taught a lesson, but she never wanted to hurt him. She really cared for the bastard. She’s all for defending yourself but she doesn’t believe in hurting people. I guess I’m not either. It’s against all I have been taught to do such a thing.”

“Than just what are you going to do to him?”

Suteko looked crafty. “That, my new friend, I can’t tell you. It has to be a surprise to all around.” Just as she said that the first of the noon customers came in. She looked up. “Whoa, is it that late? I’ve got to go find a place to crash tonight.” She got up from the counter and placed some money on the counter. “You know any place good, clean and cheap?”

Ukyo made a quick decision. She didn’t know why she liked this girl but she wanted her around so that she could figure it out and so she could be in on what happened to Genma. “You could stay here. I’ve got a spare room. It’s not much, but it’s dry.”

Suteko smiled. “Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to be an inconvenience.”

“No problem.”

“Thanks. I’ll just go get my pack. I left it at the airport.”

“OK, see you later.” Ukyo responded absently. She was already working on the orders coming from the customers.

Suteko pushed away from the counter, smiling. She was surprised that the old family magic of finding help when needed worked for her. Grandfather said that it wouldn’t because she wasn’t a true Fukusuu. Lot he knew. As long as she didn’t push it her luck would hold.