“Come on, Kaori, hurry up,” Ryo sighed as he stood next the door to Kaori’s bedroom. “Everyone else is going to start showing up any minute now.”
“Hold on,” Kaori shouted back. “I’m almost ready. Stop being so impatient.”
Ryo let out another sigh and leaned against the wall. Currently, he was dressed in costume reminiscent of aristocrats from Europe from the 1700s complete with a long blue jacket and stockings underneath his pants. As he adjusted his jacket, he thought back to earlier that week when Mick Angel had invited him and Kaori to a Halloween party that was being held by a rich expatriate from the United States.
“An old client of mine from the States introduced me to him,” Mick had explained. “His parties are always a lot of fun and plenty of celebrities and beautiful women will be in attendance. I already invited Umibozu, Miki, Reika and Saeko, so you and Kaori should come too.”
Ryo looked down thoughtfully at the costume he was wearing. He had never celebrated Halloween, even when he was living in the United States, and he wasn’t entirely sure about the idea of having to wear an elaborate costume. But the idea of abundant food, alcohol and beautiful women had been more than enough enticement to get him into the spirit of the idea. After accepting Mick’s invitation, Ryo headed straight for several stores to find the perfect costume before going home to let Kaori know about it.
“Ok, I’m ready,” Kaori said, stepping out from her room. Ryo blinked in surprise as he took in the fact that Kaori was wearing a vest made of chain mail underneath an oversized top with a large cross along with a pair of leggings. In her left hand she carried a shield, and she had a fake sword in a sheath that was attached to her hip.
“Kaori, what’s this?” he asked. “Are you going as King Arthur or something?”
“No, you idiot,” Kaori frowned. “I’m Joan of Arc.”
“Of course,” Ryo nodded. “That is a perfect choice for you.”
“Really?” she smiled and blushed. “You mean because she was so strong and brave?”
“No, because everyone thought that she was a man,” Ryo replied. A hammer appeared in Kaori’s hands, and Ryo instantly dropped down to his knees and held up his hands toward her.
“Sorry, sorry,” he whimpered. “Please don’t use the hammer. I rented this costume and will have to buy it if it gets damaged. Think about our budget.”
Kaori glared at him, her hammer poised to strike, for a full minute before finally lowering it and letting it disappear. Ryo then slumped down onto the floor and let out a sigh of relief.
“And who are you supposed to be?” she frowned at him. Ryo laughed and stood back up.
“Isn’t it obvious?” he said as he brushed off his pants. “I’m Casanova, the greatest lover of all time.”
“The greatest womanizer of all time, you mean,” Kaori said with a huff, crossing her arms over her chest. “That certainly suits you.”
“And with a costume like this, Ryo-chan is sure to attract numerous visions at the party,” Ryo continued, ignoring her. “Mokkori guaranteed.”
Ryo laughed again while Kaori put a hand to her face. She was about to say more when the sound of footsteps on the stairwell caught her attention.
“Kaori-san? Saeba-san? Are you here?”
Kaori and Ryo walked over to the hallway to find Miki walking toward them. She wore a cowboy hat and a suede dress with fringe along with a gun belt around her waist and cowboy boots on her feet.
“Ah Miki-san,” Kaori smiled at her. “Great costume.”
“Thank you,” Miki smiled back. “I decided to go as Annie Oakley, one of the best sharpshooters of the Wild West.” Miki then pulled the gun out of its holster and spun it around in her hand.
“Oh, and what did Umi-chan decide to wear?” Ryo giggled.
“He is going as Annie Oakley’s husband,” Miki replied. “The sharpshooter, Francis Butler.”
“But where is he?” Kaori asked, looking around.
“He was right behind me,” Miki said. “Falcon? Falcon, where did you go?”
“I’m not going up there,” Umibozu’s voice rang out.
“Come on, Falcon,” Miki said. “Show Kaori-san your costume. It is very impressive.”
“Come on, Umi-chan,” Ryo grinned.”Let’s see your costume.”
A giant sigh came from the stairwell. The sound of heavy footfalls then echoed as Umibozu made his way up the stairs. Both Kaori’s and Ryo’s eyes widened as they took in the sight of Umibozu wearing a giant cowboy hat along with a fringed leather vest, shirt and jeans, and black chaps. Large beads of sweat shined on Umibozu’s head, and his face turned bright red.
“Ah, ah, Umibozu-san,” Kaori stammered. “That…that is….” Kaori was interrupted, however, by the sound of Ryo bursting out into laughter.
“Aha, ha ha, I can’t believe it,” Ryo laughed as he collapsed against the wall in a fit of giggles, holding his sides. “That…that outfit….”
“Shut up!” Umibozu yelled at him. “This was all Miki’s idea. I told her that I didn’t want to dress up, but she insisted.”
“Don’t listen to him, Falcon,” Miki frowned. “I think you look great.”
“She’s right, Umibozu-san,” Kaori insisted. “It is an impressive costume. Ignore that idiot over there.”
“Ah, Umibozu-san, Miki-san, you’re already here.”
Everyone turned to see Reika and Saeko walking up the stairs. Saeko wore a vaguely Eastern dress which was blue and similar to a belly-dancing costume along with an elaborate jeweled headdress while Reika wore a low-cut, black gown with a long slit near one leg and a pair of stiletto heels. Ryo’s eyes bulged and his mouth dropped open.
“Wow! Ryo-chan likes these costumes,” Ryo grinned.
“Thank you,” Saeko laughed. “I decided to go as Mata Hari.”
“And I’m going as Fujiko Mine,” Reika smiled. “Ryo, you should have dressed up as Lupin, and then we could have gone as a couple.” Ryo walked over and put an arm around each of the Nogami sisters.
“Ah, but I’m Casanova, which is even better,” he said. “Why bother with being the world’s greatest thief when you can be the world’s greatest lover instead?”
“More like the world’s greatest pervert,” Kaori scowled.
“Did you say something, Kaori-kun?” Ryo said, putting a hand to his ear. Kaori frowned even more, but her frown disappeared as she saw Mick and Kazue walking up the stairs to join them.
“Ah, Mick, Kazue-san, you look great,” she said. The others turned to see Mick dressed in a toga with a breastplate of armor with sandals and a long pair of leather gloves while Kazue wore a white flowing dress.
“Thank you, Kaori-san,” Kazue smiled. “We decided to go as Tristan and Isolde.”
“Kaori, my sweet,” Mick said as he bounded toward her. “Ah, you decided to go as Joan of Arc. Wonderful costume.”
“Thank you Mick,” Kaori replied, making sure to smirk at Ryo. “It’s nice to see that some people actually know what they are talking about.”
“Hmph,” Ryo pouted. “At least I have the sense to not wear a dress, unlike Mick here.”
“It’s not a dress, it’s a toga,” Mick insisted before putting an arm around Kaori. “Kaori, I like this costume, but you should have gone as Venus. It would have suited you even more.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something, Mick?” Kaori frowned. “Or more accurately, someone.”
“Whatever do you mean, Kaori-chan?” Mick asked, leaning even closer to her.
“Mick,” Kazue growled behind him. Mick yelped and let Kaori go. He then made sure to put an arm around Kazue and hold her close to him.
“Sorry, Kazue, my love,” he said. “I didn’t mean anything by that. I swear, you’re the only one for me, my Isolde.”
Kazue turned her head from him and moved to stand next to Kaori. Ryo laughed again at the sight.
“That’s what you get for wearing a dress for a costume,” he said, yanking both Reika and Saeko even closer to him. “You should have gone with something more mokkori-friendly like I did.”
“It’s not a dress, it’s a toga,” Mick repeated, a scowl on his face. Ryo laughed again, but his laughter stopped when both Saeko and Reika shoved his arms away from them and walked off to the side.
“Ha,” Mick grinned. “Some Casanova you are. Looks like the ladies are immune to your charm.”
“Shut up,” Ryo shot back. “Just wait until we get to the party. Then you’ll see my true power as the Shinjuku stallion shine through. Those visions won’t stand a chance against my Casanova persona.”
Ryo grinned again, and put his hands close to his chin while a bit a drool appeared at the corner of his mouth. His mind was filled with dozens of exotic and sexy costume possibilities for the other women at the party, but his fantasies were interrupted by the feeling of a sword poking him in the back.
“And if you’re not careful, you won’t stand a chance against my divine punishment,” Kaori said as she gave him another hard poke with the sword in her hand.
“Ah, ah, Kaori-chan, the coat the coat,” Ryo babbled. “Don’t tear a hole into it. Remember what I said about having to pay if it’s damaged?”
“I remember,” Kaori smirked. “I also know though that you won’t be wearing that costume forever. Make sure that you remember that.”
Ryo laughed nervously as Kaori put the sword back into its sheath.
“The men around here are all the same,” Kazue sighed. Kaori nodded vigorously in agreement.
“Hmph, don’t put me in the same group as those useless perverts,” Umibozu said, turning his head to the side. Both Ryo and Mick turned toward him, grins on their faces.
“Nice chaps,” Mick sniggered. He then leaned against Ryo as they both burst out into laughter.
“And that hat,” Ryo giggled. “Don’t forget the hat.”
“Shut up!” Umibozu shouted again. “I’m going home.” Miki grabbed his arm to stop him.
“Please Falcon, don’t go now,” she said. “Who cares what those two idiots think? I still say that you have the best costume of all the guys here.” She then wrapped both of her arms around his and rested her head against him. Umibozu’s face turned an even deeper shade of red while wisps of steam rose from his head.
“Miki, cut that out,” he said, trying to exact his arm from hers.
“Shouldn’t we be going?” Kazue said with another sigh. “Mick, you said that the party starts at 8 pm. It’s almost that time now.”
“Right,” Mick said, regaining his composure. “And I know for a fact that our host is not a patient man, even if he does throw great parties. Let’s go.”
Everyone headed down the stairs and out the door of the apartment building. As Kaori got into Ryo’s Mini-Cooper, she felt a shiver go down her spine.
“What’s wrong, Kaori?” Ryo said, noting her expression as he slid into the driver’s seat.
“Ah, it’s nothing, nothing,” she said. “I just….I just felt a weird chill is all.”
“Oh, maybe that means you’ll see a ghost tonight,” Ryo grinned. “Mick did say that this guy lives in a mansion that is rumored to be haunted.
“Don’t say that,” Kaori gasped. “I still remember being possessed by Ami-san’s ghost while we were protecting her sister, Mami-san. I never want to go through that again.”
Ryo laughed and started up the car. Kaori gazed out the window as he drove down the road, her expression pensive.
‘That idiot, trying to scare me with all that talk about a haunted mansion…Still…what was that feeling just now? It was like someone was looking over my shoulder, watching me.’
Kaori shivered again and turned her eyes toward the windshield. She decided to try to put any apprehension she had aside and focus on having fun at the party…and on making sure to keep Ryo in line.