"This again," Mitchan says to the manuscript in front of her.
"What?" Shigure says, glancing up from his rice crackers too quickly. The silence had started getting to him. The fan is running and there are insects buzzing in the garden, filling the air with the proper sounds of a summer morning. But as far as Shigure is concerned every moment that Mitchan says nothing is so quiet it hums. He wishes, vaugely, that he could give her a taste of this nerve wracking wait.
Mitchan circles a paragraph with her finger. "Once again you introduce a sexy lady who has nothing to do with the plot, let her emotionally destroy the main character, and then she walks right out of the story."
A thread tightens in Shigure's gut. "She's not a 'sexy lady'."
Mitchan picks up the paper and reads clearly as though a teacher has called on her. "She stalked toward him, graceful as a panther, twice as deadly. His body strained at the seams as he fought the urge to both run away and leap towards her. He was still and silent as she bore down on him. Half of it instinctive fear of a predator, half of it allowing her to study him in the hopes she would approve. All of it coming from somewhere in his deepest animal instincts." Mitchan raises an eyebrow at him.
"She's not just sexy. Ume teaches Daichi about desire. It's why he's so confident when he meets Aiko, and why he's so wrong about how sexual relationships work," He adds for further justification.
Mitchan taps the manuscript on the edge of the desk, straightening the stack of paper. "I'm not saying it doesn't work, just that it's a pattern with you."
"A pattern?" Shiguire says lightly, trying to ignore the physical sensation her words have conjured in him. A lifetime of secrets has him viscerally afraid of people who look too close, who notice too much.
"I looked at your work before I agreed to edit you, remember? That first thing you had published, that short story, opened with the main character waking up after having sex and his self esteem crushed by a terrifying, sexy lady. And your first novel everything was going fine for Reo, and then Sakura showed up and he slept with her even though she told him it would destroy his relationship with-"
"Why, Mitchan, I had no idea you were such a fan," Shiguire says, voice saccharine. He doesn't like being looked at, doesn't like being seen. He switched to a new pen name for this book, a new editor, yet he feels like a cockroach exposed to light .
Mitchan rolls her eyes, but continues resolutely, "Three times is a pattern."
Shuiguire picks up his lukewarm tea and carries it to the kitchen. Don't be mad, he tells himself, she has no idea what she's talking about. "I believe literary patterns are called tropes," He says lightly as he switches on the electric kettle. "Besides, Hearthrob did very well with that scene in it."
Shiguire walks into the room to find Mitchan looking at him strangely. "You're being very defensive. I keep trying to tell you, I'm not saying it's inherently bad." She shrugs and turns a page, "I guess I was just wondering if you noticed you were doing it."
Shiguire swirls the tea in his hand and tries to push away the image of his stories neatly stacked outside Akito's room. A maid should have moved them or at least dusted them, but they were exactly where he left them, the spines un-cracked.
"I didn't," He says. "Perhaps we should take it out."
He has a feeling she’ll notice.