****Author's Note**** (This first chapter is mostly background, but stick with it and I promise it picks up pace and doesn't stop.)

When I first awoke in the indefinite spirit world between humans and kami, I was suddenly conscious of the real reason I became an anthropology major. And it made me furious.

"That sneaky grey haired fox snake son of a bitch!" I screamed in frustration when I sat up in a dimming forest devoid of any sign of civilization and no memory of arriving there.

Though I suppose this isn't where I should begin.


My freshman year of college I entered as a declared major of premed and double minor in Spanish and clinical administration. I was dewy-eyed and unfortunately certain of my future with a solid ten year plan of straight A's and every romantic notion devised for a future doctor practicing abroad. And then my anthropology class happened.

Unfortunately taken as a random humanities elective I had no idea that it would turn the course of my ten year plan into something unrecognizable.

Professor Braeden Connelly was a modern Indiana Jones, and from that first class I was hooked. Not only was he young and attractive for a college professor; he was accomplished and willing to listen to the bemoaning of young undergraduate females.

Even now the memories bring fresh embarrassment at my youthful naivety.

To possibly think that my favorite movie character could ever possibly exist in the real world and be interested in me was ridiculous. I was a good student, great honestly. On top of never missing a class and scoring perfectly on all tests, I found and read all of his publications—scholarly and fictional. I took every class he offered. He became my mentor connected by a mutual passion that I tried to convince myself was about cultural anthropology.

So it only follows that if I was offered a chance to be his assistant on a research trip to Japan as part of my graduate studies; of course I would act without hesitation.

"Before we get to the matter for which I've asked you to meet me, I'd like to apologize for not being in town for your graduation party. I was so looking forward to the parents of such a hardworking and talented young woman."

I'd like to pretend that I maintained some composure, but I knew I was blushing furiously.

"Thank you, doctor. But I assure you, it wasn't anything special." Except that I had been embarrassingly excited at the prospect of having my favorite professor in my home and been subsequently dejected at his lack of appearance.

Coming from an average middle class background, I'd hoped it would show him what a diamond in the rough I really was.

Doctor Connelly smiled, showing white even teeth and beautiful dimples. At 49 he looked like he could have been in his early thirties if not for the tastefully greying black hair he always wore brushed back, perpetually looking like a man who only brushed his hair with his fingers.

"Since you've successfully graduated I think we can drop the titles, Karin."

And the blush returns. "Okay..." I couldn't get his first name out but he wasn't paying attention.

"Anyway, I've been invited to Japan by an old mentor of mine who works at Tokyo University to join a team cataloging the life stories of the elderly indigenous Ainu people for UNESCO."

"The indigenous of Hokkaido?" I asked excitedly, clasping my hands together in front of me and looking every bit a gracious 7 year old at her princess birthday party as the cake is brought out complete with collectable figurines.

Doctor Connelly laughed and I felt goose bumps rise on my arm.

"Yes, dear girl. The last indigenous people of Japan. And I would like you to accompany me. Surely your major and adept ability at languages should prepare you for this. And it will be part of your Masters work."

"Oh doctor Connelly!" Yes, I said it just like a catholic school girl, all breathy and flustered. Damn it all.

It was the single greatest opportunity for the advancement of my education, I tried to tell myself over the high pitched squealing in my mind of all the quality time professor Connelly and I would spend in the field working long hours in hopefully close quarters…. Surely I would be able to confirm my standing as a worthy colleague in the field….


Three weeks after I graduated Sum Cum Laude in honors with a double major in linguistic anthropology and global studies and a double minor in Spanish and Arabic language I was on a flight to Tokyo. East Asian studies was one of Doctor Connelly's areas of interest, and it never occurred to me that it might be strange for me to be chosen for such a short endeavor. Normally if a research assignment is no longer than a month it would make more sense to have a seasoned linguist, or at least someone who spoke the language of the country it would take place in. However, no such thought crossed my mind. I was too excited and beset with romantic notions of the country of "the people of the sun" and all that could happen between the doctor and I.

What I was not prepared for, was the unceasing bustle of the Japanese that appeared more like a collectively calm experience on hallucinatory drugs. In the streets on Tokyo I felt like a katydid in a hive of honey bees. I have a penchant for languages and an ear for dialects, but I had only had a two week crash course in Rosetta stone Japanese before arriving, though I had taken many classes on the culture.

Left alone for an hour to settle into my hotel, because Dr. Connelly was staying with his friend's family, I found myself lost in the expansive Shibuya district. At night.

For those of you unfamiliar with Shibuya, it is large shopping and nightlife district, and I was lost in the center of its nightclubs and love hotels. If I'd been in New York no one would have glanced at a pale, thin girl spinning in circles with a large backpack and oversized carry on. But apparently I was rather interesting to the drunk young professionals.

I was accosted by three twenty-somethings that were already to the point of staggering and slurring. If this had happened on my college campus at night I doubt I would have thought twice about my safety because I carried pepper spray and a taser at all times, and I was sure as hell faster than men to that point of drunkenness. I could have zigzagged a bit when I ran and confused them enough that they'd have to stop pursuit. However I could not understand but bits and pieces of what they were saying and the streets were so crowded that it was like everywhere I turned I blocked by a wall of hurrying bodies.

It was only luck that I managed to move through the crowd enough to find an entrance to the metro and an old railway officer directed me to the stop that would put me closest to my hotel. Which I then figured out was less than five blocks from the airport and it was only my ridiculous mispronunciation of the place that the taxi driver left me off in Shibuya. That night I ate alone in my room and Dr. Connelly didn't even call to check and see if I had made it to the hotel ok. I should have taken that night as an omen.