Love Letter Lovelies 8:

Missing Beauty

by C.M. Lacey

Part One:

Chapter One.

"You're doing it again."

"Huh?"

"You're looking at my body. Damn girl, you really need to get laid."

Emiko Morimoto blinked a few times, blushed, then turned away. She had indeed been looking at her friend's body, though it she wouldn't have said she was doing so out of sexual lust. The friend in question, Hikaru Yukimaru, was very attractive. Put that together with the two of them working out at a gym in body-clinging tights, and it was a no brainer that Emiko's eyes wandered. Friend or not, it was hard not to look at that glistening toned body.

"Sorry." Emiko apologized, though she didn't feel that she needed too. "Maybe next time you should wear a t-shirt over that sports-bra. You bounce too much."

"Says Miss D-Cup..." Hikaru smirked, then reached up and pushed her own breasts up. "... some of us aren't as gifted as you, Babe. We have to work with what we got?"

"Like what you have is small."

"Well, they aren't as big as I'd like." Hikaru pouted. "Anyway, that old lady is off the treadmill. I'm got dibs."

Groaning, Emiko watched as her dyed red-headed friend ran over to the only treadmill that worked right, and hopped on it. The local gym in Yumoto was a joke when it came to exercise equipment, mainly because all the good Onsen Inns in town had their own private gyms. This left the locals with a small crappy one with weights and machines bought second hand from the Inns. Usually the girls liked to finish off their workout with a run, so it always was a battle on who got the good treadmill.

"You know what, I think I'm just going to jog outside for once." Emiko wandered over to Hikaru, who was bouncing even more now that she was on the treadmill. "The weather's not too bad, even a little cold. Running might not be too torturous."

"We used to do it all the time in High School." Hikaru huffed from her run. "Then again, we also were teenagers back then. Old ladies like us don't like the traffic, rolling hills, and the odd obstacle."

"We're not that old."

"25 is just 5 years away from 30, Babe." Hikaru pointed out.

"And 25 is just 5 years AFTER 20."

Hikaru stuck out her tongue. "You're always so 'glass-half-full'. It's annoying."

"Then I'll stop annoying you." Emiko patted Hikaru's machine. "Please take my gym-bag to work, I'll change at home and meet up with you there."

"Yeah, yeah." Hikaru breathed in with a laugh. "You just want to get away from all this before you give and ravage me."

"With how much you talk about it, I'd almost think you'd like it." Emiko smirked.

"Only one way to find out-"

With that Emiko laughed and left Hikaru to finish her run.

Even though the two of them were joking around, the fact of the matter was that Hikaru wasn't completely wrong. Emiko was incredibly lonely and had taken to gazing at women far too often. Of all the things in her life she wished she had grown out of, it was her insecurity regarding her sexuality. Back in High School, a girl named Maria Fukai had awaken this secret desire inside of her, and ever since then she couldn't make it go away. Her first girlfriend was a disastrous failure, which ended when her mother walked in on a make out session. Not being able to face the music to both her parents and herself, she denied her natural feelings. She even went as far as to trying to date boys to make the gay disappear, but it always ended the same way. She couldn't fight who she really was interested in, or rather, what gender.

Ever since college, Emiko may have the odd fling here or there, but never a real girlfriend. She knew she couldn't explain it to her mother, and also knew that even if she managed to land a patient and understanding girl, it would be asking too much to make her live their relationship in secret as well. Emiko would just end up hurting her, just like her first girlfriend. No, she didn't want to be the reason why sweet girls like Yui Hino ended up in tears.

Exhaling a depressed sigh, it was with these heavy thoughts that Emiko left the gym and jogged out into the misty morning air outside. As she had expected, it was rather chilly out, but soon her exercise was keeping her warm. As she ran, she pulled her long dark hair off her neck and into a ponytail. Her eyes kept a watchful lookout on her surroundings as it really was quite mirky this morning. The hot springs in the area combined with the usual seasonal fog made it rather difficult to see in the dim light. Still, being a native of Yumoto, this was something a local was used too. She could see relatively fine, though most vehicles and pedestrians were more like silhouettes than anything.

"Just come out already!"

Emiko stopped her jog, spun around, and faced the screaming voice. Her heart raced, but only momentarily. The woman shouting was standing in front of her apartment, trying to get her kid exit the door. She laughed internally wondering why her mind was focused on 'that' this morning. As the little boy begrudgingly joined his mother, Emiko took off again at a sprint.

This really was getting out of hand. Perhaps it was Hikaru's constant reminder of the secret they both knew about, or maybe it was just her loneliness. Whatever the case, it was always on her mind. Girls. Girls. Girls. Why couldn't she stop thinking about them? Why was she always fantasizing about finally telling her mother the truth? She knew she couldn't. Both her parents disapproved of homosexuals, her mother especially. She couldn't live with the thought that her own family would start hating her. She had already settled on this years ago. She could never tell them the truth.

Yet, it was what she wanted desperately, more than anything else. She wanted to fall in love with a girl, and to stop hiding her true self. She had seen others do it, why not her?

"Stop it Emi," She muttered to herself in between strides. "you're just torturing yourself. You saw what how Mom reacted to Yui. Just stop thinking about it!"

Try as she might, she couldn't. Instead of seeing the painful memory of her mother catching them making out that one afternoon, Emiko's memories went back further to her first love, Maria. Perhaps it was nostalgia, or maybe it was the fact that she had died so soon afterwards, but when Emiko remembered sex with that girl, it always was a hot memory. Sex with others never seemed to be the same, even if Yui had gotten better as time when on. Her flings were just quick satisfaction, and the boys... well they never got that far. It was always Maria she remembered.

"Ugh!" Emiko slapped the side of her head. "Clearly 'stop torturing yourself' isn't registering with you today."

A man getting out of his car gave Emiko a curious glance, and she couldn't blame him. She was talking to herself again. It was a bad habit she had when her brain was being too loud. Hikaru thought it was adorable, but then again, Hikaru thought strange things were cute.

As she rounded the corner, her mind finally silenced up when it caught the silhouette of another jogger just ahead of her. It was the figure of an attractive woman, the irony of which Emiko was painfully aware. The woman herself was dashing along at a good pace, wearing what looked to be bicycle shorts and a sports bra, her arms, legs, and back exposed to the cool mountain air. The woman's shoulder length hair was bouncing back and forth from her steady stride, forcing Emiko's eyes to follow the rhythm.

Again... a girl was the one who calmed her down. It was both comical and maddening at the same time. Yet as the woman branched off from the path Emiko had intended on going, she ended up following her. She wanted to look at that figure a little longer. Something about her seemed familiar, or at least that was what she was telling herself. Perhaps she had seen this jogger before, or else she was just perving on yet another woman. It might be both.

As she ran, she realized that the woman was slowing down, which forced Emiko to do the same. Then, to her surprise, the woman slowed to a stop in front of the Ozawa Inn, reached for a towel that had been placed there before, and started drying off her face. Emiko had little choice but to run by and end her sight seeing.

So the Ozawa Inn had a cute customer, huh? She wondered if Yui was still working there, and if she was getting a nice show lately because of this woman. Before she was completely out of sight, Emiko casually looked behind her to get one last look at the hot woman. She still was towling her face, but her front was exposed now. In those few seconds Emiko marveled at the girl's midriff before she had to focus on where she was going.

"Damn, that girl is hot."

Now that she was done satisfying herself on the very thing she shouldn't be indulging in she took the long way around and headed towards home. The jog took far longer than it should have, given her detour, so by the time she arrived at Morimoto's Groceries, her legs were feeling it. Despite having a great job at the Yumoto Bank, with a sizable paycheck, she still lived in her childhood home with her parents. The main reason was that she helped look after the store when she had free time, but another excuse was that she was partly afraid of what might happen if she moved away from home. Given her mindset the last few years, there was no telling what she'd do once alone. She already had given into the odd fling here and there a few times.

"Why is that a bad thing, Emi?" She whispered to herself as she climbed the stairs that was in the backroom. The family lived in the apartment above the store. "Wouldn't that solve a lot of your problems?"

"You're talking to yourself again." Emiko's father spoke from a barstool next to the kitchen counter.

"Huh?" Emiko blinked, then realized he was right. "Oh. Sorry."

"Is work stressing you out?"

"Kinda." Emiko lied.

"You know, you can leave the store to us more often if it's getting too much." He offered.

She knew he was just being polite. It wasn't that the store needed her to survive, but with Emiko working off and on, they didn't have to hire a part-timer. Not only that, but Emiko's paycheck was helping the family in ways they weren't fully aware of yet. She had been secretly putting some of her earnings back into her parents savings when she thought they weren't noticing.

"I'm managing. I promise I'll let up once Shoji takes his responsibilities more seriously."

"Your brother shouldn't be your concern." He said. "Anyway, you should hit the showers. Don't you have to be at work in an hour?"

"Oh yeah!" Emiko gasped. "Thanks Dad."

Following his advice, Emiko quickly peeled off her work-out clothes in her room, covered herself in a towel, then dashed to the family bathroom. Once inside, she cleaned up as quickly as possible. She had planned on taking a few minutes to relax in the shower, but following that woman really had cut into her schedule. Why had she done that? Yes, the woman was sexy, but it wasn't like Emiko hadn't seen a sexy woman before. If she wanted to look at a hot girl, she could always go online, or admire Hikaru. Even still, Hikaru didn't have that girl's ass.

It was only then that Emiko realized that she had returned back to fantasizing. She noticed that her hand was resting over her chest and she seemed to be 'cleaning' the same area a bit too much. Damn it, she didn't have time to be doing this. Why was she so turned on?

"You've got work Emi... get it together..."

Reluctantly, she pulled her hand away. Her right breast missed the affection, and her lower body seemed to shout at her. Nevertheless, all that would have to wait for tonight. As stupid as it was, she knew what her plans were after work. She was ashamed of how pathetic that was, and how lame she was for actually looking forward to it. Why did her life have to suck so bad? Why couldn't she just be normal?!