When Akemi announced she would be returning to Japan for a while, she didn't know how long, maybe a short time, just a few weeks, maybe forever- though that was unlikely; she liked the life she had begun here- I felt bad but also decided I'd use the opportunity to see Andrea, the woman I was with before Akemi and I met. I hadn't seen her in a while and, though our relationship was no longer passionate, I had feelings for her, missed her.

Akemi wouldn't know. I'd miss her, feel a vacuum in her absence, a terrible thing it would be having no idea whether the great start we'd had would lead to any future at all between us much less the extraordinary one those first weeks promised, but I wanted to see Andrea all the same, not to resume our relationship in its established form, just to say hello. You know, sometimes you just want to say hello! Breathe a person's familiar aroma, share warmth and congruity it took years to establish.

No, I wasn't interested in a side affair with Andrea. If she and I had a future together, it was as friends and distant ones at that. I just wasn't ready to have her disappear from my life completely. That would feel too strange. Call me weak.

My feelings for Akemi were sharp. She brought out another side of me, an animal force. She saw it, and maybe she was used to getting that from men. "Men get crazy around me!" she had confessed one day, gleefully.

She and I had a thing. I hoped we still would. Akemi said her feelings about me hadn't changed, she just needed to think things over, time to herself.

I'd stupidly talked to her about Andrea and the difficulty I was finding parting company with her for good. I thought being honest was the right thing; it was totally wrong; my assurances to Akemi that I would leave my old girlfriend didn't help so long as I continued seeing her; Akemi was flustered, confused, disappointed. She had to go back to Japan to think; she wanted to see family and friends anyway; the trip didn't really have to do with me, us, she insisted when I asked.

There was irony. My involvement with Andrea was a reason for Akemi's decision to visit her country earlier than she'd intended- she'd had in mind a New Year departure but had moved up the date to late fall. My feelings for another woman were not the only or even the main impetus for her change of plans. Of course not. Akemi had matters of her own in mind. Connections with friends in Japan needed ongoing attention. Our budding romance wasn't that important to her yet, so far as I knew at least. I knew she was excited about me, had been, but didn't fool myself I counted for that much. Akemi was an independent woman, person, strong-willed, not some little flower that got crushed.

The irony, let me continue, was that I'd stopped seeing Andrea when Akemi found out we were still together; I'd done that to please Akemi but too late. She'd made her choice. If I was lucky, she'd come back to the city, to me. It was also possible I'd lost her forever.

She stopped by to visit me in my apartment a few days before the trip. It would be our last meeting. We'd made the arrangement in advance. I thought she was just coming over to pick up some things of hers, give me a farewell but things worked out differently.

We were still affectionate with each other; there was no animosity; Akemi had been hurt by the revelation of my two-timing (my relationship with Andrea wasn't passionate any more but it was hard to just cut out of my life someone I'd been with for three- or was it more?- years). My doing the right thing by Akemi came too late. Her return to Japan was already in the works.

To my surprise, she showed no particular hurry, accepted my welcome to hang out some. She hadn't come intent on making the visit short, though she said she didn't have much time. She was warm though decisive. We sat facing each other across my small wooden table in the kitchen (cheap, plywood) just off the living room by the window sun poured through, and she agreed to have tea and pastry I'd put in store on the off-chance. Sticky honey glazed Danish.

At the time I was unaware, needless to say, that the country Denmark would figure in our lives later, Akemi's in particular.

I thought she was getting up to leave, but she was only stirring, her body languorous in the light, her eyes steady on me. Akemi said she would kiss me and let me take pictures, and I would have that while she was away. I thought: what kind of kiss does she mean and quickly understood- there could be no doubt. Kissing each other on the mouth would make taking a photo impossible. She had to be talking about that other kind of kiss.

Akemi knew I wanted a photo- photos of her doing that but had been reluctant to let me- for not-mysterious reasons: modesty no doubt, also concern I might show the images to friends- we were newly involved, trusted each other, but she didn't know me well; of course I wouldn't do that; although I might be tempted to get the reaction of strangers online- only if the shots were so close up or taken at such an angle her face wasn't identifiable; I valued and would protect her privacy. And why would I display her photos on the Net anyway? Why the need to show her off if I had her for myself? (though I wouldn't then; she'd be in Japan).

She'd made the plan in advance, determined to give me what I wanted and demonstrate her good feelings for me. We'd part ways with a bang. This would be either our final farewell or moments to hold onto till we reunited.

It took me a moment to fully grasp what she had in mind. The scheme showed her strong will and was utterly mysterious and wonderful to me. I thought of how people say with wonder, "Women! That's women for you. Utterly baffling and fantastic." She was.

Her decision to let me photograph her going down on me as a going-away gift showed without question that she still had feelings for me, however mixed with bitterness they might be over the fact that I had kept up with a former girlfriend behind her back.

But the blowjob provided no guarantee we would ever be together again. It was a thing to enjoy in the moment, to the full.

And I saw keenly again, with a rush of intensity, how much I wanted her, how much more than Andrea. There was no comparison with the keen ache she stirred in me, with her tongue, her eyes. She knew her power that she could apply at will, like a snake suddenly lashing from its coiled perfection, to daub me, not with poison but a kind of nectar.

Akemi undressed at the table, rose from the wooden folding chair with its rusted metal legs. It was a simple matter of slipping out of the yellow top she wore, ribbed knit stretch with wide arm holes, color luminous against her radiant skin, and her jeans skirt followed. There was the beauty of her shapes in the orange-yellow light flooding through the window panes onto the table, onto her, into the tea still undrunk, the pastry and its crumbs on the white plate.

For all the talk, my thoughts of my girlfriend Andrea and how continuing to see her made me unfaithful, it was easy to forget Akemi was also seeing someone when we met- and hadn't stopped. She was a woman, her girlfriend Hiroko, and I guess that's why I didn't dwell on their involvement, didn't mind. They'd had a lesbian thing going on. Akemi claimed it was over, they were just friends, just as I'd said, honestly, that Andrea and I were. Was Akemi's thing with Hiroko really over? It was hard to know and not a question I agonized about. I knew Akemi needed friends, accepted Hiroko as hers. Especially living in a foreign country Akemi was entitled all the support she could get. And I couldn't claim to understand her. I was a foreigner and a man. Hiroko was both her compatriot and the same sex.

I met Hiroko the first time picking her up at the airport on her return from a trip back to Japan, two weeks seeing her parents. I offered my services as driver, wanted to see this person Akemi had spoken about, both glowingly and with a tincture of awe, even fear- whether of Hiroko the woman or my reaction to their intimacy wasn't clear. Nor did Akemi's' reaction to my offer assure me she welcomed my presence at the airport when she greeted her friend, but I stepped in all the same.

I drove a Volkswagen then and on the way from the airport to the city Hiroko asked me, "Does this have any muscle in it?" I had never considered the question like that and after a pause answered, "It can pick up some speed in a hurry when needed, yeah."

The way Hiroko spoke, her phrasing, was like a man and made me see clearly she played that role in her relationship with Akemi, she took the masculine part and Akemi was the woman. Of course, it hit me.

Akemi said during the drive, "I've never had a close friend who drove a Western car." She seemed to be imagining the possibilities. I think she was also speculating about my Western cock then, bigger than those of her compatriots.

We three had ended up back at Akemi's place, where other friends were. Music was playing. A young woman's band. The lyric sung as we entered, reaching us in a highish, appealingly girlish rough voice, was something like, "I killed God" or "I killed the King." Like that. I can't recall. Something designed to offend, and funny, given that the singers themselves were so innocent and refreshing in style and attitude, not nihilistic as the song they belted out.

"I love this," Akemi said. And I saw her in a slightly different light, noted there were sides to her character, her avocations, I didn't know. Like her lesbian or at least bisexual proclivities, which she'd said were on the wane. The affair with Hiroko seemed to be a one-off, youthful experiment. No, I didn't mind at all, actually liked the idea. Anything to do with Akemi's sexuality delighted, turned me on. Unless it was with another man, of course. A Western one like me especially. Sten didn't come along till later.

Akemi said for drinks she had something called "cool packs" in the refrigerator. She'd bought them but there was a problem. She took them out and I saw they weren't in any special form as I'd supposed from the name, but just a six-pack bound in stretch plastic.

"The problem is that they're too small," Akemi said, showing me the light blue and white soft cans coming out of the brightly lit refrigerator to the daylight. The nonalcoholic beverage containers clustered tightly together were streamlined, tall but diminutive, contemporary in design, their edges rounded.

"Yeah, that won't be enough," I said.

She understood that as a big Westerner, an American, I needed more. She found my size, my appetites unimaginable, the stuff of fantasy.

Hiroko was wearing a scarf, mustard color with softer brown streaks, and I saw that she was wondering where to put it. I'd taken a hanger from a hook on the wall of Akemi's foyer to hang up my coat and offered it to Hiroko. "You can put your scarf here too, I guess."

"I guess," Hiroko said. I offered my services here too. It was an awkward operation, trying to thread her muffler around my coat, already draped on the hanger. I had to get the thing inside it, in with its lining, and there was awkwardness as well between Hiroko and me, as we addressed each other alone, really for the first time, tried to be friendly. But what was there to say? We were rivals but not antagonist ones just then at least.

In my kitchen that afternoon before she left for Japan, Akemi kissed down my chest and said, "I want to put soy sauce on it!" She didn't actually mean that, was just expressing how she hankered for the thing after too long. A world opened. It was so refreshing getting that serious joy with Akemi I thought I might never have again, at least not until she returned from her trip overseas. Bracing.

My cock, just the end, rested in her mouth. Right there at the table she gave me a taste of what she'd promised- or to be accurate it was me giving her a taste. Only of the tip for now. Her lips, fruitlike, holding it at a jaunty angle. Did she know how good she looked? Had she done this for someone else before? Would she again? I was thinking- and I felt bad about that; I should have just been enjoying, appreciating- but I was calculating how to get the best picture. My camera was on my desk in the living room. I'd get it when she went ahead and put her plan into action for real. We weren't yet. She was "kissing" just the head of my cock now but would go beyond that of course and I would get a lot of photos, set the camera on motor drive so it kept shooting. I'd get all kinds of angles and depths, the slide and the beauty and penetration, the pull of Akemi's mouth, the draw of her cheeks, her dimples, swing of her hair; plunge of her neckline had looked really good in that yellow fuzzy soft ribbed top now off.

I'd risen from my chair to stand beside hers, where she now sat in the nude, her bright body gathering all the light of the room and scattering it back, transfigured. I thought of where and how we would do the shoot. The logistics were on my mind during this trial run, from which Akemi drew back looked at me, smiled, not in triumph though she knew how wild she drove me but with genuine open affection.

We would go to the bedroom. Of course. It would be more comfortable for Akemi. Couldn't have her sitting at the kitchen table awkwardly. That would be unkind. But would the sunlight reach the bedroom as directly as it did there, produce as powerful, dramatic images as the ones possible here, allowing me to capture the full potential of those moments? I wanted to get everything, miss no main action or nuance, render the works to keep all Akemi's beauty, her beauty and passion with me. Her breasts, her bush, coffee-colored as I always thought of it; there it was splayed against the sheets as she sat cross-legged leaning down to me. And it would rise, her bush would, as she came up to approach from the front, her hips lifting, waving as her shoulders rocked back and forth, her passion came on, she showed it.

I liked her naked, of course, the orange tea color of her skin, her superb shape, her thighs, how her breasts swerved to points- her breasts were large for a woman of her race and shapely in a way that was too fetching to describe- a reason for photographs- but I also wanted to see her in her bra, so I could train the lens on it coming off in stages while she kissed me. That would lift the photo series even further into the realm of the marvelous. But I realized I couldn't, shouldn't, ask her to put her bra back on for my picture taking or insist that we move somewhere with direct sunlight just as I liked. We'd stay on the bed where she was most comfortable. I wouldn't make any requests of her. You don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

The bra was a sheer one, semi-transparent net, fabric puckered in places where it didn't fit her breasts quite flush, colorless with black edging that crossed in front, and black straps that scored her shoulders.

Her swaying dark brown hair, her mane.

The black crisscross in front wasn't a decorative pattern, not a floral design or leaf tendrils or anything, no, not racing stripes either, just black strips one running vertical and another horizontal over the filmy transparent cup. The bra wasn't an especially stylish one- it looked cheap- but it looked great on Akemi. The absence of style showed off hers all the more.

And she knew it. She took pride in how she looked- no, not her appearance so much but the magnificence of nature her physique, her whole self, embodied. She was proud of her fine smooth shoulders and, yes, of her breasts especially. And I hankered for them in my hands, smooth, coming out of the plain bra, brimming before the camera lens framing her mouth.

I couldn't say I don't want just your beauty as you are- I want that too but also to make you a fantasy character in my photo play. Come on, you can't. She was showing great generosity, just astonishing, her wet mouth, the sun glistening on it. Take that. Don't ask for more. She's a person, not a subject for my camera.

Did she go to Sten later because he didn't need to render her in photos and words? Or did he too? You could almost laugh speculating, laugh until you cry, your frame shakes, convulves with laughter. Ha ha ha.

The taut curve of her thighs, how surprisingly powerful, how she sprang on them; her slim arms, legs, their smoothness; her cockeyed smile, joyful, ardent and sincere, mischievous. She got that our sex was an expression of love but also fun, so goddamned much fun!

The brightness of her eyes, her saucy mouth, motion, conversation, as we were still talking now. No, you can't capture it in words.

You could say I didn't appreciate what I had by continuing to see Andrea, not cutting things off the moment Akemi and I hooked up.

And, for that matter, in my writing here only about my thoughts and feelings. What did Akemi feel that afternoon in my kitchen alcove? An effusion of love would come from her to me and of course from me to her.

All these thoughts went through my head in the kitchen, before we'd even started the photo shoot, as Akemi just showed me what it would involve. Her smile, her feeling sweet and tart as citrus. Her lips she had glossed with balm; they chapped in the cooler weather, she'd told me. The feeling of her hands on my cock- had she realized it was hard even while we only talked?- and her mouth.

This was long before Akemi started seeing Sten- Andrea was well out of the picture by then- but I wondered all the same if Akemi was paying me back late for my bad faith at the start. I saw for sure how she must have felt then, not knowing what she was doing with someone else. And speaking of irony, wasn't there some in this: the first time they got physical they did by mouth. She didn't want intercourse, felt that would be a step too far, betrayal of her marriage- so she just gave him a gift.

But you'll have to read more of this chronicle to find out more about that. As I did, though I almost didn't want to. The more painful the details were, the more I had to know them. It was pain I had to go through to get to the other wide, whatever might be there, smooth sailing with Akemi or divorce. I'll keep writing.