Hunting Happiness by Sage McMae

The Blind Date

“I still don’t get why you won’t go,” Kagome calls through the bathroom door. “It’s not like you have to marry the guy. It’s just a blind date. Let him pay for your dinner and have fun!”

On the other side of the door, Kagura sighs. “You don’t understand. Your family doesn’t care who you marry. They aren’t setting you up every week with a different person, hoping for a match that ends in lucrative stocks and the heir to an international conglomerate.”

Kagura talks about the future as if it is a business venture. Kagome frowns. She doesn’t think about it in those terms but, considering Kagura’s father, it makes sense. Kagura may no longer live under his roof, but no amount of distance can separate her from his shadow.  

“Have you tried talking to your dad?”

Kagura scoffs. Kagome hears her lean against the doorframe and imagines she has her arms crossed over her chest in her typical defensive stance. “My father,” she says the term with pure disdain, “doesn’t care how I feel. All he’s concerned with is becoming the most powerful man in Japan.”

Kagome doesn’t argue. Onigumo Naraku is the most ambitious person she has ever met. His determination would be admirable if he showed even an ounce of compassion. However, the only thing that parallels Naraku’s business prowess is his ruthless behavior. 

He operates as if life is a never-ending chess match. Each decision has been thoroughly calculated. Every reaction is anticipated with contingency plans and countermeasures in mind. Naraku leaves nothing up to chance. Not his latest product launch and certainly not the fate of his daughter’s future.  

The idea of him sending Kagura on these blind dates suddenly feels more like an auction than an appointment. Of course, setting up a bidding war for his daughter’s hand sounds like something Naraku would do. He expects Kagura to marry into an influential family, which is why she’s been meeting with the wealthiest bachelors in Tokyo. 

Kagome bites her lower lip. She knows Kagura has a tumultuous relationship with her father. He’s always been hard on her, partially because she’s the eldest and partially because he has no sons. Kagura and her younger sister, Kanna, are his only children. Naraku tried to instill his beliefs within them, including his bias regarding humans. His teachings worked on Kanna but Kagura has always been a free spirit. 

The fact that she’s a demon has never bothered Kagome. She judges people based on their actions, not how they were born— a trait that Kagura claims makes her unique. Naraku doesn’t share Kagome’s opinion. He considers demons superior to humans which is something he has in common with someone else Kagome knows.

Sesshomaru Taisho may be Tokyo’s most sought-after bachelor but he’s also the most infuriating person Kagome has ever met. Just thinking about the daiyokai has Kagome’s temper rising. The fact that he happens to be her superior in the office only adds to her irritation.

Despite his successful strategic development plans— which have placed Taisho Enterprises as the top-grossing firm in the city three years running —Kagome doesn’t respect Sesshomaru. Nepotism granted him the role of CEO. In Kagome’s opinion, he’s done very little to earn the title.

What expertise Sesshomaru possesses in the boardroom, he lacks in compassion. From the moment he steps off the elevator onto their floor, his presence demands attention. His inspections of the departments are thorough and have caused more than one panic attack.

The man is a menace.

He can find a single comma out of place on an expense report or the sole grammatical error in a hundred-page document. If you’re unlucky enough to catch his eye, you might as well start packing up your things. Last week, it was a man on the third floor who forgot to update his footnotes formatting.

Kagome runs a brush through her hair as she remembers how defeated the man looked while being escorted from the building. She can only imagine how terrified people would be if they knew what he really was.

Jerk, she thinks angrily, slamming the brush down with more force than is necessary.

“Are you okay in there?” Kagura asks.

“Yeah, almost ready,” Kagome replies.

She glances over at her cosmetics bag. Kagome doesn’t make it a habit to wear makeup. Unlike Kagura, she doesn’t spend her after-work hours dining downtown or attending fancy clubs. Her evenings usually consist of a quick meal and curling up on the couch with a book.

“Actually, maybe you should do my makeup,” she decides, opening the bathroom door.

Kagura pushes off the doorframe. Her eyes go wide as she takes Kagome in.

“You look fantastic! You should keep that,” she says, gesturing to the fitted dress Kagome is wearing.

The slinky, navy blue number still has tags on it from the designer store Kagura purchased it from. Kagome tried not to gape at the number she saw on the tag when she slid into it. The garment costs more than she makes in a month. She can’t possibly accept it.

Kagura waves off her refusal and ushers her over to the mirror. “Consider it a bonus. Now let’s get to work!”

Kagome shakes her head and lets her friend begin applying primer to her skin.

This is the first date she’s been on since college. Even if it’s only as a favor to Kagura, she’s nervous. What does she say to him? Will he ask her about Spyder Tech? Kagura already briefed her on the company highlights but Kagome barely remembers. She’d been too preoccupied with trying to emulate Kagura’s effortless confidence.

“If you’re not interested, why don’t you cancel on him? Why send a decoy?” she asks.

Kagura’s brow creases as she attempts to apply Kagome’s lip liner. “Because I have other plans tonight.”

“What plans?”

“I met someone,” Kagura reveals.

Kagome grabs her friend’s wrist, holding it away from her face. “What? Who?”

Kagura frowns. “No one my father would approve of,” she answers. Kagome hears the disappointment in her voice. 

“Did you meet her at work?”

“No,” Kagura responds, “I met her at one of my father’s parties.”

Kagome’s eyes go wide. “Seriously? How did that happen?”

Kagura sighs, pausing for a moment. “I don’t know. I wasn’t even planning on being there but then my father bribed my chauffeur and I ended up at the estate. He was scolding me for being late when she walked in. I’ve never seen anyone command a room like her,” Kagura admits. “One glance from her and my father was silenced.” 

“Tell me more,” Kagome prompts, giving her a reassuring squeeze.

That’s how she finds out about Arisu Aikawa. She belongs to one of the oldest inuyokai family lines. As such, she’s recognized as part of the daiyokai’s inner circle. Kagome tries not to think about what that means for her. The few demons in the inner circle that she’s met have all considered her beneath them. They don’t consider her humanity an asset; they see it as a weakness. 

The prejudice isn’t solely limited to humans. Kagome knows that hanyous— half-demons born of a demon and human union —are considered only a step above humans. There are also levels within the full-demon ranks. Kagura explained that it has to do with their familial lines and how powerful they are. Kagome acknowledges it but she has never understood their reasoning. A person should be viewed based on their actions, not how they were born or to whom. 

It seems unfair, especially when she thinks about demons like her friend, Kouga. The wolf demon works at a non-profit institution for less powerful demons and hanyous. He focuses on survival skills to help them blend into the human world and avoid detection. Kouga even teaches them trades such as carpentry and metal-working so they can secure employment. He’s a good guy. 

But not Kagura’s type, mainly because Kagura’s type is female. Unfortunately, that isn’t something she felt comfortable sharing with her father. Knowing Naraku, Kagome can understand her decision to keep the matter private. The only person who knows Kagura’s preference is Kagome. Because of that, Kagura’s longest relationship is their friendship.

She’s dated a few people but has never seriously been involved with anyone. Kagome knows that it is partially because Kagura is a free spirit who doesn’t like to be tied down. The other reason is that she needs someone stimulating– someone who can keep up with her clever mind. 

Based on how Kagura talks about Arisu, Kagome thinks she may have finally found the one. It’s the first time Kagome has ever seen Kagura unguarded and happy. Usually, that carefree side only comes out when they have a girls’ night in.

And usually, copious amounts of wine are involved.

Seeing her friend this way warms Kagome’s heart. So what if she has to go on a blind date to cover for Kagura? What’s one dinner with a stranger when it’s in the name of true love? Besides, she knows if their roles were reversed, Kagura would do the same for her.

“So what’s this guy’s deal?” she questions.

Kagura shrugs. “CEO of some company or another. To be honest, I don’t even read the name or look at the headshot when my father sends over the dossiers. They’re all the same anyway. I just memorize the  logistics so I know when to show up and where.”

“Seriously? You don’t even know the guy’s name!” Kagome cries.

“What does it matter anyway? You’re meeting him in a public place and I’m sending you in a car,” Kagura reminds her.

Kagome tries not to fidget as Kagura does her mascara. The nerves are back. She considers telling Kagura that she can’t do this but then she thinks of how happy her friend looked when she talked about Arisu.

“I know I’m asking a lot. That’s why I have this,” she says, producing a check. Kagome’s eyes go wide at the number on the paper. “It should be enough to cover the renovation costs.” 

There’s no way Kagome can refuse now. Her family lives at an old shrine that is in desperate need of repairs. Kagome has been helping as much as she can but it’s not enough. The type of work the shrine requires takes more than money. They need to hire a team of contractors or cut their losses and sell the property.

“Alright,” she relents with a sigh. “Where am I meeting him?”


An hour later, Kagome is seated in Perilla Lounge, sipping a glass of wine and praying the alcohol steels her nerves. If the stilettos Kagura selected for her weren’t bad enough, she’s also wearing jewelry that equates to more than her annual salary. It takes every ounce of her willpower not to throw back the glass and order another.

Her outfit isn’t the only thing Kagura insisted on. Before Kagome left, Kagura instructed her to cover her pulse points in demon musk. Demons, especially daiyokais, have heightened senses. They can scent the difference between demons, hanyous, and humans based on smell alone.

Nervously, Kagome rubs her wrists together. She hopes Kagura’s timetable is correct. If their ruse is going to work, her date can’t discover that she’s human. Naraku would be furious. There is no telling what kind of punishment he’d inflict on Kagura. As for Kagome…

...well, he’s never been her biggest fan. 

She takes another sip of her wine. Kagome reminds herself that she’s doing this as a favor to Kagura and how the renovation money will help her family. Gramps and Mama won’t have to struggle so much. Souta will finally be able to play soccer instead of working odd jobs around town.

It’s just dinner, Kagome thinks. How bad could it be?

“Kagura Naraku?”

Kagome turns toward the deep voice. All the blood drains from her face as she takes in a familiar towering form. It’s like a scene from one of her nightmares— only instead of showing up to the office naked, she’s stuck with the surly CEO.

“Are you Miss Naraku?” Sesshomaru Taisho inquires.

All she can manage is a nod.

“Our table is ready.”

Kagome blinks, stunned by his response. Does he not recognize her? Sure, they’ve never been properly introduced— and she’s unrecognizable in her current attire— but still! There’s no way he doesn’t know. This has to be a joke. Right?

“Are you waiting for me to pay?” he questions, inclining his head toward her wine glass.

Kagome shakes her head, hoping the movement doesn’t dislodge the gold hairpin Kagura lent her to hold her sleek updo in place.

“Good.” He strolls out of the bar area and into the restaurant where a waiter is standing by a table for two.

Kagome is not sure what surprises her more— the way he treats this date like a business meeting or the fact that he didn’t fire her on the spot.

Eventually, her sense of preservation kicks in. She slips off her chair as delicately as possible and follows Mr. Taisho to their table. Kagome’s legs are shaking so badly that she can’t believe she makes it to her seat without toppling over.

The waiter hands her a menu, reviews the specials for the evening, along with the recommended wine pairing, and then leaves them to get acquainted.

Kagome chews the inside of her cheek, wondering if she can make a break for it before Mr. Taisho notices who she is. If she called Kagura’s driver from the table, took off her heels in the lobby, and ran…

“I hope you’re under no misconceptions about what this is, Miss Naraku. I have no intentions of courting you or entering into negotiations with your father’s company,” Mr. Taisho informs her, not even bothering to look up from his menu.

Okay, well that’s just plain rude…

Regardless of Kagome’s feelings toward Spyder Tech or Kagura’s father, she doesn’t appreciate Mr. Taisho’s tone. He isn’t the only one who disapproves of Naraku and he certainly didn’t need to come here. Kagome wishes he hadn’t. If he had been a no-show, she could be at home right now, curled up with the latest Rumiko Takahashi novel. Instead, she’s stuck here. 

Annoyed, she crosses her arms over her chest. “What makes you think that I want to be here? Has it ever occurred to you that maybe I don’t like you either?”

His gaze lifts off the page to her face. “Considering that we just met, I doubt my personality is a factor in this equation.”

“Are you implying that I’m here for another reason?” 

“You tell me,” he prompts. 

“Perhaps, I will if you share your reason for coming here,” she counters.

Mr. Taisho sets his menu down. “I am honoring the wishes of my father. He would prefer that I take a mate.”

“And you? What do you prefer, Mr. Taisho?”

He folds his arms on the tabletop, staring across at her. “I believe I answered your question. Now, it’s your turn to answer mine.”

Kagome represses the urge to shiver. His voice may sound as smooth as honey but she can sense that he’s laying a trap. She thinks about what Kagura would do, then shifts in her chair, feigning indifference.

“As you are already aware, my father wants me to have an advantageous marriage. This date is just one of dozens I’ve been forced to go on in order to secure that future.”

“His plan doesn’t interest you?” Mr. Taisho asks.

“A question for a question,” Kagome responds.

“Very well,” he agrees with the hint of a smirk. “I assume your last query will suffice?”

Kagome nods.

“I prefer not to be dependent on others,” Mr. Taisho answers. “A mating bond would make that impossible.”

“So you’re afraid of commitment?”

“I believe it is my turn,” he reminds her.

Kagome does her best impression of a Kagura sigh. “No, I don’t agree with my father’s plans. All he cares about is power.”

“And you find fault with that?” Mr. Taisho inquires.

She gives him a pointed look.

“I do not fear commitment. I believe, if you knew me, you’d find that I'm fiercely committed to my work.”

“That’s not the same thing,” Kagome argues, dropping her arms. “A career is important but it doesn’t give you what you need.”

“How so?”

“A paycheck covers living expenses. It doesn’t care for you when you’re sick or comfort you when you’re scared or cheer you on when you need encouragement. People do. The family we have and the friends we make along the way— they are what’s most important,” Kagome says.

She is surprised that he doesn’t have a rebuttal. Kagome heard stories from her manager about how combative Mr.

Taisho is in the boardroom. Though his expression is unreadable, Kagome gets the sense that he’s genuinely interested in what she has to say. It spurs her to continue. 

“I believe some people use their career as a crutch. Instead of obtaining balance between their job and their family, they build up this idea in their head that if they push themselves enough, they can achieve more— and sometimes that is true. But more often than not, people confuse ambition with deference. They claim they are working longer hours to secure a promotion when in reality what they’re doing is avoiding another fight with their spouse over finances. Or, if they are unhappy with their marriage, they choose to look for satisfaction somewhere else rather than confronting the problem.”

Mr. Taisho purses his lips. Kagome senses she may have hit a nerve but he doesn’t interrupt her. 

“Being driven in your career isn’t problematic as long as you can maintain balance,” she tells him. “In your case, I think you’re playing a part. For the company, you’re the leader. For your father, the devoted son. But what about for yourself? Are you really content to be alone? At the end of the day, are those shareholder reports going to satisfy you or will you swallow your pride and admit your father may be right?” 

Mr. Taisho unfolds his arms. “Do you believe you’ll achieve a balanced life through one of these matches when it has been orchestrated without any consideration for your preferences or values?” 

Kagome is aware they’ve gotten off their pattern but she can’t stop herself from answering him. Somewhere between pretending to be Kagura and trying to ensure Mr. Taisho doesn’t recognize her, she stopped behaving as her friend and started being herself.

“No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe I’ll find it one day. I could be like you— bury myself in work so deeply that all I see are the numbers instead of faces, statistics instead of personalities —but what would be the point? It won’t make me happy.” 

“To what end?” he asks.

“I would rather live my life knowing I tried than die asking myself ‘what if?’, wouldn’t you?” Kagome prompts.

“How will you know happiness when you find it?”

“I think to be truly happy you have to make those around you happy. Our relationships keep us connected. If you want the world to be better, you have to make an effort to improve it,” she tells him.

“How would you improve it, Miss Naraku?”

It isn’t until he says Kagura’s name that Kagome realizes she’s sitting on the edge of her seat, leaning forward on her elbows. Her cheeks heat and she settles back in her chair. The leather is cool along her spine, the open back of her dress giving her access to feel the smooth material. 

The sensation is grounding and she reminds herself that this is Sesshomaru Taisho she’s speaking to. He’s only here to get his father off his back. Any semblance of interest Kagome thought she saw was a farce. Mr. Taisho’s sole interest is his company. Like Kagura’s father, all he cares about is power and control. This conversation is meaningless to him —not worth a second thought.

He won’t give her a second thought. 

Kagome isn’t sure why that bothers her so much. It’s not as if she even knows him and he certainly doesn’t know her. So why is she so upset? 

She chalks it up to being hungry.

“What does it matter?” she mutters, crossing her arms once more. 

“It appears that it matters a great deal to you,” Mr. Taisho observes.

“A lot of things matter to me, Mr. Taisho, but as you pointed out, we don’t know each other. This is a one-time thing. It doesn’t make us friends or even acquaintances. We’re just two people having dinner together to appease our parents. After tonight, we’ll go back to being strangers. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?”

“And if we weren’t?” he quips.

Kagome stiffens. Has he figured her out? Mr. Taisho leans back in his seat, regarding her with a gaze that could only be described as predatory. The golden hue of his eyes sparks with light as if a fire is burning behind those colorful irises. Kagome’s stomach somersaults.

Oh, Gods, I’m fired, she inwardly groans.

“I have a proposition for you,” Mr. Taisho says.

Kagome swallows thickly and strives to remain calm.

“Date me.”

She blinks, sure she’s misheard him. “Excuse me?”

“Date me,” Mr. Taisho repeats. “If we continue to see each other, our parents will be satisfied and cease to interfere with our lives.”

“Except for the fact that we can’t stand each other,” Kagome points out.

“To keep up appearances, we will have to meet occasionally,” Mr. Taisho responds.


“Miss Naraku, neither of us is interested in the suitors our parents are selecting on our behalf. I, myself, have no intention of taking a mate— a position which I have made clear to my father numerous times. I assume your father is the same.”

Kagome thinks about what Kagura told her and nods.

“While I loathe deception, in this instance, it is a useful tool to ensure I have control over my life. You are not an ideal choice—,”

“Thanks,” Kagome says flatly.

“—However, I do not find your company irritating, which has been the case with all your predecessors. I believe this arrangement could be beneficial for both of us.” Mr. Taisho hands her his business card. “My direct line is written in the back. When you’ve come to realize that I am right, call that number. I will be waiting.”

With that, he stands, buttons his suit, and walks out.

Kagome watches him leave, wondering what the hell just happened.


INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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