In a world where the nights are darker and the passions run deeper, two young men go from friends to something more when a dangerous stranger appears on their doorstep.
In feudal Japan, war and famine tear through the countryside, and demons lurk in the darkness. Two young men struggle together on the outskirts of a ravaged village: the strong yet kind Liu Sakurai and his beloved gentle hearted Kiyoshi. And as their friendship endures the endless hardships, their bond grows into something more.
When the summer night brings a mysterious stranger to their door, the most dangerous desires of their dreams and nightmares are awakened. Blood now binds Kiyoshi and Sakurai together where once love did, but can this tie last an eternity?
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May 08, 2006
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Excerpt from Blood Brothers by Barbara Sheridan
Outside, the steady buzz of cicadas and the low rustling of bamboo stalks as they rasped together in the breeze filled the night. Inside the small farmhouse, Kiyoshi snored softly in his sleep, wrapped in his friend's arms.
Liu held him close, dozing off and on as the evening progressed. He toyed with Kiyoshi's hair or indulged himself with a stolen kiss from the boy whenever he woke. If Kiyoshi stirred then Liu quickly pulled him back into his embrace and held him tighter.
The next time Liu opened his eyes, Kiyoshi had rolled out onto the tatami from under the light blanket covering both their naked bodies. Liu turned onto his side, curling himself around his companion's smaller form, his face buried in the silky threads of Kiyoshi's loose hair. As he closed his eyes, Liu's contended sigh seemed to echo in the room.
Sometime later, he wasn't sure when, Liu rose on one elbow, suddenly alert. Everything had gone silent--the drone of the insects, the wind moving through the trees. The silence was overpowering. Unnerved, Liu sat up just as something large and heavy thudded against the front of the house. Shrugging into a kosode, he took a lantern and went to the entrance. "Who is it?" he asked cautiously, speaking through the closed door made of hollowed bamboo stalks.
"Let me in," a man called out weakly from the other side. "I've been wounded and ask only for shelter from the night."
The smell of blood reached Liu through the door as clearly as the stranger's voice did. The man must be a samurai, he realized with alarm.
Clansmen were warring in nearby villages. Stories of the death and destruction left in their wake had reached this tiny part of the province. The bamboo door never seemed as fragile as it did now.
"Go away," Liu said hoarsely. "Leave us alone." Their village already had enough hardships without war to deal with as well.
"Liu, what is it? Who's there?" Kiyoshi asked, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.
Liu pressed a finger to his lips and listened, hoping the intruder would just vanish.
"Please, kind sir. Help me...I'm injured," the voice outside called.
Kiyoshi grabbed his robe, slipped it on, then went to his friend's side. He clutched the back of Liu's robe and Liu in turn placed one arm protectively around Kiyoshi's shoulder.
"One night," the man outside said. "I only...ask one...night--"
There was a thud, then it grew silent, too silent. Kiyoshi tangled his fingers tighter in Liu's clothing. "Should we help?" he whispered.
"No. We don't need trouble here," Liu told him.
"But we can't leave him out there to die."
"Better out there than in here."
Liu looked down at Kiyoshi, then to the door, and to Kiyoshi again. Muttering a curse in Chinese, he stepped back and unlatched the door to slide it open a bit.
Kiyoshi stood in the doorway, watching as Liu went to examine the fallen man. It was hard to see his features in the darkness especially with mud, blood and the tangled mass of hair obscuring his face.
"He's still alive," Liu said. "He'll probably die anyway. We should drag him to the road."
"Maybe we should help him?" Kiyoshi asked quietly, biting his lip. "He may be an important samurai. He may reward us."
"All right," Liu said, his voice heavy with reluctance. "We'll help, but just this one. I'm not taking in every stray that stumbles by."