By Alyx Rancher
“This was a really good idea,” said Lauren. She pulled back the window curtains and looked out at the swirling snowflakes. The inn was located next to a river, and the icy water looked almost black in the gathering dusk, contrasting sharply with the snow-covered bushes and trees.
“Mm?” Her girlfriend Danika came up to stand beside her. “What was a good idea? You mean spending Christmas in Japan?”
“No, but that was a good idea too,” said Lauren. She smiled as she replayed the scene of downtown Kyoto in her mind, where LED lights lit up the night and festively decorated trees were almost like the shopping malls back home. “Do you think it’s odd a traditional Japanese Christmas dinner is fried chicken at KFC, and ‘Christmas cake’ is actually strawberry shortcake?”
“Nope, makes perfect sense to me!”
Lauren snorted. “It would, since you Aussies eat cold prawns for Christmas!”
Danika grinned. “You would too if your Christmas was 29 degrees!”
Lauren frowned as she let the curtain drop. “What’s that in real numbers?”
Danika rolled her eyes at the typical American refusal to adopt the metric system, but she obligingly did the mental math for her girlfriend. “It’s about 85 degrees.”
“Huh. That is pretty warm!”
“It is,” Danika agreed. “So what was a good idea? You mean celebrating our anniversary in the place we first met?”
Lauren’s face softened. “No, though that was a brilliant idea too.” She leaned over to give her lover a gentle kiss.
Danika kissed her back. “Stick with me, babe,” she whispered. “I’m the soul of romance!”
Lauren chuckled. “Yes, you are. Surprisingly so….for a flaky artist type.”
“Hey, who are you calling flaky?!”
But Lauren wasn’t listening. She was remembering her first trip to Japan, when she’d visited her then-internet friend Danika, who’d gone there to study Japanese pottery and porcelain techniques. Danika had invited her to visit, since she’d be in the country for several weeks, and Lauren had agreed.
Lauren had been both excited and nervous, for she rarely traveled alone, especially to a place where English wasn’t the main language. She’d taken a few classes in Japanese to prepare herself, though Danika had reported that she was getting along fine with just a few phrases and a lot of pantomiming.
They’d been friends for three years, but it had been limited to frequent emails and audio chats on Skype. They’d never met in person, and had only exchanged photos so that they could recognize each other at the airport. Still, when Lauren emerged from immigration at the airport and saw her tall friend waiting there, she felt a surge of warm familiarity. They hugged, and Lauren got to see the amazing blueness of Danika’s eyes up close. Her friend was exactly how she’d pictured her.
Lauren had underestimated how fuzzy-brained and lost she would feel, and had been grateful to simply follow Danika out of the building and to the nearest bus token machine.
“I think I’ve got it figured out,” Dani muttered, putting in various coins and bills. “That bus over there should take us all the way into Kyoto.”
“Thank goddess for that,” Lauren said, looking at the machine blearily. “I would be totally lost if you weren’t here!”
“Oh, you’d figure it out,” Danika had said with a laugh. But Lauren had her doubts about that. She admired her friend’s confidence in negotiating the completely foreign signs and was happy to leave it all to her. They stored Lauren’s luggage and then settled into their seats on the bus. As the bus headed onto the busy highway, Danika turned to her again.
“Oh, I nearly forgot. Here, I got you one of these.”
Lauren took the plastic card and stared at it. “What is it?”
“It’s a rail and bus pass. I put some money on it already, so you should be able to use it a few times before having to reload.”
It was at that moment that Lauren felt the first stirrings of what she would later recognize as attraction to her generous friend. In the past, foreign travel had meant being responsible for most of the arrangements, and it seemed the height of thoughtfulness that Danika had done such a thing for her.
“Darling, are you listening to me?”
Lauren brought herself back to the present. “Oh, sorry!” She shook her head with a smile. “I was remembering the time you bought that ICOCA card for me. It was one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done for me! Do you know, I think I first started to fall in love with you at that moment?”
“Hah, yeah….who knew it’d be so easy?”
Lauren laughed. “I’ll give you easy!” She reached out to tickle her, grinning as Danika protested and squirmed away. “I’m sorry, what were you saying?”
“I was asking you what you thought was a good idea, if you weren’t referring to Christmas in Japan or celebrating our anniversary here?”
“Oh yes. I meant staying at a ryokan where we have a room with its own private outdoor bath!” She gestured to the door which opened to a private courtyard. “Can you imagine how that hot water is going to feel when it’s snowing all around us?”
“I can imagine it, and I don’t know why we’re waiting! Shall we have a soak before dinner?”
They stripped and washed up in the shower, cleaning themselves completely as was customary in Japan before soaking in an onsen. They donned the cotton kimonos provided, along with the straw slippers, and carried the small thin towel used to wipe off or drape upon one’s head, then stepped outside.
“Yikes, it’s COLD!” Lauren gasped. “Quick, let’s get in!”
They doffed their robes and slippers and eased into the steaming water. Even though they weren’t in the public bath, by habit they were careful not to let their towels touch the water, as it was considered unsanitary and rude. The rotenburo (outdoor onsen) was small but beautiful. It looked out onto a garden – pine trees laden with snow, maple and plum trees stripped of their leaves, laurel bushes and large rocks arranged carefully, also covered with snow. The pool itself was kept to a natural style, irregularly shaped and lined with stones. The water was pumped in directly from the nearby hot spring, and the alkaline minerals dissolved in it made it slightly cloudy.
“God, this is wonderful,” said Danika as the warmth began to seep into her. Lauren smiled at her and nodded. She was lost in memory again, recalling the very first time they’d gone to an onsen together.
It was on that very first trip to Japan, and during the second week there they’d made arrangements to stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, deep in the countryside of the Kansai region. Though Lauren had always wanted to try an authentic hot spring bath, the idea of bathing with someone she’d never met before made her slightly nervous. Danika, being the more adventurous sort, had reassured her.
“If it makes you uncomfortable, I’ll go in first,” she offered. “And I promise not to look at you.”
“Really?” Lauren had asked skeptically. “And how are you going to manage that?”
“I can do it,” Danika assured her.
And so Lauren had agreed, and found herself standing in front of the lockers where they were to disrobe and leave their things, before going into the bathing area. As promised, Danika had entered first, and since Lauren had not promised not to look, she snuck a little peek as Dani was heading through the door.
“Mmm, she’s all woman,” thought Lauren, then gathered up her courage and opened the door herself, stepping into the steam-filled room. The bathing area was empty except for Danika, who had seated herself on a little stool in the corner. There were plastic stools all around the perimeter, each set in front of a spigot with hand-held shower nozzle, and bottles of soap, shampoo, and conditioner at each station.
“I’m not looking, I’m not looking,” Danika sang out as she scrubbed herself.
Lauren bit back a laugh, and her heart melted once again at the sweetness and humor of this woman, a friend who was doing everything she could to make her feel more comfortable. And suddenly, she was. She lost all self-consciousness at that moment, knowing she could trust Danika to keep her word.
“What are you smiling at?” Dani asked her now, bringing her once more back to the present.
“I was remembering the first time we bathed together, when you promised not to look,” Lauren told her.
“Oh yes,” Danika chuckled. “I kept my promise, you know.”
“I do know,” Lauren said. She reached out to touch her cheek. “It’s another one of those things that made me fall in love with you.”
“Aww, that’s sweet, honey.” Dani turned her head to kiss the palm of Lauren’s hand. “You’re taking a bit of trip down memory lane, aren’t you?”
“Yeah….there were so many memorable things about our first trip here, don’t you think?” Lauren watched as Dani turned over to float on her tummy, resting her arms along the tops of the smooth rock walls surrounding the pool. As she did so her bottom popped into view, the silky rounded cheeks just breaking the surface and glinting with moisture. As always, the sight of those beautiful buttocks caused Lauren’s heart to skip a beat, and brought a tingle to her palm.
“Mm?” Dani said lazily. “Like what?”
“Well, like the dinner we had with your ‘sensei’ – the one who was teaching you Japanese pottery techniques, remember?”
Dani knew immediately what Lauren was referring to, and she began to chuckle. “You mean when we took him, his wife, his assistant and her husband, to that fancy restaurant on the river?”
“Exactly. And when you told them that ridiculous story about us meeting in San Francisco!”
“But honey,” Dani protested, “I couldn’t tell them the truth – that we’d met on a spanking forum!”
“Well, I understand that! But why couldn’t you tell them we’d met online somewhere? Like, I found your website and loved your pottery, and after buying several pieces began corresponding with you?”
“Well, that makes perfect sense, but I didn’t think of it!” Dani said. She stopped floating and turned over to lean back against a large boulder. “All I could think of was that the first time I’d traveled to the United States was to go to San Francisco, and that was over a decade ago!”
Lauren rolled her eyes. “Honey, they had no idea when you came to the United States or where you landed! You could’ve told them anything!” She grabbed her towel and began wiping her brow, remembering the expressions of fascination on their faces as they heard the unlikely story of the first time Danika and she had met.
“I have to give you credit, your tale of striking up a conversation while waiting to ride the cable car was pretty brilliant,” Dani said with a sly smile.
Lauren narrowed her eyes as she saw the spark of mischief on her girlfriend’s face. “You think it’s pretty funny, don’t you? Do you know how much pressure I was under, having to come up with a story on the spur of the moment?!” She rose from her seat and began moving through the water like a shark.
“Honey, wait a minute! You punished me for that already!” Danika said, alarmed.
“Yes, I did. But thinking about it now makes me realize that that spanking was not nearly enough!” She grabbed Dani’s towel and lay it over the stone wall, then lay hers on top of it. Finally, she took her girlfriend by the arm and pulled her up to lie on both towels. With her legs still in the water and her upper body supported by the wall, her bottom was perfectly positioned for the walloping Lauren had in mind.
“Baby, it’s cold out here!” Danika complained.
“Oh, I’ll heat you up soon enough,” Lauren said grimly. She rubbed her palm over Danika’s cheeks, still warm and rosy from the bath. Then she lifted her hand high and brought it down with a loud “WHACK!”
“That’s not what I meant…OW!” Danika whimpered and yelped as Lauren continued the spanking. The fact that her bottom was tenderized by the hot water and that she was spanking wet skin meant that Lauren’s hand felt even harder than usual.
“Do you know how bad I felt, lying to those nice people?!” Lauren scolded, in between quick hard swats that had Danika’s lovely cheeks bouncing merrily.
“But they were happy for us, remember?” Dani said. “They thought it was remarkable that we’d met that one time, then spent the next ten years communicating long distance!” In spite of the smarting of her bum, she started giggling. That tale had really ended up ballooning out of control.
“I know! That horrible lie just kept expanding! You could see it in their faces that they felt honored to be witnessing it – the second time we’d met in over ten years!” Just thinking about it, Lauren re-experienced the guilt she’d felt at deceiving them. She noticed her girlfriend’s body shaking with laughter, which renewed her outrage. “Arrgh, you are such a brat!” Her arm sped up, rising and falling till it was nearly a blur, and the sound of palm hitting wet skin rang out briskly.
“Ow, ow, ow! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Danika’s laughter subsided as the throbbing in her hindquarters increased. Each smack stung horribly, and the speed at which the swats landed meant there was no interruption to the building pain.
Eventually Lauren’s palm stung too much as well, so the punishment ended. She pulled Danika back into the hot water, and hearing with satisfaction her groan as the throbbing in her buttocks was intensified by the heat of the onsen.
Lauren looked at the pout on her girlfriend’s face as she rubbed her backside, and against her will, felt a speck of amusement bubble to the surface. “Those poor people….they really were happy for us, weren’t they?”
Danika nodded, and despite the soreness of her bottom began giggling again. “They really were!”
After their bath, they both dressed and got ready for dinner. Part of the service of the ryokan included a gourmet meal served in their room, and they had both worked up an appetite.
“It hurts to sit this way,” Dani whispered to Lauren as they sat cross-legged on either side of the low table in the middle of the room.
“Just be glad you have a cushion,” Lauren whispered back, smirking.
Two kimono-clad attendants smiled and bowed as they set up a portable propane stove, upon which they placed a large cast iron pot. Dish after dish was set down on the table, filled with razor-thin slices of well-marbled beef, scallions, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, bean sprouts, choy sum, tofu, and jelly-like noodles. As the pot was heating up, one of the women placed a chunk of fat on the bottom and rubbed it around, setting up a sizzling sound as it oiled the surface. Then she added some soy sauce, sugar, and mirin, and indicated that the ingredients should be added and cooked in the sauce.
While Lauren used a pair of chopsticks and began cooking as instructed, the other attendant dished out two bowls of steaming white rice. She took two more bowls and cracked an egg in each, then whisked them till the eggs were well scrambled. She pantomimed taking the hot ingredients out from the pot and putting them into the bowl.
Lauren was familiar with the practice and nodded her understanding. “We’re supposed to take the meat and veggies and dip them into the raw egg before eating them,” she explained to Danika.
“Really?” Dani looked surprised, then intrigued. “Okay, I’m game!”
The first bite was heaven. Slightly sweet, slighty salty, wholly delicious. The savory sauce, the tenderest of meats and freshest of vegetables, the egg coating, and then combined with the soft steaming rice was perfection.
“Mmmmmmm.” The sounds of pleasure from both women were heartfelt and simultaneous, and the two hotel employees laughed. They bowed and left, after explaining in Japanese and some broken English that they would be back to clear up everything later.
Dani and Lauren ate till they could eat no more. They sat back, tummies replete and bodies utterly relaxed from the long soak, smiling happily at each other.
“A perfect end to a perfect day, don’t you think?” said Dani.
“Nearly,” Lauren said. She picked up the porcelain flask that the women had brought with them earlier, along with the food.
“Ah yes, some saké will make it perfect!”
“Not quite,” Lauren responded as she poured out some liquid into the accompanying tiny porcelain cups.
Danika gazed at the tawny brown color which was not like any saké she had ever seen. She brought the cup up to her nose to sniff, and her eyes widened. “Is this what I think it is?”
“Glenfiddich,” Lauren confirmed. “I asked if they had any single malt scotch, and they suggested this. Is that okay?”
“Oh baby,” was Dani’s response as she took a sip, closing her eyes in appreciation. “That’s lovely, that is.” Then she opened them. “You did that for me? I think you are the soul of romance!”
Lauren blushed and laughed, well pleased. “I’m glad you like it, honey. I thought maybe…it might be good for a special occasion.”
“To celebrate our anniversary?”
“Yes, and…um…” she cleared her throat and hesitated, and Danika looked at her in puzzlement. It wasn’t like Lauren to be so nervous. “I was thinking that maybe….Honey? Would you like to move in together?” Her voice had dropped to a register so soft Danika could barely hear her.
“What, you mean, live together?”
Lauren nodded, her expression uncertain.
Dani’s eyes lit up. “Of course, baby! I would love to! But…which country are we going to be living in? Which one of us is going to move?”
Lauren bit her lip. “I don’t know,” she admitted ruefully. “I hadn’t gotten that far. Because we’ll probably have to discuss it quite a bit, don’t you think?”
Dani nodded, her eyes growing serious. “It’s a big step. But it means a lot that you want to do it, honey.”
“I’m glad you want to too,” Lauren said. She got up and moved to sit next to Dani, snuggling into her lover happily. “To plan a future together.”
“Yes, our future together.” Dani wrapped her arms around Lauren and they exchanged a tender kiss. “Merry Christmas, baby.”
“Merry Christmas, my love.”
Aw… such a sweet story. Gave me a case if the feels. I could really see how much the two cared for each other and couldn’t help cheering as they continue their lives together. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks, Stardawn, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, it was one of my more romantic efforts…let’s hope it all ends well for them. 😉
This is a lovely story, Alyx! It makes me want to visit Japan, and soak in a hot bath with a lover, and share that sumptuous meal after watching it be meticulously prepared. But right now, I’d certainly settle solely for some Glenfiddich in a tea cup! …. Thanks so much for this enchanting present, and here’s hoping that Lauren and Danika find themselves living in the same location before it’s time to think about writing a story for next year’s Christmas Exchange!
Ah, so you’re a single malt scotch girl yourself, eh? Somehow that doesn’t surprise me! 😀 (You should really get to Japan one day….it’s amazing, and the food is incredible.) Thank you for your lovely comments, and I share that wish with you! 😀
What a really lovely story Alyx. The memory lane trip was excellent. The whole Japanese experience sounds superb. Thank you for sharing this. It was worth waiting for. 😁
Thanks, Wookie, I’m glad you enjoyed it. (And I’m glad it was worth it, even late. *LOL*) The whole Japanese experience WAS superb….can’t wait to go back there again. 🙂
Reading this left me feeling all warm and fuzzy, and not just from the hot tub experience. Thanks for the gift Alyx 🙃
Warm and fuzzy was what I was aiming for. 😀 Thanks for letting me know you liked it, Lainey! I’m happy you enjoyed it.
Awe Alyx, these two are very lovable and this story was definitely worth the wait. 🙂 Definitely makes one want a hot tub and a lovely lady to go with it on these cold nights. 😉
I’m happy you enjoyed it, Logan. 🙂 And dang it, I wish I had a hot tub and my lovely lady to share it right now! Too right. 😀
Thanks for the lovely Christmas gift, Alyx. I really enjoyed the playful feeling of the story. The image of the characters telling increasingly outrageous lies about how they met gave me a good laugh.
Thanks, Jazz, I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Yeah, that part of the story was unfortunately true. The complicated things brats will think up! *rolls eyes* 😀
That fact that part was true makes it even better. If you’re going to have to lie anyway might as well have some fun and go big with it, in my opinion. A lie is a lie regardless of whether it’s a slight stretch of the truth or entirely false. Isn’t that what Tops usually say?
Haha! That’s right! Thanks Jazz. Y’know, I’m STILL being punished for this!
If her lie had been intended to “have some fun and go big with it” she’d never be able to sit down again! *snort* What saved her is that she is just a terrible liar and couldn’t think of anything better. But I’m actually glad she’s a bad liar….better than the other way around! 😀
Loved the story Alyx! You captured Lauren’s tender emotions so well. *bg* Hope 2018 is full of good things for this couple.
When I was in Japan it never occurred to me to try the onsen. Next time I may go find one, I think. 😉
Thank you, Peach. I’m happy you liked the story. I’m surprised it never occurred to you to visit an onsen! It’s heavenly, although it does get rather warm. Soaking outdoors and especially in cool weather makes it perfect. 🙂
I loved your story Alyx and the description of the rotenburro made me feel as though I was actually in it myself. Lovely to read about these two characters.
Thanks, Jojo, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yes, soaking in rotenburos were some of my favorite memories of Japan….I highly recommend it. 😀
I love this story… but it sounds so familiar for some reason!? 🙂 That rail card was the best 600 yen I ever spent 😀 ❤
Only 600 yen?! I AM a cheap date! 😀 But if I remember correctly, honey, you said it was actually some effort to get, and I did appreciate that. However it was the thoughtfulness of doing it in the first place that got me…..just the icing on the cake that is you, darling. *kiss* 🙂
Thanks, Alyx. Sorry for the late comment, this was the last one I hadn’t read. I was savoring the best until last, of course. 😉 I’m so glad you decided you use your experiences in Japan as an inspiration for your story, makes me want to go there even more.
My story will be submitted soon. I just have to finish it! 😛 But hey… now you guys get an extra treat when you thought there were no more pressies. How fun is that? 😀
*LOL* Thanks, Ash! I do think you’d enjoy Japan…I can’t wait to go back myself. As for your story, I saw that you posted another Annabelle chapter! You’re clearly writing now, so no more excuses! *swat!* Get that puppy in before it becomes a summer solstice story. :p
I worked on it last night! 😩 But I’ve got almost 4000 words and I have much more to write. It’s gonna be yet another long one, I’m afraid. Poor readers… 😢
Ash, I’m sure you everyone will be happy to read anything you write, and long stories mean more to read! So forget the whinging and just keep typing! 😀
Yeah, I’ll try to finish after school tomorrow. 🙃 I mean today…
I better get some sleep then if I’m gonna be working hard later!
Thank you Alyx, this story is so warm and sweet. Loved Laurens memories of what made her fall in love. Those seemingly small things that means so much. Very funny too the lies going out of control! LoL! Also the outdoor hot bath sounds wonderful and increadibly romantic.
Thank you, Robin, I’m really glad you liked it. It’s true about the small things, isn’t it? 🙂 And the outdoor bath is really beautiful, especially when it’s all steamy and snowflakes are falling on you. 🙂
Sorry my last words were lost… Try again:
I never been to Japan but now i would love to go there.
I wish you and Mil a wonderful 2018 with lots of time together !
Thank you for the warm wishes, I’m wishing the same for you and Freja. And I bet you would both love Japan! 🙂
Thank you Alyx! Wow, yes I think you are right. Very interesting culture and we both love japanese food. And i love aikido.😊
Japanese food can be yummy! Aikido, huh? To watch or to do?? If you do martial arts, you must have very strong butt muscles! Poor Freja. 😀
LoL Alyx! Dont worry, Freja is allright 😄. I had to stop practicing it some years ago, but i still love it. Its a very special peaceful martial art with no attacks only defence. (maybe you knew already) And there are swords involved!😀
Yes, I had heard it was a defensive art. And wooden swords, no? Swords are always cool! 🙂 I’m not really worried about Freja…..she can always use an implement. *eg* ;D
Yes even if I only used bokken wood swords its a cool feeling. ☺
Implements, weeell…another option is to rest the hand! Why no tops think of that? 😏😂
“Rest the hand”?? Hmm, what a concept! You’re right, it’s not something I’d ever think of! Something tells me it won’t catch on with the other tops either, but nice try. 😀
LoL, had to try. 😏
What a beautiful story, Alyx! Made me want to book a flight to Japan. 😀 And the spanking on wet skin…geesh, I’m not sure whether to be fascinated or wary of it! 😳 Loved the getting lost in sweet memories! 🙂
Mmm, spanking on wet skin is something to be both fascinated by and wary of! *LOL* I’m glad you enjoyed it Ellie….thank you for the nice comment. 🙂
Alyx what a wonderful story of love. I enjoyed the mixture of mature relationship with reminiscing of the start of something beautiful. Now as to the stories one tells to keep from talking about the kink to vanillas should be considered a part of the kink. Therefore should not be a spanking offense. 😉 Not to mention there are statues of limitations to such mistakes. (I hope that helps Mil)
Thanks, CJ, I’m really happy you enjoyed it. 🙂 As far as making up stories and “statues” of limitations, the only statue I’m thinking of is one of a strong top sitting down with a naughty brat over her knee. It would be in beautiful white marble except for the bared bottom of said brat, which would be a lovely rose color. I’m thinking either Mil or you could pose for such a statue. Hmmm, there’s another story right there! 😀
Again, Haha! I do think I’ve well and truly paid the piper, so I’ll let CJ and your gorgeous topply self pose for that one. 🙂
Haha! Thanks for trying, CJ!
What a wonderful story, I loved the retrospect of how they fell in love. I was going to comment last night but I had the urge to go soak in the hot tub!😉
Thank you for this story Alyx!
Thanks, Claire, I’m glad you enjoyed it. And if you really do have a hot tub, I envy you! All I have is a shower, and for some reason they don’t have Japanese style baths in Hawaii. 😦 Oh well, another reason to go back to Japan! 😉