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The Crane Wife

The Crane Wife

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The Crane Wife

3.5/5 (2 ratings)
64 pages
51 minutes
Oct 8, 2019


Shortly after Kenta freed a trapped crane from a snare, a mysterious woman appears at his home. Beautiful Yukiko insists on becoming his wife and though he knows he can't afford to marry, he also cannot resist the temptation to claim her as his own. It isn't long before he finds himself falling in love with the strange young woman, even though she refuses to share any information about her past.

Yukiko has good reason to keep her secrets. If Kenta ever discovers the truth about her identity, it could destroy their chance at happiness and force them apart forever...

The Crane Wife is a fantasy romance based on the Japanese folktale "Tsuru Nyobo."

Oct 8, 2019

About the author

Jaymi Hanako writes stories of love and lust in alternate worlds. Her favorite subjects include spaceships, magic, and paranormal creatures.Born and raised in Hawaii, she left paradise when she fell in love with a soldier. After being assigned to different bases throughout the southern United States, they settled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where they currently live with their dog and two cats.

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The Crane Wife - Jaymi Hanako

Chapter 1

Kenta sank through the thin crust on the surface of the snow. Here, under the trees, some of the drifts were nearly as tall as he was. Though it meant a less direct route home, he turned his steps toward the frozen pond. The ice should be thick enough now to bear his weight, and it would take much less effort than floundering through the forest.

The heavy load on his shoulders did not help with his balance, but he’d had a lot of practice in carrying similar burdens. It was good quality wood from seven-year old sawtooth oak trees. They were the perfect size for his purpose and would burn well even with the bark left on, making the sort of charcoal that would fetch the best price. Three more days like this, and he would have enough to fill his kiln.

The snow was particularly wet and heavy today, soaking straight through his double layer of tabi. He could hardly feel his feet. He tried to focus his thoughts on his small home. Old, but a sturdy shelter against the winter wind. He thought about the warm fire he would build and the rice and barley gruel he would have for his supper.

His stomach growled, yet he knew that his hunger would be only partly satisfied. He craved more than what he had. Miso soup, in particular, would do a much better job of warming him after his long day, but he did not have much of the fermented soybean paste left from his last purchase. He needed to be careful with it, until he could take another load of charcoal to the village.

Though he might not buy more, even then. He needed straw to repair his roof, among other things. Sometimes, it seemed that his expenses grew quicker with every passing day, no matter how cautious he tried to be.

Kenta sighed.

Not for the first time, he wished he had a wife waiting for him as well. A warm, soft body pressed against his at night would make all memories of working through the freezing weather fade away in short order.

But marriage was another thing he would just have to learn to do without. The income from his charcoal-making was barely enough to support himself. No decent family would consider him as a potential husband for their daughter.

The unmistakable sounds of a struggle—accompanied by a high, thin cry—came from the reeds. Kenta dropped his bundle and rushed forward.

A crane thrashed among the frozen vegetation. One of its long, thin legs trapped by a snare. Some careless hunter had never retrieved his trap after the end of the autumn duck migration. Foolish. So very foolish.

No one in the prefecture would want to take a crane on purpose. With their brilliant white feathers, black tipped wings, and red-capped heads, the animals were considered the living symbols of beauty and loyalty. Tradition said they would live for a thousand years, and all of that time would be spent in complete faithfulness to their chosen mate.

At the moment, it didn’t matter how this had happened. With the sun rapidly sinking toward the horizon, this wonderful bird was sentenced to a horrible death.

He could not leave the crane to freeze. Kenta drew his knife and slowly moved forward. "Gomen nasai. He didn’t know if he was apologizing for the crane’s horrid situation, or for bringing out a weapon in its presence. He tried to keep his voice as soft and gentle as possible, but the bird’s struggles only intensified. I won’t hurt you."

There was a brief pause.

The beautiful bird tilted its head to one side and appeared to be studying him. There was a surprising amount of intelligence in those small, round eyes.

Then its gaze focused on his blade. It arched its neck and let out another high, thin cry as it resumed thrashing.

He tried to reach under the bird to reach the cord. A wing struck him across the face once, twice, and then a third time in rapid succession. The feathers lashed his eyes, drawing tears and making it hard to see.

He could not proceed without risk of stabbing the creature.

His feet broke through the mix of ice and broken reeds and he found himself ankle deep in the very cold water. His round straw hat was gone too, sinking into the pond some distance away.

Kenta retreated.

He retrieved his ax and paused again to examine the snare holding the crane. The other end of the thin length of rope was wrapped around a half-sunken

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