the first time ever i saw your face

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

A Valentine Short Story

By

Taylor Lee

A 6,000 word Valentine short story.

Praise for
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

“A Cinderella tale of Young Lovers Fighting Against the Odds –and winning!”

~J. John

“A young Chinese woman fights against the prejudice and restrictions placed on women at the turn of the century. Refusing to be cowed by the prohibition against women practicing kung fu, Daiyu secretly becomes a fierce fighter.”

~SMT Reviews

“Two childhood friends come together as young adults and fall in love. A jealous woman threatens to destroy them both with her vicious lies. This fairy tale-like story proves that while hatred and prejudice span cultures and times, love is stronger than them both.”

~Secret Romance Reader

Main Menu

Start Reading

Afterword

Other Works by Taylor Lee

Works by Other Authors

About the Author

Contact Information

Copyright

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

San Francisco Chinatown

February, 1885


Guipo biao
! Come here!” Ting Lyn’s nasal screech echoed through the hallway. Struggling to quash her anger at the ugly curse, Daiyu hurried up the stairs, balancing the heavy loads of laundry in her strong arms. She was accustomed to Ting Lyn slurring her mixed heritage, but this was the first time Ting Lyn called her a whore – at least, she thought with a dismissive shrug – to her face.

Lowering her eyes to avoid looking at the group of tittering girls lounging on the silk covered pillows, she stole a quick glance at Ting Lyn.

Long ago, her father taught her the power of the anger cleansing breath. Daiyu hid her grin. She was sure her father would be amused if he knew that when it came to Ting Lyn, instead of a river of peace, Daiyu envisioned her anger breaths as a flurry of flying ants. She reveled at the image of Ting Lyn’s twisted face and squinty eyes furiously fighting off the biting insects.

“You lazy girl. How long must I wait for my breakfast? I could starve while you lumber up the stairs,” Ting Lyn snarled. “What were you doing,
guipo
? Casting those ugly green eyes at the stable boys? Enticing them with your pale skin, your sweaty stench?”

“I will bring your breakfast immediately, Mistress.” Daiyu kept her voice soft, her expression impassive, as she shelved the stacks of clean clothes. She’d learned not to respond to the racially charged epithets of the vicious young woman.

Daiyu moved gracefully. Each day to amuse herself, she assumed the attributes of one of the kung fu animals. Some mornings she was a dragon, sometimes a lion. Her favorite was the sensuous snake. Shoving down the bile of hate rising in her throat at Ting Lyn’s ugly words, she assumed the deceptively calm presence of a panther, sleek and muscular—its dark green eyes glittering ominously.

Moments later, she trudged up the stairs, shouldering heavy trays of hot tea and fragrant noodles, enough food for an army of men. More than enough for four overfed, spoiled young women. Concerned for her safety, Daiyu’s father, the famed kung fu sensei, appealed to Feng Sun, the leader of the Ong León Tong, to take his daughter under his protection. Daiyu chafed at the oversight. She knew, as her father did, that of all the young women in Chinatown, she could protect herself. But forced to hide her forbidden warrior skills, Daiyu accepted the protective cover serving Feng Sun’s obnoxious offspring.

Daiyu entered the room as Ting Lyn whirled on Ang, her youngest cousin, focusing her wrath on the cowering girl. “You baboon! You scurrilous monkey! You knew this?
Now
you tell me? That Wei Sun, my beloved, is coming home? Will arrive any day?”

Daiyu stumbled as a rush of excitement skittered over her. Before she could catch them, the precariously balanced trays crashed to the floor. The shrieking girls scattered to avoid the splattering debris. When Ting Lyn wrenched forward to strike her, Daiyu ducked and Ting Lyn sailed by, landing in a pile of slithering noodles. Daiyu looked up to see Ang press her hand to her mouth to stifle her giggle. The other girls jumped back, unable to smother their gasps of horrified delight at the sight of Ting Lyn upended in the viscous mess.

That evening, Daiyu scampered along the narrow dark streets heading home, her heart racing with excitement. She laughed out loud at the memory of Ting Lyn’s fury, but quickly forgot the hateful, abusive tirade focusing instead on the joyous news. Wei Sun was coming home.

Ten long years hadn’t dulled the memory of Wei’s laughing eyes and teasing grin. God, she had adored him. As a young girl, Wei and her brother Bo were her closest companions. She was nine, and Wei and Bo were twelve, when Wei left for China. Girls weren’t allowed to practice kung fu, but because she was talented, and her father insisted, the boys let her practice with them. Surprising sensations rioted through Daiyu at the thought of the handsome boy—who Daiyu realized with a start, was now a man.

~~~

Three days later, Wei bounded up the steps to Wong Li’s home. He had spent much of his youth in Wong Li’s center practicing the warrior arts under the expert tutelage of his beloved sensei. Ducking his head to clear the door frame, he grinned at the confirmation of his height and breadth. It was invigorating returning to his childhood home as a man: strong, purposeful, and ready to assume the leadership role his destiny decreed. After an hour of animated conversation with the man who was his second father, and Bo, his boyhood friend, Wei couldn’t hide his furtive glances.

“Are you looking for something, Wei? Or, perhaps,
someone
?’ Wong Li asked, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

Wei gave him a sheepish grin, knowing his heated cheeks gave him away. “I confess. You know who I am looking for. Where is she? Don’t tell me our little Daiyu has gone off and gotten herself married? “ He spoke the words carelessly, surprised at how anxious he felt waiting for Wong Li’s answer.

Wong Li gazed at him with a knowing smile. “No, she is not married. Our Daiyu is particular. She has chosen, most emphatically,
not
to marry.”

Wei glanced down to hide the flood of relief surging over him. When he saw Wong Li and Bo smiling at him in amusement, he stuttered, “I…I have a gift for her. I never saw black jade before I went to China. Now I know why you named her that, Sensei. In all of China, I never saw anyone with eyes the color of Daiyu’s.”

Wong Li nodded in agreement. “Ah, yes. Daiyu’s eyes. If anything, Daiyu’s unusual beauty is more intense now that she is a young woman.” Not attempting to hide his pride, he added, “Quite simply, she is lovely.”

Bo rolled his eyes and scoffed. “That is an understatement, Father. Every wealthy man in San Francisco is ravenous for her hand. But she refuses them all.” He grimaced, his eyes flashing with anger. “We had to put her under your father’s protection, Wei. Many of the powerful men who want her are unwilling to accept rejection by a woman.”

Wei turned on his friend, his voice sharp. “That makes me angry, Bo. Why do you let her out of the house? Why don’t you keep her here where she’s safe?”

Wong Li smiled, his eyes twinkling. “Apparently, you have forgotten Daiyu. If you thought she was brash, high spirited, and determined when she was nine years old, Wei, you should not be surprised by what she is like at nineteen years old.”

Wei snorted. “You are correct, Sensei. I remember well how determined, how stubborn she was.” He added with a rueful grin, “Bo and I never had a chance. We were helpless to her demands. Maturing has not softened her? Made her more compliant?”

Wong Li quirked a brow. “Iron does not soften with age, my son. It just becomes more complex.”

Chapter 2

That evening, Wei sat across from his father and accepted the cigar Feng Sun pushed across the desk. Wei basked in the approval he saw in his father’s hooded eyes. Feng Sun was the most powerful Tong leader in California. Strong men quaked in his presence. Few dared look him in the eye. While Wei had never been afraid of his father, he respected him, knowing that the tales of his infamous temper and deadly skill with weapons were not exaggerated. But tonight there was nothing but pride on the older man’s solemn face as he gazed at his son.

“It is time that you came home, Wei. I am well pleased with you. You know it is my intention that you will be the leader of the Ong León. The reports from your teachers in China are replete with your skills as a warrior. I am proud of you, Son, and eager to present you to my followers and to San Francisco’s powerful Chinese leaders. It is auspicious that we will celebrate your homecoming on the Chinese New Year which this year also happens to be Valentine’s Day.”

“It will be a great celebration, Father. I met with Wong Li and Bo today. They agreed to stage the Five Animal Tribute in honor of the occasion.” He smiled, a cocky grin, “It only took me ten minutes to wrestle Bo to the ground to win the role of the dragon. I think even Wong Li was impressed with the expertise I gained in China.”

His father smiled in approval. “You and Bo always were competitive, but being the son of Wong Li gave him an edge. It is good for this old warrior to know that you are now the strongest and most expert of the kung fu fighters.”

Wei forced a diffident tone as though what he was saying was of little import. “I understand that you have given protection to Daiyu, Bo’s sister.”

“Yes. Daiyu was always a pretty child, but she is a startlingly beautiful young woman, no doubt the result of her mixed heritage.” Feng Sun frowned. “Her beauty, added to her obvious distain for the men wooing her, is tantamount to waving a red flag in front of angry bulls.”

Struggling to quell the unexpected sensations roiling in his gut, Wei puffed on his cigar, affecting nonchalance. “Is she… Is Daiyu here, by any chance?”

Feng Sun scowled. “No. Along with your sisters, Daiyu is at your aunt’s home preparing for your homecoming celebration. I do not envy her. Your sisters, and, most especially your cousin, are exceedingly demanding.”

He threw his son a quizzical glance. “Tell me, Wei. Is the gossip I hear from your sisters true? They say that you will use the occasion of your homecoming celebration to announce your betrothal to your cousin, Ting Lyn.’

Wei snorted in surprise. “You jest, Father. I haven’t seen Ting Lyn for a decade. Good God, even as a boy I found her insufferable, her affectations intolerable.”

Feng Sun nodded in mute agreement, then added, “Well, Son, you may not plan to wed your “challenging” cousin, but you must know that Ting Lyn and her mother—my dead brother’s wife—have been planning your wedding since you were children.”

Wei grimaced, thinking about the simpering girl who refused to walk in the sun lest she darken her complexion or soil her dress. He grinned to himself, remembering Daiyu’s dirty face and her triumphant shout when she pinned him to the bare ground with a vicious throw.

Snuffing out his cigar, Wei stood and met his father’s gaze. His lips curled, but his voice was firm, serious. “No, Father, there will be no lover’s announcement on Friday, or ever, concerning Ting Lyn and me. When I marry, it will be for love.”

Bowing low to his father, he turned and strode from the room.

~~~

Daiyu returned from her forced exile to Ting Lyn’s villa, heartsick that Wei and Ting Lyn planned to announce their betrothal at his homecoming celebration. At first, she refused to believe Ting Lyn’s confident boasts. But as Ting Lyn and her overbearing mother packed a dozen gowns for Ting Lyn’s presumed trousseau, Daiyu began to accept Ting Lyn’s smug declaration.

Depressing her further, she learned that Wei and Bo planned to stage the Five Animal Tribute at the celebration. A bitter wave of envy swamped her when she heard the news. As children, she and Wei and Bo often staged the kung fu spectacle, trading parts, always arguing who would be the dragon. No matter how many temper tantrums she threw, her diminutive size most often relegated her to the role of the snake.

As she helped her father pack the costumes and props for the kung fu tribute, Bo charged in, his face pale, his voice shaking. “Father. We are in trouble. Shingbo is ill”

Wong Li drew back, startled. “Surely not so ill that he cannot perform the spectacle?”

“Father, he is vomiting. He has severe dysentery. Damn. No one else in our troupe can be the snake. Only Shingbo is small enough to qualify.” Bo groaned. “Father, do you know how angry, how disappointed Wei will be? The interplay between the snake and the dragon is the triumphant highpoint of the dragon’s role.”

Wong Li ran his hands through his hair in a rare show of frustration. As he and Bo discussed alternatives, Daiyu stepped forward. Her voice was firm, assertive.” I will play the snake. I know the role. No one knows it as well as I do.”

Bo stared at her, aghast. “What are you saying, Daiyu? Are you crazy?” When she lifted her chin underscoring her determination, Bo’s face flushed an angry red. “No, Daiyu. You cannot, you will not do this. Everyone will know. Most important, Wei will know. He’ll be furious.”

Daiyu took a deep breath and glared at her brother. “He won’t know. And think

how furious he will be if we cancel the performance. No, Bo, I am the right person to play the snake. You know that. The costume will fit me. I am almost Shingbo’s size.”

When both her father and brother stared pointedly at her full breasts, Daiyu tossed her head, pressing her hands against the lush mounds. “I will bind them. Tight, flat. No one will know.”

Seeing his father’s thoughtful frown, Bo swung on his sister. “You are putting our father’s livelihood at risk, Daiyu. If anyone discovers he taught you kung fu, he will be ostracized, banished. You know this, Daiyu. You are being selfish.”

To Daiyu’s surprise, her father disagreed. “No, Deiyu, you are correct. You are the only person who can play this role, the only person who
should
perform this role.” Ignoring Bo’s outraged stutter, Wong Li continued, “You have practiced for this moment all of your life.” When she demurred, he held both of her hands in his. “No, daughter. Go out there. Fight like the warrior you are, the warrior you have spent your life training to be.”

Chapter 3

A flash of riotous color split the sky, chased by the formidable rumble of fireworks. The raucous crowd shouted its approval, then quieted expectantly when a cymbal crash heralded the beginning of the Five Animal spectacle. One by one, the fierce fighters took the stage. The familiar tableau riveted the audience. “Oohs” and “ahs” acknowledged the dramatic strikes, the pulled punches, and the fighters’ fearsome aerial leaps. As the lion and dragon fought their timeless battle, the audience shouted encouragement and groaned in mock relief when the dragon overcame his ferocious rival.

The lion slunk to the side to tend to his wounds as the eerie wail of a bamboo flute beckoned the audience’s collective gaze to the floor. Slithering over the edge of the stage was the disingenuously languorous snake. The other animals drew back in an uneasy circle. As the serpent climbed and twisted upright, its rainbow colored scales gleamed in the firelight. All but the dragon fled the stage.

Wei stepped back frowning. From its initial slithering entrance, something was different about the snake. Wei sensed it and then he saw it. The sensuous, tantalizing moves caught him off guard. Shingbo was a trained fighter, but he did not have this innate, bewitching grace. Wei looked to Bo, hovering at the side of the stage. Bo met his gaze and shrugged. Wei forced his attention back to the snake, enticed by the evocative moves of the writhing reptile circling his feet. Stunned by a fragrance he knew but couldn’t place, Wei forced himself to focus on the demands of the dance. Sliding his large hands over the snake’s slender undulating body, he was shocked to feel soft curves, not Shingbo’s hard wiry body. Bending, coiling the sleek serpent through the strenuous movements, he rasped in its ear, “Who are you?”

To his shock a familiar voice hissed, “Focus, silly boy. You are messing up the dance.”

Overcome by certain knowledge, Wei’s heart raced with excitement. “You?” he whispered.

The snake’s seductive wiggle negated the need for words. Years of practice and more years of unspoken longing intensified their combined movements in a breathtaking display of sensuous artistry. As the flute’s wail reached shuddering heights, Wei responded with a mighty surge of his strong body. Raising the snake high above his head, Wei twirled round and round, a spectacular whirling column. When he came to a halt, the snake slithered and slid down the length of his body. It lay entwined around his legs, while the flute fluttered to a throbbing conclusion. The audience roared to its feet, wildly cheering the extraordinary performance.

Daiyu jumped up, intending to slip away, but Wei gripped her arm and whispered, “Oh no, you don’t.”

Before she could free herself, Feng Sun marched to the stage, his face glowing with pleasure.

Quieting the crowd, he bellowed, “Extraordinary! Simply extraordinary!” The crowd yelled its agreement. Feng Sun continued, “I invite you all to join me at my table. But first, my ferocious fighters, you must reveal yourselves.”

One by one, the fighters removed their masks. The applause rose to a deafening level when Wei took off his mask and bowed to the audience. Approaching the snake, Feng Sun grinned at Wei. “I didn’t think anyone could upstage my accomplished son, but I believe the snake has done just that.” The audience roared its agreement as Feng Sun bowed and said, “Shingbo, I believe?”

Daiyu took a deep breath to still her shaking fingers, then slowly removed her hooded mask freeing a cascade of silky black hair down the middle of her back. Raising her dark green eyes to meet Feng Sun’s shocked gaze, she replied, “No, sir. It is me, Daiyu.”

A stunned silence greeted her quiet words. Feng Sun stared at her then said in a choked voice, “So, it is.” Turning to the gaping crowd he gave an imperial wave, “Please, be seated.” Only the scrape of chairs shattered the pregnant silence.

Daiyu saw the harsh glare Feng Sun shot her father. She was frantic to leave, horrified at the shame she had brought her father. She tried to shake off Wei’s hand, but he tightened his grip on her elbow. He ushered her to the table and pulled out her chair. His voice was soft, commanding, “You heard my father, Daiyu. Please be seated. Now!” He added with a grin, “And while I may be “silly”, I am
not
a boy. I am a man. A man who has requested that you be seated. “

Daiyu lifted her chin and threw him a defiant glare, then sunk down in her chair beside him.

Feng Sun turned back to face Daiyu’s father. His censure was sheathed in anger.

“Sensei, you and I will discuss this matter. You know women are not permitted to practice kung fu. It is against the code.”

Wei leapt to his feet, his body shaking with suppressed anger. “No, Father. You are wrong. In China, many women are kung fu masters. They are honored throughout the country as heroes.”

Glaring at his son, Feng Sun’s words were cold, clipped. “This is not China, Wei. This is San Francisco and you are in the home of the leader of the Ong León. The Ong León does not permit women to practice kung fu.”

Turning to the audience that was staring in rapt silence at the unfolding drama, he said, “Please. Be seated. All of you.”

At that moment, Ting Lyn, her face twisted with rage, rose from her seat at Feng Sun’s table and pointed at Daiyu. “No! Uncle, no! You mustn’t permit this. You may not allow
her
to sit at this table. You…you know who she is,
what
she is.”

Daiyu’s stomach clutched at the fury in Ting Lyn’s eyes, the angry drops of spittle spewing from her mouth. Daiyu gripped the table edge, her fingers white with strain. She knew what was coming and couldn’t bear the hurt it would cause her father. She willed Ting Lyn to stop. But the infuriated young woman was unstoppable.

Glaring at Daiyu, Ting Lyn’s words dripped with scorn. “She cavorts with stable boys. Bewitches men with her devil eyes. She is a
guilo
! A
guilo biao
!”

The audience’s stunned gasp spliced the silence. Ting Lyn’s face paled when her uncle stalked toward her. Feng Sun’s voice was low, ominous, his expression furious. “Leave the room, Ting Lyn. Now!”

Daiyu grasped Wei’s hand. She saw his jaw clench, his eyes flash. His rage was palpable. Only her firm grip held him back.

Feng Sun turned to Wong Li, his face a gray mask. “My honored friend, I apologize for my dead brother’s daughter. She uttered an unconscionable slur. Please forgive her.”

Wong Li rose to his feet, his quiet demeanor spoke to his dignity. He bowed to Feng Sun. “Thank you for your hospitality, sir. My daughter and son and I will leave now.”

As Bo and Daiyu moved to join their father, Wei leapt between them. “Sensei, don’t go.” Ignoring Wong Li’s frown, Wei continued, “Please, Sensei. Allow me to accompany you.”

Feng Sun’s stern voice stopped him. “Wei, we have many guests who are here to celebrate your return. I request that you stay.”

When Wei hesitated, Wong Li stepped forward and took hold of Daiyu’s arm. He shook his head. “No, Wei. We do not require your escort.”

Wei looked from his father to Wong Li. Bowing to his sensei, he stepped back, a troubled frown creasing his brow.

As Daiyu and her father and brother walked by Feng Sun, the Tong leader held up his hands, motioning to Daiyu to stop.

“Daiyu, you know I am angry. But I cannot allow you to leave without acknowledging you. I have never seen the role of the snake performed more elegantly, more beautifully, or with more expertise.”

Daiyu lowered her eyes and bowed. “Thank you, sir.”

As they crossed the courtyard, Ting Lyn jumped from the doorway. A demonic blaze lit her eyes. Ignoring Bo and Wong Li, she hissed at Daiyu. “This is not finished. He will
never
be yours!”

Pulling her father and brother back from the crazed women, Daiyu swallowed a sob. “At least she is right about that,” she murmured.

Chapter 4

The next morning Daiyu and her father were summoned to appear before the Ong León council. When they entered, Daiyu was startled at the anger in Feng Sun’s eyes. Her father’s hand gripping her arm confirmed that he also saw the danger. Seeing three of the stable boys cowering against the wall, dread choked her. Ting Lyn and her mother were standing to the side, their faces gleaming with hate. Wei walked in several minutes after Daiyu and her father. His frown confirmed that he was as surprised as they were at the assembled group.

Feng Sun moved toward Daiyu. His voice was harsh. He spoke without preamble. “This morning I was given irrefutable proof of a crime you committed, Daiyu. A crime that is much graver than your forbidden practice of the warrior arts.”

Wei jerked forward. “What the hell are you saying, Father? What are you accusing her of?”

Feng Sun’s expression hardened. “Be quiet, Wei. No one, including you, is to speak. The matter has been decided. Five witnesses swore that Daiyu indulges in and is a purveyor of opium, the white death.”

Daiyu fell back against her father’s chest, her eyes wide with shock.

“What?” Wei shouted.

“Silence!” Feng Sun roared. “You know the Ong León is leading the fight against the white peril that is crippling our race. My edict is final. Daiyu, as the convicted purveyor of the white scourge, you are banished from my protection and from this household. As for you, Sensei, your services to the Ong León are no longer required.”

As Feng Sun and Daiyu turned to leave, Wei shouted, “Father, for God’s sakes, stop! What are you saying? What are you doing?” He pointed to Ting Lyn, who smirked from the sidelines. “You know what is happening, who is responsible. You cannot believe…”

At that moment, Wong Li stepped forward and held up his hand. His noble face was tight with anger. He addressed Feng Sun. “You convict my daughter of a crime that you know in your heart she did not commit. Shame on you. But you are correct. No further words are needed or will be spoken.”

Wei stopped them as they turned to leave. “Sensei, please. Wait. This is a grievous mistake. You know what is happening. Ting Lyn is responsible for this outrageous lie. I will prove it. I will convince my father. Please…”

Wong Li hesitated. “Wei, you are a second son to me. Know that speaking these words to you is painful. You are no longer welcome in our home.”

With their heads held high, Wong Li and Daiyu left the council chambers.

~~~

Five days later, Wei banged on the sensei’s door. Bo opened the door. His face darkened when he saw Wei. “How many times do we have to tell you? You are not welcome!” He tried to slam the door, but Wei blocked it with his foot.

“Bo, I demand you let me in.”

Bo scowled, “You have no right to make demands. Leave. Now!”

Wei tried to push him aside.” I have something for your father and your sister. I must see them.”

Bo raised his fists, a sharp growl escaping his lips. Behind him, his father spoke, “Let him enter, Bo.”

Wei shoved past Bo, his strong presence filling the room.

He bowed low to Wong Li.

“Sir, I have two letters. The first is a public apology from my father proclaiming Daiyu’s innocence.” His lips quirked, a smile softening his stern expression. “The stable boys were more amenable to my ‘request’ for the truth than I predicted. But the knowledge that my cousin and her mother are on their way to China in disgrace was as persuasive as their broken noses.”

Wong Li took the letter, his expression impassive. “I will see that Daiyu receives this.”

“Wait, Sensei. This letter is for you. We will post this revision to the Ong León Code next to the handbill proclaiming Daiyu’s innocence. As you can see, women may now practice kung fu—with one important caveat. They must be under your tutelage.”

Seeing the tears in his beloved sensei’s eyes, Wei pressed his advantage.

“Now, may I see her?”

A firm click of a door closing confirmed that Daiyu had overheard. Wei brushed by Wong Li and strode to the practice center.

~~

When Wei entered, Daiyu glared at him, folding her arms across her chest. “What do you want, Wei? Haven’t you and your father done enough damage to my father and me?”

“Daiyu, I know you overheard our conversation. You must know how deeply sorry I am for the grave injustice you endured. I am here to ask your forgiveness and to give you this.” Wei inched closer to her holding out a small velvet covered box.

Daiyu lifted her chin, her voice rich with disdain. “I am uninterested in either your apology or your gift.”

A wicked grin tugged at Wei’s mouth. “Hmm, seems you are as stubborn as you ever were. Looks like I’ll need to take matters in my own hands. I propose we settle this the way we did when we were children. I challenge you. As a warrior, you must accept my challenge or concede that you are a coward and unwilling to fight with me.”

Ignoring her surprise, Wei continued. “The stakes are these. If I win, you must accept and wear this gift.” He added with a brash wink, “In the odd event that you win, you may choose how to reward or punish me.”

Daiyu frowned, then turned away as if to leave, but instead swung around arching a fierce kick at his shoulder. Wei stumbled back, shrieking with laughter.

“Ah, my ferocious warrior woman! That’s how it will be? A sneak attack? Damn, that’s the way you fought when you were nine years old!”

With a fierce spirit yell, Daiyu whirled around and drove a hard kick at Wei’s groin. Wei caught her foot and dragged her close to him. Avoiding her sharp elbow jab, he wrapped his foot around her knees and jerked her to the floor, landing squarely on top of her. Daiyu struggled for a moment, then burrowed her face against his shoulder.

As he settled over her, Wei’s hand slipped across one firm, full breast. He grinned and said with a wry chuckle, “Hmm, some things are definitely different than they were ten years ago…”

Daiyu pulled away with a snort, but not before he saw her smile. Wei stroked her cheek and whispered, “Say it, Daiyu. Say you concede.”

She shoved him aside and jumped to her feet, her eyes glittering with scorn. “Fine, dammit! I concede. You win.”

Wei leapt up beside her and handed her the velvet box. “I brought you this pendant from China. It made me think of your eyes.” Pointing to the silver dragon and snake entwined around the gleaming dark green stone, he said, “I added these while I worked to prove your innocence. Turn around.”

Daiyu allowed him to fasten the pendant around her neck, then walked toward the door. She looked back over her shoulder and said with a saucy tilt of her head. “It is just as well that I did not win.”

“Why is that?”

“If I had, I would have forced you to kiss me.”

Wei’s eyes flared in disbelief, but he quickly recovered, a broad grin stealing across his face.

Assuming a solemn expression, he said, “I see. Given that, it is only honorable that I give you the opportunity to regain your standing. I challenge you to a rematch.”

Ignoring Daiyu’s shocked gasp, Wei strode toward her. He fell to his knees in front of her, his eyes sparkling with laughter. Raising his hands in defeat, he said, “Enough. I concede. You win.”

A hint of a smile tweaked Daiyu’s lips at his antics. But, when Wei stood up and reached out to pull her into his arms, Daiyu startled, her eyes widening in wonder.

Wei’s voice was whisper soft, but commanding. Lifting her chin, he looked deep into Daiyu’s dark jade eyes and held her close. “And now, my feisty warrior, I will pay the price of defeat and take my punishment like a man.”

As he leaned down to kiss her, he added, “The man who loves you.”

# # #

Afterword

Thank you for reading
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
.
I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it. This sweet romantic tale is softer than my usual sizzling romantic suspense. It is my Valentine tribute to strong women who refuse to be cowed by the prejudices of their culture and the times they live in. AND a tribute to the strong men who love and support them.

If you enjoyed
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,
do me a huge favor. Go back to
www.Amazon.com
, and please leave an honest review. Authors live and die by their reviews. The few extra seconds it takes really helps us authors out. Thank you!

Other Works by Taylor Lee

Aces Wild

If you enjoyed
Trial by Fire
be sure to check out Taylor Lee’s Historic Romantic Suspense,
Aces Wild (Angel’s Avenger’s Book 1)
.

They call him Angel but every woman he meets sees the devil in his eyes

Praise for
Aces Wild

“If they needed men smarter than hell and as violent as their adversaries, even the mob turned to Angel’s Avengers”

~KDR

“She’s temptingly innocent; he is savagely sexy. Neither one plans on falling in love.”

~Lisa Takamiya

“When the infamous Tong leader’s family is threatened by a vicious killer, he turns to Angel’s Avengers. As the danger escalates so does the attraction between the would be-savior and the young woman he’s hired to protect.”

~David Adams

To purchase
Aces Wild
,
simply click
here
.

~~~

The Grandmaster’s Legacy

If you enjoyed
Love Me Tender
you’ll LOVE
The Grandmaster’s Legacy Books 1-4

Specially Priced Box Set Historical EROTIC Suspense!

Think
Shade of Gray
was hot? It has nothing on the Grandmasters! Historical Erotic Suspense at its best!

A bargain at any price – A STEAL at this price!

To purchase
The Grandmaster’s Legacy
,
simply click
here
.

~~~

AND for Sizzling Contemporary Romantic Suspense, check out these Taylor Lee best-selling full length novels.

Big Girls Don’t Cry

If you enjoyed
Love Me Tender
, be sure to check out Taylor Lee’s Best Selling #1 Hot New Release in Romantic Suspense:

Praise for
Big Girls Don’t Cry

“Sizzling Romantic Suspense at its best! As the danger rages, their passions flare!”

~KDR

“Taking down an international drug ring? Solving a vicious murder? All in a day’s work for the sexy special agent. Taming an irresistible woman as tough as she is beautiful? Now that’s another story!”

~L. Takamia

“She’s an accomplished martial artist as fierce as she is beautiful. He sees the wounded woman beneath her tough exterior and is determined to protect her no matter how hard she resists.”

~J. John

To purchase
Big Girls Don’t Cry
, simply click
here
.

~~~

In the Still of the Night

Praise for
In the Still of the Night

“Dynamite sequel to the Bestselling Sizzling Romantic Suspense
Big Girls Don’t Cry
. WOW ! Didn’t know how anything could be as good as
Big Girls Don’t Cry
but Lexie and Jake up the ante in this super-HOT sequel. Romantic Suspense at its best!”

~SMT Reviews

“Lexie is in full crusader mode, determined to uncover the owners of the infamous San Francisco massage parlors. They call her the Blonde Barracuda. The press loves her, the politicians fear her, and the mob is out to get her!”

~RomanceReads

“Can even Lexie’s and Jake’s red hot passion survive a dark haired seductress and a classy Hapkido fighter out to come between the lovers? Romance as hot as the action. Couldn’t put it down!”

~Action Junkie

To purchase
In the Still of the Night
, simply click
here
.

~~~

If you Love the
Big Girls Don’t Cry
series. Grab Taylor Lee’s best-selling “
All Fired Up
” series.

Playing With Fire

The #1 Hot New Release in Romantic Suspense AND Hard Boiled Mysteries

Praise for
Playing with Fire

“A bad-assed cop who flaunts every regulation falls for the beautiful rookie firefighter only to discover she is his #1 suspect in a double murder.”

~KDR

“A rookie firefighter escapes an abusive past only to find herself accused of setting the fire that kills her husband and his mistress. A heroine that will tug at your heartstrings and a hero that is as outrageous as he is irresistible.”

~RomanceReads

“Cops AND Firefighters? An alpha–male lovers delight. A SEXY kick-ass hero and a beautiful, vulnerable woman in a life and death face-off can’t resist their voracious appetite for each other. This is one SIZZLING romantic suspense!”

~Erotica Rocs

To purchase
Playing With Fire
, simply click
here
.

~~~

Trial by Fire

Riveting Sequel to
Playing with Fire

The #1 Hot New Release in Romantic Suspense
AND
Hard Boiled Mysteries

Praise for
Trial by Fire

Riveting Sequel to Bestselling Sizzling Romantic Suspense
“Playing with Fire
”.

“A bad-assed cop who flaunts every regulation finds himself the # 1 suspect in a vicious murder.”

~J John

“The sexiest, most outrageous hero I’ve read in a long time. Snappy laugh out loud dialogue, a vicious killer who makes Hannibal Lecter seem tame, and a Sizzling HOT romance makes this wildly exciting murder mystery a true page-turner.”

~
Erotica Rocs

“A riveting mystery thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Pulse pounding action and steamy romance. A cast of unforgettable characters that will capture your heart.”

~Action Junkie

To purchase
Trial by Fire
, simply click
here
.

~~~

Fire and Ice

Riveting Novella Sequel to Bestselling Sizzling Romantic Suspense
“Trial by Fire”
.

Praise for
Fire and Ice

“They call her the Ice Princess; blond, beautiful and cold as Ice. But a sexy police commander sees beneath her cold shell. He turns up the heat and proves that Fire does melt Ice.”

~J John

“A beautiful, tough cop has fought her way to the top of her profession the only way she knows how. Without asking for help from anyone. But when that ‘go it alone attitude’ almost gets her and others killed, she’s forced to reconsider.”

~Erotica Rocs

“A riveting mystery thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Pulse pounding action and steamy romance. A cast of unforgettable characters that will capture your heart.”

~Action Junkie

To purchase
Fire and I
ce
, simply click
here
.

~~~

The Volkov Affair

What is as hot and riveting as
Playing With Fire?
Be sure to check out Taylor Lee’s latest best-selling Sizzling Romantic Suspense,
The Volkov Affair

Praise for
The Volkov Affair

“A dangerously elegant man, a beautiful feisty young woman, take on the evils of the international sex trade while exploring a passionately erotic world of their own.”

~J. Johnson

“From the Russian Mafia to the Human Trafficking Arena, this book captures the reader with the power and immediacy of today’s riveting headlines. Throw in a dynamite love story and you have Sizzling Romantic Suspense at its best.”

~KDR

“A spellbinding suspense filled international adventure coupled with a sizzling SEXY romance. Yum!”

~Sneaky Romance Reader

“Her father’s sins; her lover’s crime; their dangerous past comes back to threaten her. Only their cunning and bravery overcome the evil men out to wreak their revenge.”

~Action Junkie

To purchase
The Volkov Affair
, simply click
here

~~~

Works by Other Authors I Think You Will Enjoy

In Deep Shitake

By

Patricia Mason

Take one devastatingly handsome movie star. Add one outrageously sexy female private eye with a penchant for food-word obscenities. Mix in a dose of mistaken identity and a handful of Russian mobsters…

And they’re all
In Deep Shitake
.

To sample or purchase
In Deep Shitake
,
simply click
here
.

~~~

Roll the Dice

By

Mimi Barbour

“Hot, sassy and intriguing! What’s not to like?”

Both of the partners want the serial rapist more than anything else—she wants him behind bars, and he wants him dead. Can her love help to change
his
mind?

To sample or purchase
Roll the Dice
, simply click
here
.

About the Author

I write Sizzling Romantic Suspense. My stories are the stories of my heritage. From the residue in my personal blender of mixed races, cultures and world views, my characters emerge. It comforts me to know that while evil slinks in the shadows, the “good guys” of the world sniff it out – and snuff it out.

You already know my stories are not your mama’s soft edged romances with swashbuckling heroes and blushing heroines. Heck no! These guys are arrogant alpha males and the feisty women who bring them to their knees – and vice versa… They fight hard, love hard and don’t mince words. They are dangerous men and women in dangerous times. Love, passion and ridding the world of evil? What’s not to like?

I am as real as the words on the page.

Contact Information

Taylor Lee loves to hear from readers!

Contact at:

Email:
[email protected]

Twitter:
@taylorleewrites

Facebook:
taylorleewrites

Blog:
www.taylorleebooks.com

Sign up for Taylor Lee’s
Newsletter
to get all the scoop on Taylor Lee’s SIZZLING ROMANTIC SUSPENSE at
www.taylorleebooks.com

Copyright

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Copyright, 2013 by Taylor Lee

idesire
publications

All rights reserved

This book is a work of fiction. Characters, incidents, places and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

No portion of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Any inquiries can be made to:
www.taylorleebooks.com
or
[email protected]

Table of Contents

Main Menu

Afterword

Other Works by Taylor Lee

Aces Wild
– Historical Romantic Suspense

The Grandmaster’s Legacy
– 4 Volume Specially Priced Box Set

Big Girls Don’t Cry
– Contemporary Sizzling Suspense

In the Still of the Night
– Contemporary Sizzling Suspense

Playing with Fire
– Contemporary Sizzling Suspense

Trial by Fire
– Contemporary Sizzling Suspense

Fire and Ice
– Contemporary Sizzling Suspense

The Volkov Affair
– Contemporary Sizzling Romantic Suspense

Works by Other Authors

In Deep Shitake
– Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Roll the Dice
– Contemporary Romantic Suspense

About the Author

Contact Information

Copyright

Chapters:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

To go back to the Main Menu, click here.