For Love of Kumiko: A Science Fiction Romance Novel [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Joe Vadalma
eBook Category: Science Fiction/Romance
eBook Description: He Fell in Love with an Android! She was an android. Love was never so complex! For Love of Kumiko is a science fiction romance about a torrid, yet bittersweet, love affair between an android and a human man. Allen Goodwin's life was turned upside down when he fell in love with Kumiko. The problem was that she came with an instruction manual. Love was never so complex.
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2008
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6 Reader Ratings:
CHAPTER 1. KUMIKO
Goodwin met Kumiko for the first time at a high-tech convention in Tokyo. He was a buyer for an import firm that specialized in the latest technologically advanced gadgets. While he was there, his contact, Binya Nakamura, introduced him to the great artificial intelligence genius, Haruki Takahashi. They met at a restaurant. Takahashi was with an indescribably beautiful woman. She was petite with oval eyes and the face of an angel. Her blue-black hair was cut so that it hung loosely around her shoulders. Although she was dressed conservatively in a business suit, Goodwin could see that her figure was lush.
Nakamura introduced Goodwin to Takahashi with the usual Japanese formality. They all bowed to each other. However, the scientist was an intense man who spook little and when he did it was usually in monosyllables. He did not introduce the woman he was with.
Goodwin asked, "And who is this lovely young lady?"
Takahasi gave him a look as though he was wondering why Goodwin would ask about her. "This is Kumiko, my personal assistant. Say hello to the American gentleman, Kumiko."
In a soft pleasant voice, Kumiko said, "Welcome to Japan, Mr..."
"My name is Goodwin, Allen Goodwin." He put his hand out.
As she shook his hand lightly, he noted that hers was small and very soft. "I am pleased to meet you, Mr. Goodwin."
She was so lovely that Goodwin was distracted by her beauty. As a result, a lot of what was said went into one ear and out the other. He assumed that it concerned the latest advances in artificial intelligence. Most of those things were beyond him anyway. He knew little about how the gadgets his firm distributed worked. His only interest was in their sales potential.
Nakamura did most of the talking. At one point Takahashi said, "The future is now. The latest advances in artificial intelligence and robotics make it possible to build a robot that is all but human, a true android to use the vernacular of science fiction."
Kumiko sat demurely staring at her hands folded in her lap and did not speak at all until it was time to leave.
"Good bye, Mister Goodwin."
She gazed directly into his eyes as she said it. He felt that there was a definite connection between them.
For the next six months, Goodwin thought of Kumiko often, those beautiful almond eyes, perfectly oval face, pert nose and shoulder-length jet black hair. He tried to think of an excuse to return to Japan so that he could look her up. He hesitated only because he was not sure about her relationship to Takahashi. Was she simply his personal assistant? Or was there more between them? Somehow he could not see the intense scientist as someone who would date young beautiful women.
Then a miracle happened. Takahashi came to New York. He was one of the guest speakers at a large artificial intelligent convention in Madison Square Garden. Because of midtown traffic, however, Goodwin missed his speech. Nonetheless, he caught up with the scientist as he was strolling around the stadium examining exhibits. To Goodwin's delight, Kumiko was following slightly behind him.
She was the first to notice him. She smiled and said, "Good afternoon, Mister Goodwin. It is good to see you again."
"Hi Kumiko. The pleasure is all mine." He really meant it. Oh, did he mean it.
Takahashi looked up from the exhibit he had been peering at. He had an annoyed look on his face. Nonetheless, he bowed. "Ah. Mr. Goodwin. Let me see. You're with Worldwide Tech Imports. We met in Tokyo."
"That's correct. It's nice to see you again, Doctor Takahashi. And your beautiful personal assistant, Kumiko."
He chuckled. "Oh her. Yes, I have her tag along to take notes on items of interest. Did you catch my speech and the demonstration?"
"I'm sorry I did not. I just arrived. My flight from Chicago was late."
Goodwin's mind worked furiously trying to figure out a way to get Kumiko alone. It was as though Takahashi read his mind. He said, "Since you missed the demonstration, perhaps you should speak to Kumiko about it. I won't be needing her for a while."
"That would be great."
"When you are done talking, you may drop her off at my hotel, The Hyatt, Room 1006. Let me know whether you are impressed. Kumiko, stay with Mr. Goodwin for the rest of the afternoon."
"Of course," Goodwin replied, although he wasn't exactly sure what Takahashi meant about being impressed. He assumed that he should be amazed that Kumiko was as highly intelligent and educated as she was beautiful.
After Takahashi walked away, Goodwin said, "Well Kumiko, it's kind of noisy in here, and there's nowhere to sit. Shall we take a walk?"
"If you like." She took his arm and let him lead her out onto Broadway. He took her to a Starbucks on a side street that was not too crowded. When he asked her what she wanted, she replied, "Nothing for me. I do not drink coffee."
Goodwin ordered a regular coffee and a Danish. "Now that we're somewhere fairly quiet, you can tell me about Doctor Takahashi's speech and demo."
"The whole thing verbatim?"
He chuckled. "Heavens no. Just summarize."
She said, "Doctor Takahashi's goal is to achieve an artificially intelligent device which could not be told from a human being. To achieve this he has added the equivalent of emotions into his artificial intelligence software."
She rattled on about technical details, which Goodwin tuned out since for the most part they were over his head. In his job in the marketing division of an electronics firm, he did not need to have a technical background. When considering the best way to market a new product, he relied on demos and a working knowledge of what the public would buy.
Besides, sitting there with Kumiko, he was more interested in contemplating Kumiko's gorgeous face. He had never seen the like. It was perfection itself, symmetrical with high cheekbones and full lips. It was the sort of face an artist would use as a model to paint the portrait of a goddess.
When she finished telling him how the new device worked, to keep her talking he asked her about the demo.
"He had the artificial intelligence answer questions from the audience."
"Impressive. Say, Mr. Takahashi asked me to return you to his hotel room. Is he your boyfriend?"
She thought for a moment. "No. He is a friend and my boss. He is not my boyfriend. I don't have a boyfriend."
Goodwin's heart leaped for joy. "But you stay in the same room with him."
"It is not merely a room. It is a suite of rooms."
"I see. How long do you expect to be in New York?"
"Doctor Takahashi wants to stay a month. He wishes to confer with several artificial intelligence experts before we return to Japan. He also wishes to do sightseeing."
A whole month. That was great. Goodwin decided to pop the question. "Uh, since you don't have a boyfriend, I wondered whether I could take you out some evening."
She thought that over for a few seconds. "Do you mean like a date where a man and a woman do things together that are romantic? You must ask Mr. Takahashi whether I am allowed."
Goodwin realized that in Japan their customs were different. It seemed rather paternalistic to him though that an employer could control an employee's social life to the point where he could say whether the employee could go out on a date. But, if that was their way, there wasn't much he could do about it. "Very well. I'll ask him."
After they spent an hour in the coffee shop, he took Kumiko sightseeing in the midtown area, Rockfeller Center, the Empire State Building, Radio City and the Fifth Avenue shops. Although they talked a lot--she was a wonderful conversationalist who knew a lot about many subjects, literature, the arts, current events, and so forth--he did not find out much about her personal life. On the other hand, he blabbed on about himself quite a bit. He hoped that he was not being a boor.
He returned Kumiko to the hotel at the appointed time. After he chatted briefly with Takahashi about trivialities, he said, "Kumiko tells me that she needs your permission to go out on a date. I'm quite taken with her. Is it all right if I take her out on the town tomorrow night?"
His eyebrows raised. "You want to date Kumiko?"
"With your permission, of course. I wouldn't want to jeopardize her employment."
"Hmm. It would be an interesting experiment. Yes. You may take her out. What time will you pick her up?"
"She will be ready."
Goodwin said good bye and left. All the way back to his apartment, he wondered what Takahara meant by saying that it would be an interesting experiment. Finally, he decided that like most geniuses, he was eccentric.
* * * *
When Goodwin arrived at the hotel the next evening with flowers and a bottle of wine, Kumiko was dressed in a backless, low-cut gown. Her figure was as spectacularly gorgeous as her face. They opened the bottle Goodwin had brought, and Takahashi poured a glass for each of them. They chatted until Takahashi and Goodwin each finished their glass of wine. Kumiko did not touch hers.
Takahashi asked, "Where are you taking Kumiko?"
Goodwin felt that it was not any of his business, but replied anyway. "Dinner at an Italian restaurant, a movie and a nightclub. Is there a curfew?"
"You may keep her out as late as you like. I would forget about dinner though. She has already eaten."
"Oh. I should've said something. Here in New York we're used to late dinners. Very well, we'll skip dinner. Kumiko, what movie would you like to see?"
"I have no preference. You choose one."
As they were leaving, Takahashi said, "Have fun." Goodwin was not sure whether he meant the remark for him or Kumiko. Although Takahashi was not much older than Goodwin's estimate of Kumiko's age, he seemed to be treating her as though he was her father. Goodwin wondered whether he had promised her parents to keep an eye on her. He had heard that Japanese parents were strict even to their grown children if they lived in the same household.
Goodwin took her to a romantic comedy. Afterwards, they went to a jazz club. Among her other accomplishments, she was an excellent dancer. She did not drink at all, merely ordered one highball. The glass remained full all evening. About three in the morning, they arrived at the door to Takahashi's hotel suite, and she took out her key. Before she inserted in the lock, Goodwin impulsively grabbed her arms and kissed her. She responded ardently. They held the kiss until Goodwin ran out of breath.
"That was wonderful. I enjoyed every minute of tonight, Kumiko."
"Yes. It was a pleasant evening. Goodnight, Mr. Goodwin."
"Holy smoke. After that kiss and you're still calling me mister?"
"What do you want me to call you?"
"Allen, of course."
"Goodnight Allen. Thank you for an enjoyable evening."
Her response seemed cold.
"Will I see you again?" he asked.
"Mr. Takahashi says I may see you any time you want."
"What I mean is, do you want to go out with me again?"
"If you wish."
Goodwin was puzzled. Did she like him or not? She seemed so noncommittal. Nonetheless, she did not say no. He was determined to make her like him. He realized that he had fallen in love with her. This was something new for him, but he was sure that it was real. He had been obsessed with Kumiko from the first moment that he had gazed on her face. "I'll call."
"I will wait for it. Good night, Allen. Do you want to kiss me again?"
This put a smile on his face. "Absolutely." He kissed her passionately.
On the way home, Goodwin was higher than a kite crazy in love. His only concern was that she was due to return to Japan in a month. But, he thought, A month is a long time. I'll see what happens. Maybe I can talk her into staying longer even if Takahashi goes back.
* * * *
During the week that followed, Goodwin and Kumiko went out four times. At the end of the fourth date, he said, "Kumiko, would you like to come to my apartment for a while. We can talk."
"Do you want me to come to your apartment, Allen?"
"Of course. That's why I asked."
"Let us go then."
His hopes rose. She seemed eager.
When they arrived, he asked her whether she would like a nightcap. She looked puzzled. Finally she said, "Oh. It's an American idiom. A 'nightcap' is an alcoholic drink. I am sorry, Allen. I do not drink."
He smiled. "I've noticed that."
He sat next to her on the sofa and put his arm around her. She rested her head on his shoulder. He kissed her lightly. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. He placed his hand on her breast. She kept kissing him. They necked and petted a while. Finally, Goodwin said, "Kumiko, I'd like to make love to you."
"Then we will make love. But you must show me. I have seen pictures and read books about lovemaking, but I have never done it."
He was taken aback. "You mean that you're a virgin?"
She thought for a moment. "Yes. It is true. I am a virgin."
"You know, I don't want to force you into anything. If you're saving yourself for marriage..."
She shook her head. "I am not saving myself for marriage. I want to please you. Just tell me what to do."
At that point, Goodwin was of two minds. He wondered, Would she hate me for being the first or would it cause her fall in love with me. He figured her age as mid-twenties. She was certainly old enough to make up her own mind. She had not had a drop to drink; no one could say that he got her drunk to have his way with her.
"Okay. Go into my bedroom. Take off all your clothes and lay on the bed. I'll be there in couple of minutes."
After she left the room, he hunted up condoms, put one on and entered the bedroom. He took in her body and became breathless. Naked, she was magnificent. She had the body of a goddess. He undressed quickly and crawled into bed.
The sex was wonderful. She did everything he told her in exactly the right way. Afterwards, he said, "That was the best experience of my life. I love you, Kumiko."
"Is that what people say after they make love?"
"Then, I love you, Allen."
His heart leaped with joy. She's mine, mine, mine, he thought.
"Now, you must take me back to Doctor Takahashi. He will want to know everything that we have done."
"What? You tell him what we do on our dates?"
"Of course. It is part of his research."
Goodwin recalled him saying that thing about their dates being an experiment. "Even about our making love tonight?"
Did he really care that she told that crazed genius what they did? It sort of galled him that she did so willingly, as though it was part of her job.
"Kumiko. When you said you loved me just now, did you really mean it?"
She gave him a strange look and thought for a moment. "I am not sure whether I meant it or not. 'Love' is a word I have seen many times in literature, but it is unclear to me what it really means. You must describe what it feels like exactly."
He rubbed his chin. "I don't know whether I can. I suppose you might say that I am happy when I'm with you, and that I think of you often when I am not."
She hesitated. He could tell that she was thinking it over. Before she could reply, he said, "I know that it's early in our relationship. So, don't feel that you must tell me that you love me too. But you do like me very much?"
"It is pleasing to me to make you happy. I hope you are happy with what I do."
He wondered, was the Japanese culture so different. Some things she said were so strange. "Okay. I'll take that as meaning that you do like me a lot, but you're not sure whether you're in love with me. That it's too soon."
* * * *
The next day at work, Goodwin ran into Bob West, another buyer of imported high tech gadgets for resale in the U.S. He did not particularly like the guy, but for some reason West thought Goodwin was his good friend.
"Allen, I heard a strange rumor about you."
"That you were dating Haruki Takahashi's personal assistant."
"What's so strange about that? She's a beautiful woman."
"Are you nuts? Why would you want to waste your time with one of her kind?"
Goodwin was outraged. "Jesus Bob, I never knew you were such a bigot. Just because she's Japanese..."
"That's not it. Don't you know what she is? She's a..."
He clapped his hands over his ears. "Screw you. I suppose you're going to tell me some wild ass story about her past. Well, it's bullshit. She a fine girl."
Goodwin was so steamed that he walked away. Otherwise he would have hit West.
* * * *
The month went by like lightning. Soon Goodwin was faced with the dilemma on how to keep Kumiko from returning to Japan. The night before she was scheduled to leave, he said to her, "Kumiko, I love you. I want to marry you. If not now, someday. Stay in America."
She smiled in her enigmatic manner. "I cannot. Doctor Takahashi wants me to return to Japan with him."
"Oh screw Takahashi. Quit your job. I'll get you a better position here in the states. I know people who can help get your green card renewed. Or better yet, marry me right away. Then you'll be an American citizen."
"But I must obey Mr. Takahashi. He is my boss."
"I asked you once before. Tell me, do you love me?"
Goodwin saw the wheels working in her mind. After a long silent pause, she said, "I asked Doctor Takahashi about the meaning of love. He said that it is a deep and tender feeling of affection for a person. I do have such a feeling toward you. Yes. I believe I am in love with you."
"Then you must run away with me. We'll go to Las Vegas and get married," Goodwin said in a forceful manner.
She seemed torn. After she mulled his proposal over for a couple of minutes, she said, "If that is what I must do, I will go with you."
"You're probably already packed for the return trip to Japan. Tell Takahashi that you are leaving with me. I'll meet you in the lobby of your hotel at..." Goodwin glanced at his watch, "...eleven."
He brought her to the hotel and made the arrangements. He booked a redeye flight to Las Vegas and a room at the MGM Grand. He packed a few things and took a taxi to the Hyatt. He told the cabby to wait, that a friend and he would be going out to Kennedy Airport.
It was quarter to eleven when he entered the lobby. He paced up and down impatiently. At precisely at eleven, Kumiko exited the elevator. She did not have a suitcase with her.
"Where's your luggage?"
"I am not going with you. Mr. Takahashi wants to see you."
Goodwin's heart dropped to his socks. What was this? Did her employer have such a hold on her that she could not leave his employ? He recalled that Bob West had started to tell me something about her. Was Takahashi holding something in her past over her head? Had she been a prostitute or a drug addict? He didn't care. He was in love with her. The past was dead and gone. He decided to have it out with Takahashi.
In the elevator he asked Kumiko, "What's this all about? What did Takahashi say to you that made you change your mind?"
"Doctor Takahashi will explain." She refused to say more.