Tokyo Ever After: A Novel (Tokyo Ever After #1)

Tokyo Ever After: A Novel (Tokyo Ever After #1)

Emiko Jean

For all the girls who lead with their hearts



The Lost Butterfly gets her wings clipped

April 4, 2021

A timeless elegance imbued Prime Minister Adachi’s wedding to shipping heiress Haya Tajima at the luxurious New Otani Hotel. Though this is the PM’s second marriage (his first wife passed away several years ago), no expense was spared. Men wore coattails. Women dressed in silks. Glasses bubbled over with Dom Pérignon. Black-and-white swans, imported from Australia, swam in the garden pools. Attendees were a veritable feast of Japan’s upper-crust society, including the imperial family. Even His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Toshihito was present, despite ongoing disagreements with the PM.

But the focus wasn’t on the feud, or even the bride and groom, for that matter. All eyes were turned to the newly minted princess, Her Imperial Highness Princess Izumi, aka the Lost Butterfly. The wedding marked her first formal entrance into Japan society. Would she fly—or fall?

HIH Princess Izumi certainly dressed the part in a jade silk gown and Mikimoto pearls, pulled from the imperial vaults and gifted by the empress. Press wasn’t allowed inside the actual celebration, but by all accounts, the affair was flawless.

So why was the Lost Butterfly spied boarding a train to Kyoto this morning? The Imperial Household Agency insists it was a planned, scheduled trip to the countryside. But we all know the Kyoto imperial villa is where royals go to repent. Last year, His Imperial Highness Prince Yoshihito stayed there while he recovered from an unauthorized trip to Sweden.

It appears this butterfly’s wings have been clipped. What could HIH Princess Izumi have possibly done to warrant an expulsion from the Tokyo imperial estate? No one has a clue. But somebody is definitely in trouble …


It is the sacred duty of best friends to convince you to do the things you should not do.

“You’re never going to finish this. You tried. You really tried,” Noora, aforementioned best friend, says. “You gave it a shot.”

A shot consisted of one five-minute attempt at an essay on the theme of personal growth in Huckleberry Finn. Noora is supposed to be helping me. I called her over for moral support. “Better we just give up and move on.” She flops onto my bed, arms across her eyes—the literal definition of a swoon. So dramatic.

Her argument is compelling. I’ve had four weeks to work on the journal. Today is Monday. It is due Tuesday. I don’t know enough about math to approximate the statistics of finishing on time, but I bet they’re low. Hello, consequences of my own actions. We meet again, old friend.

Noora’s head pops up from my pillow. “Good Lord, your dog stinks.”

I cuddle Tamagotchi close to my chest. “It’s not his fault.” My terrier mix has a rare glandular condition for which there is no cure or medication. He also has a you’re-so-ugly-you’re-cute face and a gross fetish for his own feet. He sucks his toes.

Pretty sure I was put on this earth to love this canine.

“I can’t ditch the assignment. I need it to pass the class,” I say, surprising myself. I am seldom the voice of reason. Confession: there is no voice of reason in our friendship. Conversations usually go:

Noora: suggests bad idea

Me: hesitates

Noora: disappointed face

Me: comes up with worse idea

Noora: delighted face

Basically, she instigates and I double down. She’s the Timberlake to my Biel, the Edward to my Bella, the Pauly D to my Jersey Shore. My bestie from another teste. My ride or die. It’s been this way since second grade when we bonded over our skin color—a shade darker than the white kids in Mount Shasta—and a shared inability to follow simple instructions. “Draw a flower?” Scoff. How about an entire ocean landscape with starfish criminals and an I-don’t-play-by-the-rules dolphin detective instead?

Together, we’re one half of an Asian Girl Gang—AGG, for short. Think less organized crime, more Golden Girls. Hansani and Glory are the other two parts. Membership dues are strict and paid in some claim to Asian ancestry. Meaning: we’re pan-Asian. In a town strung together with tie-dyes and confederate flags, one cannot afford to discriminate.

Noora levels me with her eyes. “It’s time to give up. Adapt. Overcome. Be at peace with your failure. Let’s go to the Emporium. I wonder if that cute guy still works behind the counter. Remember when Glory got all flustered and ordered Reese’s penises ice cream? C’mon, Zoom Zoom,” she cajoles.

“I wish you’d never heard my mother call me that.” I shift, and Tamagotchi scrambles from my arms. It is no secret: I love him more than he loves me. He circles and lays down, tucking his chin into his butt. So. Cute.

Noora shrugs. “I did, though, and it’s amazing. Now I cannot not use it.”

“I prefer Izzy.”

“You prefer Izumi,” she volleys back.

Correct. But by the third grade, I’d heard those three syllables butchered enough to want to simplify my name. It’s easier this way.

“If white people can learn Klingon, they can learn to pronounce your name.”

When someone is right, they’re right. “True,” I admit.

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