The next couple of days went by, and Taeyeon closed each day out with a goodnight call with Tiffany. Each night, she went to sleep smiling and dreamt happy dreams of Tiffany and Prince. So it was a radiant Taeyeon who entered the theatre on Thursday, for her afternoon class with Yuri and Seohyun.
It was only when they headed to the seats to their right that Taeyeon recalled something she had wanted to tell Yuri.
“Yuri, how’s things with Jessica?” she asked.
Yuri sighed and shook her head. “Not good. Not good at all. I haven’t managed to even start a proper conversation with her. And I don’t want to make it seem like I’m harassing her or anything.”
“She’s super duper strange.”
“She is. I’m starting to think she’s only interested in sleeping.”
“I think so too.”
“Never met a girl like her,” Yuri pouted, “but I may have to give up.”
Yuri shrugged. “She’s so nonchalant. You saw how she brushed me off and I’m sure Sunny already told you about her message.”
“What if I told you Jessica’s in one of my classes?”
“2027. I know.”
“No, not that one. My Monday class. She’s in it.”
Yuri gaped for a second before grabbing and shaking Taeyeon, “Why are you only telling me now?”
“I just found out this week!”
“Unnie!” Seohyun chided in a loud whisper, “we’re in class!”
Yuri heeded Seohyun’s reprimand and stopped shaking Taeyeon. She gradually calmed down and entered a pensive mood, much to Taeyeon’s relief.
“I’m gonna look like I’m desperate if I crash another lecture for her.”
“It’s a sacrifice you gotta make.”
“You know what? You’re right.” Yuri straightened her back and looked as though hope had been restored in her. “Who cares if I look desperate right? It’s okay. I can be desperate for a sleeping beauty.”
“Yeah, it’s okay. The worst thing that can happen is your rep going down the drain. No issue.”
Yuri jabbed her with a violent elbow. “You gotta cover me.”
“Oww…” Taeyeon groaned and rubbed her arm. “Okay, I’ll cover you. No problem.”
“Great!” Yuri cheered up and her grin was back in an instant. “I can’t wait for Monday.”
“Shh!” went Seohyun with a frown. “It’s starting.”
And that was the end of it. Seohyun had spoken.
Later that day, Taeyeon lay in bed, all tucked in and ready to sleep. But she had to do one little something first. She didn’t have to wait long. Her call was picked it up before the first ring was even over and Tiffany’s husky voice came through right away.
“How was your day, honey?”
Taeyeon blushed at the term of endearment. Fortunately, it went unseen by Tiffany.
“Class was kinda boring today,” she managed to say, “Only Seohyun paid attention.”
“Tsk. That’s not good.”
“Don’t worry, we borrowed Seohyun’s notes.”
“Well, in that case…okay.” Tiffany giggled and Taeyeon simply grinned, enjoying the sound of it. “You’re setting such a bad example for Seohyun though.”
“Tiffany, you really must meet Seohyun. You won’t say that again once you’ve met her.”
“Hmm, I want to meet your friends too. Sunny and Yuri seem fun to hang out with.”
“They are. I love Sunny. She’s the best roommate anyone can have. And Yuri is just a lot of fun. She has so much energy.”
“Why don’t we all hang out or something?”
“Sure. They’re probably gonna do a movie night this Saturday. We can join them after dinner instead of going for a movie, if you want.”
“Movie night? Mmm…sounds good actually. Can I bring my friends too?”
A light bulb went off in Taeyeon’s head right then. “Are you talking about Jessica?”
Tiffany giggled. “I’ll bet somebody’s gonna be real thrilled if I bring Jessica, huh.”
“I think she will,” Taeyeon snickered.
“Okay. I’ll try to drag Jess along with me. She usually refuses to leave her bed.”
“Why does she love her bed so much?”
“Don’t ask me,” Tiffany laughed. “I don’t think I’ll ever know.”
“This sounds like fun though. My friends and your friends and us.”
Taeyeon could hear the smile in Tiffany’s voice as the latter replied, “I’m sure it’ll be great.”
“I’ll tell Sunny. This probably means no horror movies, right?”
“No. No horror please. Jess will shred our eardrums if it’s horror.”
“Okay. I’ll ask Sunny to pick something else.”
“I’m so excited!”
Taeyeon grinned. “Me too.”
“Okay, it’s late. We’d better go to sleep now.”
“Goodnight honey, see ya tomorrow.”
Taeyeon blushed again as she said, “Goodnight Tiffany.”
Friday’s 2027 was officially Taeyeon’s favourite class for obvious reasons.
Tiffany. Tiffany. Tiffany. Yeah. Reason enough.
She smiled at her girlfriend as she took her seat. Yes. Girlfriend. Girlfriend! Rainbows and butterflies were all the rage as she wrapped herself in the warm joy of having a girlfriend. And it wasn’t just any girl. It was Tiffany. Tiffany Hwang. Tiffany Hwang…what? Taeyeon stopped short of her mental jubilation when she realized she didn’t actually know Tiffany’s full name. She felt like an epic failure, not knowing Tiffany’s full name. Wasn’t that her duty, as a girlfriend? Of course it was! She had better find out!
“Hi Taengoo,” a tentative voice greeted her.
Taeyeon knew who it was at once. She’d have to be careful. She didn’t want to hurt Noeul’s feelings. And since she wasn’t quite sure where Noeul stood on this relationship she was in with Tiffany, it was better to err on the side of caution.
“Hi Noeul,” she replied with a warm smile.
“How are you?”
The question struck her as odd. Noeul was acting as though they were merely acquaintances, strangers even. Was this her way of handling the situation?
“Okay?” Noeul raised an eyebrow, questioning her with a sharp stare. “That’s all?”
Taeyeon squirmed. She hadn’t expected things to be smooth between them but this was way more uncomfortable than she’d thought.
Noeul smiled. “That’s good. I’m glad to hear an honest answer. You don’t have to be so wary around me, you know.”
“I don’t want to hurt your feelings. You’re my good friend, Noeul. I’m trying not to be insensitive.”
“And I appreciate it, Taengoo, but I’d much rather a natural conversation.”
That made a lot of sense. Perhaps she was over thinking things.
“So let’s start again,” Noeul said with a smile, “how are you?”
“I’m pretty good.”
Noeul chuckled and shook her head. “You really do tone things down a lot, don’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you’re obviously over the moon. I saw the way you smiled at her, you know.”
Taeyeon blushed. Was it that obvious?
“I’m your friend. I know you well enough to read into your smiles, Taeyeon. And I’m happy for you too. I really am. I mean, I wish I were the one you are smiling at like that but I know it’s not happening. I’ll get over it. At least I had a go at it.”
“You’re such a wonderful person, Noeul. And the best friend ever.”
Noeul smiled and she smiled back. Yes. Noeul was right. She was over the moon. Way over the moon.
A pair of slender arms snaked around her shoulders and locked themselves around her neck as she sat on a bench, waiting, after the lecture. She knew instinctively who it was even though people were milling around the building where Tiffany worked as a TA.
“Taeyeon…a dollar for your thoughts…” a husky voice sent a sensuous streak zipping down her spine and confirmed her guess.
Taeyeon stretched her palm out backwards immediately. “Show me the cash and I’ll show you my thoughts.”
A semi-harsh smack landed on her palm and she chuckled.
“That’s five dollars. Keep the change.”
“Does that mean I have to show you five thoughts?”
Tiffany huffed. “I want to know what you were thinking. You looked so focused while sitting here.”
“I was thinking about how lucky I am to have met you.”
Lips brushed her cheek, and a husky voice followed, “Me too.”
Taeyeon blushed. “I was also thinking about your name.”
“I don’t actually know your full name.”
Taeyeon shook her head. “I never asked, you never told.”
Tiffany’s soft laughter fluttered around like butterflies and Taeyeon couldn’t help but smile. Such was a Tiffany’s influence over her.
“I don’t usually volunteer that information to people. I guess it’s become a habit to leave it out.”
“But I want to know.”
“There’ll be a price to pay.”
Taeyeon pouted. “Don’t I get to know for free? I should get some girlfriend privileges.”
“Girlfriend privileges don’t include this type of information.”
“What kind of privileges do I get then?”
“Why don’t you come home with me and find out?”
Taeyeon’s blood rushed down south and all over the place, leaving her mind in a haphazard state. Tiffany and her loaded quips were the stuff of any girl’s wildest dreams, surely.
“Okay. I’ll go home with you and find out,” Taeyeon replied, maintaining her outward calm and Tiffany giggled.
“Let’s go then. Right now.”
Taeyeon was a little anxious. Prince had been alright with her the last time but that was after Tiffany kissed her big time. What if…no. Taeyeon shook her head. No. Everything will be fine. Prince will like her. Yes.
With renewed confidence, she stepped into Tiffany’s apartment and divested herself of her shoes.
“Take off your socks as well,” said Tiffany as she headed for her bedroom. “Or you’re gonna look funny with them on.”
Taeyeon didn’t understand why she’d look funny with socks on but complied anyway. She dropped her socks beside her sneakers and headed for the couch. Tiffany came back out with Prince in her arms and much to Taeyeon’s relief, Prince didn’t growl at her. He wasn’t exactly on friendly terms with her; he seemed wary of her but it was an improvement and that was good, she supposed.
“Prince will take to you eventually.”
“I sure hope so.”
Tiffany set Prince on the couch between them and leaned forward to kiss her. “You’re so lovable. Don’t worry, Prince will fall in love with you. I’m sure.”
Taeyeon blushed. The kiss was sweet. Could she get more? Taking Tiffany’s hand in hers, she winked and smiled. “We should kiss again,” she said, sounding bolder than she felt.
Tiffany blinked. “Did you just say we should kiss?” she asked, clearly surprised by Taeyeon’s uncharacteristic request.
There was nothing left to do but to play on. “Yes. Kissing seems to make Prince like me more.”
“Oh…” went Tiffany, her eyes beginning to gleam with a spark of cheekiness, “so this kissing thing is strictly business, huh?”
Taeyeon kept a straight face and gave Tiffany a curt nod. “Strictly business.” And I’m the biggest liar on Earth right now.
Tiffany blinked again, her eyes reflecting her state of confusion. “Are you serious about this?”
Taeyeon finally grinned. “Nope, not really.”
Tiffany squealed with laughter and smacked Taeyeon’s arm. “You nearly got me there.”
“So, another kiss?”
“Enough of the talking already.”
Encouraged by Tiffany’s responses, Taeyeon grinned her widest and took no prisoners. Her lips parted as they closed in on Tiffany’s and locked onto their target in less than a second. Tiffany reciprocated immediately and it was all Taeyeon could do to stay on top of things. Her fingers found Tiffany’s nape and curled to keep a firm yet gentle hold on it. With her eyes closed, she tasted and almost drowned in the sea of sensation. It was an exquisite taste. Tiffany’s unique taste. Strawberries, Taeyeon could taste strawberries.
“Tiffany, you taste so good,” she gasped when they finally parted after running out of breath.
“That’s…” Tiffany giggled, “that’s the nicest thing to say to a girl after kissing her,” she teased.
Taeyeon blushed and tried to explain herself, “I mean…you taste like strawberries. Really sweet.”
Tiffany giggled again. “That would be the breath mints I popped before meeting you.”
“Oh.” Taeyeon couldn’t say more. Her brain was busy trying to cope with the implied message that said Tiffany had been thinking about kissing her prior to meeting her. And even prepared for it. “Oh.”
“I ate something really funky while working so I didn’t wanna…you know…ruin things…if we kissed.”
“It wouldn’t have been ruined. I don’t mind funky because it’s you.”
Tiffany’s lips curled into the most beautiful smile right then. “Taeyeon…you’re the sweetest girl I’ve ever met. I’m a lucky girl.”
Taeyeon shook her head in disagreement. “I’m the lucky one. I mean, I messed up so bad but you still want me. I still can’t believe my luck sometimes.”
“It’s not luck. Taeyeon, you’re attractive. And what’s best is the fact that you don’t flaunt it. You don’t try too hard. You’re you, and that’s what I love about you.”
“I introduced myself to you with a clogged toilet, a horrible stench and all the worst things I can think of. How is any of that attractive?”
“Maybe that’s a bit of luck since I’m a plumber’s daughter. I’ve learnt to look beyond the shit to see what’s inside. And what do I see in you? I see a kind soul, a good heart.”
“You can tell from all that shit?” Taeyeon had no idea where all these praises were coming from. She hadn’t exactly been the best example of any of that, had she?
Tiffany was tickled pink by her blunt question and it took a while before she could come back with a reply.
“Taeyeon, do you seriously not see what I see in you? Do you need to be furnished with a few examples?”
Taeyeon shrugged. “Like?”
“I can list so many.” Tiffany paused for a moment and stared deep into her eyes before continuing. “You didn’t get angry when I wrongly accused you of lying about your number. Instead, you waited for me and explained. You didn’t blow up at your friends when they left you behind at the party. Rejecting Noeul was difficult for you but you did it anyway, for her. And you give so much of yourself for me. Take Prince for example. He bit your ankles but you didn’t give up trying to win his heart. All because he is my dog.”
Tiffany paused again and smiled, but this time, her eyes turned dark and swirled with something else. “Taeyeon, I could go on all day about how kind and wonderful you are but that’s really not what I want to do tonight.”
Taeyeon’s breathing hitched and her heart pounded. That’s not what she wants to do tonight? So what does she want to do tonight? What? Could it be…?
Her lips twitched. A vivid image of the candy cane bra had come to mind suddenly and she wondered if Tiffany was wearing it right now.
Kim Taeyeon! What are you thinking of?! You’re such a hopeless pervert!
A disturbance of her leg burst the bubble of her inner thoughts and had her looking down.
“Prince…” Taeyeon uttered, feeling the puppy’s teeth on her jeans and Tiffany put him on the floor immediately.
“Bad boy!” she chided and smacked his butt. Prince whined and stared at Tiffany with puppy eyes (literally) for a moment before running away, presumably to play with something else. Tiffany then turned back to Taeyeon and grinned, looking sheepish. “Sorry about that. I really don’t know what’s up with Prince. He’s not usually like this.”
“Maybe he’s jealous,” quipped Taeyeon, a cheeky grin making an appearance on her youthful features.
“Maybe…” Tiffany replied with a knowing smile of her own. “Should we make him more jealous?”
“I think we should. And I know the perfect thing to do,” Taeyeon added, the beginnings of a naughty idea forming and taking hold of her mind in a half-crazed manner. “I think Prince will get real jealous if you show me your bra.”
Okay. It’s official. I’ve gone nuts. Totally nuts.
She braced herself for Tiffany’s rebuke but it never came.
“Is that all you want me to show you?”
Tiffany’s husky seduction had her swallowing hard to maintain her composure but she managed to make a comeback by some miracle. “Baby steps, baby. One step at a time.”
Smooth Taeyeon. That was reeeal smooth. I’m so proud of you.
Okay? Okay?? Okay???
Taeyeon couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t blink. She couldn’t move a single inch of her body. Oh wait. Her eyes. Her eyes could move. They could move and follow the buttons as they were undone on Tiffany’s blouse and follow the widening gap between the opening. They could widen at the first glimpse of a dash of red and white. No way. No holy way. Noooo way.
Her eyes bulged as Tiffany’s blouse was undone and cast aside. Oh. Oh. Oh. It was red and white. Stripes. Candy cane bra. On Tiffany. In the flesh. Right in front of her. On the couch.
HO. LY. SHIT.