Lunch was at a restaurant. A trendy, popular place that served Asian-Western fusion. Celebrities were known to frequent the place and reservations had to be made well in advance to secure a seat. Tiffany knew all these mainly because Sooyoung had forced the information on her one fine evening as she was trying to organize her portfolio of dog pictures.
That tall, lanky friend of hers could be quite the chatterbox at times. So it would be a case of Sooyoung talking non-stop while Tiffany pretended to listen, nodding at regular intervals to convince the taller woman that she was paying attention. This happened every once in a while but Tiffany considered herself a good listener most of the time.
It was obvious that Kim Taeyeon the singer had sufficient clout as a celebrity. Not only did she manage to get seats in a place that had reservations lined up for a couple of weeks at least, she managed to get good seats. Good seats meaning the kind that celebrities wanting privacy would prefer. Further back. Out of public view.
They had barely taken their seats and left alone with their menus when Kim Taeyeon managed to irk her again.
“Are you suitably impressed yet?” asked the singer expectantly.
Tiffany rolled her eyes. “If you’re referring to the choice of restaurant for this lunch, no. If you’re referring to special privileges lavished on you, no. I’m not impressed. I’m not that sort of person.”
“Oh, come on. Surely you’re at least a little bit impressed? Do you know that you have to reserve seats as early as three weeks before to get seats here?”
“I know. Sooyoung told me about this place a while back.”
“I’m the one who brought her here,” Taeyeon stated smugly which irked her even more. “We had a nice candlelight dinner and it’s all on Instagram. You can check it out.”
“I’m not in the least bit interested in who you have dinner with.”
Taeyeon looked as though she had a comeback for what was said but the waiter chose that moment to return. The singer held back her words but as soon as they had placed their orders and were left alone again, she spoke.
“You’re jealous that I had a candlelight dinner with Sooyoung, right?”
Tiffany scoffed. “Why should I be? It’s really none of my business. You can do whatever you want with Sooyoung. In fact, why don’t you pester her instead of me? Go pester Sooyoung. Go.”
She was surprised to find a trace of exasperation in the singer’s eyes when she looked fiercely at her.
“I’m pestering you? Is that what you really think? I can read hints pretty well and you’ve dropped me a fair amount of them to be honest. I mean, I got the hint that Sooyoung wasn’t interested in me and I was fine with it. In fact, I’m very happy that we’re such great friends now. I’m not one to make a complete nuisance of myself, Tiffany. So if you really,really think I’m pestering you, I’ll stop.”
“Y-You were actually interested in S-Sooyoung?!” Tiffany spluttered.
Kim Taeyeon looked her straight in the eye and nodded. “Yes, I was. But she’s not a sister.”
“Sister?” Tiffany blinked in confusion. “What sister? Like a nun?”
Kim Taeyeon laughed a little. “No, no. Not that kind of sister.”
Tiffany raised an inquisitive brow and waited for the explanation.
“Sister. As in…you…and me…you know. Or at least, I think you are. Aren’t you?”
“I can’t have a normal conversation with you. Oh my gawd. If you aren’t irritating me, you’re confusing me. Can’t you just—?”
“I like you,” Kim Taeyeon interjected. She then pointed at the waiter who was serving patrons a few tables away. “And I’ll never like him. Get it?”
Tiffany could feel the onset of a heated blush. Her cheeks were on fire. Kim Taeyeon. Kim Taeyeon. How. What. Why.Argh! Yes. The singer had made it obvious enough. And was that a confession of sorts that she slipped in with the ‘explanation’?
“Got it.” Tiffany kept her eyes lowered. She refused to make eye contact with the singer after hearing those three words. ‘I like you’ were three words she didn’t want to hear from the charming woman. Those three words planted many thoughts into her head. Thoughts that she didn’t want to think. Damnit! Kim Taeyeon.
She was saved by the arrival of the food and she avoided looking at Kim Taeyeon the entire time. The singer seemed to sense her need for some space and surprisingly, managed to remain silent for the entire meal. Only when she was done with eating, did the singer speak again.
“Would you like dessert?”
Tiffany shook her head mutely. She could hear Kim Taeyeon’s sigh.
“Okay. I’ll get the bill if you don’t want to eat anything else.”
Tiffany’s head shot up instantly. “No. I should be paying for this. I’m the one apologizing.”
“Look. I know that I practically twisted your arm to get this chance to have lunch with you. You didn’t want this. You don’t want this and you’ll never want this. You’ve made it clear enough. I’m sorry for forcing you into this. I must have misread your vibes. This lunch has been unpleasant for you so I won’t be so ungracious as to expect you to pay for this.”
Tiffany was thoroughly confused by the rapid-fire speech that Kim Taeyeon made. I didn’t want this lunch? Yes, I didn’t want it. But it wasn’t unpleasant to me. What in the world.
“Bill, please.” Kim Taeyeon had already signaled a waiter.
Tiffany looked at her. This time, it was the singer who refused to meet her eyes. Gosh, what was this ping pong game of eye contact they were playing? Why was it so difficult to hang out with Kim Taeyeon?
She allowed the singer to pay for the bill. It probably looked better for her in public anyway. She followed the petite woman closely as they headed back to the valet after the bill was settled. It was most awkward now that Kim Taeyeon wasn’t talking or looking at her. And she felt a sudden pang in her heart. What was that?
“Kim Taeyeon.” Tiffany tried to break the ice as they stood waiting for the valet to bring the car to them.
“I’ll send you back. Don’t worry, I won’t leave you here. I may be a pest but I’m not mean.”
“You’re not a pest.”
“I’m not? But you sure as heck treat me like one.”
“Well, I was going to pay for the lunch to apologize for making you feel like one but you didn’t let me.”
Kim Taeyeon turned to look at her. There was a strange contorted expression on her face. “What are you trying to say?”
Tiffany looked down and fiddled with her fingers. Why were Kim Taeyeon’s eyes so piercing? It was so hard to look straight into them without feeling wobbly inside. “It wasn’t an unpleasant lunch,” she mumbled.
“What did you say?” Kim Taeyeon had stepped closer to her to listen to what she said and she stepped back instinctively.
“It wasn’t an unpleasant lunch,” Tiffany said a little louder this time.
“It wasn’t?” There was a glimmer of hope in the singer’s eyes and Tiffany didn’t know why, but she felt the urge to laugh. In some ways, Kim Taeyeon was very much like a kid. Her responses were quick and rather direct which was surprising for a popular singer like her. Tiffany had expected her to be more guarded than she was.
Just then, the valet returned with the car and they moved off as soon as they settled in.
“If it wasn’t unpleasant, why did you avoid looking at me for the entire meal?” Kim Taeyeon picked up from where they left off.
“I didn’t know what to do.”
“Why? What did I do?”
“You said that you like me. I don’t know how to react to that.”
“So, I’m not a pest?”
“Not all the time.”
Kim Taeyeon chuckled. “I’ll accept that graciously. Which means you don’t hate me and I didn’t disgust you.”
Tiffany’s eyes opened wide. “Disgust? I-I-I never said that!”
“I know. But you refused to look at me after I told you that I like you. So I thought you were completely put off by me.”
“Okay. So we’re back to normal now.”
Kim Taeyeon laughed. “When have we ever been normal.”
Tiffany stared for a second before lapsing into a fit of giggles. “I’m glad that we’re on the same wavelength forsomething.”
The singer grinned most charmingly and laughed again. “In that case, do I get to take you out for lunch again?”
Tiffany stopped giggling. Woah, Kim Taeyeon sure moved fast. Here she was, barely getting over the ordeal of their first lunch together and the singer was already asking for another one?!
“Why are you so fond of having lunch with me? Can’t you find anybody else?”
“Didn’t I already confess that I like you? We all want to lunch with people we like, right? Why would I want to lunch with somebody I don’t like?”
“You have way too much free time on your hands. Aren’t you one of the most popular singers out there? Don’t you have work to do?”
“I’m not promoting at the moment. I’m working on my next album.”
“That’s no excuse. Go and find more work for yourself.”
“You’re quite a piece of work that I’ve found.”
“Taeyeon. Call me Taeyeon.”
“I’m driving so you shouldn’t make me upset. It’s very dangerous when a driver gets upset, you know?”
“You’re just so full of nonsense.”
“But you still like me anyway.”
“You don’t hate me. You don’t think I’m a pest. You enjoyed that lunch. Come on, are you sure you don’t like me?”
“I’m pretty darn sure.”
“You’re just saying it to make me sad.”
“So you don’t like me but you’ll have lunch with me again?”
“I never agreed to another lunch!”
“What can I do to make you love me?” Kim Taeyeon burst into song suddenly and all Tiffany could do was stare. “What can I do to make you care? What can I say to make you feel this? What can I do to get you lunch?”
Tiffany blinked. And blinked. Then she burst into laughter. Oh my gawd. Just how…gawd! Kim Taeyeon. You’re so incorrigible. But you’re so goddamn cute too. What am I going to do with you?
“You can stop singing, for starters.”
Kim Taeyeon gasped. “You’re the first person to ask me to stop singing. You’re definitely the love of my life.”
Tiffany was in stitches by now. “And stop with those lame ass jokes please.”
Kim Taeyeon pouted. “There’s no fun without them. But if that’s what I have to do to get you lunch, then I’ll stop. For a day.”
“You’ve got yourself a deal, Kim Taeyeon.”
“Taeyeon. Call me, Taeyeon. Please?”
Tiffany looked at the singer as the corners of her lips twitched and curled up into a big smile. Alright, just once.