Taeng gaped at Tiffany. He wasn’t sure if he had heard her right.
“What did you just say?” His voice could barely be heard above his breathing.
“I asked if you like me.” Tiffany’s eyes held his steadily. Taeng had the sudden urge to run away—never mind his peas. He hadn’t expected her to ask him so blatantly. In fact, he didn’t expect her to ask him that question at all.
“Do I like you…?” His voice was soft and quivery; his mind, a complete blank.
“Yes, do you like me?” The corners of her mouth twitched and curled into a half-smile.
Taeng looked down at his feet and twiddled his fingers. “I adore you Tiffany. I want to see you every day. I want to see you smile. I want to hear you laugh. I want you to be happy. And if you want me to help you to stay away from Siwon ssi, I will help. What do you need me to do?”
“Taeng, please don’t say that. You are not a rebound or a replacement or a shield for that matter.”
“Tiffany, please be honest to yourself. You still like him, don’t you? The way you are behaving tonight is nothing like the Tiffany I know. We’ve kissed before but those were friendly and nice. This one…this kiss is so much more but I know that it’s not meant for me. But it’s okay. I’m willing to help you, Tiffany. Anything for your happiness.” Taeng smiled and squeezed Tiffany’s shoulder comfortingly.
Tiffany couldn’t find the right words to say what she felt. Taeng was right. He was spot on. It was so disturbing that he knew exactly what was going on when it was quite a mess to her. Her emotions were raw, wild and she was losing control of herself.
Holy cow. Seeing Siwon tonight has completely unraveled me. And how is Taeng so uncannily perceptive?
It was evident that she did not know much about Taeng aside from his dorky, sunshine personality that she saw every day at work. She knew that he was crushing on her—you’d have to be totally numb not to feel the exceeding adoration he lavished on her—but she hadn’t expected him to be so deeply supportive of her.
She hadn’t expected him to be willing to go that far for her. What she saw of him tonight far exceeded her expectations. She was thrown. Thrown by Siwon and thrown by Taeng. Gosh, these two men would be the end of her.
She looked at Taeng who was still smiling at her with his usual dorky look. He surprised her immensely. She was going to have to give him some thought. He had so much more going on under that dorky grin of his.
“In the meantime, can I have my peas back?” Taeng looked as though he’d die if he didn’t have his peas for another night.
Tiffany smiled and that smile lapsed into a giggle as she handed the peas back to Taeng. “Taeng, I don’t know how you manage to make me laugh even a time like this.” She shook her head and smiled some more. She simply couldn’t stop giggling.
“I’m happy when you’re happy,” Taeng stated simply. He hugged his peas and sniffed at them. “They smell like you!” he observed.
“I’m sorry. Is that going to be a problem for you?” Tiffany looked at him apologetically.
“Oh, not at all!” Taeng grinned widely and squeezed his peas happily.
She laughed. Dorky Taeng has never failed to cheer her up. His uncensored, simplistic adoration of her was something that she marveled at as well.
“I will send you to the door.” Tiffany walked to the door with Taeng and opened it. Taeng stepped out and turned to wave goodbye. Tiffany smiled and waved back.
“Goodnight Tiffany. See you tomorrow! And remember! I will always be here for you!” Taeng flashed a parting grin and left.
Tiffany smiled, waved and closed the door. She then leaned on the door and sighed.
If only Taeng could save me from these relentless feelings I have for Siwon. Tiffany… Tiffany… you know that you can never be with Siwon but why can’t you let your feelings go?
As much as Taeng had helped to cheer her up and take her mind off things. She still needed to talk to someone about this.
Please don’t scold me but I met Siwon tonight. Help me.
Her phone rang moments after she sent the text message.
“Before you say anything Jessi, I want you to know that I’m already regretting meeting him.”
“Yes you ought to regret. I’m itching to kick your ass for meeting him yet again. Have you forgotten the hell I had to go through with you last year after you met him? And have you forgotten how much ice-cream I had to feed you to pull you out of your slump after you met him again six months ago? And have you forgotten how you cried after talking to him over the phone last Christmas? When will you stop doing this to yourself Tiffany Hwang Mi Young?” Jessica’s voice over the phone conveyed her frustration and exasperation with her best friend. “What does he want this time?”
“He wants to engage me as his PR for his grand opening of his new flagship store,” Tiffany replied in a small voice.
“For the love of pink! I hope you rejected him.”
“You…?” Jessica pressed on. “Please tell me you didn’t agree to be his PR?”
“I agreed.” Tiffany’s voice had shrunk to the size of a pea.
“WHAT?! HAVE YOU GONE COMPLETELY NUTS TIF? HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO WORK WITH HIM? I WILL NOT HAVE YOU SOBBING AND CRYING YOURSELF TO SLEEP EVERY NIGHT BECAUSE OF THIS!!!” Jessica practically screamed her lungs out.
She paused for a moment before beginning another round of chastisement.
“YOU SAID NO. YOU BROKE UP WITH HIM. HIS FAMILY TREATS YOU LIKE TRASH!!! THAT TWO-FACED EVIL MOTHER OF HIS DEMEANED YOU SO BADLY!!! HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ALL THE PAIN THEY PUT YOU THROUGH???”
“But he doesn’t know that, Jessi. He won’t stop coming back. He’s still trying.” Tiffany’s voice cracked—the beginnings of a sob threatened to spill over onto her cheeks.
“Tif…” Jessica couldn’t help but sigh. She hated it when she couldn’t do anything to help. She couldn’t tell Siwon the truth about his family—Tiffany made her promise not to tell. She couldn’t bitch slap his mother. Well, technically she could but it wouldn’t change anything for Tiffany. Siwon’s mother would still object to them getting married.
She shuddered to think of the horrid things that Siwon’s mother had actually said to Tiffany behind her son’s back. That sheer callousness displayed by that woman sickened her to the pits of her stomach and made her nauseous.
“Find a distraction, will you? You need help getting over Siwon. It’s been so long. You love him and he loves you but his mother is impossible. What about Taeng? He seems pretty into you. Date him.”
“I can’t use Taeng like that,” Tiffany said flatly.
“Use? I’m not asking you to use him. I’m asking you to date him. Tif, it’s okay to date other guys even if you still have feelings for Siwon. You know that you aren’t going back to Siwon anyway. And who knows, the new guy might help you to get rid of your feelings for Siwon. Or at least lessen them.”
“Jessi, it’s not fair to him.”
“You sound like you have given him some thought. What’s going on between the two of you?” Jessica was suddenly excited and hopeful.
Tiffany exhaled loudly before saying, “Actually, I just kissed Taeng and asked him if he likes me tonight.”
“WHAT? YOU DID WHAT? HAHAHA Tif, you go girl! How was the kiss? Was it good?” Jessica was beside herself. It’s been so long since Tiffany even expressed interest in any man.
“Jessi, that’s not the point. I can’t date Taeng just to forget Siwon. What would that make Taeng? I told him that he is not a rebound.”
“Wow, sounds like you guys talked a lot about this! Are you sure you aren’t interested in Taeng? You sound like you like him more than a little if you ask me. I feel so relieved now. I was beginning to wonder if I’d have to turn lesbian for you,” Jessica joked.
“JESSICA JUNG!” Tiffany scolded and laughed at the same time. “YOU? Becoming a lesbian for me? And what would Yul do without you?”
“Curl up in a corner and cry I suppose,” Jessica said dryly. “But hey, don’t try to change the subject. This isn’t about me and Yul. This is about you and Taeng. The last time you told me that he intrigues you but now I think it’s a little more than that. And I’m sure he’s more than willing to date you.”
“Well, he’s never asked me out.”
“He’s never asked you out because you’re his boss! And a scary boss at that.”
“I’m not a scary boss!”
“Yes you are! You’re scary when you work.”
“No, I’m not. I’m nice to Taeng. I didn’t fire him even when he made so many gross mistakes in his work.”
“Hmm, and I wonder why…? Given the Tiffany that I know, any other PA would have been sent packing by their second transgression. I remember you telling me that you thought he was quite cute during the interview. Wasn’t that one of the reasons why you decided to hire him?”
“Jessi, he was the last applicant I had and I needed a PA pronto back then.”
“Tif, Tif. Tsk, tsk. I can’t believe you’re trying to convince yourself that you are not in the least a tiny bit attracted to Taeng. All the signs have been there all along. I’ve noticed but you haven’t. You don’t behave too normally around Taeng you know. You kissed him in the car. You’re amused by his love for his peas. You didn’t scream murder when you woke up and found him hugging your leg. Tiffany, I’ve never really pushed you to date other men but seriously. You have got to get over Siwon!!! And I don’t want you to lose your chance to start something new with a nice guy like Taeng. You’ve been blinded by Siwon for too long. You reject every other guy who tries to get to know you.”
Tiffany knew that Jessica was absolutely right. She had behaved very differently with Taeng. She was vaguely aware of it but she didn’t really want to address the issue so it was swept under her pink, furry carpet. Jessica had to take it and shake it, stirring up all the questions and uncertainties.
“I’m tired Jessi. Dinner tomorrow? And we’ll continue this.”
“Sure. Yul will join us okay? But I’ll get him to go after dinner and we can talk. Or… better yet, how about inviting Taeng to dine with us? Yul can ask him!”
“Jessi, I don’t want to use Taeng.”
“Tif, it’s just a dinner. Besides, Yul’s the one asking and they can go hang out whilst we talk.”
Tiffany knew that Jessica would be asking Yul to invite Taeng regardless of what she said—Jessica always got her way—so she sighed and agreed. “Fine.”
“Hee hee! Tif, you’re gonna thank me one fine day. I’m pretty damn sure of it.” Jessica’s voice was a chirpy high.
Tiffany rolled her eyes. “Whatever makes you happy, Jessi. Goodnight.”
“Night, Tif! Sleep well! I want to see a pretty Tif tomorrow.”
Tiffany rolled her eyes and hung up.
“Hey, Yul! What’s up?”
“Are you free for dinner tomorrow?”
“I don’t know… If Tiffany works late, I’m staying with her.”
“Tiffany is having dinner with Sica and me. She’s not working late.”
“Tiffany’s going to be there? Oh, okay I’m down!”
“Haha! Why am I not surprised? You can head down with her after work.”
“Okay! Goodnight, Yul!”
Tiffany noticed an increase in Taeng’s cheeriness all day at work. He was whistling as he typed out VIP invitation letters and practically skipping to the pantry when she asked for a cup of coffee.
He’s that happy because…?
Gasp. He’s that happy because we’re having dinner together tonight?!
Bingo Tiffany Hwang.
She couldn’t help smiling as she watched him bounce around the office, going about his duties with great joy. If only she were as happy as he was. If only she were as simple as he was. If only. Sigh…
She thought about what Jessica had said the night before. Would it really be so wrong to date Taeng? He already knew about Siwon and yet his last words last night were about being there for her always. Could she make good of that?
A knock on the door jolted her out of her inner thoughts. It was Taeng.
“Boss, would you like some lunch now? I’m sure you’re famished.”
Tiffany nodded. She hadn’t noticed it but now that he mentioned it, her stomach was indeed growling unhappily. “A tuna sandwich please.”
Taeng nodded, smiled and bounced out of the office.
Twenty minutes later, he bounced back and placed the sandwich on her table.
“I got them to stuff more vegetables in there. You haven’t been eating much of it lately.”
“Thanks Taeng.” Tiffany smiled warmly. He’s so meticulous and considerate.
“No worries!” He sat down and starting eating his own sandwich whilst handling phone calls and emails on her behalf.
Now that she thought of it, he worked as hard as she did. He never went out for lunch if she didn’t and he would always stay as late as she did. The extent of Taeng’s brand of care and concern was truly impressive and very, very touching. How have I not noticed it all before? Jessi is right. I have been blinded by Siwon. And it may be time to change that.
She hated herself each time after meeting Siwon because she’d turn into this weak, crumbly, sobbing girl who lost her ability to function properly as an independent human being. This was highly ironic to her since she chose to leave him in order to gain independence. This time, however, had not been as bad. She didn’t cry all night and she actually managed to sleep rather well last night.
Was it because of Taeng?
Yoong could have sworn that Sunny was trying to get back at him for all the times he tried to woo her at work. They couldn’t have their date as planned because of the ton of work they had to do so they postponed it indefinitely. Yoong was deeply disappointed for he had been looking forward to their date—knowing that Sunny had gone on a date with Young before him was also eating away at him.
However, for the past few days, Sunny had been really naughty at work and it was killing him. One of her naughty little moves was leaving one too many buttons unbuttoned whenever she was in his office discussing Tiffany’s proposals for the resort’s grand opening.
Just this morning, he’d almost suffered from a major nose bleed as he caught sight of her lacy black bra as she bent over his desk to slide a document file to him. The smirk on her face told him that she knew what she was doing all too well. He felt an unwelcome stirring in his loins as he recalled the scene and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Feeling more and more frustrated with the whole situation, he leaned back in his swivel chair, dug his hands in his hair and let out a soulful groan.
“Not feeling too good?” a cute voice asked worriedly.
He shook his head, knowing instantly who it was. “No, not good at all.”
“What’s the matter?” She strode to his side in a flash and felt his forehead with her palm. “Are you sick?”
Yoong nodded. “I’m sick…totally sick in the heart.”
“You’d have to get a heart transplant for that.” The cute voice now carried a trace of amusement.
“It’s not fair! He got his date with you but here we are…stuck working late every single day! I can’t wait till Saturday,” Yoong whined like a three-year-old.
“Yoong, I’ve been making up for that, haven’t I?” The cute voice turned warm and husky.
Yoong opened his eyes and looked at Sunny. “Making up? How…? Huh?”
“The buttons…” Sunny’s voice trailed off and she winked at him conspiratorially, a crooked smile curling up her full, luscious lips.
“Oh!” Yoong looked surprised. “So you weren’t actually trying to tease me into insanity then? You were actually trying to make me feel better?”
Sunny looked affronted by his perception of her actions and Yoong panicked a little.
“I’m sorry!” Yoong apologized hurriedly and grinned sheepishly. “I didn’t realize.”
“Well, I shall stop doing that since you seem to think that it’s torture.”
“No! No, no! I…er…enjoy it a lot,” Yoong cleared his throat awkwardly.
Sunny giggled. “Okay. I’ll leave my buttons open for you.” She grinned at him and his heart went skipping into the woods—he was so turned on by her and what she said.
“Sunny, you’re the best decision the four of them ever made,” Yoong announced most solemnly.
Sunny burst out laughing. She held her sides as she bent double with laughter, unintentionally flashing her generous cleavage at him. His throat tightened and his face flushed but he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“Yoong, you are cute. HAHAHA!” Sunny wiped the tears of laughter off her face. She leaned towards his face and gave him a quick peck on his nose. “That’s for making me laugh so hard that my sides hurt.” And with that, she turned and strode out, giggling to herself, leaving the documents she had brought in for him to peruse.
“Sunny, let’s go out for dinner. I can’t stand eating from a paper box in this office anymore.” Yoong was determined to have a proper dinner after days of having take-outs.
“Is this another date attempt?” Sunny looked amused.
“No! Well, yes. I’ve been trying to get you to have dinner with me but I really need to get out of here and have dinner in a nice place for once.”
“Where would you like to eat? I’ll call and make reservations.”
Yoong was a little stunned. “Really? You’ll have dinner with me?”
“You said this isn’t a date didn’t you? We’re just having dinner. Plain and simple.”
“Yes! Yes, of course, it’s just dinner. Food. Hungry. Eat. I’ll let you pick the place. I can eat almost anywhere.”
“Okay,” her reply came right back.
Oh boy, was he excited.
They stared at the name of the shop. The name was fine. They found the name cute but the pictures of intestines all around the signboard was slightly disturbing. This shop, however, was known for its chitterlings dishes and they were looking forward to trying them out. The four of them entered the shop and were served quickly.
Jessica’s arm was hooked on Yul’s as usual and the good-looking pair dazzled everyone who passed them by. She did not notice any of it however—her eyes were on Yul and Yul alone. There were times when she wondered if she’d ever get enough of looking at Yul but her answer was loud and clear—NEVER. She couldn’t get enough of him and it was plain to see. It was pretty much the same situation on Yul’s side. He looked at her so adoringly that Tiffany had the urge to slap the both of them out of their silly grins and dazed eyes.
“AHEM,” Tiffany called for their attention, shaking her head and smiling resignedly at their hopelessly-in-love looks. “Please take your eyes off each other for just one minute and have a look at the menu will you?”
“Sure Tif.” Jessica smiled, giggled and opened the menu that was in front of her. “Kwon seobang, what would you like to have?” she asked with a voice dripping with the sweetest honey money could buy.
Tiffany choked on her water and Taeng hurriedly got some napkins for her. “Are you okay?” he asked and patted her back softly.
She smiled warmly and nodded her head. Then she rolled her eyes at her best friend. “Jessi… can you keep that term of endearment private please? I’m getting goose pimples all over my arms because of you.”
Jessica giggled and stuck her tongue out at her best friend. “You had some pretty disgusting names to call Siwon yourself!”
Tiffany froze as did Jessica. Jessica’s eyes widened in shock as she realized what she had just so inappropriately let slip. She kicked her own butt mentally and looked at Tiffany apologetically. Tiffany smiled wanly and proceeded to bury her face behind the menu. Taeng looked worriedly at her but remained silent. The air was still and awkward and it hung like a heavy curtain over them.
“Yul oppa! Hello everybody!” A bright, sunny, cute voice melted the frost around them as Sunny appeared at their table suddenly, smiling like the warm afternoon sun.
“Sunny! What a coincidence!” Yul looked cautiously at Jessica who was sporting a rather murderous look on her face at the moment. He put his arm around Jessica’s shoulder and squeezed it. Much to his relief, he looked at him and smiled sweetly.
Tiffany stood up and hugged Sunny. “Hey, it’s nice to see you again. Why don’t you join us?”
“If you all don’t mind.” Sunny looked at Jessica and Yul and Yoong. Jessica shrugged nonchalantly with a suppressed look of murder and Yul looked rather nervous. Sunny had to fight to stifle the giggle that was threatening to burst out. She sat down at the table and pulled Yoong onto the seat next to her.
“You guys must be here for the famous chitterlings dishes! Would you like me to recommend some to you?” Sunny chirped happily.
“This isn’t your first time here then? Are you a regular here?” Tiffany asked.
“Yes! I eat here all the time.” Sunny suddenly lowered her voice to a whisper. “The owner is really cute and fun to hang out with too.”
She winked at Tiffany and the two girls giggled. Jessica maintained her dispassionate look but she was moderately curious to see what the owner looked like now that Sunny had made it sound like he was a real hunk. Yoong bristled, his jealousy waking up to her innuendo whilst Yul smiled knowingly and shook his head at her cheekiness.
“Kyuhyun oppa!” She called out to a dashing man who had just come out of the kitchen. The man saw her and smiled brilliantly—much too brilliantly for Yoong’s liking. Sunny stood up and hugged him tightly. He laughed and ruffled her hair affectionately.
“Are these your friends?”
“Yup! You have to treat them to your best dishes oppa!” Sunny’s arm hung loosely around his waist and his hand was on her head. Yoong didn’t know what to do with himself—his blood was literally boiling.
“Sure! Sunny’s friends are my friends too,” he smiled and whispered something in Sunny’s ear. She giggled and nodded. Yoong’s eyes were on the verge of turning completely green with jealousy—they looked so intimate together.
“Everyone, this is Kyuhyun, the owner of this restaurant. He’s a close friend of mine.” Sunny grinned cheekily. She couldn’t stop herself from giggling as she saw the look on Yoong’s face.
“Sunny gave my restaurant its name. It’s a good name, isn’t it?”
“It is a good name. Good job Sunny!” Tiffany complimented.
Sunny giggled. “Thanks, Tiffany.”
“Well, sit back and relax. I’ll serve you guys the best dishes we’ve got and it’s all on the house tonight.”
“Oppa, you don’t have to.” Sunny started to protest but he silenced her with a waggling finger and a crooked smile.
“No, no… I insist. If you like my food, do come back and tell your friends. That’s good enough for me.”
“Thank you, Kyuhyun ssi.” Yul nodded politely at him.
“Please, call me Kyuhyun. As I said, Sunny’s friends are my friends too.”
“Thanks, Kyuhyun.” Tiffany and Taeng spoke in unison and looked at each other awkwardly.
“Excuse me. I’ll be heading back to the kitchen now. Enjoy your meal!”
Yoong snorted before he could stop himself. Upon hearing him, Sunny and Tiffany looked at each other knowingly and grinned. Jessica looked at them and wondered why Tiffany was on such good terms with Sunny when she was supposed to be on her side.
Sunny turned to Jessica suddenly and smiled. “Jessica, I must apologize for behaving so badly at the resort. I’m quite…well, I enjoy teasing people—to put it mildly—and I didn’t mean to ruin your relationship with Yul.”
Jessica’s eyes softened upon her words but if looks could kill, Sunny was still be half-dead.
“Yul is an old friend that I knew as a kid. I assure you that I have no romantic interest in him whatsoever. He’s really like a big brother to me.”
Jessica relaxed most visibly. The tension in her muscles ebbed away as the words of Sunny mirrored that of Yul’s and assured her of the nature of their relationship. She managed a slight smile and Sunny smiled from ear to ear, knowing that Jessica was pacified. She mouthed ‘sorry’ at Yul and he smiled and shook his head.
Several bottles of soju were served along with a few steaming hot chitterlings dishes. Everyone tucked into the food and drinks as they were hungry and the food smelt really, really good. Moments later, the group of six was completely satiated. They leaned back and rubbed their tummies which were full of good food and soju.
Kyuhyun appeared at their table again. “How did you find the food?”
“It was great!” they chorused and he grinned from ear to ear.
“Well, do come back even though you will have to pay the next time.”
“Oh, we most definitely will.” Yul voiced. “This is seriously good stuff.”
“Thank you.” Kyuhyun bowed slightly, accepting the praise politely. “Well, I have to be back in the kitchen now. I look forward to seeing you here again.”
“Thanks, Kyuhyun,” they chorused.
Sunny stood up with Yoong. She teetered slightly and he held her shoulders to steady her. She giggled. “Gosh I think I had one shot too many.”
“Shall I send you home then?” Yoong wore a look of concern.
“No, it’s alright. We still have a lot of work to do. Well… thanks for the company everyone. We have to get back to work.”
“Bye, you two.”
Sunny leaned towards Tiffany all of a sudden and whispered something into her ear. Tiffany’s eyes widened in wonder and amazement as she listened to what Sunny had to say.
The remaining four waved as Sunny and Yoong took their leave. Jessica nudged Yul and he stood up. “We’ll be going too. I’ve got an early day tomorrow.”
Tiffany shot knives and daggers at Jessica with her eyes. She knew what her friend was up to. They were supposed to chat but Jessica was ditching her and dragging Yul with her so that she’d be left alone with Taeng. And to think that she had assured her that this was just a friendly dinner!
Jessica giggled and hooked her arm around Yul’s. They grinned and left the place in double quick time, leaving Tiffany alone with a blushing Taeng. She raised an eyebrow at him. Why is Taeng blushing?!
Sunny was well and truly asleep. She must be so tired. He felt sorry for working her so hard but that was the nature of her job. He sat still and looked at her serene face. Her lips were pouty and extremely kissable. Her nose was nice and high and extremely kissable. Her eyes were closed serenely and extremely kissable. Her cheeks were flushed by the soju she had drank and looked extremely kissable. Her—
He stopped himself abruptly. He was having enough problems trying to stop himself from kissing her extremely kissable face without making it harder on himself by thinking such kiss inducing thoughts. He brushed the back of his fingers across her cheeks. Oh boy, were they warm. The soju and her fatigue had knocked her out completely—she didn’t even stir when he touched her cheeks!
Forget it. Who am I kidding? We’re not going to get any more work done tonight. I might as well…
And an idea popped into his head. He revved up the engine again and drove towards his new destination.
He raised the top of his car before cutting off the engine. The cool night breeze weaved its way through his hair and flipped it around softly. Sunny slept on peacefully. She did not even stir when he lowered her seat flat to make it more comfortable for her. He took his jacket and leaned towards her to lay it over her. Oh no, he got too close. Unable to resist her any longer, he planted a soft kiss on her full, luscious lips but she still didn’t stir.
Oh, that’s my heaven on earth. He grinned like an idiot to himself and lowered his own seat. He looked at his watch—just a couple hours more—and decided to catch a short nap.
His body clock woke him up. It’s been two hours of sleep! It screamed at him. His eyes opened slowly and he was greeted by a beautiful star-studded sky that took his breath away. He checked his watch again. It would be happening real soon but he decided to let Sunny sleep a little longer.
Sunny stirred when she felt something or someone shaking her gently. Opening her eyes sleepily, she affirmed that it was someone and that someone was Yoong. That jolted her out of her sleepiness and she sat upright, looking around; confused by her surroundings.
“Where are we?” She breathed.
“We’re about to witness a lovely sunrise. Look.”
Sunny looked in the direction Yoong’s finger pointed at and saw that the sun was barely peeking out from the horizon. She gasped at the sheer beauty of Mother Nature. The sky was painted in the most amazing hues of blue, pink, orange and other indescribable shades of mixed colours.
“Gorgeous, just like you Sunny,” Yoong whispered.
Sunny felt shy all of a sudden and found it difficult to focus on the beautiful sunrise that was taking place before her very eyes.
“How did you know of this place? I’ve never been here nor have I even heard about this spot.”
“Shh… just enjoy.”
So Sunny relaxed and enjoyed the view quietly. Yoong’s hand slipped into hers and held it—his thumb rubbing circles around her knuckle. He jumped for joy inwardly when she didn’t pull her hand away.
The sunrise didn’t last very long. A few moments later, the sun was completely up and above the horizon and rising steadily through the beautiful sky. Finally, Sunny turned to Yoong and smiled.
“Thanks for this beautiful view, Yoong.” Her voice was a low, husky whisper.
Yoong merely smiled and shook his head.
“No, I should be the one thanking you for this beautiful view every day.” His eyes held her gaze, and she knew that he wasn’t talking about the sunrise anymore. Sunny felt her cheeks warming up and knew that she was blushing yet again.
She stayed very still, albeit tensing up a little as Yoong leaned closer and closer to her. He stopped, just before reaching her lips, pausing there for a moment, as though making sure that she wasn’t going to turn away. And before she could even think about it, she found herself tilting her head up towards him, meeting his lips with hers.
She pressed in firmly, feeling the lips that hers were touching. Then the lips moved, parting wider to engulf hers, closing in on hers and she felt the suction on her lips as he began to get into the feel of things. A moist, warm and soft tongue brushed past her lower lip and teeth, entering the zone of the hot and wet. His hands made their way into her hair, holding her in place as he went deeper into the kiss. He was very gentle and he took his time, savoring her sweetness as the cool breeze of dawn caressed their cheeks and played with their hair.
Her mind was in a cloud of sensation—a sensation that she didn’t quite recognize. Usually, she’d be fighting for dominance in the kiss by now, giving the man a run for his money but this time…she wasn’t. She was completely compliant and he had free rein over her lips and mouth. One of his hands stayed at the nape of her neck, pressing gently to keep her close whilst the other hand traveled down her back, following her spine to the small of her back where it rested.
Wow. That sure feels good…mmm…Yoong…
His hand moved away from the nape of her neck and roamed about her back. Then he was hugging her—gently…tightly…
Several minutes later, he relaxed his arms around her and leaned back to look into her eyes. Her eyes were still closed, as though she were savoring the remnants of his loving of her mouth. Very slowly, her eyes opened and she looked rather different. He couldn’t put his finger on it but it had something to do with the look in her eyes as she gazed at him through hooded eyes.
Neither of them spoke for some time. They simply stared into each other’s eyes; his arms still loosely wrapped around her. Suddenly, she leaned towards him and clambered to his side of the car. She nestled herself between his legs sideways and rested her head on his chest. Her arms wrapped themselves around his waist and as she snuggled closer to him and closed her eyes.
Yoong was frozen in shock—in a good way—and he stayed as still as a rock as Sunny moved to snuggle close to him. He tilted his head down and buried his nose in her hair—it was the most heavenly smell—and lost himself in it. Amidst the burying and the snuggling, they both fell asleep in each other’s arms. Thank goodness it was the weekend and they didn’t have to go to work.
“I believe you.”
He raised both of his eyebrows. Huh?
“I believe that you’re serious about me now.”
“That’s a sudden change of heart.”
“It’s your kiss. I’ve never been kissed before.”
“Maybe I’m just a really, really good kisser.”
Sunny’s lips twitched and a ghost of a smile flitted across her face before she assumed a pout and jabbed his ribs with her elbow.
A soft chuckle escaped Sunny’s lips. “Egomaniac.”
Yoong laughed. “Egomaniac requests your permission to unbutton a few buttons.” His eyes glinted with mischief.
“Well, egomaniacs don’t give a damn about permission anyway.” Yoong grinned and swiftly unbuttoned Sunny’s blouse with his deft fingers.
Sunny squealed as she felt the rush of cold wind greet her exposed chest and tummy. “Yoong!” She scolded but her face bore a shy smile. His eyes roved over her body and he could not help himself. He held the blouse open and planted kisses from the base of her neck down to her tummy. She squirmed under his touch and kisses but he didn’t relent and soon she was panting, as was he.
“How about we take this one step further?” he muttered, his lips nuzzling the base of her neck.
“No, I don’t mean this.”
Sunny cocked her head and looked at him with an eyebrow raised.
Yoong smiled and pecked her nose. “Our relationship I mean.”
“Oh that. Mmm I promise you to give it some thought.”
“Give it some thought…? Haven’t you given this any thought at all?”
“Actually, no.” Sunny blushed. “I’m not really into committed relationships if you haven’t noticed. I’m not really looking for one.”
“But you’re thinking about it now?”
Yoong grinned. “Okay!”
Taeng looked down at the slip of paper that Sunny had slipped to him when Tiffany had gone to the bathroom earlier.
KISS HER ALREADY!!!
or I’ll kiss you and tell.
He blushed and scrunched it up in his fist.
“What’s that?” Tiffany pointed at his fist.
“Oh, it’s nothing. Just a note that Sunny passed to me.”
“Sunny?” Tiffany narrowed her eyes and eyed him suspiciously. She recalled Sunny whispering to her that she thought that Taeng was cute earlier. What is Sunny up to now?
“Why are you blushing then?”
“Am I?” Taeng looked alarmed. “Erm…I don’t know. Maybe it’s the soju.”
“Hmm.” Tiffany didn’t look convinced and Taeng didn’t look convincing at all. “Are you and Sunny friends now?”
“Er, I think so…”
“You think so?”
“Yeah. She’s nice and everything.”
“Nice and everything?”
“Yeah, you know, she’s pretty, hot and cute all in one.”
“Do you like her then?”
“Yes, I like her. She’s a nice person.” Taeng smiled warmly and Tiffany felt a sudden jolt of something foreign blazing a trail through her mind. Whatever it was, she didn’t enjoy that feeling at all.
“Well, have fun being friends with Sunny then. I’ll be going now.” Tiffany stood up in a huff and Taeng scrambled to stop her.
“What is it? I’m tired and I want to get home.”
Taeng stood awkwardly and shuffled his feet uneasily. He couldn’t raise his eyes to meet Tiffany’s.
“I don’t have all day Taeng. What is it?”
Taeng squeezed his eyes shut and breathed deeply. His fist tightened around the scrunched up note from Sunny, as though trying to extract more conviction for what he was about to do; for what he had been longing to do for the longest time—initiate a kiss with Tiffany.
Go big or go home.
“PLEASE DON’T FIRE ME!”
And with that, he launched himself at Tiffany, circling his arms around her waist, clamping his lips down on hers and the last thing he remembered seeing was her wide open, stunning-looking eyes.
Oh gawd. These are so soft! Can I stay here forever?
Taeng was sure that he was about to melt into nothingness; so heavenly was the taste and feel of her lips. Tiffany didn’t move. She stood as still as the Statue of Liberty—only, her arm wasn’t raised up like the latter’s. On the contrary, she found her arms snaking up his arms, finding his shoulders and circling his neck.
His lips moved. Oh boy, did they move. Their heads tilted ever so harmoniously, allowing both of them to feel every nudge, brush of their lips. And Taeng gained a boost of courage upon realizing that Tiffany was actually returning the kiss. His inner child whooped for joy and pranced around inside of him, turning cartwheels in celebration.
Go big or go home.
He brushed his tongue briefly across her lower lip; testing the waters. She moaned softly into his mouth and he knew what to do next. In he slipped, exploring, learning, realizing. He met her and they played a shy little game of tag with their tongues. It was most invigorating for Taeng and Tiffany seemed to enjoy it just as much as he did for her hands were raking through his hair, making it look like a hurricane had just gotten into it.
How it seemed like eternity yet way too brief at the same time. Taeng would never know but when they finally broke their kiss, coming up for breath, all that could be seen on his face was the biggest, happiest grin Tiffany had ever seen.
As they came back down to Earth, back from their trip to Euphoria—a faraway planet of pleasure—they came to realize that the other patrons in the restaurant were actually cheering them on. Taeng blushed and this time, Tiffany too. The blushing couple smiled awkwardly at the other patrons and made a hasty escape from the restaurant.
Tiffany dragged Taeng to where their cars were parked and there they stood—the blushing couple. In a sudden, swift movement, Tiffany snatched the scrunched up note from Taeng and before he could do anything about it, she had read it. Her eyes opened wide like never before and she looked at him most incredulously.
“Sunny passed this to you?!”
Taeng nodded mutely.
Tiffany stared at the note in disbelief. Sunny had played the both of them. She, Tiffany Hwang Mi Young had been played. Oh my gawd. SUNNY LEE SOONKYU!!!
Then she laughed. Hard.
Taeng looked at her, clueless, wondering what had set her off that way. He was now a nervous, clueless and entirely confused soul—albeit a very happy one. Tiffany held her sides as she laughed and laughed. She couldn’t stop. She didn’t know what to think. Damn that Sunny. She was going to get that girl’s ass for staging the whole thing. In a tiny little corner of her rather messed up mind, however, was a tiny, little question waiting to be answered.
Was I jealous of Sunny earlier?And why?
Tiffany managed to stop laughing. She took a few deep breaths and calmed down. Then she looked at the man who had just kissed her like his life depended on it. She had to give it to him—it was a fantastic kiss—Taeng definitely knew his way around.
“I won’t fire you.”
Tiffany smiled and shook her head.
Taeng heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Did you like it then?”
Tiffany looked a little stunned. That was a really blunt question and most men she knew probably wouldn’t have asked for fear of hurting their ego. She found herself blushing as she answered him truthfully.
“I liked it very much. You kiss very well.”
Taeng grinned from ear to ear. “Oh! I’m so happy to hear that.” Then he looked down at his feet suddenly. “Er, do you think we could do that more often?”
Tiffany laughed again. Oh dear, Taeng. She couldn’t handle him. She looked at him, her eyes twinkling like the brightest stars in the night sky.
“Taeng, are you asking me to date you?”
Taeng looked at her cautiously. “IreallylikeyouTiffany.”
She wanted to laugh again. No guy had ever managed to make her laugh so hard and so much in a confession. Better to laugh than to cry, don’t you think?
And for the fourth…or was it the fifth? Or the sixth? Oh whatever, she had lost count of the number of times Taeng made her throw caution to the wind so she smiled and nodded.
“Taeng, I don’t know how you did it but yes, I’ll date you.”
Taeng’s face spilt into the most priceless grin ever. He leaped, punched the air and whooped for joy, his face shining with pure exuberance. Then he stood still and shyly took her hand into his, his eyes searching hers for any sign of rejection. There was none. Tiffany squeezed his hand and giggled. Taeng could only grin.
“My mum’s been acting all strange lately,” Jessica sighed as she cuddled Yul. Her arms were wrapped around his waist and her head, in his chest. She took a deep breath and let herself sink into the warm embrace of Yul, engulfing herself in his wholesome, manly scent. She felt safe where she was—safe enough to talk about her family.
Yul squeezed her gently. “What did she do?”
“She’s been on a really short fuse lately. I don’t know what’s gotten into her, especially with my dad. She’d just yell at him over nothing. It’s so unpleasant.”
“If this is between your mum and dad, I’m sure they will be able to work it out.”
“I hope so. I don’t like it when they shout at each other over petty little things.” Jessica shuddered. She raised her head and met his eyes anxiously. “I don’t want us to end up like that.”
Yul smiled warmly and clasped her face with his hands. With their faces within an inch of each other, he spoke. “We won’t.” And with that, his lips closed in on hers, engulfing them in sweet sensation and a secure promise. The intensity of her emotions manifested itself as a soft moan and she closed her eyes, allowing Yul to take her on another flight to Euphoria, where Taeng and Tiffany had returned from, not so long ago.
“Send her in.”
Hyun released the button that allowed him to communicate with his personal assistant and leaned back in his chocolate brown leather swivel chair. His PA had informed him that there was someone to see him and she sounded extremely surprised about that. Something about the tone of her voice had irked him which was unusual. He’d never bothered about things like that before.
“Treat number one.” Hyoyeon appeared at his door, announcing her arrival with the strong aroma of freshly steamed goguma spreading through the air. “Special deliveries count as two treats by the way.”
“No way. You didn’t mention that before.”
“You didn’t ask.” Hyoyeon stuck her tongue out at him.
“You are such a cheat!”
Hyoyeon shrugged and grinned. “That’s what I’m known for. In fact you should know better than anyone, shouldn’t you?”
Hyun frowned at Hyoyeon. He always did find it hard to answer her. “Fine, so this is treat number one and two. That leaves you with 153 more to go. These gogumas better be good or they won’t count.”
“Ah! Speaking of that clause of yours, how am I to know that you won’t pretend not to like it just to make me go on treating you forever?”
Hyun looked at her as though such a thought had never occurred to him before. “You should also know that I have integrity, unlike you.”
Hyoyeon laughed. “Oh right, yeah. I can count on you to be honest. Sorry, my bad! I’m too used to being surrounded by cheats—totally forgot about how full of integrity you are.”
Hyun frowned. “Why does that sound more like an insult than a compliment?”
“That’s because it was an insult! HAHAHA!” Hyoyeon laughed. “At least you managed to pick up on my subtle sarcasm this time. You never did manage to pick it up in the past.”
“We live to learn.”
“Yes we do.” Hyoyeon grinned cheekily. “But some of us have more to learn than others.”
Hyun frowned again. “That still sounds like an insult to me.”
Hyoyeon laughed out loud. “Hyun, you’ll be the death of me. Eat your gogumas for goodness sakes.”
Hyun bit into the steamed gogumas and chewed.
“Are they good?” Hyoyeon leaned forward on her elbows, curious to know his verdict.
Hyun’s face lit up and he nodded. “They are very good. I love them! Where did you get them from?”
A brief inkling of hesitation flashed across Hyoyeon’s face before she answered. “Er…I bought them from an uncle near where I live.”
“You will have to bring me to him! These are fantastic!” Hyun remarked most enthusiastically.
Hyoyeon shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Well…that uncle doesn’t sell it every day. I’m not sure when he does either.”
“Oh. But, if you see him, bring me there!”.
“S-Sure, I will.” Hyoyeon smiled weakly at him but Hyun being Hyun, he noticed none of the uneasiness that Hyoyeon had displayed. All he could think about was how great the gogumas tasted.
“So, that PA of yours? She was staring at me like I am some alien when I walked in. Care to explain that?”
“Really? She sounded really surprised when I told her that I would have a visitor today as well.”
“And why would she be surprised? Unless…”
“You don’t usually have visitors.” Hyoyeon’s eyes were narrowed as she eyed him piercingly.
“Oh. That would make sense.”
“You don’t have visitors?”
“I do but it’s just for work. No friends.”
“Do you have any friends besides Yoong and Young?”
“Why do I need more friends?” Hyun asked simply.
Hyoyeon stared at him incredulously. “Seriously Hyun, you need to get a life.”
Hyun sighed. “We’ve had this discussion before. I already have a life.”
Hyoyeon shook her head in disgust. “Your definition of having a life is severely skewed.”
“Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion of what life is to them.”
“Okay, this is too much. You’re coming with me.” Hyoyeon leaned over the table and grabbed his hand. Hyun looked up in alarm.
“I’m going with you? Where to? Right now?! I can’t! I have work to do! Deadlines to meet!” Hyun grew increasingly flabbergasted as Hyoyeon held his hand in an ironclad grip and dragged him out of his seat and office. His PA looked up in surprise and shock as she witnessed her boss being dragged to the elevators while protesting vehemently against being dragged out in the middle of a work day.
“Hyoyeon, I need to get back to my work.” Hyun panicked. He couldn’t afford to miss the deadlines. Disaster would ensue.
Hyoyeon rolled her eyes at him. “Relax. This is your lunch hour. All I’m doing is taking you out for a proper lunch. That’s part of life too you know.”
“Oh.” Hyun relaxed visibly. “Okay, so long as I get back before lunch hour ends,” he warned Hyoyeon with an intense gaze that made it clear that he could not be late.
“Okay, okay! I promise that you will be back before your lunch hour is over.”
“Now, THIS is life.” Hyoyeon swept her arm open, presenting the lunch hour crowd that was jostling for seats and queuing up for food.
“You can’t be serious! This is civilization at its worst.” Hyun made a face as a sweaty man brushed past him. “Eww! I think his sweat just rubbed off on my shirt.”
Hyoyeon rolled her eyes at him. “Your shirt can take a little dirt, Hyun.”
“But I don’t like it dirty. I like it clean.” Hyun pouted. Little did he know the effect his pout had on Hyoyeon—she found it adorable.
“Okay, okay. Let’s grab sandwiches and find a shady spot to sit under.”
“That sounds better.” Hyun looked significantly more cheerful than before.
“Hyun, you really haven’t changed much at all.” Hyoyeon grinned widely.
Hyun frowned. “I can’t tell if that’s a compliment or an insult.”
Hyoyeon laughed. “It’s a compliment.” She winked at him and pulled him towards a shop selling sandwiches. “Let’s get ourselves some sandwiches!”