– 07 –
Sheets and legs in tangles. Arms and long black hair everywhere. The sun was in her eyes, the full blast muted by her eyelids. She turned away, shielding her eyes from the blinding light only to find another blinding sight.
Her beauty was blinding. Even with her hair tumbling over her face like streamers. It was unreal. Last night. Her body remembered, toes curling at the mere thought of them testing the limits of her bed.
They’d ended up on her bed after she pulled Taeyeon back from the door. Taeyeon had been on the verge of leaving but she didn’t want it to end. Flames reignited, they moved through her apartment blindly, knocking into furniture along the way. Her bed was the ideal place to close the activity and they’d drifted off to sleep amidst mindless whispers of sweet nothings.
Now, in the light of day, it seemed like a dream. But the place between her legs insisted it wasn’t a dream. Everything had happened. Everything was real. As real as the woman who lay beside her, in deep sleep.
“Taeyeon…” the name fell from her lips.
Eyelids fluttered and opened, revealing brown eyes heavy with sleep. Eyes that took some time to focus. But when they did, they widened in surprise.
“Where am I. Why are you here.”
“We’re in my apartment.”
Taeyeon sat up, seemingly unaware of her state of undress. Until she looked down at herself. She turned back and their eyes found each other.
For a long moment, they said nothing. She didn’t know what to say and it seemed as though Taeyeon didn’t either. She stared deep into them, wondering what secrets they held, what they’d seen, what they were trying to say. Was she looking into the eyes of her enemy or friend?
Finally, she sat up too. “Breakfast?”
“I’ve gotta get to work.”
“Is that so.”
Taeyeon’s eyes blazed a scorching trail through the air with enough heat left to burn hers. “It is so.”
“If you hate me that much, why did you ask me to fuck you. Why did you fuck me back.”
“I don’t hate you.”
“How do you explain your anger then.”
Taeyeon turned away, breaking their only connection. “I can’t.”
“Either you hate me or you don’t.”
“What if it’s both?”
Taeyeon’s candid answer surprised her. “How can it be both.”
Taeyeon didn’t answer her. She leaned over the bed and retrieved her clothes instead. “I’ll see you at the next race,” she said while putting her arms through the bra straps and fastened it.
“So this is what it’s gonna be like. Fucking after racing.”
Taeyeon stood and put her panties and shorts back on before moving to stand in front of her. “You know you want it.”
“So do you.”
A casual shrug and smirk were hardly the responses she wanted to see and it angered her, but Taeyeon was right. In fact, she was already looking forward to the next race because of this promise. She was that pathetic. She was that desperate. But what other option did she have apart from flying back to California and leaving Seoul for good?
“Crystal isn’t with any professional racing team. She’s a friend’s friend.”
“Which means you know her.”
“But you can contact her.”
“Can you help us? We’d like to meet her.”
“Jessica here thinks she might be a long lost friend but she isn’t sure.”
“I see. I could give you her number if you want.”
“That would be awesome.”
“You owe me, Yuri.”
“No problem. Bring your car around to Carnical anytime. I’ll fix it up for free.”
“You said it yourself.”
“Yup. It’s a promise.”
“Great. I’ll send you her number now.”
Yuri stared at her phone as her friend tapped on his and a wide grin lit her face when a message popped up on her screen. “Got it, thanks.”
“Let’s go, Sica.”
“We’ve got her number. Do you want to call her now?”
Jessica shook her head.
“Don’t be afraid. I’ll be right beside you.”
“What if she’s not my sister?”
The fear and helplessness in Jessica’s eyes was heartrending. “Sica,” she hugged her, instincts leaning to protect the one she loved, “…think good things. Be brave.”
Yuri patted her head and smoothed her hair until Jessica collected herself. “Call?”
Jessica took a deep breath and nodded. Yuri made the call and handed the phone to her. Phone in hand, she looked more nervous than ever so Yuri put her arm around her shoulders and stayed close.
That was all she could do.
The sound of Crystal’s voice froze her blood within an instant and all the things she wanted to say piled up in throat. She looked to Yuri for help and her girlfriend smiled. You can do it, she mouthed. So she took another deep breath.
“Hi, who is it?”
Your sister. “I’m…my name is Jung Sooyeon.”
“Why are you calling? Do I know you?”
“I’m not sure if you know me.”
“Is this a prank?”
“No, no, no. It’s not a prank.” She dragged her fingers through her hair, exasperated by the disappearance of what little eloquence she had. “I don’t know how to say this.” She paused to take another deep breath. “I’m looking for my sister and I think you might be the one.”
Crystal didn’t speak for a while. “Sister? What makes you think so?”
“Your name is Krystal Jung, right? My name is Jung too. Jessica Jung Sooyeon.”
There was another long silence. “How did you get my number?”
“I saw you at the XPress race last night so we asked the organizers.”
“My girlfriend and I.”
“You have a girlfriend?”
“Yes, I do.”
Yet another long pause ensued. “Can we meet?”
Her heart stopped. It really did. It skipped an entire beat and it took her a moment to find her voice again. “Yes, please.”
“Your place or mine?”
“You can decide on that.”
“Yuri, I’m going to see her tomorrow.” She flung her arms around Yuri and cried into her shoulder. “I…can’t…believe…”
Yuri hugged her tight and caressed her back. There were misgivings lingering under her skin but this was not the time to share them with Jessica.
“You were very brave, Sica. I’m so happy for you,” she said instead. And she was. She was happy for Jessica. But she was worried too. From what she managed to hear of the conversation, it seemed to her Crystal had agreed a little too quickly.
“She’s my sister, I just know it.”
Yuri said nothing. She could only hug the fragile girl in her arms that much tighter. Words would only have sounded wrong.
“I heard you raced last night.”
“And you lost.”
“I did.” Tiffany kept a straight face as Paul sighed and shook his head. She had a good idea of what she was in for. It was a price she was prepared to pay.
“Tiffany. Please call me Tiffany.”
“Tiffany is only your racer name. I’m used to calling you Stephanie.”
“It’s easier to use one name.”
“Fine. Tiffany. You just did yourself a great disservice. You’re not a three-year-old kid who needs to be told what is right and wrong. I told you to stay away from the illegal races after winning Cheongdam.”
That had been the plan. Until I messed it up with Taeyeon.
“I have my reasons for racing at the XPress.”
“There is no reason that can justify what you’ve put at risk.”
Tiffany didn’t agree. Last night with Taeyeon could justify many things. At least to her, it could.
“I’ll have to forbid you from joining anymore illegal races.”
This wasn’t what she’d expected him to say. “Paul! I—”
His outstretched palm silenced her. “You’re a professional racer. You know what happens if you get caught in an illegal race. I don’t have to spell it out for you. Cheongdam was the only exception. You needed the rep and you weren’t officially accepted as a professional racer yet so it doesn’t count. As it was, you could’ve been caught at Cheongdam and that would’ve been the end too.”
She remained silent but Paul wasn’t having any of that.
“Promise me. You and I have a deal. I’ve done my part. You have to do yours too.”
There it was. He’d pulled the trump card and waved it in her face. That left her with no room for negotiation.
“Fine. I won’t race,” she said, putting no effort into disguising how much she disagreed with the whole idea.
“And you’re going to a dinner with me.”
“What dinner.” An invitation came sliding towards her and she stopped it with her hand. “The Racing Association?”
“Good. We’re done here. You can go out and face your team now.”
Tiffany scoffed. “Those kittens? They can’t do a thing to me.”
“Hey, there’s our best racer from LA.”
“Oh my God, should we bow?”
“How about kneel.”
The other racers in her team burst out laughing but she didn’t react to their taunts.
“Hey, what’s the matter? Why are you avoiding us. Too ashamed to face us after your embarrassing loss at XPress? Do you even know what shame is?”
She walked past them to the lockers but one of them stood in her way. “Excuse me, Denise.”
“Oh, so you do know how to talk. Well, answer us then. Don’t be rude, we’re your seniors in this company. You should greet us, at least.”
“Hi everyone,” she said with a quick glance at them before turning back to the tall woman standing before her. “Now, can you let me get to my locker.”
“That was a halfhearted greeting. I don’t think your seniors are happy, Tiffany.”
She wasn’t about to play along so she turned around and walked away with her helmet in her hand. Forget about the driving suit. Her present clothes would do fine.
But out at the track, their team manager didn’t think so. “Tiffany, what the heck are you doing in your home clothes. Go and get changed now!”
So, she had to turn back and head to the lockers again, amidst howls of laughter from her team mates. It hurt. And she stomped all the way back to the lockers to get her driving suit to vent it. Fuck them all. She was going to make them eat her dust today. Never mind if it was just a practice race. She was going to beat them black and blue on the tracks with her driving skills and they’d have to shut their foul mouths up.
The race circuit was predictable and boring. Unlike the illegal races, there were no ‘civilian’ cars to avoid, no surprise turbo bursts and no thrill of not knowing when the police might show up. She couldn’t believe she’d just promised Paul to stay away from illegal races. Why in the world had she agreed to the deal with him?
Paul had been her ticket to Taeyeon. And he had delivered. She owed him that much.
The helmet was stuffy but she had no choice but to keep it on so she chose to focus on the lights. They were red at the moment.
“Ready,” she reported and the countdown began.
The lights went green and her car shot off the starting line. She was five spots behind the pole position, but it didn’t bother her at all. Racing on open roads had taught her the art of overtaking other cars and sharpened her reflexes to a fault. It was something that her team mates lacked and she planned on shoving the fact in their taunting faces.
She floored the accelerator and switched gears with utmost familiarity. Within the time span of two gear switches, she’d overtaken the car in fifth spot and was closing in on the fourth. One sharp left turn and another gear switch later, she was fourth. The cars looked really angry in her rear view mirror but the sight only put a smirk on her face.
There were only three cars left to overtake. They were no challenge for her. Unlike Taeyeon. She could still remember the brilliant mechanics of Taeyeon’s last nanosecond swerve that cut off her path to make the final turn. It was highly strategic and obnoxiously gifted maneuvering displayed by Taeyeon and that was the entire reason why coming to Seoul was a good idea.
That, and Taeyeon herself. Her foot pressed harder on the accelerator as memories of Taeyeon’s moans filled her mind. This wasn’t good. She had to focus if she wanted to heap the dust on her team mates’ cars. Focus!
Another gear switch, steering wheel spin and some footwork on the pedals guided her car round another bend and right past the third car to take over the third position. That was Denise, she knew and another smirk found its way onto her face. She made quick work of her team mates and it took only one more turn for her to take second position.
It was a practice drive of five laps around the circuit and by the third lap, she was in first position. She held it for the rest of the way, maintaining her focus on each turn and straight and took it all the way home.
She drove her car back to the pit and got out of it, pulling her helmet off and shaking her hair out as soon as she got out. Her team mates were pulling in moments after her but she was already on her way to the lockers. She had no interest in returning the taunts. All she wanted was to get out of this place and return home.
“You seem happier today.”
“What are you trying to say.”
“I’m not trying to say anything.”
Taeyeon snorted. “You’re always trying to say something.”
“Since you already know that, we can dispense with the games. What exactly happened with Tiffany?”
Taeyeon smirked. “You want to know exactly what happened?”
“I don’t need to know the details, thank you very much. From your stupid smug look I’d wager my chicken that you got lucky last night. But that’s not what I’m asking. I wanna know if you’ve sorted yourself out.”
“Maybe yes or maybe no.”
“I’m leaning more towards the yes.”
“Which means you’re done feeling sorry for yourself? You’re finally gonna open up and toss out the hate?”
“I don’t hate her.”
“I’m not talking about Tiffany. I’m talking about your mother.”
“Don’t. Go. There.”
“That’s the hate you need to let go of.”
“I’ll let it go when I’m ready to. Right now, I’m not.”
Sunny pressed her lips into a line of disapproval but said nothing more on the subject. “I hope you’re ready for this, at least.”
“The Racing Association.”
“Why am I going to such a retarded event.”
“Because my uncle insists on bringing me along and I won’t be caught dead by myself at a suffocating dinner event like this.”
“Can I quit being your friend.”
“Sure. Feel free to leave me. And say goodbye to the beautiful cars you get to drive here. Oh, and you can start looking for a new place to live.”
“It’s formal. What the fuck. You know I don’t have the outfit for something like this.”
“My uncle will pay for everything. He’s agreed to pay for yours too.”
“In that case.”
“Great. We’re going shopping tomorrow. That’s an order.”