– 21 –
Holy fuck. The soreness in her limbs and between her legs was no joke. Taeyeon groaned and turned to sit up. The blanket fell around her and rays of sunshine warmed her skin but she felt no better for it. Her eyes were puffy and her lips, dry. She licked her lips and looked around the room. Scratched her head and yawned. Sniffed. Her breath was probably not unbearable but she couldn’t take her chances. Where was the bathroom?
“Good morning, baby.”
Taeyeon spat the water out and turned to Tiffany. A beautiful smile greeted her but she couldn’t help saying, “I’m not your baby.”
“Don’t like baby huh. What about honey then?”
“Cupcake?” Taeyeon threw her a cold stare and went back to rinsing her mouth. Tiffany sighed. “Breakfast is ready. I’ll be waiting outside.” Taeyeon nodded, then closed her eyes and splashed water on her face.
What the fuck am I doing. Just go out there and be nice.
She opened her eyes and stared at her reflection. Maybe if she could be nice to Tiffany, she’d like what she saw a little better.
“Coffee or tea for you?”
Taeyeon bit her lip. Be nice. “Coffee. Thanks.” She sat in front of a plate of eggs and toast. Tiffany had done a good job of preparing breakfast. The eggs were well fried, sitting pretty and the buttered toast looked crispy and her mouth actually watered just by looking at them. “Looks good.”
“The eggs,” Taeyeon pointed with a fork in her hand, “and toast.”
Another beautiful smile replied her and she found her lips curling up as well. Just a tiny bit. She dug in and wolfed down her breakfast. By the time a cup of coffee appeared in front of her, she had cleared her plate.
“You must be starving.”
Taeyeon looked at Tiffany’s plate. It was untouched. She’d been busy making coffee. “Sorry. I didn’t wait for you.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s a compliment to me when you eat it well. I have more toast. Want some?” Taeyeon nodded and stood with her plate but Tiffany took it from her before she could move past the table. “Sit. I’ll get it for you.”
So, she sat. And watched. Tiffany wasn’t wearing makeup this morning like she did at races. She looked different without it. Younger. Fresher. She liked the gigantic t-shirt Tiffany was wearing too. No shorts. Panties? Probably. Tiffany’s bottom was delectable and she enjoyed the view as Tiffany piled more toast onto her plate.
“There you go.” Tiffany placed the plate of toast in front of her and returned to the seat adjacent to her.
“Mmm, you’re being polite now but you were such a grouch earlier. I’m guessing you’re not much of a morning person.”
“Don’t you feel like crap when you wake up?”
Tiffany shook her head. “Not really. There are things to look forward to. Things to do. It’s a new day.”
Taeyeon grunted. “I just wanna lie in bed and stay there.”
Taeyeon merely shrugged.
“Any plans for today?”
“Shall we go out then?”
She stared at Tiffany. This was clearly a girl who pushed for a mile with an inch in her hand. “Where do you plan to go.”
“I like to go for a drive when I have the time. Just cruise around, you know.”
Taeyeon chewed on her lip. A cruise sounded nice. “Okay. But I’ll drive.”
Tiffany’s face lit up. “Sure.”
Taeyeon looked like a girl with her favourite candy in her hand. It was clear that this girl loved to drive. Driving a car like a Bugatti? Even more so.
She liked it too—bring driven around by Taeyeon. Taeyeon liked to drive and she liked to be driven. What a perfect match they were.
“What are you giggling about.”
Tiffany looked at Taeyeon, blinking. “Huh? Did I giggle?”
Taeyeon threw her a side glance. “Yes you did.”
“Oh. I was just thinking about how nice it is to be driven around by you.”
“You have strange thoughts.”
“You’re a really good driver. It’s what attracted me at the start.”
“What about now?”
“Now?” The question surprised her. She paused, pursed her lips and tried to find the right words to say. “You.”
She nodded. “You. It started with your driving skills. But now, I like the rest of you too.”
Taeyeon shook her head. “There’s nothing to like.”
“There’s plenty to like. You’re charming, you know. Very pretty. Very sexy. Especially when you’re dressed like this.”
Taeyeon took a quick look at herself. “I’m not wearing anything special.”
“I just like the way you look in denim, okay? Don’t fight with me on that.” The car swerved a good 90 degrees right at that moment, throwing her off balance and she shrieked, “What the hell Taeyeon!”
Taeyeon was grinning as she said, “Shut up. I wanna enjoy the drive,” and proceeded to take another sharp turn, throwing her against the door. From then on, she couldn’t say anymore; she was too busy holding on tight as Taeyeon had her way with the car on the deserted roads.
A car workout later, Taeyeon found a spot to park the car and got out. Tiffany followed and they settled on the grass, atop a little hill. She lay flat and propped her head up on her hands. Tiffany did the same.
For a while, neither of them spoke. It was a good day, sunny but not too scorching hot, with a friendly breeze, just enough to cool without messing up your hair too much. It was the kind of day that made her feel calm and at peace. And she would’ve been, if not for Tiffany lying beside her, a feminine scent wafting from her.
She closed her eyes and focused on the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze. It was a gentle sound, hypnotic in nature. And for a moment, she found a state of peace. She was in a good place. Until a head rested on her arm and the rest of its body made its presence known, pressing up on her. She opened her eyes. Tiffany had scooted up next to her and her hand was now on her stomach.
A finger drew a line up her body, over her chest to her face and traced the now clotted cut on her cheek. Unpleasant memories attacked her and she brushed the finger away. She could do without miserable thoughts for a while, at least.
But Tiffany had to ask, “Why is there a cut on your cheek?” She turned away, unwilling to answer, but Tiffany rose above her and cupped her cheeks, turning her back to lock gazes. “Don’t turn away from me. Don’t run away from me.”
“Don’t ask and I won’t run.”
Tiffany leaned down and their lips met, a gentle connection that quickened her heart beat. “Tell me.”
Taeyeon pushed her away and sat up, not liking Tiffany’s insistence. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to force people to do what they don’t want to?”
“She might have forgotten to tell me before leaving,” Tiffany answered with a rueful smile. Tiffany’s choice of words struck her as strange. This time, Tiffany’s smile did not reach her eyes. “And she’ll never be able to.” She sighed deeper than she ever did before and sat up. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to force you into answering. I’m only trying to persuade you. But I’ll stop.” She looked up at the sky and sighed yet again. “It’s time to go.”
Tiffany made to stand up but Taeyeon grabbed her hand and stopped her. “What happened to your mother?” she asked, half afraid of the answer she was going to get. Tiffany raised her eyes to the sky and Taeyeon had her answer. “When?”
“Ten years ago.”
Shit. She was just a kid when her mother died. “I’m sorry I said that.”
“You didn’t know. It’s not your fault.”
Tiffany silenced her with a palm across her mouth. “Don’t beat yourself up over it. I never said anything so you couldn’t have known. And I shouldn’t have pushed you to answer me so forget it, okay?”
Taeyeon could only nod and Tiffany lifted her hand after that. She was still sorry but she didn’t know what to do anymore. Perhaps, it really was time to go. She stood and offered a hand to help Tiffany up. She took it with a smile and they returned to the Bugatti in silence.
The drive back to her apartment was gruelling for her. There was nothing like saying something mean about somebody’s dead mother to make her feel terrible about herself. Hurling insults and ranting vulgarities at people in their faces were fine. Especially when they deserved it. Just not dead mothers. She’d crossed the line.
She pulled up along the road outside her apartment with guilt burning in her chest. Fuck. She had to do something about it or it’d eat her up all day. And night.
“Bye Taeyeon. I, er…I had a great time with you tod—”
“A customer slapped me,” she mumbled.
Tiffany was silenced at once, her eyes blinking in shock. “W-what?”
“That’s how I got the cut.”
“Guess I pissed her off,” she replied, hoping she sounded flippant enough.
“You wanted to know so I told you. There. I said it.” Don’t fucking cry now. She opened the door and got out before Tiffany could stop her.
“Bye Tiffany.” She strode into the building and rushed up the stairs, giving Tiffany no chance to come after her.
The sessions with Doctor Seo didn’t seem to be helping. If anything, her dreams were occurring more frequently and with increasing clarity. And each time, she would wake up screaming, in cold sweat. She’d told Doctor Seo about it and Doctor Seo seemed to think it was positive while she begged to differ. Wasn’t she supposed to be relieved of the dreams? Weren’t the sessions supposed to cure her? Why were her dreams going from bad to worse?
“Doctor Seo, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for the past three nights. I’m going crazy.”
“It’s difficult for you, I understand but your case is unique. Most of my patients come to me with vivid memories of their accidents and need help stepping out of it. But you are different. You don’t remember the accident. And the dreams that plague you will always do if we don’t lead you into them and unlock the memories that have been suppressed.”
“But this is hurting me so much right now. I don’t want another nightmare.”
“We’re getting there, Krystal.”
“Can’t you lead me back? I’d rather have vague, haunting dreams than vivid, scary ones that make me scream.”
“You still can’t remember what you dreamt, right?”
Krystal shook her head in despair. “No. Each time I wake up, the dream is gone and I don’t even know why I’m screaming. But I can still feel the fear. I can still feel everything. It’s horrible, Doctor Seo.”
“Krystal, are you willing to trust me?”
She looked down at her shoes and bit her lip. “I trust you know what you’re doing…but whether I trust you or not is not the issue.”
“If you trust me, believe that I can lead you in and out of it. Because of your suppressed memories, I need to bring you in to unlock them before helping you through them. It will be very painful, but there’s no other way to do it. The prize at the end are your memories regained though. Don’t you want to get them back?”
“I want to.”
“I’ll help you.”
Krystal lay on the recliner couch. This couch was one of the few merits of these sessions with Doctor Seo. That and the fact that Doctor Seo was a breathtaking beauty.
“Close your eyes.”
Doctor Seo’s voice was soothing, like water running down her back on a hot summer’s day.
“You are sleeping, your mind is still, you are in your subconscious…”
Doctor Seo’s voice grew distant and soon, it sounded like it was coming from a mile away.
She was excited. Even the fight she had with her sister over a doll’s dress couldn’t make her sad or angry. They were going to drive into the countryside! She loved riding in cars. Car trips were the best. She had a seat and her little kingdom. And the things outside the window went by very fast. Very very fast.
All strapped in, she was ready for the ride. She had her dolls and the little doll house her father had bought just for her to play in the car. She’d put them up nicely and Amber, her doll, was about to move in but suddenly, a big, evil, fluffy puppy messed up everything.
“Unnie! This is my side!”
“No it’s mine.”
“This is my side. See this line.” She took the big, evil, fluffy puppy and threw it at her sister.
“You took my fishcake from my bowl so I can put Bruiser on your house.”
“Daddy! Unnie put Bruiser on my house on purpose!”
Her sister shot her a death glare so she stuck her tongue out at her. Bleah.
“That’s enough for today. We have made good progress.”
“Remembering a doll’s name is good progress?”
“Remembering anything is good progress.”
“I guess. At least it’s not scary.”
“I’ll see you again soon. In the meantime, you may want to move in your your sister.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Your bad dreams. Right now, you live alone. That makes it harder to endure the dreams as our therapy continues. If you live with your sister, the simple existence of somebody you can rely on will be of great help to your condition.”
“Do consider it. Moving in with your sister could also accelerate your recovery as you feel more connected and accepting of her.”
“Okay, I will.”
Doctor Seo smiled. “I’ll see you soon.”
“Thanks, Doctor Seo.”
Remember to dress extra nice tomorrow. Taeyeon rolled her eyes at Sunny’s reminder ringing in her head. She was not going to put in extra effort to look better. She didn’t need to. And she was certainly not going to do it just because of Paul. If she was going to dress to kill, her target would be Tiffany and Tiffany only. If she could get the girl going, she would be rewarded with a fun-filled night.
She took a good look at herself in the mirror before stepping out. A white shirt tucked into white form-fitting pants, topped with a white jacket. A big, chunky necklace of many colours and chilli red heels. Thank goodness the cut on her cheek had healed and disappeared. Too many people had asked her about it and she was on the verge of losing her temper at the next person who asked.
Her white outfit looked good, she decided. Time to go to work.
Tiffany had been feeling perky since the moment she woke up today and as the time passed, she grew perkier and perkier. Today was the day. Mr Lee, Sunny and Taeyeon were to due to visit Hyundae Motors and she was to show them around.
She was looking forward to seeing Taeyeon so she couldn’t help but pout when Sunny appeared without Taeyeon.
“Hi Sunny. It’s great to see you again.”
Sunny grinned. “Really? You don’t look too happy to see me.”
“No, no. I’m happy to see you, don’t get me wrong.”
“Don’t worry. Taeyeon will be coming soon. She just has to close the deal with a customer and she’ll be on her way.”
“I see. What about Mr Lee?”
“He’s on his way as well.”
“Great,” Tiffany flashed a wide smile, “why don’t I serve you a drink first? Coffee or tea?”
“I’ll have a glass of water.”
“Sure. Follow me, I’ll show you to the meeting room first.” Tiffany led Sunny to the room where a virtual tour and presentation of their company would be done, prior to the actual tour. She then got a glass of water for Sunny and sat next to her. “Sunny, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what happened to the customer who slapped Taeyeon?”
Sunny’s wide open eyes and dropped jaw was not a reaction she was expecting to receive. “Taeyeon told you?”
She nodded, puzzled by Sunny’s question. “Am I not supposed to know about this?”
Sunny leaned back in her chair and gaped. “No, it’s not that. Just. Taeyeon, she keeps most things to herself. She’s not the kind to say much.”
“Well, she didn’t want to tell me at first.”
“But she told you anyway.”
“Wow.” Sunny still looked every bit as surprised as before. “Taeyeon actually told you about the wife. And she has the cheek to tell me you two aren’t together.”
Now it was Tiffany’s turn to blink. “The wife?”
“Yeah, the wife.” Sunny paused. “Wait. Didn’t Taeyeon tell you?”
“She told me a customer slapped her and her cheek got cut. She didn’t mention anything about the wife.”
Sunny palmed her face immediately and groaned into it. “Shit. She’s gonna kill me now.”
“I won’t say a thing if it’s gonna cause you trouble.”
Sunny looked straight at her for a moment. Then she sighed. “Thanks, but it’s okay. I was only exaggerating. She won’t kill me, but I may have to buy her dinner and drinks.”
“In that case, could you please tell me who ‘the wife’ is referring to?”
Sunny narrowed her eyes. “You know a little about Taeyeon’s mother, right?”
Tiffany nodded. “You mentioned it at the hospital the last time.”
“Yeah. So if you put two and two together, you’ll know who ‘the wife’ is referring to.”
Tiffany frowned. Why was Sunny speaking in riddles? She thought and thought. Then it hit her and she gasped. With sharp pangs piercing her heart, she looked into Sunny’s eyes, willing for the truth to be something else, willing to be wrong about her deduction. But Sunny only nodded, confirming the ugly truth that she couldn’t bear.
So that was why Taeyeon had been so uncharacteristically desperate that night. That race. Those tears. Taeyeon…
Just then, the door opened and in came Paul with Mr Lee and Taeyeon behind him. She got to her feet and smiled, doing the things she needed to do, saying the things she needed to say. But all the while, her heart hurt for Taeyeon and she wanted nothing more than to give the woman a hug. And a kiss to make it all better. But all that would have to wait. She was at work. And she had a tour to conduct.