PD: Round 51 to 52

Round Fifty-One

Tiffany and Taeng went home after some time but Hyoyeon spent the night with Sunny. The poor girl had stopped crying and recovered some of her wits after some time. They both fell asleep on Sunny’s bed and stayed that way till morning. They were rudely awoken by the banging of Sunny’s door in the early morning.

SUNNY!!! ARE YOU IN THERE???”

Sunny woke up with a jolt and sat upright. Hyoyeon rubbed her sleepy eyes and tried to figure out where she was. Then it all came back to her—Sunny’s horrid experience and the reason why she was in her friend’s room.

It’s Yoong.” Sunny was flustered. “What should I tell him?”

Tell him the truth,” suggested Hyoyeon.

No…” whispered Sunny. “I can’t. He’s going to be really angry with Joongki and do something stupid.”

How else are you going to explain what happened yesterday? And surely you aren’t going to work today? You might have to see that asshole if you do.”

I won’t have to see Joongki at work. At least not today.”

You’re going to work?” Hyoyeon thought that Sunny was insane. “You’re going to work after something like this happened to you? Are you going to pretend as though nothing happened?”

I have no choice. I can’t let Yoong find out.”

Hyoyeon sighed. There was no changing of Sunny’s mind once she had made up her mind about it.

Well, first, you have to handle Yoong who is still banging on your door.”

You.”

Me?” Hyoyeon blinked, feeling clueless. Sunny was not making sense.

You have a problem with Hyun and you spent the night with me to talk about it.”

I have a problem with Hyun?!” Hyoyeon could not believe her ears. How did she get involved in this whole thing?

Yes. Please, help me, Hyoyeon ah.” Sunny’s eyes were glistening with tears and Hyoyeon could not say no to her.

Argh. Okay, okay, I will cover for you. I have a problem with Hyun and I looked for you last night.

Thanks Hyoyeonie.”

~~~~~

Sunny braced herself to face a very concerned Yoong before she opened the door. Sure enough, Yoong was almost in a panic state.

Sunny! Oh my gawd, you have no idea how relieved I am to see you!” Yoong engulfed Sunny in a huge hug and she had the most insane urge to cry in his arms.

Yoong… I’m fine.” Sunny smiled at Yoong and tried her best to look like her usual sunny self.

Are you sure?” Yoong leaned close to her, scrutinizing her face to make sure that she was alright.

I’m fine, I really am.”

Oh, hi Hyoyeon.” Yoong straightened his back and nodded at Hyoyeon.

I’m sorry for monopolizing Sunny last night. I… had some problems so I came looking for her.”

Oh. I was wondering why she didn’t pick up my call last night. Well, that explains it.”

I’m sorry, Yoong.”

Don’t worry about it. You’re Sunny’s friend and she would want to be there for you when you need her.” Yoong grinned and put his arm around Sunny’s shoulders and squeezed her lightly.

Sunny smiled and looked up at Yoong. “Thanks for being so understanding, Yoongie.”

I’m a nice guy, aren’t I?” Yoong grinned boyishly.

Sunny’s smile widened and she stood on her toes to give him a quick peck on his cheek. “Yes, you’re a very nice guy.”

Yoong looked closely at her again and frowned. “You don’t seem your usual self, Sunny. Are you sure you’re okay?”

I’m okay… I’m just a little tired that’s all. We were up most of the night.”

Oh, do you want to sleep in and get some rest? You can go to work later.”

Sunny smiled wanly and shook her head. “I’ll go to work at the usual time. No special treatment, remember?”

Yoong frowned. “Employees request to come in late all the time. This isn’t special treatment. You can simply call the office and let them know about it.”

Yoongie, I’m alright. Really.”

I’ll wait for you to get ready then. I’ll send you to work today.”

Okay.”

Sunny turned to Hyoyeon. “I’m sorry. I have to get ready for work.”

Hyoyeon gave her a tight hug and whispered in her ear, “Call me if there’s anything you need.”

Sunny smiled and nodded her thanks as Hyoyeon left her apartment.

~~~~~

How was dinner with Joongki?”

Sunny nearly choked from the mention of Joongki’s name but she managed to answer Yoong calmly.

I made my stand clear to him. He won’t be wooing me anymore.”

Yoong looked pleased. “That’s good to hear.”

Sunny smiled but she was anything but cheery inside. She hoped that Joongki would not turn up and do anything crazy at the office. However, Joongki was not a foolish man and she doubted that he would do anything that would destroy his reputation.

No, he won’t do anything to me anymore. I hope.

~~~~~

Is it uncomfortable for you?”

Mmm… no.”

I’m sorry these seats aren’t as spacious as what you’re used to.”

Having less space can be a good thing.” Jessica giggled and snuggled even closer to the man she could never get close enough to.

It’s just like you to see this kind of benefit in this situation.” Yul smiled while shaking his head. Not that he minded how close they were to each other. On the contrary, he agreed with Jessica’s point of view on the matter. He enjoyed very much the closeness that they shared. Her head was on his shoulder and her arms around his waist. One of his arms was wrapped around her shoulders and the thumb of his other hand was rubbing her forearm mindlessly. It was cozy, to say the least.

Yul…” Jessica tilted her head up to pout at him for teasing her.

Yul grinned and gave her nose a quick peck. She smiled sweetly in return and nestled her face comfortably in the crook of his neck. He was happy, to say the least. But better yet, in his heart he knew, so was she.

~~~~~

JESSI!!!”

Jessica jumped and shrieked excitedly. Her best friend was at the airport to welcome her back. She hugged Tiffany way too tightly and was alarmed when the girl coughed and spluttered as soon as she let go of her.

Tif! Are you sick?”

No.” Tiffany coughed some more as she tried to recover her breath. “You hugged me so tightly that I couldn’t breathe.”

I’m sorry,” Jessica apologized immediately and patted Tiffany’s back to soothe her. “I’m just really happy to see you. I haven’t heard from you all week!”

Tiffany breathed deeply and smiled. “I’m happy to see you too. Let’s find a good place to talk over dinner.”

Okay!” Jessica smiled and turned to look for Yul. Yul was having his own happy yet awkward reunion with Taeng who was all over him, hugging him like a koala would a tree. She giggled, for Yul did not look comfortable with that overly warm welcome at all. He seemed relieved when Taeng finally let him go and went back to Tiffany’s side. Jessica giggled as she took her place beside Yul and slipped her arm around his. “Let’s go, Tif wants us to have dinner together.”

Okay.” Yul smiled warmly at her and began pushing the trolley of bags towards the car park with her hanging onto his arm.

~~~~~

How was the trip?” Tiffany asked casually as she chewed on the chitterlings that had been served just moments ago. They were seated comfortably in Belly Happy, a place that they have come to love and frequent over time.

I loved it!” Jessica replied exuberantly and Tiffany smiled knowingly. She knew her friend well and she had more than an inkling of why Jessica was that happy.

Turning to Yul, Tiffany raised her brows at him, expecting him to answer as well.

It’s a trip I will never forget.” Yul wore a truly blissful smile, much like Jessica.

Tiffany felt warm and fuzzy inside. She was truly glad for her best friend whom she had seen through good times and bad. She had seen Jessica in her darkest moments when boyfriend after boyfriend got caught cheating on her. She had seen her friend drink herself silly and wallow in self-pity for the longest time before deciding to stay off men for good. She had seen the rich and spoilt girl suffering in silence when it came to her family problems. Yet, here Jessica sat, arm in arm with Yul, smiling as though she was the happiest girl on Earth.

What are your favourite moments of the trip?” Taeng asked eagerly.

Jessica giggled. “Let’s see… my favourite moments are… on the plane… in our room… and when we got on the camera at the Giants baseball game!”

Taeng looked mystified by Jessica’s answer and Tiffany could not help but smile at him. She had a pretty good idea about the kind of moments that Jessica was talking about. There was no doubt that she was going to make Jessica spill the beans on the ‘finer details’ of the trip when it was just the two of them. Meanwhile, Yul had buried his face in his palms, making Jessica giggle even more.

But there is one moment that I don’t really like at all.” Jessica huffed and pouted.

You promised!” Yul exclaimed suddenly, making everyone jump in their skin.

Yes, I did and I will keep it. Don’t worry, Yul.”

What did you promise?” Taeng asked curiously.

Jessica made a face. “Yul made me promise to find a job and start working.”

WHAT?” Tiffany exclaimed in disbelief, making everyone jump in their skin. “AND YOU AGREED? YOU PROMISED TO WORK?”

Yes, I promised and sealed it with a kiss,” Jessica replied sadly.

OH MY GOODNESS! YUL! YOU’RE THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO JESSI!”

Shh!” Jessica shushed her and spoke in a loud whisper, “Don’t yell like that! Everyone’s looking!”

Tiffany looked. Indeed, all the other patrons were looking their way.

Sorry! I am just so excited and happy and… oh gosh… this is great! Jessi, what kind of work are you going to look for?”

Jessica crinkled her nose. “I haven’t thought about it yet. But I’m sure that I don’t want to work for Daddy.”

Why not?” asked Yul.

Everyone will just hate me because I’m his daughter. But they won’t dare to show it in front of me so I’ll be surrounded by people pretending to be nice to me.”

Oh… that’s quite true…” Yul nodded.

Tiffany finally calmed down and looked at Jessica seriously. “Are you really serious about working? Working isn’t something you can treat like a toy and simply have fun with. You’ll need to be committed to it.”

Jessica gave Tiffany a pointed look. “Why does everyone always doubt me? When I say that I will do it, I will. I know what commitment is. I can commit. Yul questioned my ability to commit at the beginning too. But look, I’m committed to him and our relationship, aren’t I?”

Alright, cool it… I was just saying… you know… in case you didn’t think about it.” Tiffany was a little taken aback by how serious Jessica appeared to be about working. Then she sat up straight and looked Jessica in the eye.

If you really want to work, I have a proposition for you.” Tiffany smiled. “How would you like to be my business partner?”

What? Are you starting your own business?” Jessica was dumbfounded.

Tiffany looked briefly at Taeng before turning back to Yul and Jessica.

Taeng and I… we lost our jobs when we came back from Jeonju.”

WHAT?!” Both Yul and Jessica were shell-shocked.

A lot of things happened while you two were in San Fran. We lost our jobs so I decided to take this chance to start my own company with Taeng, and Taeng snagged a weekly spot on a radio show with DJ Kangin.”

WHAT?!” Yul and Jessica exclaimed again. This was indeed an evening of shocking news for them.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. This is actually pretty good for us.” Tiffany smiled and turned to Taeng who smiled at her and held her hand. Her smile widened and she squeezed his hand gently. “But here’s the thing, so far, it’s me, Taeng and a couple of seniors who are closer to me. Jessi, you are perfect for this. You know PR like the back of your hand. You’ve attended more events, functions and grand openings than I have. You know all the right people. And undeniably, with your family name, your presence at the event will jack up the glam factor. All you have to do is to put up an initial sum of money that will determine your shares in the company. We split profits by the percentage of your investment. What do you say?”

Tiffany looked steadily at Jessica as the brunette blinked and blinked. She knew that there was a lot to absorb and think about.

Jessi, go home, sleep on it. You don’t have to answer me today. I’m still in the midst of setting up the company so you have some time to consider it.”

How much money are we talking?” Jessica asked suddenly.

Tiffany smiled. “When has the amount of money ever concerned you?”

Jessica rolled her eyes. “I can’t buy into your company with a credit card, can I? I’ll need to get cash from Daddy.”

Make that a loan, Sica,” said Yul.”

A LOAN?!” Jessica looked at Yul incredulously. “Yul, I’m Jessica Jung. I don’t owe money, ever.”

It’s a business loan, Sica. If you want to do business, you take a business loan. It’s an investment and given time, you will break even and start to make a profit. And that’s what I call making a living.” Yul looked at her sternly, his gaze unwavering.

Jessica sighed and pouted at Yul. “Alright, I’ll loan it from Daddy,” she said grudgingly.

Tiffany was amused to see how Jessica quelled under Yul’s firmness. She never thought that she would live to see the day that the Jessica Jung was finally controlled by a good influence. She was certain that something really wonderful had happened during their trip to San Francisco. And now, she was curious to know what it was.

~~~~~

A couple of days went by and Sunny was feeling more and more optimistic about things. Joongki had not turned up at the office, nor did he make any attempt to contact her. She wondered fleetingly who the girl at the door was. She wanted to thank her for saving her from Joongki’s clutches but she was not going anywhere near Joongki’s house ever again. Based on what Joongki mentioned, however, she suspected that that might have been his sister, Seulgi. Judging from the girl’s reaction to what she saw, Sunny was inclined to think that she did not approve of what Joongki was doing.

~~~~~

Seulgi was beside herself with guilt. Never in a million years would she have thought that her own brother would turn into a monster. But she had seen him on that girl and heard the girl’s desperate cries for him to stop. It was etched in her mind and she could not sleep.

Her brother was, at the moment, moping around in the house, getting drunk on whiskey. Feeling frustrated with her brother, she went to him and took his bottle of whiskey away.

Stop it! Pull yourself together and apologize to that girl!”

I was only doing it for you… Seulgi… it was all for you…” Joongki mumbled drunkenly.

For me? What the heck are you talking about, oppa? You’re drunk!”

I’M NOT!!! I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!!” Joongki waved his arms around wildly. “I did it for you…”

I really don’t understand why you did that, oppa. But you have to make things right. You should be thankful that the girl didn’t go to the cops or you’d be in jail right now.”

She wouldn’t dare. She knows that I did it for revenge. She knows. And if she wants to protect that asshole of a boyfriend of hers, she won’t tell anyone anything.”

Revenge? Why are you taking revenge? Why—?” Seulgi froze. The revenge that her brother spoke of… was it… was it for her? If it was… then that girl’s boyfriend would be…

Yoong…?” breathed Seulgi. Even after all this time, it still hurt to think about him. She had always been wary of men, seeing how her own brother went out with girl after girl. However, on that fateful flight back to Seoul, she had been completely charmed by the impishly handsome man who was seated next to her.

She had been reading a book when he started it.

Interesting book? I don’t read much but you’re making it look interesting.” he had said to her innocently enough and they began chatting.

He was friendly and there was something about him that she liked. He did not give her the creepy feeling that most men did when they approached her. He had an easy-going demeanor, as though he was not after anything in particular. The next thing she knew, they were sharing a cup of ice cream and laughing over a naughty joke that Yoong had told her.

It began with a brush, then a light touch and before she knew what was happening to her, she was making out with him under the covers. She shocked herself by going that far. Further than she had ever gone with any other man. And the plane arrived in Seoul way too soon. She gave him her name card but he did not have any. He promised to call her but she now knew that it had been a big, fat lie. He probably had plenty of name cards but he obviously did not want to have any more to do with her after the flight.

She waited in vain for him to call her and when she finally accepted the truth that had been in her face all along, she lost it. It was a combination of heartbreak, frustration and anger at herself. She had fallen for him during the flight. She never did believe in love at first sight but the unthinkable happened to her.

But more than the pain of feeling cheated and betrayed by him, was the knowledge that she had been terribly stupid to fall for a man whom she barely knew and worse still, given that much of herself to him within hours of meeting him. She knew that she only had herself to blame. She could have rejected his advances but she had gone along with him. And that was ultimately, what killed her the most.

He brother had noticed that she was not her usual self upon returning a couple days later. And when she broke down and told him everything, he had been enraged about it. How could anyone treat his sister this way?! He would not stand for it. That man would not get away scot-free. He would make him pay.

Now, as she finally figured out what her brother had been up to all this time, she felt sick to the core. That girl did not deserve to be ravaged by her brother like that. Guilt overwhelmed her and she could not live without making amends for what her brother had done. It was up to her now. She would have to make amends.

~~~~~

Don’t even try to play a prank on me today. I’m not in the mood for it.” Hyoyeon opened the door and trudged back to the couch that she had been slouching on for the past couple of hours.

I wasn’t planning on trying today.” Hyun followed her to the couch and squatted before her and looked at her with concern. “What happened?”

Hyoyeon sighed and shook her head. “I can’t tell you. I promised my good friend to keep it a secret. But just thinking about it makes me feel depressed.

Let me cheer you up!” Hyun grinned widely.

And how are you going to do that?”

Hyoyeon watched as Hyun unzipped his briefcase and took a notepad and pen out of it. He scribbled something on the notepad and placed it on the coffee table.

Simplify this equation.” Hyun set the pen down on the notepad and gestured for Hyoyeon to do it.

I really don’t think you’re good at cheering me up. Funny faces or jokes would be more effective than asking me to do Math, don’t you think?”

Go on… do it…” urged Hyun.

Argh, fine, I’ll do it. You’ll have to help me out though. I’ve forgotten most of this stuff already.”

Hyoyeon looked at the equation that Hyun had written on his notepad.

9x-7i > 3(3x-7u)

She looked at him helplessly. “How do I even start?”

You have to multiply whatever is in the brackets by three first.

Ah, okay. It’s all coming back to me now.”

Hyoyeon multiplied the numbers and wrote it below Hyun’s equation.

9x-7i > 9x-21u

-7i > -21u

She got stuck again and looked at Hyun for help.

Flip the sign around and you can get rid of the negative sign.”

Okay…”

7i < 21u

i < 3u

Now what?”

Hyun grinned. “Look at it carefully. What does it say?”

Hyoyeon looked and looked and looked. Then it dawned on her and she blushed immediately as Hyun pointed at the simplified equation and read it out loud.

I love you.”

Hyoyeon squealed and covered her face with her palms. She peeped out between her fingers and saw that Hyun was blushing as furiously as she was despite being the one who had thought it up in the first place. Slowly, she removed her palms from her face and began giggling instead. She found it highly amusing that Hyun could be so geeky and romantic. She gave him a brief peck on his cheek and giggled some more.

Thanks Hyun, you cheered me up.”

And Hyun looked positively happy about that.

~~~~~

Sunny, are you feeling better?”

Yes, I am. I’ve gone back to work.”

Already?”

If I don’t go to work, Yoong will suspect that something is wrong.”

Sunny, you have to tell Yoong about this. What if that guy tries something again?”

He won’t.”

How can you be so sure?”

He hasn’t shown up anywhere or tried to contact me. I really don’t think he’s a bad guy at heart, Tiffany.”

It’s been proven that you don’t really know what he’s thinking.”

I think he got carried away and lost his senses for a while.”

Sunny, I can’t believe that you’re defending that man!”

I’m not defending him. I’m just seeing things logically.”

It’s not logical for you to be so calm about it.”

What else can I do, Tiffany? I can’t keep on crying about it. I have to get on with life.”

And what’s going to happen when you have to meet him again for work?”

I’ll take it one step at a time.”

You know that I don’t approve of Yoong not knowing about what happened to you.”

Please… don’t tell him.”

Tiffany sighed. She would not cause Sunny more distress for now.

I won’t tell him. Don’t worry.”

Thanks Tiffany.”

Please stay safe and call me if you need anything.”

I will.”

Tiffany stared at her phone after ending the call. She had lied to Sunny but it was for her own good. There was no way she was going to keep the truth from Yoong. She was going to give the girl a few days of respite before telling Yoong about it. She was convinced that he had to know.

~~~~~

Taeng was out grocery shopping when he heard his name being whispered along the aisle.

It’s Taeng DJ!”

Are you sure?”

Yes, yes, I’m sure it’s him. I saw him right from the first time he appeared on Kangin DJ’s show.”

If that’s really him, he’s pretty cute!”

I know, right?”

Taeng did not know what to do. He had been spotted and recognized by two middle-aged women who were pushing trolleys of vegetables. They were your typical ajummas next door who liked to hug and kiss him like the ajummas from his hometown.

Hi, are you Taeng DJ?” asked one of the ajummas.

Taeng nodded hesitantly, unsure of what they were going to do. He froze as they gushed over him.

Taengoo… you’re so cute. If only you were my son-in-law. My daughter had to marry that good for nothing man of hers who goes out drinking every night…”

Taeng smiled nervously and tried to get away but the two ajummas had surrounded him and were now touching him everywhere.

Look at his eyes! Such bright eyes. You’re definitely a smart boy, aren’t you?”

Er… no… I’m not really that smart actually.”

Oh, you’re so humble, unlike that stupid egoistic husband of mine who keeps on praising himself all day long. Mmm… if I were twenty years younger, I would marry you for sure.”

Taeng gulped. He did not want to marry this ajumma even if she were twenty years younger. He only wanted to marry Tiffany. Marry Tiffany? I want to marry her? He had never thought about it but thanks to this ajumma, he was certain that he did not want to marry anybody else but Tiffany.

Er… thank you but I really have to go. I-I have to go back home and cook dinner.”

Oh my… Taengoo can cook! You’re such a cute little thing, you…” The ajumma pinched his cheeks before she let him go. “Run along now, cutie. Share some of your cooking stories with us the next time!”

Taeng smiled awkwardly at the ajummas and made a hasty escape. As he wheeled his trolley to the cashier, he heaved a great sigh of relief. Those ajummas were not scary but he was not as comfortably with them as he was with the ajummas in his hometown. At least they were not as scary as Jieun. She was certainly the scariest person he had ever met.

~~~~~

As he cooked dinner that evening, he thought long and hard about the new thought that had been evoked in his mind. Marrying Tiffany. Thinking about it made him happy but he was not sure if Tiffany wanted to marry him. Why would a woman want to marry a man? He did not know the answer but he intended to find out.

~~~~~

Fany! You’re just in time! Dinner’s ready.”

They had decided to eat in instead of eating out and Taeng had offered to cook dinner. He was quite adept at cooking, having plenty of practice both at home and living by himself. Tiffany, however, did not excel at cooking as she did at work.

Tiffany smiled warmly at him and took her place at the table that he had laid.

Taetae, you’re so awesome. The table is so well laid.”

Taeng grinned. He was always happy when Tiffany praised him. With a dorky grin on his face, he served the dishes he had cooked with the groceries he bought earlier.

Tuck in, Fany ah.”

Tiffany gave him another breath-taking smile before digging in.

This tastes really good, Taetae.”

Taeng’s heart leapt upon hearing that. Was being a good cook one of the things that women looked for in marriage?

Fany ah, why do women marry men?” Taeng asked as casually as possible.

Tiffany looked at him amusedly. “Because they can’t marry puppies?” And she laughed lightly.

No, no… what I meant to ask was… why do women choose to marry a particular man?”

Tiffany giggled. “Is this some kind of research for your radio show? You’re asking really weird questions this evening.”

Er… yes! It’s for the radio show.” Taeng was relieved to have an excuse to ask more questions.

Mmm… most women would marry the man they love.”

Besides that?”

Mmm, there are women who marry men who have the means to take care of them.”

The means?”

Oh you know, wealth, status, power…”

Taeng’s heart sank. He had none of that.

Would a woman ever marry a man because he can cook well?”

Tiffany laughed. “I don’t know anyone who has but there may be women out there who might.”

Taeng’s heart sank even deeper and he felt very sad. It did not look like he was qualified to marry a woman at all.

Have you ever thought of getting married?”

Tiffany laughed again. “Of course I have but I don’t want to get married so soon. I want to build something of my own before starting a family.”

Taeng blinked. Tiffany had no intention of getting married any time soon. Well, there was a bright side to that. That gave him more time to amass wealth, status and power, although he was not quite sure how he would go about doing that. And that also ensured that Tiffany would not be going off to marry another man any time soon either. That was good for him! Taeng grinned widely at that thought.

Why are you grinning like that?” Tiffany asked amusedly.

I-I feel happy,” stammered Taeng, making Tiffany giggle.

Taetae…” She smiled.

Yes?”

Nothing… I just felt like saying your name.”

~~~~~

After dinner, Tiffany pulled Taeng to his couch.

Let’s continue where we left off the other time, shall we?”

Taeng gulped and nodded.

Tiffany began undoing her buttons and it was not long before she was topless and straddling him, just like the other night.

Taetae…”

Yes?”

Do you still see me as peas, Taetae?”

Taeng blushed furiously and shook his head. “N-No… I-I s-see…”

What do you see, Taetae…?” Tiffany’s voice was husky and Taeng had learnt that that meant that she was aroused.

I-I s-see you…”

Tell me what you see exactly, Taetae…”

I s-see your face.” Taeng’s blood was racing so fast that it felt as though he was about to explode.

What else?”

I see y-your… your…”

What are these, Taetae?” Tiffany squeezed her twins together and pushed them in Taeng’s face, making him gasp.

They are y-your b-b-boobs…”

Do you like them?”

Y-Yes.”

Show me how much you like them.” Tiffany’s unusual smile brought his blood pressure up several notches and he could barely breathe when she took his hands and placed them on her bosom. “Make me feel good, Taetae…”

Taeng was determined to make Tiffany feel good. Perhaps that was also one of the things that women married a man for.

Would a woman marry a man because he can make her feel good?” he asked.

Tiffany’s eyes were closed when she answered, “It’s definitely an important aspect to consider.”

Taeng’s heart lifted from the depths that it had sunk to previously. He still stood a chance if he could make Tiffany feel good.

~~~~~

Taeng doubled his efforts and squeezed Tiffany’s twins as his fingers teased her sensitive tips. He flicked his thumbs over them over and over again until Tiffany was gasping for breath.

Oh Taetae…”

Do you feel good?”

This is better than good, Taetae…”

Taeng grinned happily. He decided to make her feel even better by letting his mouth take over one of his hands. Tiffany moaned loudly and clutched handfuls of his hair as his tongue flicked the hardened nub that his fingers released. He unleashed his lips on her breast and sucked hard. He knew that she liked it because she tightened her grip on his hair which caused him some pain but it was nothing that he could not handle.

He sucked relentlessly and teased her tip with his tongue mercilessly while his fingers pinched, pulled and flicked her other tip until she tensed and pressed his head against her chest desperately. He then stuck his free hand up her skirt, cupped her between her legs and rubbed hard through her panties, making her convulse some more.

Oh my gawd, Taetae!” gasped Tiffany as she gradually calmed down and opened her eyes. “That was too good!”

Good enough to make a woman marry a man?”

Oh… the woman would be begging the man to marry her if he made her feel this good every single time.”

Taeng felt good. If he kept this up, he would have a good chance of marrying her one day. He suddenly felt the urge to make her feel good again.

Fany, let’s go to bed.”

And with that, he placed his hands on her butt and lifted her up. She squealed in surprise at his sudden move and wrapped her legs around his waist to keep from falling. He squeezed her butt as he walked to his bedroom, making her giggle non-stop.

I’m going to make you feel very good, Fany ah.”

And I have no doubt that you will.”

Taeng placed Tiffany onto his bed gently and pulled her skirt off. He felt a jolt of life infusing into his enlarging ‘tent’ when he saw how wet her panties were. It was getting slightly uncomfortable down below for him but he ignored it entirely. He was focused on getting Tiffany to feel good.

Getting onto his knees, he crawled between her spread legs and crouched low to nuzzle his nose between her legs. If his tongue could work wonders on her tips up north, it should also work well on her little hidden nub down south. She squirmed when he did so and he placed his hands on her thighs to keep her still as his tongue shot out and flicked her quickly.

Tae… tae…”

Tiffany’s long, deep moan told him that he was right. He continued to press his tongue on her through her panties until it was well and truly soaked. Then he got up and slipped his fingers under the waistband of her panties. Slowly, enticingly, he pulled her panties down her legs and dropped it onto the floor. He could see how aroused he had made her and he was determined to up his game.

He parted her with his fingers and exposed her to his eyes. He zoomed in on the harden nub and unleashed his tongue on her. He heard her shriek from the intensity of the pleasure he was giving her but he did not stop. Instead, he took her into his mouth and sucked doubly hard.

Tiffany screamed. But it was a scream of pleasure so he continued. He held her hips down on the bed with his hands. She was beginning to thrash about and he needed her hips to be still. Her legs were sliding up and down his back and her hands were close to pulling his hair out from their roots but he persevered with his mission. In an effort to bring her to the very top, he pushed in two of his fingers and curled them as he moved them in and out of her.

OH MY GAWD TAETAE!!!” Tiffany screamed.

He felt the roots of his hair fighting to stay rooted and winced in pain but persisted in milking the most out of her cloud nine high. It was only when she finally relaxed that he did so too.

~~~~~

When all was calm again, Taeng looked up from the vee of her legs and smiled shyly.

Was that good enough for you to want to marry me?”

~~~~~

Round Fifty-Two

Tiffany thought she had heard him wrong the first time. Then it struck her that Taeng had just put the words ‘you’, ‘want to’ and ‘marry me’ in the same sentence. She experienced a moment of déjà vu. Where had she heard this line before? Then it came back to her. It was Siwon who had asked her this question a long time ago. She had been very happy to hear that question when Siwon asked it then. But where was the joy now?

Perhaps, it was the rather awkward setup. She was lying naked on the bed, with her legs spread. She had just attained an all-time high from the administrations of a fully dressed man who had his head between her legs. And now, his eyes were looking into hers most hopefully. On top of that, the buzz of euphoria had not yet faded and her body was only just recovering from all the convulsions it had been reduced to less than a minute ago.

Perhaps it was the suddenness of it all. She certainly had not seen it coming right after she ‘came’. Surely no man has ever popped the question right after doing such a thing? However, one had to expect the unexpected with Taeng in the picture. He had an uncanny knack for doing things very differently from others.

Perhaps it was her current stage of her working life. She was only just beginning to strike out on her own. There was little stability in what she was doing and she was fully aware of the challenges ahead of her. She would have to give it her all, if she wanted to have a shot at making it work.

Perhaps it was everything rolled into one that led to her saying, “You were very good Taeng, but I don’t want to marry you.”

It had come out wrong. She knew it the instant her words left her mouth. She saw the destruction it caused in the receiver of the answer and her heart wrenched. His hopeful eyes glistened with tears almost immediately and his lips trembled. His cute features contorted in an attempt to keep from crying. And her heart shattered when he said most numbly, “It’s okay, Fany ah. I know that I’m not good enough.”

He stood up with slight difficulty (his tent was still evident) and smiled wanly at her. And before she could react to what was happening, he had already left the room. She blinked several times before she truly comprehended what had just transpired.

Oh no!” cried Tiffany and she leapt off the bed in a hurry. She dashed out of the bedroom naked only to see him leaving the apartment. “TAENG! WAIT!” she yelled at the top of her lungs but he was gone. She breathed heavily as she waited a few seconds to see if he could come back but he did not. She was close to dashing out of the apartment to chase after Taeng but she caught herself just in time. She was stark naked. Not exactly dressed suitably for outdoors. Cursing the unfortunate delay, she grabbed her bra and top from the floor of the living room and put them on quickly. She then dashed into the bedroom to retrieve the rest of her clothes before leaving the apartment looking significantly shabbier than when she first arrived.

~~~~~

Taeng could not think. All he knew was that he did not want Tiffany to see him cry. His tendency to burst into tears was probably one of the reasons why she did not want to marry him. One of the many reasons. His chest tightened unbearably as he closed the door of the apartment behind him. He heard a muffled sound coming from the apartment but decided not to turn back. For some reason, he did not want Tiffany’s sympathy. He did not want to be a man whom she took pity on. He did not want to be a man whom she felt sorry towards. He simply wanted to be a man she wanted to marry. But it seemed to be a greedy want for someone like him. Had he asked for too much?

He stepped out onto the street and looked left and right. Left or right? Left? There’s the pet shop… No. Enough of that. I won’t do the same thing this time. Right it is. So Taeng turned right and ran down the street as his tears began to blind him.

~~~~~

Tiffany stepped out onto the street and looked left and right, scanning the crowd, looking desperately for the man whose heart she had just completely broken. He was nowhere to be found. Left or right? Left. He might have gone to the pet shop to sooth his saddened soul. So Tiffany turned left and sprinted down the street to look for him.

~~~~~

Taeng ran and ran and ran until he collided with a relatively soft body.

OOF!” went Taeng while the soft body went, “OWW!”

They fell onto the ground in a heap and paper rained down from above all around them. And that’s when the person he had run into shrieked, “MY PAPERS!”

He sat on the ground in a daze while the woman started picking the papers up in a hurry. The woman turned to him and barked, “HELP ME TO PICK THEM UP! QUICKLY!”

O-Okay.” He felt a little intimidated by the woman but got to his feet and helped her nonetheless.

Come with me, hurry!” ordered the woman.

He followed her despite not knowing where they were going. They entered a building and got into an elevator.

You need to help me to sort out of the papers and put them in order again. Got it?”

Taeng looked at the woman and nodded. She smiled suddenly and caught him by surprise for she was astoundingly beautiful when she smiled. Gone was the cold and unapproachable look that intimidated him just moments ago. They arrived at the assigned floor and he followed her into a room that looked very much like the radio station he worked at with Kangin.

Quick! My show is starting soon and I need the scripts to be in order.”

Taeng looked at the stack of papers in his hand and snapped into action. He laid them out and began to put them in numerical order. He was so focused that he did not notice their heads coming closer and closer to each other and they ended up knocking their heads into each other when they both reached for the same sheet of paper.

OWW!” the both of them groaned and rubbed their heads.

Their eyes happened to meet just then and they burst into laughter at the ridiculous situation that they were in.

What’s going on here?” a deep voice intruded upon their moment.

The woman explained, “I ran into him around the corner and my script got messed up. He’s helping me to put them back in order now.”

I see. Let me help.”

And the three of them got down to sorting out the papers. With the additional help, the job was done in a jiffy and the woman smiled again.

I’m sorry, I never did introduce myself. I’m Gyuri. What’s your name?”

I’m Taengoo but you can call me Taeng.”

Taengoo? Taeng? TAENG?” Gyuri’s eyes were wide open in wonder. “OH MY GAWD! You’re Taeng DJ!”

Taeng was taken aback by her big reaction but he smiled and nodded politely. “Yes, I am Taeng DJ.”

Gyuri yelped excitedly and threw her arms around him happily. “I love you! I’ve been listening to you while I drive home. Too bad you only have a weekly segment. I’ve been hoping that they would give you more air time so that I can listen to you more. Oh my gawd, I can’t believe I didn’t recognise your voice! Now that I know who you are, you sound exactly like the voice on the radio! You have no idea how excited I am to meet you in person!”

Taeng froze. He was shocked by the warmth and tightness of her hug. It was not right. He belonged to Tiffany, even if she did not want to marry him. This was wrong even though it felt good. He pulled her arms away from him and stepped back from her.

I’m sorry, I have a girlfriend and I shouldn’t be hugging other girls like that.”

Gyuri looked a little crestfallen to have her hug rejected. “You sure do love your girlfriend a lot. I’m so jealous of her. It was your love confession that caught my attention during your radio show and I really wish that I have a boyfriend like you. Well, I guess I have to respect you for being so loyal to your girlfriend. That’s what made me love your show in the first place. But if she ever dumps you… think of me… okay?”

Dump me? Will Tiffany ever dump me? She might, since she doesn’t want to marry me. She might dump me when she finds someone she wants to marry.

I’m sorry, did I say anything wrong? Why do you look so sad?” Gyuri’s concerned voice warmed his heart and in a moment of utter despair, Taeng hugged Gyuri and cried on her shoulder. “Now, now… what’s wrong? Please don’t cry…” Gyuri’s caring voice did nothing to stop his tears.

Gyuri, you’ve got ten minutes till you’re on air.”

Taeng came to his senses and stepped away quickly. “I-I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. But thank you for lending me your shoulder to cry on. I-I should go now.”

Wait! I… I really want to be your friend. Can I be your friend? Can I visit you at your radio station? I welcome you to mine anytime!” Gyuri’s eyes were earnest and hopeful and Taeng could not help smiling as he wiped his tears.

We can be friends and you can come to my show if you want.”

Really?” Gyuri hopped up and down excitedly.

Really.”

Oh my, that’s great!” Gyuri almost hugged Taeng again but she stopped just as she was about to. “Ah, right… no hugging. But how about a friendship hug?”

Taeng blinked. “What’s a friendship hug?”

Gyuri grinned and stepped forward. “Like this.” She hugged him lightly and patted his back twice before releasing him.

Taeng thought about it for a while. It did not seem so bad. It felt very encouraging and he liked it. “I suppose the friendship hug is fine.”

Gyuri laughed and clapped her hands joyfully. “What’s your number then? I’ll give you a call before I visit your show.”

Taeng gave her his number and she giggled like a schoolgirl who had her crush give her his number.

Say, would you like to stay for my show?”

Taeng thought for a moment. He did not want to go back so soon and he did not have anywhere else to go. Perhaps he could learn a thing or two about deejaying from Gyuri too. “Okay! I will stay and learn from you.”

Gyuri laughed. “You’re a very good DJ yourself. I should be the one learning from you.”

Gyuri, one minute.”

Oh!” Gyuri looked at the clock in the room and back at Taeng. “Sit tight, alright? I’ve got a show to do now.”

Taeng nodded and smiled.

~~~~~

Tiffany could not find Taeng. She had a sinking feeling that quickly intensified into a horrible premonition. Please let Taeng be safe. Please let me find Taeng. Please… She headed back to his apartment only to realize that she could not open the door as it locked automatically when she left. It was just as well, or it would have been left unlocked when she dashed out without thinking of locking it. She pressed the doorbell several times and called for Taeng but all was silent in the apartment as far as she could tell. So she sank to the floor and leaned against the door. She would wait for him to return and make things right again.

~~~~~

Yoong brought Sunny out after work. They had a late dinner, a glass of wine each and it was a very pleasant night for the both of them. He had sensed that there was something bothering her for the past few days. Things had not been right ever since the night she did not answer his call. Although Hyoyeon had explained it, he had his reservations about the truth. Was Sunny having some kind of problem? He did not want to force it out of her, so he decided to treat her to a really nice night instead. He hoped that he would be able to make her feel better, at the very least.

She seemed to be fine all through dinner and he enjoyed talking to her about inconsequential things. He avoided talking about work and Hyoyeon. After the wine was finished, he sent her home.

He stood at her door, feeling reluctant to leave. “Can I…?”

Sunny looked at him for a moment before nodding. “Come in.”

Yoong stepped into her apartment and wrapped his arms around her waist as she closed the door. He sensed her tensing up and wondered why. She was usually very soft and pliant when he hugged her. Wanting to ease her tension, he took her bag from her and put it on the floor. Then he turned her around and looked into her eyes. He was surprised to see the uneasiness in them.

You’re so tense, bunny. Let me help you ease up.”

He pushed her towards her bedroom and made her lie on her bed.

You’re the luckiest girl in the world and do you know why?”

Sunny blinked at him and shook her head silently.

Yoong unbuttoned her blouse and took it off, noting how she became tenser and tenser as he did it.

I’m a darn good kisser, that’s why.”

And he lowered his lips to claim hers only to find that she had turned her head away and he had ended up kissing her pillow instead.

Bunny?”

Sunny looked as though she could not breathe and Yoong was alarmed. He sat up beside her and helped her up.

Are you okay?”

Sunny shook her head and grabbed her blouse from the floor. She held it against her chest and breathed deeply. By now, Yoong was quite beside himself with worry but he forced himself to stay calm.

Bunny, please tell me what’s wrong.”

Yoong felt helpless as he could only hold her trembling hand to comfort her. She had backed up against the headboard, distancing herself from him.

Bunny… you’re scaring me…”

I-I’m s-sorry.”

What for?”

I-I can’t do it tonight.”

Why not?”

Yoong felt like shaking her when she remained silent. However, all he could do was to put her blouse back on and button it up for her. He noticed that she was considerably calmer once her blouse was buttoned up. What was that about?

Never mind. We won’t do it tonight. I think you should take a shower and get some rest. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Yoong kissed her forehead and stroked her hair before he got off the bed and let himself out. He headed back to his car and started the engine. However, he did not drive away. Instead, he sat still and thought about Sunny for a long time. She was not behaving normally at all. He had to speak to Hyoyeon about that night.

~~~~~

He punched in the number that Hyun had given him and made the call.

Hello?”

It’s Yoong.”

Oh. Er… hi… why are you calling me?”

It’s about Sunny. That night—”

I can’t say anything.”

Huh?”

I promised Sunny not to say anything. Why don’t you talk to Tiffany instead?”

What has Tiffany got to do with this?” Yoong was perplexed.

Call her and ask her. Bye.” Hyoyeon hung up on him immediately.

Yoong stared at his phone, wondering what Hyoyeon was talking about and decided that he had better call Tiffany immediately. Unfortunately, her phone was unanswered. He was getting frustrated with unanswered phones. It was never a good sign. Sighing did nothing to alleviate his worries so he decided that a hot shower once he got home would be necessary before attempting to call Tiffany again.

~~~~~

Mr. Jung was certain that he had aged considerably. He must have aged a lot more than he had realized and lost some of his hearing in the process. How else could he explain why he had just heard his beloved daughter asking him for a business loan? A business loan? He laughed. He laughed so hard that his shoulders shook violently. He slammed the table top and palmed his chest and laughed. He laughed to the point where his sides had begun to hurt. And he still could not stop laughing.

I’m sorry Sooyeon ah, what did you say again? I thought I heard you asking for a business loan. What is it that you want to buy again?” Mr. Jung wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes and breathed deeply to calm himself down.

Jessica wore a distinct scowl on her face. She crossed her arms, leaned back in the study’s luxurious leather chair and scowled.

Why is it so hard to believe that I need a business loan? I need some money to join Tif’s company.”

Mr. Jung blinked and gaped in disbelief. “You are really asking me for a business loan? You? Sooyeon ah, you are not kidding with me?”

I’m not kidding. I’m perfectly serious. I need a business loan.”

Please explain this. I find it hard to believe.”

Tsk. It’s not my idea. It’s Yul’s. His wish is for me to find work and earn my keep. And he had already fulfilled three of my wishes so it’s only fair for me to fulfill his.”

Yul fulfilled three of your wishes? What were they?” Mr. Jung was amused by the dealings that transpired between his daughter and future son-in-law.

My wishes?” Jessica grew red in the face and blinked furiously. “I… don’t think…”

Oh, never mind that,” Mr. Jung said quickly. All signs were pointing towards some kind of hanky-panky transpiring between the two youngsters and he did not want to know about it. He did not want to have those kinds of images in his mind. It was not a reality that he wanted to face even though he knew that his daughter probably had some prior experience in the past.

It was a painful process, watching your daughter growing up, maturing into a woman and giving herself to another man. He had had to curb his urges to chop off the paws of her previous boyfriends who could not keep their hands off her. But now, it was time to let go. If Yul could get Jessica to work, then Yul was the man worthy of her love. His daughter had finally found a man who would take care of her for the rest of her life. Now all he had to do was to pretend that they did not engage in naughty activities. That was, at least until they got married.

How much money are we talking?” Mr. Jung cleared his throat and changed the topic as quickly as he could.

Jessica’s look of relief was evident as she said, “A couple hundred grand.”

Mr. Jung smiled and nodded. “Consider it done. I will set up an account and transfer two hundred grand into it. You will have to put money into that account every month to pay it back. I will let you decide on how much you want to pay back each month.”

Sounds good.”

Of course it does. You’re my daughter. I would never do such a thing for anybody else.” Mr. Jung chuckled and shook his head at her naivety in such matters. “I really hope that you will learn a lot from this experience, Sooyeon ah.”

Jessica sighed dramatically and stood up. “There go my carefree days of shopping and enjoying myself. Stupid Yul. It’s all because of the wishes.”

I’m sure that Yul used his wish not for himself but for you. Getting you to work is not for his pleasure but for your benefit.”

Benefit me? More like to torture me.” Jessica pouted. “But a promise is a promise. Especially when it is sealed with a kiss.”

ALRIGHT! NO MORE DETAILS! GET OUT! I WANT TO WORK NOW! GET OUT!” yelled Mr. Jung all of a sudden, making Jessica jump in her skin.

She frowned and pouted but left the study, nonetheless.

~~~~~

Tiffany woke up the next morning not knowing where she was. It took her a while before she realized that she was lying in a bed that was not hers. She sat up straight, blinking furiously, heart thumping madly and looked wildly at her surroundings. Then she calmed down as she recognized the room as Taeng’s. She patted her chest gently, soothing her nerves. That had been quite a fright. The funny thing was, she could not remember how she ended up sleeping on his bed. The last thing she remembered doing was sitting outside his apartment, leaning against his door. She reckoned she must have dozed off while waiting for Taeng’s return. She caught a whiff of something delicious cooking and stepped out of the bedroom to investigate. Taeng was cooking.

Tiffany admired Taeng’s back view, thinking about how good he looked with the ribbon of an apron fasted around his waist. It suited him, somehow. But she had something to rectify and it would not do to put it off.

Good morning, Taetae.”

Taeng turned around and smiled at her. Her chest protested violently at the sight of his forlorn look. How he managed to look so forlorn while smiling, she would never know. But her heartstrings were pulled in all directions, left, right and center. It hurt to see him hurt. She stood behind him and put her arms around his waist. She pressed her lips onto his shoulder and squeezed his waist with her arms.

Taetae… we need to talk.”

Taeng put down his spatula and turned around in her arms. He smiled forlornly again, sending her chest into a tightening frenzy and shook his head.

Don’t feel sorry for telling me the truth, Fany ah. I know that it’s a bit too much to ask when I don’t have wealth, status and power to take care of you with. All I know is how to cook for you and… and to make you feel good. But it’s okay if you don’t want to marry me. I will still love you the same.”

Tiffany was about to go mad from the whirl of emotions that were overwhelming her mind. She had never heard a more heart-breaking confession of unconditional love and selflessness. Only Taeng could make her feel this way. Only Taeng. And yet, he had no idea how much importance he had in her heart? How could he have so little faith in himself? How could he believe that she did not want to marry him? Then she felt angry. What kind of woman did he take her for? Did he think that she was simply using him? Did he think that she was the kind of woman who would dump a man just because he did not have wealth, status and power?

You’re an idiot, Taeng. Really. How can you think of yourself like this? How can you think of me like this? Am I such a horrible woman? Am I the sort of woman who would use you and then dump you callously when I meet someone with wealth, status and power? How can you put so little faith in both you and me? AND HOW CAN YOU GIVE UP SO EASILY AND JUST RUN AWAY? CAN’T YOU AT LEAST FIGHT FOR ME A LITTLE BIT MORE? WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO SMILE SO SADLY AND BREAK MY HEART WITH YOUR SAD SMILE?!”

Tiffany got more and more worked up as she talked and ended up yelling at Taeng. She did not know why she yelled but she knew that Taeng had disappointed her this time. She wished that he had done more than to leave the apartment upon hearing her rejection. She wished that he had at least tried to find out why she said what she said instead of jumping to horrible conclusions. How she wished…

Tiffany sighed deeply. She knew that Taeng did not have much of an aggressive bone in his body. He was sweet, cute and very endearing but his softness really got to her sometimes. Did she still love him though? The answer was a resounding yes and she knew it. But Taeng surprised her with a lengthy speech just as she was about to speak again.

I didn’t want you to see me crying. That’s why I left. I wasn’t running away. Then I bumped into a girl and I had to help her with her papers. It turned out that she is a deejay too and she invited me to stay and watch her show, so I did. After watching her show, I came back and found you sleeping outside my apartment. Do you know how dangerous it is to fall asleep like that? What if someone had come along and robbed you or something? But luckily, you were safe and sound so I carried you in and put you on the bed. Then I sat on the couch and thought about things for a long time. It’s true that I may not have the money or status or power but I’m willing to work hard to get them somehow. I do not think that you are a woman after all these things but you are a practical woman and such things do matter to you. And if it matters to you, then it will matter to me also. You said that you don’t want to get married so soon. I can wait. You said that making you feel good is an important aspect to consider. I can make you feel good. I want to marry you, Fany ah, and I will do everything I can to become a man whom you want to marry.”

He paused for breath and smiled. It was a cheerier smile than before.

And I’m sorry for breaking your heart with my sad smile. I didn’t realize that I was smiling so sadly. I will try to smile more happily for you.”

And for the first time in her entire life, Tiffany was at a loss for words.

~~~~~

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