“I’ve done up your schedule.”
Taeng looked pleased as he showed Tiffany the schedule. She grinned, amused by his pleased look and eagerness to show her what he had done. Her eyes lowered and she glanced at the schedule, scanning across the various appointments and meetings she had to field for the week. Then she saw something unusual. Right at the bottom of Friday was his name. Kim Taengoo. Agenda: Dinner and a movie.
“Taeng, what’s this about?” she asked.
She stifled a giggle and jabbed her finger at his name on the schedule.
“You made an appointment with me without asking me beforehand?”
“I…We haven’t gone out for some time and…I…”
“I really want to go out on a date with you.”
“But what if I don’t?”
“What if I’d rather stay home with you?”
“S-Stay home with me?”
The disappointment on his face was plain to see.
“Oh…if that’s what you want…I’ll just cancel the dinner reservation and give the movie tickets away.”
He pouted miserably and was about to turn away when she caught his hand and stopped him from going anywhere.
“Hold on. You made reservations and bought tickets already? Without asking me?”
“I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“You never fail to surprise me.”
She couldn’t keep the smile off her face as her eyes held him fast in their gaze. He stood before her, looking uncertain and it was all she could do to stop herself from laughing.
“I was only teasing you, Taetae. Of course I’d love to go on a date with you. A dinner and movie sounds really good.”
“So I’ll keep the reservation and tickets then?”
His features brightened up at once and he looked like the happiest person in the world in that moment. She could only smile and nod as her hands reached around his waist and locked fingers behind him. With a tightening of her arms, he was brought closer to her and she leaned in to plant a quick kiss on his lips.
“Thank you, Taetae, for being so sweet to me.”
Jessica was alone with Krystal. Yul had gone to work and Young was out buying breakfast for them while Sulli and Hyunseung had not come back after leaving last night. As a result, she found herself alone with her sleeping sister.
Thoughts occupied her busy mind although, to random people passing by, she probably looked as though she was spacing out. She was thinking about the person whom she thought was responsible for the breakout of the scandal. Hara Goo. She remembered that look on the girl’s face when they met at the party. That was the look of a guilty person. Given her father’s reach in media, it wouldn’t be difficult to beat Hara at her own publicity stunt game but she needed proof. And that’s where the problem was. How was she going to find proof?
Whenever something bothered her or when there was a problem she couldn’t solve, she would end up confiding in her best friend, Tiffany, and this time was no exception. So, she whipped out her phone and began texting Tiffany.
Tiffany H 09:43
I’m in the hospital with my sis.
Tiffany H 09:43
What?! Why? Oh my gosh. I’m going
to call you now.
Her phone rang right after she replied and Tiffany was already shooting questions at her like a machine gun.
“Why are you in the hospital? Are you sick? Or is it Krystal? Which hospital are you in?”
“Tif, you’re asking too many questions, too quickly.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just so worried right now. Tell me what happened!”
“My sis was locked out on the rooftop at her workplace by her co-worker last night. She was stuck out there for hours until two of her friends saved her.”
“Oh my goodness! In that freezing temperature?! Is she alright?”
“She’s not in danger or anything. The doctor told us that she had something called mild hypothermia. Apparently her body temperature dropped below 35 degrees Celsius but they warmed her up in the hospital and she’s better now.”
“Hypothermia? That sounds really serious! I’m glad that she’s okay.”
“I’m definitely very glad that she’s okay now. When Sulli told us what she was like on the rooftop my heart nearly stopped. She was about to take off her clothes when they found her, can you believe it?”
“Why was she taking off her clothes?”
“I don’t know. The doctor said that it’s called paradoxical undressing; something about it happening to some people when they get too cold. She’s lucky that they found her and stopped her or it might have gotten much worse.”
“Oh my gawd. Thank God she was found in time! What about you though? Are you doing okay? Where’s Yul?”
“He’s gone to work. Young went out to get breakfast for me so I’m basically alone with her.”
“Do you need me to be there with you? I could go to the hospital after my meeting.”
“No, I’m fine. Young is here and Yul will come by during lunch and after work. I actually wanted to ask you about something else.”
“What is it?”
“I have a feeling that Hara is behind that scandal but I don’t know how or where to get proof of it.”
“And why do you think that Hara is responsible for all of this?”
“I don’t know. It’s a gut feeling. I sort of said some things to test her at that party I was telling you about and she totally gave me the bad vibes.”
“She always gives you the bad vibes.”
“I know. But this is different. I know it’s her.”
“But it involves that Malina girl as well. How would they know each other?”
“I don’t know.”
Jessica could hear Tiffany sighing on the other side but she refused to accept that there wasn’t a way.
“Tif, I’m sure you can think of something.”
“Well, the best place I can think of to start with is the TV station that aired the news. And the person who interviewed Malina. You have to track them down.”
“You’re right! Why didn’t I think of that? The TV station. That shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“And ask your Dad for help.”
“Yeah, I already thought of that. Daddy will know what to do.”
“Sulli, I need you to tell me who did it.”
Young was in the lobby of the hospital with Sulli. He was supposed to get breakfast for Jessica and himself but he saw Sulli as she was entering the hospital and decided that breakfast could wait.
Young waited patiently for Sulli to disclose the name.
“K-Kristine?!” Young sputtered.
Sulli looked up, looking alarmed. “Yes, it’s her. The new girl. She said that she did it. Is there anything wrong?”
Young groaned. Kristine was the new girl in the company whom he had gone out with a few times. He first met her in Seventh Heaven and she had been very flirtatious with him. They ended up in bed and went out a few times after that but he stopped seeing her after finding out that she was working in his company. He explained that he didn’t date his employees but she didn’t take to the news very well. it was all clear to him now that Krystal’s suffering was largely his own doing.
“It’s all my fault. I brought all of this on Krystal. Oh my gawd. It’s all my fault.”
He squeezed his eyes shut and dug his fingers into his hair. It was the worst feeling on earth, knowing that he was responsible for the suffering of the very girl whom he loved and wanted to protect.
“How is this your fault? Kristine is the one who locked Krystal out. She’s the horrible person who did it.”
“It’s my fault, Sulli. I dated Kristine, not knowing that she worked for this company. And when I found out, I told her that I couldn’t see her anymore because I don’t date employees.”
“Ooh…so she must have gotten really jealous of Krystal when the scandal came out on the news.”
“Yes. And that’s why it’s all my fault. I’m a jinx. I brought all of this on Krystal. Oh my gawd, I can never forgive myself for this!”
“Are you and Krys together or something?”
“What? No. No we’re not. We’re just friends.”
“Yes! Of course! Why would I lie to you?”
“Well, for starters…you look and sound like you’re completely in love with Krys.”
Sulli nodded solemnly.
“And so does she. You should have seen yourselves at the hospital yesterday.”
“What did we look like?”
“No. We don’t look like that.”
“Since you didn’t get to see what the two of you looked like, I don’t think you can be a good judge of that.”
“No…we can’t look like that…”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“Why are you in denial? I may have been a sobbing wreck yesterday but even I wasn’t too blind to see that the two of you have something deeper than friendship going on.”
“She doesn’t want to date. She told me so. She’s not interested in dating. And I’m…I’m a playboy. I play. I’m not good for a girl like Krystal.”
“Krystal isn’t fragile like glass you know. She’s a tough girl. She had a hard time in school but she still managed to graduate with good grades. And she’s been getting hell at work but she didn’t back down either. She can handle you just as well if you’d just be honest with her.”
“You really think so? You really think she has feelings for me?”
“Young ssi, It’s not fair to her if you don’t tell her. And it’s no use pretending that you’re just friends when it’s so obvious to everyone else that it’s more than that.”
Young sighed deeply.
“Thanks for being so honest with me. I’ll…I’ll definitely think about what you’ve said. But in the meantime, I need to settle the problem with Kristine. I promised Krystal’s father that I will get to the bottom of this.”
“Don’t let Krystal suffer anymore.”
“Jessica unnie, may I have a moment with Krystal?”
Sulli was a little intimidated by Krystal’s sister now that the older girl was no longer crying like she did last night. However, she desperately needed the privacy to say what she wanted to say to Krystal so she held her ground as Jessica looked at her blankly for a moment.
“You want a moment with Krystal? Now?”
Sulli nodded nervously. Was Jessica going to bite her head off? After all, she was one of the people who had turned their back on Krystal after the scandal came to light.
“Okay. I’m going to get some ice cream in the meantime. I’ve been craving for it ever since Young left to get breakfast. That useless man is taking forever to get it.”
Sulli gulped. Now was the time to conveniently leave out the fact that she was the reason why Young was taking so long to get breakfast so she simply smiled—albeit, awkwardly.
As soon as the door shut behind Jessica, Sulli let out her bated breath all at once. Somehow, being around Jessica Jung made it that much harder for her to breathe normally.
She spun around and saw Krystal looking at her through sleepy eyes.
“Krys!” she exclaimed as softly as she could, bearing in mind the sign hanging outside the room that said ‘Please Keep It Down, This Ain’t Party Town’. “You’re up!”
To Sulli’s horror, Krystal’s eyes brimmed with tears, leaving her frozen with shock.
“W-Wh-Why are you crying?”
“Sulli, I miss you.”
And that was all it took to end their misunderstanding. That was all it took to cast away all the bad memories of their previously broken friendship. That was all it took to get them back together in a warm hug. A hug that was not only warm but also forgiving. They really didn’t need to say anymore. All was forgiven in that instant. Krystal’s lies, Sulli’s cruel words and everything that hurt.
“Krys…I’m really sorry.”
Sulli felt Krystal’s shaking head and patted her hair affectionately.
“You know what? Let’s start anew, shall we?” said Sulli, as she pulled away from Krystal and smiled into the wholesome brown eyes that looked quizzically at her.
“Hi, I’m Sulli.”
“I like you. Can we be best friends?”
Krystal giggled whilst she simply grinned. So this was what true friendship was all about.
Krystal was beginning to feel much better. Her temperature was stable and she had made up with Sulli. Her father was understandably very angry with the people she worked with but she had managed to calm him down and made him promise not to take overly extreme actions on them. Mama Jung came during lunch with home cooked food and her sister was so caring that she felt more pampered than she ever had been in her entire life.
Right then, there was only one thing missing—one person, rather.
She wasn’t in the best state of mind last night but she did remember seeing Young. She also remembered seeing him crying like a little boy who lost his favourite toy. In all the confusion, she couldn’t understand why he was crying so much—she was too cold and uncomfortable to make much sense of anything—but there was one thing that she was sure of. She was more than happy to see him. His appearance by her side made it seem as if everything was going to be okay and her heart found a kind of peace that was indescribable. However, she hadn’t seen him since then.
Where was he?
“Unnie, where is Young?”
“Hmph. Don’t even talk about that stupid man. He was supposed to buy me breakfast but he disappeared and left me to starve here.”
“He was here?”
“He was here all night. He refused to leave. The nurse couldn’t do anything.”
“He was here all night?”
“In a way it was a good that he insisted on staying. I felt a little better about going home, knowing that he was here.”
“He was the only one here all night?”
“Yes. The nurse chased the rest of us out, saying that visiting hours were over and that you needed to rest without being disturbed. Quite honestly, I had a good mind to give her a piece of my mind but Yul was around…so…”
Krystal couldn’t help giggling at her sister’s cute pout. Yul had such an effect on her sister that it was very amusing to watch.
“Mr. Jung, I’ve found the culprit.”
“Who is it?”
“She’s a new employee, Kristine.”
“I trust that you know what to do. I’ll have to depend on you now. Soojung made me promise not to do anything extreme.”
“I’ll handle it, Mr. Jung.”
This was the part of the job that he hated most—telling an employee to leave. It wasn’t in his nature to do harsh things to people but he had to do it nonetheless.
“We’ve decided not to continue your employment with us. Your last day with us will be today.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Young? Why are you firing me? What did I do wrong?”
“We have video footage of you locking the rooftop door, leaving another employee out on the rooftop.”
“What? Another employee? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Kristine. I’m really sorry.”
“Sorry? Are you really? You dumped me for such a lame reason and now you’re firing me for no good reason. You’re not sorry. You’re a complete asshole.”
“We have witnesses who told us that you admitted to locking another employee out on the rooftop on purpose for malicious reasons. You’re lucky that the employee was found and rescued or you might end up in much deeper trouble with the police.”
Kristine scoffed. “Don’t act like a saint when you’re really a devil in disguise. She’s the one who put you up to it, right?”
“If you’re talking about Krystal, she’s in the hospital right now and in no condition to be telling me what to do. As I said, if she wasn’t rescued, she might have died out in the cold and you’d be in a police station instead of my office right now.”
“She…S-She’s in the h-hospital?”
“Yes. She was out in the cold for so long that she had hypothermia. If she wasn’t found last night, she might have died out there so you should count yourself lucky that you’re only losing your job.”
“I-I didn’t…Killing her wasn’t my intention. I swear!”
“I know. But you nearly did.”
“Oh my gawd.”
“Yeah. And because of what you did…we have to end our employment with us.”
“Say it to her, not me.” He paused for a second before adding, “But on second thought, don’t go anywhere near her. I want you to stay far away from her. And before you even think about trying to harm her again, remember that I have the witnesses and video footage of what you did. I won’t hesitate to do what I need to do to protect Krystal from harm.”
Jessica was tired. She had spent all day with her sister, taking care of her until it was time for her to be discharged. Now that they had brought Krystal back home and settled her down in her room, she was finally free to lie down on her own bed.
“Oof…” Jessica let out a groan from the bottom of her tired soul as she fell onto her bed and closed her eyes.
The softness of her bed was about to consume her completely when she heard her door opening, closing and being locked. On the verge of entering dreamland, she didn’t open her eyes but the feeling of her bed dipping in and the whiff of a familiar manly scent told her what she needed to know—Yul was right next to her.
“Sica baby? Are you asleep?” he asked in a whisper.
Humming was a sound that she could produce with minimal expenditure of energy and in her sleepy state, it was the only form of acknowledgement she could afford him.
“You’re that tired huh…”
The sound of his chuckle made her smile and she turned with her eyes still closed to bury herself in his embrace. Her legs got in between his and made themselves at home while her arms found their way around his body.
It was a physical thing. Yet, what intrigued her most was how something so physical could be so emotional at the same time. How her skin on his could feel so good. How his scent worked like a drug on her senses and how hearing his steady breathing could steady hers too. He was her little sanctuary. A place where she could find shelter during a storm. A place where she could set down her guards and be herself, unreserved, unabashed.
His voice was soft in her ear and his lips brushed the tip of her ear, sending tingles down her spine.
She snuggled as close to him as she could and her lips found themselves curling up into a toothless smile as she found that most comfortable spot with him. All was good.
She was woken up by his kisses. Kisses on her nose, eyes, cheeks were rained on her like the light drizzle of rain on a sunny morning in spring. Light, soft and a little ticklish.
She let out a little squeak of protest and earned his soft chuckle but he did not stop. His lips moved away from her face and she felt a light suction on her ear lobe. She liked it but she was not prepared for the onslaught of a thousand tingles all over her skin triggered by a single flick of his tongue on it.
“Yul!” she squeaked and tried to get away from him.
“You like it, don’t you.” The smile in his voice was evident to her, even in her sleepy state and that’s what got her eyes to open.
“You’re such a big bully.” She pouted.
He looked indignant at once. “No, I’m not. I’m a gentleman.”
“I used to think that. But now, I’m not so sure.”
“Why is that?”
“You’re always teasing me and making me angry.”
“Is that all I do?”
His fingers caught her chin and tilted her head up. She found herself falling into his twinkling, lively eyes as soon as her eyes met his.
“Hmm? Is that all I do?”
“Yes!” she said obstinately, refusing to back down.
He chuckled again, a little louder than before and caught her lips with his briefly.
“You know, I’m still very much the gentleman. I’m a rascal only when I’m alone with you. You’re so fun to tease that I can’t help myself.”
“See? You’re admitting to it. You like to bully me when nobody else is around us.”
“There’s something else I like to do when nobody else is around us.”
She shrieked. Before she even had time to react, Yul had pulled up the flimsy tank top of hers and used it to hold her wrists together. Her wrists were then pulled upwards as he straddled her and pinned her down with his legs.
“Hmm…Have I ever told you how smooth your skin feels when I touch you?”
She was so stunned by his sudden move that all she could do was shake her head.
“No? Then I should let you know just how much I love your skin.”
She could hardly breathe as Yul lowered his head to her chest and planted a tender kiss right where her furiously beating heart was. Then, in an agonizingly slow manner, he worked his way down the valley of her chest and by the time he got to her navel, she was squirming for an entirely different reason than before.
He hovered around her waist line for a maddening period of time, which drove her totally nuts. She wasn’t the most patient person in the world, especially when it came to moments like these. However, she couldn’t do anything to help herself get what she wanted. Her wrists and thighs were completely immobilized by his hand and legs. She was at his mercy. She was his to tease. She was his to love. And like so many times before, she gave herself to him most willingly.
Despite the rascal he claimed to be, she knew that he had always prioritized her before himself. Yes, there were many instances when she found herself thinking that he prioritized work before her but she couldn’t deny that he lavished as much care and concern on her as he did for his job. In a way, his job was who he was and what he stood for. His job was his calling. It wasn’t just something he did to earn a few thousand dollars every month. He had passion for it and he truly believed that he had his part to play in this world of injustice and suffering.
During the earlier days of their relationship, he had told her why he didn’t accept offers from top law firms that promised salaries three times more than what he was offered for his prosecutor position. She remembered every word he had said then. The words he said and the way he said them had her falling for him deeper, faster.
And now, there was nothing she liked more than to feel his hands running across her skin, touching her, caressing her, claiming every inch of her skin to be his and his only. There was nothing better than to feel his lips worshipping every inch of her feverish body as he took off the rest of her clothes slowly.
His hands and lips had worked her up into such a feverish state that her sensitized body responded almost violently when he finally engulfed her dome in his mouth. Her hips desperately wanted to undulate and the inability to do so drove her even wilder. And with a single flick of his tongue across her erect nub, she cried out in pleasure. The pleasure was so localized yet so omnipresent. It was unbelievable.
The pressure on her wrists lifted and she wasted no time in running her fingers through his hair as he continued to suckle on her soft domes. Her soft moans escaped her constantly, each and every time his tongue made contact with her sensitized nub. How he could make her feel so good, she would never know.
His hands ran down her sides and over her hips, down to the very spot that was accessible only to him. Her legs spread open by instinct, anticipating more of the mind blowing pleasure that he had given her so far. It was an odd imbalance—her mind was saying no more mind blowing pleasure please while her body was craving for more. The pleasure derived from his wandering fingers was so great that her mind was completely overwhelmed while her body only thirsted for more.
His wide open mouth muted her moans that were getting louder as he found his way into her. He sank in completely, filling her out from the inside, hitting all the right spots as he did.
“Shh…we can’t be too loud…”
She could hear what he said but she was beyond caring, to be honest. She had reached the point of no return and there were no other words left in her dictionary except for ‘faster’, ‘more’, ‘yes’ and ‘Yul’. She had reached the point where she no longer cared if the freaking President was standing outside her door, listening to what she was doing with Yul.
Her pleasure intensified as he upped his speed and force for a while, before slowing down to a moderate speed again.
“It’s time for you to start riding horsey, baby.”
His grin was devilishly handsome and almost made her heart stop. It was madness. One of these days, her heart was going to stop for real because of how good looking he was, she was sure of it. She was so taken by his grin that she was surprised when he suddenly switched their positions. With a firm hold and a simple roll, she ended up on top of him and him lying flat below her. He even managed to stay in her as he did it this time.
“Start riding, baby.”
He grinned widely and put his arms beneath his head, propping it up. He could see all of her, just as she could see all of him. His beautifully toned abs were irresistible. She smoothed her hands over his abs, feeling up the definition that made it so sexy. Finally, she rested her hands on his chest and began to move. The undulation of her hips was as she liked and it was pleasing to be able to have control over what she felt inside. The intensity of pleasure that had somewhat subsided a little during the change of positions came back in leaps and bounds and soon, she was riding him like a professional jockey in the race of her life.
She leaned forward more and more as she rode him, bringing her lips closer and closer to him until she was finally lying on top of him, chest to chest, lips to lips. They shared a deep kiss before she got up and starting riding him again with renewed vigour.
“Yes baby, yes…”
His moans and groans of pleasure spurred her on as she rode him all the way to the finish line.
And as the final streak of pleasure subsided into a sated calm, she smiled contentedly. Life really couldn’t get much better than this, could it?
It was time for breakfast after their exhilarating morning’s workout so they headed down to the dining table. Krystal was already digging into her cereal when they got to the table.
“Are you feeling better this morning?” Jessica asked her sister as she pulled out a chair to sit on.
“A lot better. I’m feeling quite alright actually.”
“Good morning omonim, good morning Krystal,” Yul greeted them politely.
“Good morning, Yul.” Mama Jung smiled warmly at him.
Krystal burst out into laughter just then and Jessica looked at her strangely.
“What are you laughing about?” asked Jessica.
“It sure was a good morning for the two of you,” replied Krystal.
Jessica blushed instantly.
“What are you talking about? Every morning is a good morning when Yul is with me.”
Krystal snorted with laughter and Jessica braced herself for another cheeky reply from her sister but the timely appearance of Papa Jung at the table ended the little episode at once.
“Good morning, Daddy,” chorused Jessica and Krystal.
“Good morning, abonim,” Yul greeted him politely as well.
“Good morning,” went Papa Jung as he sat down at the table.
The conversation ended there and everyone focused on eating their breakfast.
It was a short while later when Papa Jung spoke again.
“Sooyeon ah, how are your wedding preparations coming along? Is everything going well?”
“Things are going well. Tiffany is really good at planning.”
“Good. I will have to meet Yul’s mother soon then. Yul, arrange a day for us to meet.”
“Yes, abonim. I’ll arrange a date as soon as possible.”
Silence then ensued and for a while, all that could be heard were the sounds of spoons clanking of against their porcelain bowls. It wasn’t until Jessica announced that she was done with breakfast that Papa Jung spoke again.
“One more thing, Sooyeon ah,” said Papa Jung.
“I’ll get your room soundproofed by this week,” Papa Jung said gruffly.
“T-Thanks Daddy.” Jessica turned red and made her escape from the dining table and her giggling sister as quickly as she could while pulling Yul away with her.
There were times when he hated who he was. He hated being a Choi. He hated being the youngest and only son. He hated being an heir. He hated his life. There were times when he felt tired. There were times when he felt sick of what he was doing. But most of all, he hated himself for trying even harder to hide what he truly felt about everything for the sake of the people he loved.
Then there were times when he hated himself because he had to fire people for various reasons. He hated himself when he woke up next to a different girl every other week or month of the year. He hated himself when he saw Krystal lying on the hospital bed, looking as though she were on the verge of death. He hated himself for pretending to be just a friend to Krystal and he hated himself for trying to believe that he could live without her.
Sometimes it felt like nobody could understand him. His sisters assumed that he was having a good time because of how he partied and the presence of many different girls by his side. His parents assumed that he was alright because he did his job diligently, responsibly and even managed to better the company that he was tasked to run.
His friends assumed that he was happy because of the jokes that he constantly cracked and the smiles that he flashed an endless supply of. The general public envied him, thinking that he was leading a life of luxury, enjoyment and fulfilment in all areas of his life.
No one. Absolutely no one knew of his deepest, darkest feelings that were locked deep inside him. No one…except maybe Yoong…and Hyun. They knew some of his secrets. They knew what he was really like. They knew why he did what he did.
He knew why Yoong was so opposed to his decision to marry Jade. He knew that Yoong knew exactly why he chose to make that decision. Despite all that, he had turned a deaf ear on Yoong’s frustrated protests because he had been too convinced that it was the only solution to make everyone but himself happy. But right now, he wasn’t so sure. The things that Sulli had told him about Krystal were surprising to him. He hadn’t thought about the possibility of Krystal having feelings for him at all.
It had never seemed possible. Right from the start, they’d been friends. He certainly hadn’t meant for them to end up as friends when he first chatted her up on the plane but there had been something about her aura when he met her again that told him that she wasn’t going to succumb to his charms like the others girls had.
For starters, she had called him for help, which was unexpected since he didn’t think that he would see her again after they parted ways. She also didn’t strike him as the type of person who would ask for help easily. Hence, when she had called and asked for help, he felt honoured to be the one she called when she was in trouble. And given the circumstances in which they met again, it would not have been wise to try to get her into bed with him when she had such serious problems in her life.
So that was how their friendship began. He helped her to find cheap lodging (which wasn’t as cheap as what he had told her, but this, she didn’t and would never know) and a job. Truthfully, in the job aspect, all he had to do was to arrange an interview for her. She had impressed the panel during the interview and her work performance in the months after being employed spoke for itself. Hence, he never credited that to himself. She would have survived, even without him.
She had always been this friend that popped into his life, a girl that he would never bed, a girl who didn’t really need him and when he found out who she really was, it was another step backwards. It was then that he felt that she was totally out of his league. He had never met anyone like her—so independent, so strong, so resilient and so stubborn. Everything about her screamed of attraction, admiration and respect. He could never be good enough for her—even her own father had said so. And that was when he decided that they would be friends forever; that he would treat her like the younger sister that he never had.
That was, right up until Sulli said that Krystal had feelings for him too. Krystal had feelings for him? The thought excited him. Really?! How was that possible? He didn’t quite dare to believe it.
A sudden recollection of something she once said popped into his mind.
“And that’s why you’re my dearest friend. I don’t need to date anyone. I’m happy enough to have a friend like you. You’re better than a boyfriend, you know.”
Better than a boyfriend? What did that mean? She was happy enough to have a friend like him. So happy that she didn’t need anybody else? Was he the reason why she didn’t want to date anybody else? Or was he reading too much into what she said?
“ARGH!” he yelled out loud in frustration and his heart thumped faster.
He wanted to know. He had to know. If he had a chance, he’d never let it go. If she wanted him, he’d never let her go. The question now was how he could be sure that she wanted him too.
“Daddy, I have something to tell you.”
“What is it, sweetie?”
“What is it?”
“What did you say?”
“Soonkyu ah…what are you trying to say?”
“Daddy, I got engaged to Yoong.”
“I got engaged to Yoong.”
“You, my little sunshine. My little baby girl. You’re engaged.”
“Your mother is going to cry.”
“Daddy…don’t be so dramatic.”
“What are we going to do without you?”
“Daddy, I won’t be far. I will still visit you and Mummy often.”
“Rubbish, your sister has practically disappeared into thin air after getting married. She’s so busy with her work and family that she doesn’t have time for us anymore.”
“I won’t disappear. I will visit often, I promise.”
Her father sighed, the sound of his heavy breath travelling through the line to her ears and it made her tear a little. Her father’s sigh was so heart wrenching. Why did it feel as though she were cutting off a part of her? She had no idea that it would feel this way.
“I suppose this is where I ask when I can meet Yoong’s parents.”
“His grandfather wants to meet the two of you.”
“I see. How about this weekend?”
“I will arrange it.”
“Okay, take care of yourself, my dear.”
“You too, Daddy.”
Mr. Jung sat in his luxurious leathery swivel chair, looking out at the view of the city below. His office was on the highest floor of his building and had a beautiful view of the city. The view did nothing to sooth his anger however.
Unbeknownst to Jessica and Krystal, he had hired investigators to investigate Malina the very day the scandal was published and it didn’t take him long to track down the person who had interviewed Malina as well as the TV station officials who were responsible for airing the interview. And upon investigation, the name Lee Jieun popped up as one of the main masterminds behind the whole episode. His jaw had sagged in disbelief when the reports were submitted to him. Hadn’t he given Mr. Lee a severe warning about his daughter before? Were his words treated lightly? Did Mr. Lee think that he wasn’t capable of getting more than even with people who hurt his family?
On top of that, it was just yesterday evening that Jessica had told him all about what Hara had done to her in the past as well as what she suspected Hara was up to this time and boy, was it a jaw dropping story. He couldn’t believe that the daughter of Mr. Goo, a long-time friend whom he had helped a lot in the past could do such horrible things to his daughters. Didn’t she have a conscience?
His paternal instincts fired up and there was nothing more he wanted to do than to crush every single soul who was out to hurt his daughters. No one. No one was going to do such horrible things to his daughters can get away with it. No one.
“Yes, Mr. Jung? Is there anything you need?”
“About that press conference that I wanted delayed,” he began.
“Mmmhmm,” acknowledged his personal assistant.
“I want it to happen. As soon as possible. I don’t want the scandal to drag on anymore.”
“As soon as tomorrow?”
“Yes. Tomorrow evening.”
“Consider it done, Mr. Jung.”
“I’m looking for Miss Goo Hara.”
“May I know who is speaking please?”
“Tell her that Lee Jieun wants to speak to her.”
“Alright, please hold.”
Jieun tapped her foot impatiently as a musical ringing tone ‘entertained’ her while that somebody get Hara to the phone.
“Hello, Jieun.” Hara’s voice jerked her back to attention.
“Hara, we’re in trouble.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Jungs have arranged for a press conference tomorrow evening.”
She could hear Hara scoffing at the other end and it irked her. Hara obviously did not understand the severity of the situation. “Hara, my informant told me that the reporters are promised a very juicy story to report on. If the Jungs really do know something, I’m in deep trouble.”
“And how does this concern me?”
“I will make sure that it concerns you.”
“Are you threatening me right now?”
“I’m just saying that we’re all in this together. I’ve already cut off Malina. That bitch was asking for more and more from me.”
“You cut her off?! What if she turns against us?!”
“Don’t you worry about that. I’ve already got her ex-manager to defend us. If she wants to bad mouth us, he’s going to put everything on her. We will be in the clear.”
“It sounds like you’ve got it all planned out. So what are you so afraid of?”
Jieun almost screamed from the frustration. “Were you even listening? I’m not afraid of Malina! I’m afraid of what the Jungs might know about us!!!”
Hara’s evil laughter sailed into her ears as she breathed heavily through her flaring nostrils.
“What?! Why are you laughing? This is no laughing matter, Hara!”
“Relax, Jieun. You’ve got Malina but I’ve got the Jungs. If they throw dirt at us, I have tons of dirt to throw right back at them. I’ve got enough dirt on Jessica to shame the girl inside out.”
“You do?” Jieun was in disbelief. Hara didn’t seem that resourceful to her.
“Uh huh. Jessica was cheated on by her five boyfriends.”
“They all cheated on her with me.”
“So?!” Jieun didn’t see how this was going to help them at all.
“But of course, I can turn it around and say that she was the one who stole five of my boyfriends and her sister is just like her.”
“Of course I am. I’ve gone up against Jessica countless times. I know how to play against her.”
“But it sounds like you’ve lost every single time.”
“Hmph. I may have lost to her in the past but I’m not going to lose this time.”
“You better not.”
“Trust me. I’ve got it in the bag.”
“My dad is holding a press conference tomorrow evening.” Jessica crinkled her nose as she wiped her desk clean of debris.
Tiffany saw her expression of disgust and had to stifle her giggle. She had never seen Jessica lifting a finger to do chores before but this was different. It was their new office and she had no choice but to clean her own desk if she wanted to use it.
“A press con? Why?”
“He wants to squash that scandal.”
“But won’t it just make things worse?”
“I think he knows something. He must have dug up some dirt on Hara and Malina.”
“Well, it’s your father we’re talking about so he probably knows what he’s doing.”
“Yeah, I’d trust Daddy when it comes to things like that.”
“So, it’s tomorrow evening, huh.”
“I will be there for you.”
“You’d better. I was going to ask you to come along. Give me support.”
Tiffany laughed. “Isn’t Yul more than enough support for you?”
“You’re my girlfriend. It’s not the same.”
“I know. Just kidding.”
“If you don’t turn up, I’m going to turn up for work only at noon.”
“No, you won’t. You have to be here at nine.”
Jessica’s groan was heartfelt and for a second, Tiffany genuinely felt sorry for her friend. It wasn’t easy on Jessica and she knew it. It wasn’t easy to go from zero to full steam ahead but she didn’t have a choice. She couldn’t make exceptions for friends when it came to work. It wouldn’t be professional of her.
“I’m sorry but that’s how it is at work.”
“I know…it’s not your fault. It’s Yul’s fault. He’d better make it up to me for my suffering.”
Tiffany laughed again. “One of these days, Yul is going to scream when he sees you.”
“Because he has a sex crazed girlfriend.”
“What?! No I’m not!,” Jessica protested vehemently but Tiffany was laughing too hard to listen. “And it’s not like you’re much of a saint yourself.” She pouted.
“I’m not even half as active as you are.”
“I’m not the one going out on a hot date with her boyfriend tonight.”
“Going out on a date doesn’t mean we’re going to end up in bed together.”
“Oh come on. I’m not three years old.”
“I’m serious! Taeng is very innocent.” Tiffany couldn’t resist a giggle as she thought of his various stunned reactions to her advances on him. Boy, was he fun to tease.
“He’s innocent but you’re the devil incarnate.”
“Yes, you are. I saw that look. I know that look.”
“My look isn’t anywhere as naughty as yours.”
Tiffany slumped onto her new swivel chair and twirled herself around. Moving into a new office was no mean feat. She had to get the premises repaired, repainted, and refurnished. Even though it wasn’t exceedingly large in area, being particular about the little details made it no less hectic. But now as she looked around the space that she had worked so hard to set up for business, she felt a sense of pride and satisfaction. This was everything she had dreamed of from the beginning—her very own company.
She was thankful for many of the things that had been given to her. She had a good family—albeit, with differing opinions with regards to marriage and career—that cared for her. She had no lack of friends all throughout her life and was fortunate enough to even meet a friend like Jessica whom she could trust and confide in.
She also considered herself lucky to have had a boyfriend like Siwon despite not being able to stay together forever. Siwon was a good and loving boyfriend and she was glad that she could remain friends with him. Yet, her greatest joy of all came rather unexpectedly.
Taeng was anything but expected. Firstly, he was not her idea of an ideal boyfriend. Siwon had been her ideal boyfriend type but then Taeng came along unassumingly and won over her heart before she even realized what was happening.
Secondly, she certainly did not expect herself to meet someone like Taeng in her line of work. She had been looking for a self-motivated, on-the-go kind of personal assistant when he had popped out of nowhere and surprised her with his refreshing answers. It was as though fate had a hand in this—he was the very last applicant she had shortlisted. His days of being her personal assistant were not smooth sailing either. He had messed up, causing her great inconvenience but again, fate had him protected from being fired by her.
He amused her, cheered her up, showered sincere care and concern on her , supported her, worked hard for her, and over time, became a source of strength and comfort for her. She found herself looking forward to seeing him, wanting to see him and eventually, needing to see him.
And by a twist of fate, he had the chance to save her from Sunhae, Siwon’s secret admirer gone mad. That was the single greatest act of heroics she had ever seen and because of that, she knew that she could trust in him completely. She knew that he would give her his all. He wasn’t holding back. And so, she would return the favour.
“Are you ready to go, Fany ah?” Taeng walked into the office, carrying a box of office supplies.
“I’m ready when you are, Taetae.” She treated him to a generous serving of smiling eyes and stood up. “Where are we going?”
Taeng merely grinned like a dork. “It’s a surprise.”
She giggled. He was so cute when he grinned!
“Well, at least let me know how I should dress.”
“How you should dress?” He cocked his head to a side and blinked. “But you always look so good, no matter what you’re wearing so just wear what you want to.”
Oh boy, was it even possible for anyone to make her giggle as much as Taeng did? He never failed to make her happier with the things he said and did.
“I meant the dress code, Taetae. Since I don’t know where we’re going, I don’t know how to dress for it.”
“Oh.” Taeng’s eyebrows rose a notch before they fell and furrowed. “I suppose a dress and heels would be suitable for where we’re going.”
“Oh…it sounds good already.” She giggled again. “Alright, I’ll wear a dress and heels. What time are you going to pick up me up?”
“Well, the reservation is for six o’clock.”
“Mmm, I’ll need an hour to be ready. Pick me up at a quarter past five?”
“I’ll see you later then.”
Taeng couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t breathe because Tiffany looked too stunning for him to handle. Her long, straight hair was as smooth as silk and her fair complexion was a wonderful contrast against the purplish maroon coloured, figure hugging dress that she wore. The dress was lower than usual and seemingly held up by two incredibly thin straps that looked like they were going to give way any minute now. And the most eye-catching part of it all was her cleavage. She had certainly decided to be a little more generous with her cleavage this time and he could not take his eyes off her.
“Taetae, are you okay?”
“You’re turning blue, Taetae.”
He gasped a mouthful of air and spluttered as he tried not to embarrass himself too much in front of the goddess that stood before him.
“I-I’m okay. Er…would you like to hold my hand?”
She giggled and slipped her hand into his. “Do you even need to ask?”
He swallowed the lump in his throat and said in a slightly trembling voice, “You’re very, very beautiful.”
She giggled again and said, “Thank you.”
He finally came back to his senses when she planted a peck on his cheek and he was more determined than ever to make the night as romantic as possible.
They arrived at a bridge that spanned over the river that flowed through the city. Tiffany was curious to see where he would bring her and a bridge certainly had not been a place she’d expected to end up at. Taeng parked the car and hurried over to the other side to open the door for her. She smiled when she was offered his hand. She accepted it and was helped out of the car by him.
He said nothing in return but there was a silly grin on his face.
“Where are we going?”
“I reserved places for us in the café on this bridge.”
“A café on this bridge?”
“Mmmhmm. It just opened and it’s already high up on the list of places to go for dates.”
“There’s a list?”
“Mmmhmm. I did some research online.”
“You did research online?”
She could feel her heart melting into a kind of molten goo as he hunched shyly and said, “I asked Yul for ideas but apparently he doesn’t really know about these places either so I had to look for ideas online.”
She couldn’t resist kissing him passionately on the lips. He was the cutest boyfriend ever and her insides had turned into fluff.
The exterior of the café looked very chic and futuristic. Shaped like an airport control tower, it had full length glass windows with flashing lights that made it look very exciting. The interior was no less impressive and while it wasn’t a fine dining setting, it was nice, friendly and cosy. Just like Taeng.
She followed him up to the observation deck and was awed when she got there. Clearly, Taeng had done his homework well. The view was splendid. They had a full view of the majestic Han river and the bridge that spanned over it. And their timing was just right. The sun was setting and a warm orange glow coloured everything, making it seem even cosier than before.
“Taetae…” His name was all she could mutter as all the words she had learnt in the past twenty odd years of her life flew out the window, abandoning her for that marvellous view of the sun setting over the river. This was as good a view of nature as one could get without leaving the city. It amazed her that he could find a place like that. Mmm…he had more up his sleeves than she’d thought.
“Do you like it?” he asked as he wrapped his arms around her waist from behind.
“Are you kidding? How can anyone not like this? This is just beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here.”
“Thank you, Fany ah.”
She leaned back and tilted her head to see him. “What are you thanking me for?”
“Every time I look at you…it’s like looking at this sunset over this river.”
Again, she was struck speechless by his simple love for her. He probably had no idea how sweet his words were. He simply said them as he felt them. And that was the beauty of it all. He meant every single word he said. That’s what made it count.
Dinner was in the café just below the observation deck and they were led to a nice corner that Taeng had reserved. Their hands refused to let go of each other, separating only for a short while to get seated before grasping each other again.
“What would you like to eat?”
“I don’t know what’s good here.”
“I heard that the steak is really good here.”
“Let’s try that then.”
They chatted happily as they chewed on the juicy steaks and sipped on their wine. It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal that tasted pretty good as far as they were concerned. It certainly helped that they were both in a really good mood.
“Tae, where did you get your peas from? Did you buy them yourself?”
Tiffany took a sip of her wine and savoured the exotic flavour as it washed over her tongue.
“Yul gave them to me. It was a Christmas present. He said that they would make me feel happy whenever I look at them. And it’s true! They make me smile all the time.”
“Aww…that’s nice of him to give you something so cute for Christmas.”
“He’s good at choosing presents. I’m not that good at it though.”
“You? You’re good too. I love the pink pen you bought me last week. It’s so cute! And that little fluffy ball on top? I adore it.”
She squeezed his hand gently and he smiled shyly.
“I’m happy when you’re happy. So you’re the best gift to me from you.”
“Taetae…” Tiffany leaned forward and their lips met over the table. Taeng turned red and cleared his throat awkwardly as she tried not to laugh at how shy he was. He never failed to tickle her pink in love.
“Shall we go? We’ve got a movie to catch.”
She nodded and smiled.
“Check please,” he said to the nearest waiter.