– 23 –
Why do you hate your mother?
This wasn’t a question she was willing to address at this particular time. “Ask me something else.”
“There’s nothing else I want to know right now.”
“I can answer any question but this.”
“But this is the only answer that matters.”
“Really? Really? This is the only thing you want to know about me? You could ask anything under the sun but you choose to ask the one question you know I don’t want to talk about?” Taeyeon stood up, too agitated to remain seated. “What the fuck are you trying to do? Why won’t you leave me alone!”
“BECAUSE I CARE MORE THAN I PLANNED TO CARE AND I WANT MORE THAN I PLANNED TO WANT AND BECAUSE YOU’RE LIKE THE RACETRACK THAT I’VE WANTED TO RACE ON ALL MY LIFE AND I’M THE PATHETIC RACER WHO CAN’T STOP MYSELF FROM RACING EVEN IF I’LL CRASH AND BURN IN THE END.”
Tiffany’s voice blasted through her ears, the rough edges rubbing against her nerves, scratching them raw. That was a longer answer than she’d expected and the processing of words took a moment, so when it hit her, it hit her. Full on. Smack in the face. Just like the time she played soccer in school. Watching everything in slow motion as the ball left her friend’s foot, cut through the air and collided with her face.
She’d seen it coming. Had a premonition. But was unable to move to save herself from being hit. How many times had this happened to her? How many times had she stood rooted to the ground as her mother and other women slapped her? How many times had she clenched her fists and taken all the insults hurled at her in school? How many more times did she have to be blindsided like this?
“Stop it.” Her words could barely make it out of her mouth but Tiffany stopped.
“Taeyeon—” Tiffany halted in speech, silenced by her shaking head. She didn’t want to hear anymore. No more. No. More. She stepped further back, increasing the distance between them.
“If you don’t leave now, you’ll leave later anyway.”
“Why are you so stubborn? Why do you want to stay?”
“Because you are Kim Taeyeon and I am Tiffany Hwang. You’re the racetrack and I’m the race car. We fit. Just like pieces of a jigsaw. Don’t you feel it too?”
“You’re mistaken. I’m not some elusive racetrack that you must race on. I’m just a lousy road in a back alley. You don’t want to race on me. You just think you do. And you only think so because you don’t know me. You don’t know what I’ve done. Or what I’m capable of doing.”
“I know that I don’t know. But that’s why I want to find out.”
“Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Trust me. You don’t wanna know.”
“Sometimes, ignorance is suffering. If I don’t find out, there’ll always be a wall between us. I don’t want the wall to be there. I want you to lower the drawbridge and let me in.”
“I’ve already let you in further than anyone ever has.”
“Sunny is way further in than me.”
“Sunny is different.”
“Are you in love with Sunny?”
“So why is she different.”
“She’s a friend I can trust. I’ve known her for years. She’s been through shit with me.”
“I’m a friend you can trust too. I’ve known you for weeks and I sure as hell have been through shit with you so far.”
Taeyeon shook her head. “No. You’re not a friend.”
Tiffany winced, as though pierced by a knife. “I’m not a friend?”
“Friends don’t fuck and leave.” She could hear the sound of Tiffany sucking in air through her teeth and avoided her eyes, unsure if she could handle the intensity there.
“Did I get it wrong then? Did that kiss mean nothing?”
She knew exactly the kiss Tiffany was referring to. The very kiss she’d given after Tiffany asked—no, begged—to be let in. The kiss that had sent her soul to the darkest depths of hell, knowing she shouldn’t have caved in to the selfish need to cling on to something afloat. And the morning after. She’d been weak. She’d needed to have someone by her side so badly. And Tiffany’s toast and eggs had tasted so much like home that she crumbled even more and let her further in.
All that was obviously a big mistake. Tiffany was the kind of person who wouldn’t stop at the yard she was given. She’d push for more. One mile. Two miles. Three miles. And right now, she was asking for 20,000 leagues under the sea. No one had ever asked her that question before. No one. Not Sunny. Not even her own mother.
In spite of herself, she looked up and met Tiffany’s eyes. “That kiss was a mistake.”
The burst of flames flaring around Tiffany was unmistakable. And the slam of her back against the wall, definitely tangible.
“That kiss was not a mistake.”
“It was. I should never have kissed you.”
“Too late. You already did. And I felt it. You can’t kiss that way and take it back. You can’t look so fucking adorable in the morning eating my toast and take it back.” She didn’t even have time to think of a retort before Tiffany’s lips were on hers, pressing hard, taking everything that was up for grabs. After a short but breath-snatching kiss, Tiffany pulled away. “You can’t take me to bed and fuck me the way you did and tell me it was a mistake. It doesn’t work that way.”
Taeyeon rested her head against the wall and closed her eyes. “I kissed you because I wanted you. I needed to have,” she paused, unused hearing her thoughts spoken out loud, “sex with you. I—” she halted yet again, struggling to find the words to say, “I needed to blow some steam.” Fuck. Tiffany’s gonna be real mad at me now.
Much to her surprise, Tiffany‘s voice softened. “It’s because of the customer who slapped you.”
Taeyeon nodded. That much was true.
“Why did the customer slap you?”
“I told you. I pissed her off.”
Taeyeon laughed mirthlessly. “Just by being myself.”
“That’s impossible. You’re the top sales person in SM. You don’t piss customers off.”
Taeyeon shook her head. “The fact that I’m Kim Taeyeon is enough to piss her off.”
“Does this have anything to do with your mother?”
“Who gave you that idea.”
“I’m just asking.” Tiffany leaned forward. “Is your mother the reason?”
Tiffany had her trapped. Backed up against the wall. Literally. Not liking the state of things, she made to move away but Tiffany grabbed her arm and stopped her. “Let go.”
“Oh my God. You’re worse than a fucking pest.”
Tiffany laughed. She actually laughed. “You don’t say. I didn’t become a top racer in LA and find my way to Seoul by acting like a fluffy puppy.”
“But why come after me?” she asked. “Why not some other girl who’d say yes at the drop of a hat?”
“Because you’re worth every fight and fuck I’ve had with you so far. Because I’m a crazy girl who loves the pain of going down the toughest path. Because I have insane motherly instincts that insist on bending you to my will and making you submit to me.”
Why did it suddenly seem so ridiculous? The thought of Tiffany bending her to her will was hilarious. The thought of submitting to Tiffany was even funnier. Taeyeon lapsed into a chuckle that wouldn’t stop. It turned into a laugh, then a full-blown guffaw that had her wiping tears from her eyes.
“What’s the joke.”
“You.” Taeyeon laughed even harder at the thought of Tiffany wearing cat ears and holding a whip, whipping her into submission. Holy shit. This was gold.
“I’m the joke?”
“You bending me,” Taeyeon snorted with laughter, “to your will is the joke.”
“What. You don’t see it happening?”
“What if it’s exactly what you need.”
Taeyeon snorted again. “I don’t need to be controlled by you.”
“What if all you need is someone you can rely on. Someone you can let your walls down with.”
“And that person is you?”
The flames in Tiffany’s eyes climbed higher. “Yes.”
“How do I know if I can rely on you?”
Tiffany’s fingers threaded through hers and gripped her hand tight. “Only time can tell. If you’d take a chance.”
She looked down at their interlaced fingers. Tiffany’s hand felt just like home somehow. She flexed her fingers, feeling the soft skin of Tiffany’s under her finger tips. It’s been a while since she last held hands with anyone. Could she?
“You can’t ask to be my girlfriend.”
Tiffany grinned. “I can’t. But you can.”
“You had this planned right from the start.”
“Not this far I didn’t.”
“I’m not gonna ask you to be my girlfriend.”
“Nobody has to ask anybody. Some things don’t need to be said.”
“And some questions don’t need to be answered.”
Tiffany frowned. “I don’t agree but I won’t press it. I’ll wait.”
“It’ll be a long wait.”
Tiffany’s smile was sweet as she leaned in to press their lips together. A moment later she pulled back, smile still on and said, “You’re worth the wait.” With that, their lips were sealed together again and her attention was diverted to Tiffany’s body pressing up against hers, chest to chest, hip to hip.
Tiffany left early for work the next morning and she rolled around in bed for as long as she could, inhaling the scent that Tiffany had left behind on the sheets. It was a stirring reminder of the kisses and touches that had gone down last night. Tiffany’s naked back was definitely her favourite sight. Partially hidden in darkness, her bare back was a mystery meant to be investigated and solved. The key was in her ample bottom, where two juicy handfuls of sexy resided.
She groaned as desire sparked along her veins. Getting herself fired up wasn’t a good idea when Tiffany wasn’t there to quench her thirst. She’d better get ready for work.
“I think Tiffany knows about The Wife. But I don’t know how.”
Sunny choked and spluttered on the ice-blended strawberry smoothie she was drinking and had to pull out tissues to wipe up the mess on her desk.
“Holy shit Sunny. Are you okay,” she asked, moving over to pat Sunny’s back.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” Sunny replied, her head down, focused on cleaning up. “I’m fine.”
Taeyeon returned to her seat and leaned back. “How do you think she found out?”
Sunny was being weird. Her eyes were avoiding hers and she was way too busy with the mess that no longer existed on her desk. What the— “Shit. It’s you. You told her?!”
Sunny coughed and turned red. “I didn’t mean to, I swear. She was talking about the cut on your face and it sounded like you told her everything. It was too late by the time I realized she only know part of it. I’m sorry.”
Taeyeon dragged her palm down her face. Fuck. So her guess was right. Tiffany did know about The Wife. “Forget it.”
“I’m—what? Forget it? You’re not going to kill me?”
Taeyeon rolled her eyes. “I’ll lose my job if I kill you.”
“I’m really sorry.”
“I said. Forget it.”
“Why didn’t you.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? There’s no way I’m going to tell her.”
“She really really likes you, you know.”
Taeyeon sighed. “I know. I realized just how much she likes me last night.”
“She said the all-important ‘I love you’?”
Taeyeon shook her head. “She said she cares more than she planned to care and wants more than she planned to want. She said we’re like pieces of a jigsaw. We fit.”
“Mmm…she’s kinda poetic. Romantic, I’d say. Lucky you.”
“I don’t know man. I really don’t know.”
“It’s simple. Just make her yours.”
Taeyeon coughed. “I think I did.”
Sunny was up on her feet and hugging her before she could say Speed Machine. “Oh my God!” Sunny squealed. “Oh my God!”
Next thing she knew, Sunny was patting her head, smiling like a proud mother. “What!”
“You…” Sunny almost teared. It was ridiculous. “You finally got yourself a girlfriend.”
“You make it sound like I’ve been a nun hibernating in a monastery all this time.”
Sunny wagged her finger. “No, no. Flings and a few nights together don’t make a real girlfriend. I’m talking about holding hands, going out to dinner, actually talking about the future together. I’m so glad it’s Tiffany.”
“I wouldn’t go that far to say this much.”
Sunny hugged her again. “I’m just happy okay. Don’t take it away from me.”
“Sure. I’ll shut up.”
what r u doing rn?
Not right now.
I’m gonna do a few
i will, my boo(:
Taeyeon stared at her phone. At the reply. At two words, specifically. My boo?!
“What are you smiling at?”
Taeyeon looked up at Sunny’s inquiry. “Just a text.”
“Just a text.”
“Yeah, it’s just a text.”
“It’s just a text!”
“Got it. It’s just a text. It’s just a text.”
“Where do you want this to go?”
Krystal turned and looked around the room. It was bare, understandably so, but comfy, somehow. She’d been anticipating the moment she got to see her room for days now and she was blown away by how luxurious Jessica’s apartment was. A high ceiling unit with multiple rooms and classy chic interior design that probably cost almost as much as the apartment did.
“By the desk, thanks.”
Yuri trudged to the writing desk and put the box she was holding on it. “That’s the last of it.”
“Do you need help with unpacking?”
“Nah. I’ll do it by yourself.”
“Okay. Sica will be back from Doctor Seo’s soon. I’m gonna call for some dinner. What would you like for dinner?”
“Okay. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be back soon.”
Krystal sat on the bed and looked at the boxes around her after Yuri left. She didn’t have much to bring; just the essentials, like clothes and her school stuff. The room almost seemed a little too big for the few possessions she brought. It was better to get busy, she thought. No point in sitting there, feeling alien to her surroundings.
Time to unpack.
With a final push to align her books neatly, she was done with half of her unpacking. She heard the door opening and closing just then. Yuri’s voice could be heard through the door, followed by Jessica’s. Jessica. She couldn’t quite use the word ‘sister’ without feeling awkward yet. She wasn’t sure if it was the best idea to move in with Jessica and Yuri but Doctor Seo’s advice had made a lot of sense. In any case, she was here now. Better make the most of it.
“Krystal, is this room alright for you?”
She turned around. Jessica was standing at the doorway. “It’s really spacious. I like it.”
Jessica looked relieved. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you to move in. Something cropped up at work, really last minute.”
“It’s okay. Yuri helped me a lot.”
“Yeah, she moved the boxes and everything.”
“That’s great.” Jessica’s smile grew wider. “I need to get changed. But I’ll be back to help with the unpacking after.”
She shook her head. “I’d rather do it by myself actually. Just call me when the food arrives.”
“Okay then. I’ll call you for dinner.”
Dinner was nice. Nice in the sense that there were people with her this time. Food tasted better with company in general and this was enhanced by the fact that one of them was her sister, albeit, a newfound one. She wasn’t sure about what to do next however. Having been living alone for the past couple of years, she wasn’t so sure about living with two other people now.
“So. What are we doing after this?” asked Yuri.
Krystal simply stared at her. She hadn’t planned on doing anything after dinner. A shower and an early night maybe. Certainly not anything too vigourous.
“I want to watch Suits,” said Jessica.
“Okay!” went Yuri and Krystal had an uncontrollable urge to laugh just then. Jessica and Yuri stared at her as though she were a foreign creature they’d never seen before.
“Yuri…” she tried to explain while holding in her laughter, “is just like a puppy,” a laugh escaped, “and you’re her owner…HAHAHA…”
Yuri didn’t look too pleased but Jessica was grinning. “You’re right. She’s just a like a puppy. My cute little puppy that I love.”
She cringed at the honey in her sister‘s words but Yuri made it worse by planting a kiss right on Jessica’s lips in full view.
This was going to take some getting used to if she was going to move in with them. But it wasn’t all that bad. It was a change to have people around. It was a good change.
“Who is she?”
“She’s the one we need.”
“Are you sure?”
“Then we’ll get her.”
“It’s not going to be easy.”
“Nothing good is ever easy.”
“We’ll get her.”
“I’ll look forward to it.”