The Seoul Convention Centre was the perfect place. The venue had been host to many important events in the past. Political meetings, international gatherings and even concerts had been held in this place. The location was prime, and privacy sufficient. It wouldn’t cost too much either, since she only needed to rent a portion of the space.
The ultimate deal clincher however, would be the roads around the centre. Those were the very roads of The Roulette, the most prestigious race held annually in the heart of Seoul. Perfect for demonstrating the prowess of Hyundae’s newest luxury sports car, Hyundae CLT GTR.
She turned to her co-worker, Ted and exchanged looks with him. They didn’t have to say more. This was the place they were looking for.
They headed back to Hyundae in time for the day’s practice session on the track. She’d missed a few practices the past week so she was eager to get back behind the wheel and feel the adrenaline again.
Unfortunately for her, Denise and company were in the locker room when she entered. They stared at her as she walked to her locker, their dislike for her thinly veiled.
“So the star racer finally decides to come for practice.”
“How I wish I could skip practice like her.”
“Are you Paul’s sex toy?”
“Then you can’t. Only Paul’s sex toy can do what she likes.”
“Oh I see.”
Her hand gripped the door of her locker so hard that her fingers were on the verge of cramping. There was no point in lashing out at them. Yelling at them and being sarcastic hadn’t worked. Beating them on the tracks didn’t stop them either. They were bullies and she was better off ignoring them. Let it go. Let it go.
She grabbed her driving suit, gloves and helmet and stormed out of the locker room as quickly as she could. The further she stayed away from them, the better.
The tracks were ready. Her car was ready. Her body was ready. She needed this.
The low rumble of her car’s engine did things to her heart that few other things could do. Other than Taeyeon, of course. Taeyeon was probably the only person who had the power to make her heart beat faster or slower. Or fast and slow at the same time.
The lights turned green and her foot knew exactly which pedal to stomp on. Her car surged forward and so did her spirits. Her eyes focused solely on the road ahead, leaving no room for any other thoughts in her mind. Her soul was free. Her soul was in the right place.
Before, it had been an expression of the anger in her heart. Anger at the heavens for taking her mother away. Anger at the world for going on as though nothing had changed. Anger at her father for not doing more for her mother when she was still alive. Her life went crashing into the wrong side and everything turned upside down.
She withdrew from her friends, withdrew from her family, withdrew from everything around her. How could anyone go on living as usual was beyond her. Her mother had left them. Shouldn’t they stop…for a while at least?
Racing had meant that she didn’t have to think about it. For a while, at least. But now, racing meant something else to her entirely. Now, it meant she was still alive. Now, with every turn she made, she came closer and closer to perfection as perfection itself. Now, her immense satisfaction in life was derived from mastery of her vehicle and her unofficially official relationship with Taeyeon.
And she had Taeyeon to thank for that.
Still at work?
i’ll be done in 2hrs
): im eating it rn
Ok i’ll eat out with
sunny. Meet for a
drive after work?
Yes yes please(:
ok cu later.
Tiffany put her phone down, energized by the call. She stretched and wriggled her fingers, ready to wrap up the last of the car launch preparations after the quick dinner she shared with her co-workers.
Working events was hectic but she wasn’t put off by it. She was the type who liked high pressure situations. Slow and easy wasn’t her.
“By the way, I’ve sent in our music requests to the DJ. He’ll send a few songs over for sampling by tomorrow,” said Ted.
“Great. We just have to make sure the sound system they’re bringing over is compatible with the system at SCC.”
“I’ll get it checked out when we go down for food sampling.”
Tiffany nodded. “Sounds good.”
Another co-worker, Sookyung added, “The colours for the furniture have been sent out, along with the design for the cushions. They’ll be done in three days.”
“And the lighting is settled too,” said Jimin.
“Good, good. Everything is going great. Let’s get the invitations portion done and we can call it a day.”
“Done, at last.” She arched her back, stretched, and let out a huge yawn.
Ted chuckled and patted her shoulder. “Job well done, Tiffany. You’ve worked really hard.”
She smiled. “So have you. And you. And you,” she replied, looking at each of her co-workers. “We’re a great team.”
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure if you could work at all, at first,” said Jimin. “I’d been prepared for a hard time, but you’ve worked harder than I imagined you would. The rumours aren’t true at all.”
Sookyung jabbed Jimin with her elbow and frowned but Tiffany simply smiled and shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. I know about the rumours.” Thanks to Denise and friends.
“Whoever started the rumours must be totally jealous of you or something,” said Jimin.
She laughed. Jimin couldn’t have been more accurate. “I think so too.”
Ted put his arm around her and squeezed her shoulder. “Don’t worry. You’ve got us behind you. We know that you’re not just his woman. You’re a great racer and an asset to our office.”
She coughed and shrugged his arm off. “I’m not his woman.”
“You’re not?” All three of her co-workers stared at her as though she’d just announced that pigs could, in fact, fly.
“Why didn’t you deny it then? Everyone thinks you’re his woman.”
She shrugged. “Would they believe me if I said I’m not? People will believe what they want to believe. I’m only telling you guys ‘cos I’ve been working with you and
Jimin’s eyes were still wide in surprise. “But how did you get in then? Hyundae racers have to go through hell to get in but you became the lead racer without a single interview or anything.”
“It’s complicated. But I’m not his woman.”
“Which means you’re actually available?” Ted’s eyes held hers in wide surprise, but dimmed when she shook her head.
“I’m not available. I’m taken.”
“By?” Jimin was leaning forward with great interest and Tiffany sighed inwardly. She didn’t want to give them any more information than she already had.
“I’d like to keep that part of my life private. But it’s definitely not Paul.”
“Wow,” said Sookyung, her voice breathy with awe. “You’re really cool, Tiffany.”
She had to grin at that compliment. “Thanks.”
“Hey boo. Whatcha doin’?”
“Watching the seconds tick by.”
“Shouldn’t the showroom be crawling full of people? Why do you have so much free time.”
“Should I be slaving away then. Just so you know, your girl isn’t the average car salesgirl. I don’t need to be busy, okay. My customers are so super rich that they don’t even come to the showroom. They buy cars over the phone. Limited edition ones. Worth billions.”
Tiffany smiled. She could just imagine Taeyeon’s arrogant mouth, lips curling up one side, as she made an impatient grunt-like sound and added with a slight drawl, “I’m exclusive baby. I don’t have to pander to every customer’s ridiculous whim just to get a pathetic sale.”
“And you’re telling me all this because…”
“I just spent the past two fucking hours explaining the inner workings of six cars and their fucking functions to a stupid woman who walked out without buying anything. She was here for the free tour and coffee, bitch.”
For some reason, she found Taeyeon’s outburst utterly adorable. “Is she rich?”
“She’s R-I-fucking-C-H but I don’t give a shit if she’s not burning her wealth in our showroom.”
“And you’re watching the seconds tick by?”
“Yes. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Yes I have a problem with that. You should be out here with me right now and we should be making out like teenagers on my back seat.”
“I would love to make out with you on your back seat but I can’t leave for another thirty minutes. My mean old manager won’t let me.”
That’s when she heard a cute but shrill voice saying, “Get your stinking ass out of here, Kim Taeyeon. And leave out the nasty details the next time.”
Taeyeon’s chuckle trickled through the phone, triggering a fuzzy sensation all around her insides. “Thanks Sunny. I’ll tell you all about our back seat activities tomorrow.”
“Shut up and go before I change my mind.”
“Yes, Miss Lee. I’m sorry, Miss Lee. I’ll be leaving now, Miss Lee.” There was a slight pause before Taeyeon asked, “Where are you? I’m leaving work right now.”
“I’m in my car on the way to your place.”
“See ya there. We’ll take your car out for some food. I’m starving.”
The blatant red car was parked at the end of the parking lot. That was the car she’d hurried back to see. That was the car with Tiffany in it. She got out of hers, sauntered to the red car and stood right in front of it. Tiffany was staring back at her, hands on the steering wheel, ready to go at a moment’s notice. But nobody moved. Nobody went anywhere.
For a moment, she stood there and stared. There was something in the air between them. A good something. Somehow, seeing Tiffany had dissolved all her work-related frustrations into a pool of warm chocolate, trickling down her throat and straight down to her stomach. And seeing the car reminded her of the time she’d fucked Tiffany on the hood. Right on top of it. That had been one hell of a crazy night.
The sound of a car entering the parking lot dissipated the images of Tiffany’s naked body writhing on the hood and she shook her head to clear it.
Food first. Sex later.
Taeyeon’s eyes had been unreadable. Too many unvoiced thoughts. Too many secrets. And too much pain. She stared at the pair of eyes, emotional and full of feeling. Were they good or bad? She had no way of knowing. If only there was a way.
When Taeyeon finally broke their gaze and got into her car, she decided not to ask what that was about. But the little lump of sadness in her throat wouldn’t go away and she felt the sudden urge to be decadent.
“We’re gonna get burger and fries,” she announced as she made a right turn towards the nearest fast food restaurant,
Taeyeon turned to her. “Fast food?”
“Why bother driving out if we’re just gonna get fast food.”
“I don’t care. I feel like fast food tonight.”
“Okay. Whatever you say.”
“You’ll get our burgers from Brooklyn and I’ll buy us a few bottles of wine. Then we go back to your place, eat our burgers and get dead drunk.”
Tiffany shrugged. “Don’t you ever feel like getting wasted for absolutely no reason at all?”
Taeyeon snorted. “Looks like I’m not the only one who had a hard day at work.”
Technically, that wasn’t the real reason for her sudden desire to get wasted but she didn’t have an answer for it either so it was best to leave it at that.
“Double patty for you,” said Taeyeon as she handed the burger to Tiffany.
There was no fuss, no muss. They sat and ate in silence until all their food ended up in their stomachs. Then, they opened a bottle of wine.
“This is expensive,” Taeyeon commented as she took a good look at the bottle.
“The woman in the bottle shop said it’ll get us really drunk.”
“It doesn’t take much to get me drunk.”
“How many glasses can you down before you get drunk?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never counted.”
“Then we’ll find out tonight.” Tiffany raised her wine glass. “Bottoms up, glass number one.”
Apparently, it only took four glasses of wine, filled to just under two-thirds of the glass, to get Taeyeon drunk. The signs started from her ears. With just one glass, they turned red and it spread all the way down to her neck after another glass. By the third glass, her chest was flaming pink and the fourth glass had her giggling at meaningless things like the little piece of lettuce left behind from the burger they’d eaten earlier. So four glasses later, Tiffany could safely say that the effect’s of the wine had kicked in and Taeyeon was well and drunk.
Taeyeon was an adorable drunk. Adorable in the sense that she wasn’t loud or brazen and surprisingly, she didn’t hurl vulgarities by the dozens either. Instead, she seemed to grow sleepier and was leaning against her shoulder, supporting little of her own weight. They were sitting with their backs against the couch so Taeyeon’s head lolled onto the cushion eventually. And it was in that position that she began to cry.
She didn’t realize Taeyeon had been crying at first. Her tears were silent, so it wasn’t until she turned to look at her that she saw them.
“Taeyeon…? Why are you crying…?”
“I’m not crying.” Taeyeon lifted her head from the cushion and reached for her glass of wine. “Oh fuck.” She froze and clutched her head in her hands. “Fuck.”
“What’s wrong?” Tiffany asked, feeling more and more concerned by the second.
“My head…” she mumbled, giving up on getting the glass. Instead, she shifted to lie down, resting her head on Tiffany’s lap.
“I’m not drunk,” she denied, waving her hands in the air in no particular direction or order. “I’m not drunk.”
“Okay. You’re not drunk. I got it.” Tiffany sat up. Four glasses is all it took?! “But I don’t want to drink anymore. I want to take a bath and have a good sleep with my boo.”
“Who’s your boo.” Taeyeon peered at her through hooded eyelids.
Tiffany leaned down and planted a soft kiss on her forehead. “You.”
“I’m Kim Taeyeon.” Taeyeon shook her head and groaned again. “You got my name wrong.”
“Did I? I’m sorry,” Tiffany was on the verge of bursting out with laughter, “I must be drunk.”
“You.” Taeyeon laid a hand on her thigh and squeezed. “You’re drunk?”
Tiffany nodded. “Yeah.”
Suddenly, Taeyeon grinned. “Then you have to stay here tonight.”
“That was the plan, Taeyeon,” she said.
“Sex was the plan.”
“When did we plan sex?”
“I—sex later, food first. We ate. So now we will have sex.”
Taeyeon tugged at her shorts. “Take them off.”
Tiffany shook her head. “No. We have to bathe first.”
“I don’t want to bathe.”
“I don’t want to have sex with you when you’re so smelly.”
Taeyeon sniffed at herself. “I’m not smelly.”
“No bath, no sex.”
“Okay, okay. Bathe. Now. Fast,” Taeyeon grumbled, slurring her words a little.
She never did get to bathe. Taeyeon had slumped onto her bed and fallen straight into deep sleep. No amount of shaking would wake her so Tiffany gave up on it. A quick shower later, she slipped into bed naked and turned to face the sleeping woman. She sidled up so that her head was on Taeyeon’s chest. A regular heartbeat, badum-badum-badum, could be heard and she thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world. The heartbeat. That meant Taeyeon was alive and so was she.
“Goodnight Taeyeon,” she whispered, before closing her eyes and soon fell asleep.
“Doctor Seo, you mentioned an extreme method of helping me out before. What is the method?”
Doctor Seo stared at her seriously, her gaze intense. “Before I answer your question, could you tell me your reason for asking about this?”
“I have three days left to get better and race again. If I can’t, I will lose my position on the team.”
“The method is risky and there is no guarantee it will work. Which means, there might be more to lose than gain. I would ask you to consider it carefully.”
“I’ve thought about it for the past few days. Each time, I can only conclude one thing.”
“What is that?”
“I want to race. I want to be free of my phobia. No matter what it takes.”
“No matter what it takes?” Doctor’s Seo’s eyebrows rose. “Even if you lose your memory?”
“I might lose my memory?”
Doctor Seo nodded. “The method of layering a piece of consciousness over the memory of the crash may lead to memory loss of all the events that happened after the accident as well.”
Memory loss. Wasn’t that…she gasped. “Krystal. Is her memory loss a result of this method as well?”
“I cannot discuss this with you. I have to maintain a level of patient confidentiality even if you are her sister. But I see that you realize the irony of the situation. You, seeking to lose your memory while your sister is trying ways and means to regain hers.”
“But I may not lose my memory of everything, right? It’s just a risk, right?”
“It’s a high risk. The human mind is a complex maze of unknowns. I cannot guarantee anything. My aim would be to suppress a specific memory in order to free you from your phobia, but all other memories associated with the accident may also be suppressed in the process.”
“All other memories associated with the accident…” she repeated. This meant that all her memories of Krystal hugging her, helping her, protecting her, might be lost. “Would this affect memories from the past too?”
“Memories of moments prior to the accident you mean?”
“Maybe yes, maybe no. Memories are connected by association. For example, smelling a certain scent might trigger memories from a random time and place, involving certain people or things. Seeing a picture can bring back memories from a long time ago. Memories are not bound by time. They are bound by importance, significance and intensity. That’s why it’s so hard for you to forget about the accident. Similarly, a memory from long ago may happen to be connected to your memory of the accident or something related. And that means it might be suppressed as well.”
“So if I have a memory of Krystal helping me to get over this phobia and it somehow reminds me of a time from our childhood…”
“That memory might end up suppressed as well.”
“Even if it’s from fifteen years ago?”
“As I said, memory isn’t bound by time but rather, by significance.”
“I’ll have to think about it then.”
“Yes, please do.”