– 29 –
Are you crazy? No fucking way! That bitch doesn’t deserve to win anything!
“I know. I know.”
“Listen. I wanted to speak to you at the office but your colleagues told me you’ve gone home so I came all the way here to show my sincerity. Just give me a chance to explain things, at least.”
Tiffany sighed and shook her head but gestured for him to speak. “I’m listening.”
“I know about the things Denise has been saying about you. Don’t think I’m clueless. So it’s with full knowledge of what she’s like that I come to you for this favour. We need her win to chalk up circuit points for the car maker championship. Everyone is confident that you will have more than enough points to win the whole thing but we want the car maker title as well. So, we are going to propose this to the few people at the top in a closed meeting very soon. I’m telling you about this now because I don’t want it to come as a shock to you.”
“I don’t like this.”
“I don’t like it either. But business is business. We’ve heard about potential competition coming from Ssamyoong this year. They’ve got a new racer from nowhere but she’s good. Denise won’t be able to beat her. Reneult Samjung is having some issues with their lead racer but I heard that they have someone else ready to take the position and we won’t know how good this new racer is until I get more info. So to secure things on our end, we’ll need your help. Please, do it for the team.”
Do it for the team. That was something she couldn’t ignore. Unlike street racing, pro-team racing was not purely a solo event. While it involved each racer for herself, the presence of the car maker championship title made it a team event too. She understood that another car maker could take the title by securing enough second and third positions in each race. The point system was made such that a single racer wouldn’t be able to take it for the company. Only a team could do it.
Her thoughts wandered over to her colleagues who were probably still slaving away at the office. They were part of the team too. And winning the car maker championship would glorify the entire company, not just her alone.
“Fine. I’ll do it. For the team.”
Paul’s countenance brightened considerably and she found herself wrapped tightly in his arms. “Thank you, Steph. I’ve always known that you are a worthwhile investment.”
She laughed politely, uncomfortable with the proximity between them when she had on so little, and pulled away. “I’ll do my best to help, but you’ll need to bring in a personal coach just for her. I can’t fend off all the racers if she’s not fast enough to hold her own.”
Paul flashed a wide grin. “We’ve already made plans. We have someone in mind.”
She nodded. “She does her part and I’ll do mine.”
“And the car maker championship will be ours this year.” Paul stood with a smile. “I’ll go now. Have a good rest.”
Tiffany stood and escorted him to the door. She opened it, smiling, but her smile froze and shattered at the sight of the petite woman who looked just as shocked as she was.
The woman’s eyes left her and focused on Paul before coming back to her. Those eyes darkened in an instant as they trailed down her body, taking in the silky robe she was wearing, before trailing back up to meet her eyes again.
Fuck. No. It’s not what it looks like.
“My timing couldn’t have been better,” said Paul. “Your friend can take care of you now. Have a good rest, Steph. Take the day off tomorrow if you need to. You deserve the break.”
Your timing couldn’t have been better alright, she thought wryly as Paul disappeared into the elevator, leaving the two of them standing, staring.
“Taeyeon,” she spoke first, “would you like to come in?”
“So that you can have your second date of the night?” said Taeyeon, looking ready to set the building on fire.
“He came over to talk business.”
Taeyeon grinned, but it was sardonic. “Business in a robe?”
“I came home from work early so he had to come over to discuss an urgent matter with me. I wasn’t expecting him or I would’ve put on something else.”
“So he has the liberty to turn up here whenever he wants. I must say you’re the most accommodating employee I’ve ever seen,” she raised a finger, “but I almost forgot. He owns this fucking place, doesn’t he. He owns the apartment and everything in it.”
“Taeyeon, I’ve explained my relationship with Paul before.” Tiredness descended upon her in thick layers, weighing her down as she spoke. She didn’t have the energy to keep up with Taeyeon’s stormy mood. “But nothing I say will work if you choose not to believe me.” She sighed. “And whether you believe me or not, I’m very happy that you’re here. It means a lot to me.”
Taeyeon stepped close and peered at her face. “You look sick,” she said, ignoring the things that were just said.
“I am sick.” Lovesick.
An odd, disapproving squeak came from Taeyeon. “Let me in.”
Tiffany stepped to the side, allowing Taeyeon to enter, before shutting the door. The sound of locks sliding into place told her it was secured and she turned around to face the petite woman. Their eyes locked for a long moment and all sorts of emotions poured out from within with nowhere to go. They surged upwards, searching for an outlet and before she knew it, they were gushing from her eyes, streaming down her cheeks, dripping onto the floor below.
“Fuck. Why are you crying. Stop it. I can’t stand it when you cry.”
Tiffany blinked at Taeyeon’s display of roguish concern. It distracted her from her overwhelming regret and self reproaching thoughts. Raising the sleeves of her robe to soak up the tears, the storm of emotions that threatened to overwhelm her began to subside. At the same time, Taeyeon walked to the couch and sat at the very place that Paul had vacated not so long ago.
“Why are you always crying.”
Moving towards the couch, she decided not to sit adjacent to Taeyeon, but right next to her. Close by. Close enough to feel the heat emanating from her body. Maybe that was too close. Too close to stay on track.
Fortunately for her, Taeyeon didn’t speak. That gave her a moment of to calm herself and collect her thoughts. She turned to look into Taeyeon’s eyes and realized the woman was staring at her. She couldn’t figure out what Taeyeon’s mind was thinking. Instead, many questions appeared in her mind. Why was Taeyeon here? What did she want to say? Why hadn’t she blown her top after seeing Paul in her apartment?
“Have you eaten.”
Tiffany looked at Taeyeon in surprise. It wasn’t what she’d expected the woman to say or ask. Her stomach rumbled just then, answering the question for her. Taeyeon gave her a look she couldn’t read and stood up.
“You need to eat when you’re sick,” she said, moving to the kitchen. “Do you have rice?”
She stood up as well and followed her into the kitchen. “No.”
Taeyeon turned around with a frown. “That’s not healthy.”
“I have some bread…”
“Where is it.”
Tiffany uncovered a rattan basket and showed Taeyeon the bread. “I have a few slices left.”
“Do you have eggs?”
“I have a few in the fridge.”
“Bread and eggs are all you have?” Taeyeon wore a look of disapproval as she looked into the fridge. “Is that why you made me eggs and toast for breakfast the last time? Tsk. You need to have some real food in your kitchen.”
“But I don’t cook much.”
“You should stock up some meat and veg at least.”
Tiffany decided this wasn’t the best moment to be rebellious. “Okay, I will.”
Taeyeon gave her a long withering look before turning back to the pan she was heating up. Clearly, she was not convinced by her answer. But Taeyeon said nothing more and she was content to sit and watch the woman fry the eggs and make the toast.
The eggs were done before she had enough of watching Taeyeon in action.
“Thank you,” she said, as a plate of eggs and toast was served to her.
“Eat,” ordered Taeyeon.
So, she ate.
Taeyeon sat beside her quietly until she polished off the plate. Then, she stood again and took the empty plate to the sink.
A sense if disquiet took hold of her as Taeyeon washed the plate. What was Taeyeon thinking? Why wasn’t she angry? What was going on?! Question after question whirled around in her mind, torturing her to the limit. Finally, it was too much to take and she had to ask, “Taeyeon, are you angry?”
Taeyeon sent her another unreadable look as she dried the plate and returned it to the tray. Their gaze remained unbroken as she approached the dining table and Tiffany burned with the need to know how Taeyeon felt.
“Are you angry?” she asked again.
Taeyeon sat and propped her elbows on the table, her hands clasped together. “I’m fucking angry,” she finally answered, “but you’re sick.”
“You don’t have to hold anything back just because I’m sick. You can yell or scream or do whatever you need to vent that anger.”
Taeyeon shook her head. “I won’t do that when a person is sick.”
She wanted to ask more but decided to leave it at that. It was a good chance for them to talk without fighting and she wanted to take full advantage of it.
“So what did you come here to say?”
Taeyeon took a deep breath and held it before exhaling in a rush. She closed her eyes briefly before opening it and met her gaze. Then, in a calm, quiet voice she said, “You’re not just a girl.”
All the warmth in the universe could’ve been sucked out in that instant but she wouldn’t have noticed.
“I’m not just a girl?”
“That’s what I said.”
It was the last thing she’d expected to hear but Taeyeon had said it. This was the closest she’d ever come to getting any form of confirmation on their relationship from her and she was at a momentary loss for words.
She blinked. “My turn?”
Taeyeon nodded. “Tell me why Paul had to come all the way here just to talk to you.”
“I can’t say. But it was about work. I promise.”
“You want me to tell you my secrets but you have tons of secrets yourself.”
“I really wish I could tell you, but I can’t.”
Taeyeon leaned back on the cushion and folded her arms. “Then tell me something else about you.”
Amusement set in and she almost grinned. “What do you want to know?”
“Tell me about your family.” Tiffany opened her mouth to protest the double standards but Taeyeon was quick to add, “I’ll tell you something about mine if you tell me something about yours.”
Oh. Now this was different. This was her chance!
“Well, you know about my mom. My dad is just like all dads, overprotective, sometimes overbearing. We used to be quite rich. But things took a bad turn and everything hit rock bottom. My friends at school found out I was not rich any more and turned against me. My so-called best friend became my biggest nightmare.”
“What did they do to you?” Taeyeon asked, looking ready to burn the building down to the ground.
“The usual things that bullies do. They taunted me about my poverty, made everyone ostracise me, play pranks on me…”
“Those fuckers. Even your best friend did all those things to you? Just because you became poor?”
Tiffany shrugged. “I went to a school for the rich. So when my dad went bust, my friends’ parents would’ve told them not to hang out with me or I might ask them for money.”
“But friends are supposed to help when you are in trouble.”
“Not in the circle I was in. It was all about worth. Connections and worth. If there was nothing to benefit from being my friend, they wouldn’t be interested.”
“But they could’ve just left you. They didn’t have to bully you.”
“Actually, they left me alone at first. But one of the girls was interested in a guy I was close to and…you know how it is in school when girls get jealous.”
“Those bitches should be run over by a car.”
“That’s the funny thing. I was so angry one day that I wanted to hit them but I swerved just before and the person I was with at that time told me I should go into racing after seeing how close I was cutting it.”
“The person you were with?”
Tiffany made sure to stare straight at Taeyeon. “Yeah. She was my first girlfriend.”
She had to grin at Taeyeon’s look of displeasure. “Everyone has to start somewhere, you know.”
Taeyeon froze her with a chilly glare but it melted into a fiery stare within seconds and her heart began to beat faster. She had never met anyone who could affect her this much by doing this little. It was as though her heart was a remote-controlled car and Taeyeon, the remote-control. A single look could quicken her heartbeat. A single breath could stop hers. A single kiss—
All thoughts cut off at the touch of Taeyeon’s lips on hers.
“Tae…yeon…” she sighed as she was finally let down from the clouds above. “What the fuck…that was so good…”
Taeyeon’s lips twitched quirkily and her heart thumped extra hard when she saw them. She couldn’t handle the heat emanating from Taeyeon. Not when every move was a sexy invite. Not when every look was hot enough to melt glass. Their lips reuniting and again, all thoughts were lost. Until Taeyeon pulled back and said, “Fuck me hard, Tiffany. Very, very hard.”
She stared at Taeyeon, unleashing all the pent up feelings she’d been harbouring. But no more. Not tonight. Tonight, she was going to let it rip. She was going to make Taeyeon scream her name. Loud and clear.