– 38 –
“You’re not the only one who knows how to play the seduction game, Tffany.” Taeyeon’s confident grin made an appearance, her eyes boldly making love to her just by staring. “And don’t you worry. You’re going to be sexhausted before the water turns cold.”
Taeyeon’s confidence was not misplaced and it was a thoroughly satisfied Tiffany that cuddled up to Taeyeon after coming down from bubble nine. Lifting her arm from the water that was starting to cool off, she reached for the bubble bath bottle and took a closer look. Taeyeon hadn’t been kidding. It did actually read ‘Paris, amour’.
“Amour…” she read out loud.
“Amour.” Taeyeon’s thumb brushed the edge of her shoulder as her voice echoed in the bathroom.
Tiffany tilted her head to look into Taeyeon’s eyes. “Say it again.”
Tiffany nudged her with an elbow and whispered in her ear, “Say it.”
Taeyeon’s lips hovered dangerously close to hers and a corner of her lips turned up as she whispered, “Amour.”
Hearing it falling from Taeyeon’s lips made Tiffany inexplicably happy and she crushed their lips together, expressing her joy the only way she knew how. There was something about kissing in a bathtub. The way their skin rubbed against each other, friction-free. The way the water sloshed around them. The way the surrounding air cooled their burning hot skin after re-emerging from the water. It was different and she liked it. Taeyeon’s bubble bath idea was definitely a good one.
Pulling away from the kiss several moments later, they locked gazes again and both women wore a happy smile on their face. It was impossible not to. This was everything she had wished for. Everything she had worked for. And more.
“So, are you sexhausted yet? Or can you go for a few more rounds?” she asked.
Taeyeon laughed and it echoed all around them. “Do you think it’s that easy to sexhaust me?”
Tiffany could feel a naughty hand scooting up her thigh and she closed her legs, trapping the hand between them. “Uh uh. We should pace ourselves. You might get sick of me if we overdo it.”
Taeyeon grasped her face with both hands and she was pulled in for a kiss. “I’ll never get sick of you.” The look in her eyes was beyond description. “I can never get enough of you, Tiffany.”
Taeyeon’s sweet declaration pumped her heart full of warmth and love. “I love you.” The words fell from Tiffany’s lips and it felt natural to say them. It was how she felt about Taeyeon and there was no reason to hold back now.
Taeyeon stilled, her eyes blinking. Whether the reaction was from the sensations of their kiss or her declaration, Tiffany didn’t know. “Tiffany—”
“You don’t have to say it back if you’re not ready to. I’m just telling you how I feel.”
Taeyeon shook her head. “How do you know I’m not ready to say it back?”
“You don’t look ready.”
“What does ready look like?”
Tiffany shifted to straddle Taeyeon and traced the contours of her face with fingers that were beginning to wrinkle. “I don’t know what ready looks like, but this isn’t it. But it’s fine. I’m happy with what we are now.”
“Are you? Really?”
Tiffany nodded, leaning forward to press a tender kiss on Taeyeon’s lips. “I’m more than happy right now.”
Only then did Taeyeon smile again. “I’m happy too.”
And that confession was worth more than anything else to Tiffany in that moment.
Yoona ate the last bit of her steak and put her fork and knife down, following the etiquette that she had learnt from one of the many lessons she had as a child. She watched her father carefully as he drank his glass of wine, certain that he had something important to announce. Her father was easy to read when it came to things like that.
It had been after a formal lunch when her father told her they were going to move to a new town. This was a few months after her father told her that her mother would no longer be part of their life during a formal dinner. It was also after a formal lunch that her father officially announced that she would not be allowed to join their race team. And the most recent announcement had taken place after yet another formal dinner where he told her that he had begun to date a woman he met at work.
The pattern of his behaviour was obvious enough after living with him all her life and she suspected he deliberately chose such a formal setting to boost his courage to tell her all those things. Now, as she sat in the fine dining restaurant, she wondered what he could possibly have to announce. Had anything happened recently? The only way to find out was to wait. It wouldn’t be long now.
And exactly as she had predicted, her father cleared his throat and shifted in his seat after finishing his glass of wine.
“Yoona, I have something to tell you.”
Yoona braced herself. There was no telling if this was going to be good or bad news. “I’m ready to listen.”
Her father nodded and cleared his throat again. She had the urge to giggle; her father seemed more nervous than usual.
“I am going to marry my girlfriend.”
Her father looked down at his clasped hands. “I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes. We are going to get married.”
“Are we talking about the secretary you met at the tyre factory? Is she the one you’re going to marry?”
“Oh my God.”
“I know this might be hard to digest, but I hope you will be able to accept it after some time.”
“It’s not hard to digest…” Yoona tried to find the right words to say. “It’s just…surprising. I wasn’t expecting you to propose to her. You’ve only been dating her for what…two months?”
“Six weeks. That’s only forty-two days. Are you sure about this? Do you even know her well enough?”
“I must admit that I don’t know everything about her. But it’s not about that. It’s possible to be with a person for years and still end up knowing nothing about her.” Her father paused. “But I know one thing,” his back straightened, eyes gaining certainty as he continued, “She makes me happy and we get along very well. It’s been a long time since I’ve met a woman who can make me forget who I am and I really enjoy her company.”
“Daddy…” Yoona was shocked to hear such a heartfelt confession from her father. For a woman he’d only known for six weeks. But she thought of how quickly she had fallen for Seohyun—within a week, if she really thought about it—and knew that she couldn’t be the one to judge her father’s relationship with his girlfrie—no, fiancée. “Six weeks feels too soon but if she makes you that happy, I’m all for it.”
“So you are alright with it? You’re not going to get into a fit of anger and object to the whole thing?”
Yoona laughed and shook her head. “I’m an adult now. I understand these things. I won’t go all possessive over you and stop you from marrying someone you love.”
Her father looked significantly more relaxed and he leaned back in his seat with a sigh of relief. “I’m glad I got that out and over with.”
Yoona giggled. “Will I get to meet my new mother soon? I hope I’ll get to see her before the wedding. It’ll be kind of weird if I haven’t met her by then.” Another question hit her as she said that. “And when is the wedding?”
“I plan to marry her after The Roulette is over.”
“That’s pretty soon.”
Her father nodded. “I know. But that’s the only window I have. Once the other projects start, I’ll be too busy to go on a honeymoon with her.”
Yoona grinned. “You’re so romantic. When will I get to meet this lucky woman?”
“I’ll arrange a meeting sometime next week. You’ll be able to meet her then.”
A sudden thought struck her and filled her with apprehension. “She’s not younger than me, is she?”
Her father threw back his head and laughed. “No, she isn’t. She’s a couple years younger than me. She has children too.” His face grew solemn again. “You’re going to have step-siblings. I hope you’re okay with that too.”
Yoona shrugged. “I’ll deal with it.”
Her father smiled. “I’m sure everything is going to be fine.”
Yoona looked at her father as he refilled their glasses of wine. Who would have thought her serious, all-business father would have a whirlwind relationship and marry a woman he’d known for all of six weeks. But he’d done his best to be a good father after her mother left and she knew he must be lonely after all this time. He deserved a break too. So, with that thought in mind, she lifted her glass and clinked it with his.
“To a new happy family,” she toasted and smiled when his face lit up like stars in the night sky.
“To a new happy family,” he echoed.
“Free for a drink after work or are you gonna run straight into Tiffany’s arms for the night?”
Taeyeon rolled her eyes at Sunny. “I have time for a drink. And I don’t run straight into Tiffany’s arms okay. I stroll. With swagg.”
Sunny barked out a laugh. “I’m sure Tiffany must be swooning over your irresistible swagg every single night then.”
“You bet she is.”
Sunny’s smile was genuine right then. “Why don’t you ask her to join us. It’ll be nice for her to meet your friends sometime.”
“I could ask her if she wants to come along,” Taeyeon said, reaching for her phone. Just then, a message buzzed in and she frowned upon seeing the name of the person who sent it.
Can we meet after work today?
I need to have a talk with you.
Talk? What kind of talk? She had no wish to oblige but she knew that she would have to, ultimately. “Sorry Sunny. Something just cropped up. I can’t join you for drinks anymore.”
Sunny’s brows waggled, her lips curling into a knowing smirk. “What’s up? Strolling into Tiffany’s arms with swagg tonight?”
Taeyeon wished it were that but she had to shake her head. “It’s not Tiffany.”
“Who is it then?” Sunny’s eyes narrowed. “I hope it’s not Yoona.”
“It’s not Yoona.”
Taeyeon heaved a deep, heavy sigh. “My mother.”
She entered the cafe, looking for the woman who had brought her into this world. They looked uncannily alike, much to her dismay, and she often wished she had taken on more of her father’s features instead of her mother’s. It took all of one second for her to spot her mother. It was never difficult to spot her mother in a crowd.
She looked at her outfit. An internal sigh weighed on her chest and it was all she could do to keep from turning around and walking away. It was never a good idea to meet her mother. More often than not, talking to her mother led to a giant ball of anger, frustration or agitation festering in her. Nevertheless, she walked to her mother and took a seat.
“What did you want to talk about?”
No hellos. No how-do-you-dos. She’d stopped with the pleasantries one day and it’d stuck till now.
“Have you recovered from the accident?”
Like you care. “Yes.”
“Have you done a post check up?”
Gee. Thanks for asking. Months after the accident. Taeyeon merely nodded, brusque in her movement.
“Okay, let me get to the point”—about time—“You might not like this”—when have you ever cared if I like it or not—“but I have to tell you anyway.”
Taeyeon looked up at the change in her mother’s tone. She’d heard her mother’s voice in various tones throughout her life; angry, frustrated, tired, desperate, defeated even, but never like this.
“Taeyeon…I’m getting married.”
Her eyes opened wide in shock. Out of a million different things her mother could have possibly told her, this was the last thing she would have expected to hear. Then again, why was this surprising? She had always known about her mother’s on-goings with various men. Was it not to be expected that she would find someone to marry one day? No, she hadn’t expected it because her mother was never the ‘girlfriend’. She had always been the ‘mistress’. Hadn’t she?
“And I would like for you and Hayeon to meet him.”
She sat still, numb from the shock. She didn’t know what to think. Should she be happy? Angry? Sad? What? What was a suitable reaction for news like that?
“He has a daughter too. She’s about your age.”
He has a daughter?! But he’s marrying you? Which means… “He’s divorced.”
Her mother nodded. “He got divorced almost ten years ago.”
“So, this is a real relationship.”
Her mother turned pink and looked away for a moment before their eyes met again. “Taeyeon—“
Taeyeon stood up abruptly. Nothing seemed right. Everything felt odd. She didn’t know what to say or do. What she needed was a quiet space to think things over, alone. “I need to go.”
“I’m sorry. I need to go.”