Circuits. Repetition. More repetition. Too much repetition. As much as Taeyeon wanted to be excited for Tiffany’s first race, it was hard to keep her enthusiasm up. Not when a single race basically entailed countless laps of what looked more like a lab rat testing field than a racing track. Seeing the race cars zooming around the circuit did nothing to excite her and with Tiffany’s dominance on the track, things were getting a little boring.
She tried to stifle a yawn as the cars rounded the curve for the umpteenth time, with number eighteen leading the pack. They blasted down the following straight, then turned left and made a quick right into the next turn. But it was no fun when it was the twentieth time it has happened. Unchallenged.
It wasn’t all gutter bad though. Crystal, or Krystal, rather, was giving the race some much needed excitement by creating several moments where it looked as though number twenty-four was going to take the lead. Not bad for a relatively new racer. There was immense potential there. Of course, with a sister like Jessica, it was apparent that speedy genes ran in the family so it wasn’t a total surprise. Tiffany would probably have to watch out for her if she wanted to secure the win in every race of championship.
The cars zoomed past the finish line of the final lap and the group went up in cheers and boos as the results began appearing on the screens across the stands.
“Tiffany won! Tiffany won!”
Taeyeon was swamped by Yoona’s fragrance as the woman hugged her.
“Your girlfriend won!”
Taeyeon grinned. “I know.”
Yoona pulled back and quirk a brow. “You seem calm about this. Aren’t you excited Tiffany won her first race?”
Taeyeon shrugged. “What else could have possibly happened? Of course, Tiffany’s gonna win the race. And every other race there is.”
“Not just that. I know exactly how good she is.”
“I can see that.”
“Why are you looking at me like that.”
Yoona exchanged a look with Seohyun before giggling. “You just reminded me of a proud girlfriend who can’t wait to tell the world that the winner is her girlfriend.”
Taeyeon noticed the blush on Seohyun’s cheeks and grinned. “I remind you of that huh.”
Yoona smiled and winked at Seohyun. Taeyeon could only chuckle.
The after-party was in full swing when Tiffany entered the hall, freshened up from her quick shower after the race.
“Well done, Tiffany.”
Tiffany embraced Paul. “Thanks, Paul.”
“I’m proud of you.”
A surge of pride flooded her chest and brought a smile to her face. But the sight of Taeyeon entering the room doubled the brilliance of her smile. “Taeyeon!”
They stood, smiling, staring and for a moment, the world narrowed to just the two of them.
“I’ll let you have your conversation. I’ll see you back at the office.”
Tiffany nodded at Paul. “I’ll see you.”
Taeyeon stepped closer as Paul walked away and suddenly they were almost too close for the public eye.
Tiffany raised her chin, a tiny smile tugging at her reluctant lips. She didn’t want to look like a woman swooning over a brimming-with-sex-appeal Kim Taeyeon. No one should look this good in a black pant suit and pointed heels. No one. But Taeyeon had the right to tempt her to lose her cool and she had the right to keep her cool. “So.”
They smiled at each other and Tiffany had the strongest urge to express her love for Taeyeon in the most physical way. Right there and then. “Are you going to kiss me?”
“Do you want me to kiss you?”
“Right here? Right now?”
“If you want.”
“In front of everyone?”
“It might be slightly inappropriate.”
“Who would dare to say that about a champion?”
Tiffany giggled. “I’m not a champion yet.”
“You are a champion. You don’t need The Roulette to tell you that.”
A bubble of warmth burst open and flowed through her veins like molten chocolate. “Thanks honey.”
“Are you Miss Stephanie Hwang?” a deep voice interrupted the conversation.
Tiffany tore her eyes from Taeyeon and looked at the man who towered over her. His eyes were cold and unfriendly and it unsettled something deep within her. And how did he know her actual name? “Yes, I’m Stephanie. You are…?”
The man extracted an ID badge from his coat and held it up. “I’m Officer Jung.” He gestured at the man beside him with eyes that were no less intimidating. “He is Officer Sim. We’re here to request your assistance in a case. We need you to go to the station with us, Miss Hwang.”
This was surreal. The police? In plain clothes? Were they undercover? And why was she their target? Was she under arrest? Right here? Right now? Wild thoughts went on a rampage in her mind, clogging up her ability to speak.
“What are you talking about?” asked Taeyeon. “Why would you need her assistance? She hasn’t done anything wrong.”
“Miss, we only want to ask her a few questions down at the station. There’s no need for you to worry,” said Officer Sim.
“Please follow us, Miss Stephanie. We don’t want this to turn ugly for you,” said Office Jung.
Taeyeon stepped forward, an arm extending across Tiffany. “Turn ugly? What do you mean ‘turn ugly’.”
Tiffany recognized the tone of Taeyeon’s voice. It was the one she used when anger was sparking. And an angry Taeyeon meant bad news. “I’ll go with you,” she said to Office Jung.
Tiffany took Taeyeon’s hand and squeezed it. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back soon.” The woman didn’t look convinced so she leaned forward and kissed Taeyeon right on her lips. “Wait for me at home,” she whispered and squeezed Taeyeon’s hand again before letting go. “Alright, I’m ready to follow you, Officer.”
“This way, Miss Hwang,” said Officer Jung.
She walked out of the room with them, trying to ignore the eyes that were, by now, following them across the room. She had nothing to be afraid of. She hadn’t done anything wrong. Had she?
“Sunny!” Taeyeon hissed at her friend who was presently engaged in a conversation with an older man who looked like the chairman of the Pinkbull Racing Team and Academy. Oh wait. He was in fact the chairman and he was looking at her with distaste plainly displayed on his face. “I’m so sorry to interrupt but I need to speak to Sunny. Urgently.”
Sunny gave him a bright smile. “Please excuse me, Mr Park.”
Taeyeon couldn’t wait for her to make her polite exit. She grabbed Sunny’s arm and dragged her across the room to a corner.
“What’s got you all flustered?” asked Sunny.
“A couple of policemen just took Tiffany away.”
“She was arrested?!”
Taeyeon shook her head. “Not arrested. They requested her assistance in a case. But I’m worried, Sunny. Why would the police even need to question her?” She exhaled. “It’d better not be Paul. If he’s implicating Tiffany in some kind of way…”
Sunny put an arm around Taeyeon. “Speculating will only drive you nuts. Maybe Hyoyeon will know something. And if she doesn’t, she can help us to find out.”
“You’re right. I should ask Hyoyeon.”
“This isn’t the right place though. Let’s go to your car.”
“I heard they found some evidence of car fraud recently. I don’t know if Tiffany was called in for that but it’s a possibility.”
“Car fraud?! There’s no way.”
“Like I said. It may or may not be the reason. But the police have been investigating this lately and it seems to fit. Anyway, I’ll try to find out more.”
“Thanks, Hyoyeon. Thanks a lot.”
“No problem. Anything for you, Taeyeon.”
Taeyeon dropped her phone on her lap and turned to Sunny. “Car fraud…?”
“It sounds plausible…in her line of work…”
“You’re not saying she’s involved, are you.”
“I’m saying she deals with cars and they might need her help to get some info.”
“I don’t know why but I have a terrible feeling something horrible is going to happen.”
“Nothing horrible is going to happen. They’ll ask her a few questions and that’s all it will be.”
“That’s all it’d better be.”
“It’s routine questions, I’m sure. But if you’re so worried, we’ll go to the station and wait for her. You can be right there when she gets out.”
“Yeah. I wanna be there when she gets out.”
“Okay. Let’s go.”
Spartan was the word. Bare walls. A basic table. Plain chairs. A white fluorescent light. It was an interrogation room. She’d been in one before, back in America. It had been a less savoury part of her life and she wanted nothing more than to forget it ever happened but being in one again brought back the unwelcomed memories.
The questions started off simple enough. Her name. Address. Position in the company. Job scope. Details about her move from LA to Seoul. Then it became more specific. The projects she was handling. The racing academy car renewal project in particular. Who had she been working with? Who called the shots? Who sourced for the supplier? It wasn’t just routine questioning. They were digging for something and she wasn’t sure what it was they were looking for. She decided she had answered enough questions. She wanted a lawyer. They didn’t look pleased. That was a bad sign. She definitely needed a lawyer now.
Was that…Paul? Taeyeon sat up straight at the sight of the tall man. Dressed in a business suit, he looked every bit the wealthy man he was and Taeyeon couldn’t help but feel relieved that he was here for Tiffany. He would make sure she was okay. He would protect her. But why was there a woman beside him? They were entering the station together. Who was she?
Taeyeon nudged Sunny. “Look. It’s Paul and a strange woman. Who do you think she is?”
Sunny squinted. “I think that’s Hyundae’s lawyer. She was at the The Roulette with Paul. Tiffany must have called him for help.”
She didn’t call me.
“She should be out soon, since he’s here with a lawyer.” Sunny patted Taeyeon’s shoulder and smiled. “You’ll get to see her soon.
Taeyeon shrugged. “I guess. That’s if she doesn’t leave with Paul and his lawyer.”
“Please tell me you’re not jealous.”
“I’m not jealous.”
“Yeah, you shouldn’t be. Not in a situation like this.”
Taeyeon sighed. “You’re right. Paul has the money and the connections. It’s only right she calls him for help.”
“You shouldn’t feel bad about it. Especially if this is related to her work somehow.”
“Do you think it’s got to do with her work?”
Sunny shook her head. “I don’t know. But it’s a possibility.”
“Whatever it is, I just want her out of there.”
“Soon, Taeyeon. Soon.”
Taeyeon sat up and rubbed her eyes. Sunny was right. It was Tiffany, flanked by Paul and the lawyer. She got out of her car immediately and almost broke into a run to get to Tiffany.
“Miss Kim, I didn’t know you were here,” said Paul.
“I was waiting for Tiffany in my car.”
“I see.” Paul turned and gave Tiffany a look. “Tiffany, I’ll be in the car with Miss Kwon.”
Tiffany nodded and Paul left with the lawyer. Taeyeon stepped towards Tiffany as soon as Paul left them and took her hands. “Is everything alright? You’re not in trouble, are you?”
Tiffany shook her head and smiled. “I’m not in trouble.”
“So what’s with Paul and Miss Kwon.”
“They were asking questions about the projects I handled in Hyundae so to be safe, I called Paul to ask for a lawyer.”
“What did they ask? Which project was it?”
“Taeyeon, I’m really sorry but I can’t tell you anything right now.” Tiffany squeezed Taeyeon’s hands and shook her head. “I’m sorry. I have to go. Paul is waiting.”
“Why don’t you go home with me. How does a shower and a glass of wine sound?”
“It sounds great, and I really want to go home with you but Paul and the lawyer need to sort out the case with me.”
“Case? There’s a case?”
“Taeyeon. Please calm down. It’s better if I don’t tell you anything right now. But I’ll tell you everything after this, okay?”
This wasn’t the ending to the day that Taeyeon wanted but clearly, it was what Tiffany had to do. “Okay. Go. I’ll wait for you at home.”
“Don’t wait up, Taeyeon. You don’t have to stay up to wait for me.”
“I don’t have to but I want to. And I can’t possibly go to sleep without knowing about,” Taeyeon waggled her hands, “…this.”
Tiffany crushed Taeyeon to her chest without warning. “I love you so much.”
“I’ll be here for you. Okay, Tiffany?”
Tiffany pulled away and Taeyeon could see the smile on her face. It bore more resemblance to her genuine smile than before.
Taeyeon nodded as Tiffany released her. She watched as Tiffany walked towards the shiny black car that was much too luxurious to be hers and watched as she got into it. The top-of-the-line Hyundae sedan moved off and she watched as it rolled out of the station’s compound. Yes, it seemed that for now, all she could do was watch…and wait.
Taeyeon woke up alone on her couch. Her only companion was her phone, which was on the floor. She must have dropped her phone when she fell asleep while waiting. Which also meant Tiffany hadn’t come home to her. But she wasn’t upset. She had kind of expected it somehow. It was just like Tiffany to think for everyone but herself and the woman wouldn’t have come home for fear of disturbing her sleep. It was that or the possibility that Paul and the lawyer weren’t done with her yet. Between the two explanations, she preferred the former. The latter would mean Tiffany was in serious trouble and she didn’t want that.
With a groan, she rolled onto her side and picked up her phone before sitting up. There was a text from Tiffany, sent at two in the morning.
Really sorry but I wont go
to your place tonight. C u
tmr ok 🙂
Taeyeon chewed her cheek. She was right the first time. Tiffany had gone back to her apartment after all.
A trip to the bathroom freshened her up and she felt a little better. This wasn’t the time to be upset over something like that. If Tiffany was in trouble, she should be on Tiffany’s side. In fact, she should be by Tiffany’s side and not far away in her apartment.
Not yet. Out or in?
Yours or mine?
I’ll go over.
Taeyeon threw on a hoodie over her camisole to cover up her lack of a bra and grabbed her keys. She couldn’t wait to get to Tiffany’s.
She made it in record time without getting caught by the traffic police. It must have been at neck-breaking speed because Tiffany looked genuinely surprised to see her that soon.
“How fast did you drive?”
Taeyeon shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. I’m here now,” she said as she swamped Tiffany with her arms and body.
“I’m sorry I didn’t go over last night. I had to sort it out with Paul and Kwon and it was so late by the time we were done tha—”
Taeyeon launched her lips onto Tiffany’s and effectively shut her up. And the silence felt so good on her ears that she felt compelled to extend the kiss. When they finally parted, Tiffany was breathing harder than before and so was she.
“Have you ordered the chicken yet?” Taeyeon asked with a deliberate grin.
Tiffany laughed. “Yes. I called them and ordered it right after your call.”
“Good. It shouldn’t be long to wait.”
“But long enough to kiss some more.”
Taeyeon didn’t need any more encouragement than that.
Two boxes of heart-stopping, drool-inducing deep fried chicken later, Taeyeon lay flat on the couch with her head resting on Tiffany’s lap.
Taeyeon patted her stomach, contentment seeping to every inch of her being. “I’m stuffed but that was the best.”
“Better than my kiss?”
Taeyeon locked eyes with Tiffany. “Your kiss is in a class of its own. Chicken can never measure up to it.”
Tiffany bent and pressed a kiss on Taeyeon’s lips. “Thanks. I needed to hear that.”
Taeyeon sat up and looked deep into her eyes. “Are you in trouble?”
Tiffany looked away. “Maybe.”
“What kind of trouble.”
“I’m not supposed—”
“I’m your girlfriend. I have to know, okay?”
Tiffany sighed. “Paul doesn’t want the news to get out.”
“So telling me is equivalent to the news getting out? I’m out. Is that it?”
“Taeyeon, you know that’s not what—”
“I know that’s exactly what. You don’t trust me. That’s what it is.”
“I trust you. You know that I trust you.”
“Well, obviously you trust me as much as Paul trusts me and that can hardly be considered trust when you won’t even tell me what kind of trouble you’re in.”
“Paul said it’s easier to resolve if fewer people know about it. It’s not about trust at all.”
“So I stay up waiting for you until I fall asleep on the couch and wake up all alone, then I come over to be with you right after waking up and you’re telling me I’m just one of the people you’re not supposed to tell.”
“It’s only because you’re not part of Hyundae, alright? Just give me some time. Paul is looking into the problem right now. I promise I’ll tell you after he figures out what is happening, okay?”
“That’s the thing. I know what’s happening. It’s about the car fraud, right?”
Tiffany’s eyes opened wide. “How did you—”
“I have friends who have friends, Tiffany. Obviously Paul’s attempt at keeping it under the radar is not working as well as he’d like. You might want to tell him that.”
Tiffany’s eyes welled up with tears and she buried her face in her palms. “I just don’t want you to worry. I don’t what you to see me like this.”
Oh, great. She had come here to be by Tiffany’s side but all she had succeeded in doing was making Tiffany cry instead. Taeyeon wrapped her arms around Tiffany and held her close, shouldering every heave and shudder. “Don’t cry. Please don’t cry.”
Tiffany shook her head. “This is not—it’s not supposed to be like this. I’m supposed to be the best girlfriend you’ll ever have, not the girl who screws up everything for her company and everyone else.”
“Tiffany. You are the best girlfriend I’ll ever have.”
“Yes. And shut up. You’re gonna be fine, you heard me? They’ll dig in and get to the truth. You haven’t screwed anything up.”
Taeyeon hugged her tight and rubbed her back to soothe her. This wasn’t what she’d expected when she came over but this was exactly what she was here for. For Tiffany.
“Things will turn out fine. Trust me.”