Happy TaeNy Day, spankersss!
“As Alec Issigonis once said, ‘The public don’t know what they want; it’s my job to tell them’. Thus, it is us who design, who are responsible for setting the trend, creating new paths in art . . .”
The rest of my professor’s lecture fades into the background of my mind. I am preoccupied with thoughts of my morning with Ms Pink and the—can I say oddly addictive—crop. It has been a wild ride and it’s insane to think that just three weeks and a day ago, I was living a life free of Ms Pink’s omnipresence.
A body of mass rocks the row of seats I’m on and I look towards the source. Oh God. Max. I had almost forgotten about his existence. He offers me a smile when our eyes meet so I return it. But I look away from him right after that and focus on the professor, hoping that he’ll disappear somehow. Of course, it doesn’t happen. In fact, he shifts to a seat closer to mine and slips me a note.
Still mad at me?
He’s not looking at me when I glance his way. Am I still mad at him? It’s been a week since I last saw him and to be honest, I haven’t had time to think about him at all.
He reads what I wrote, then scribbles something else.
There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be.
You know I’m sorry right?
Wanna grab ice cream after?
Ice cream. Max knows me well. I can never resist an ice cream invite.
Max is smiling when I sneak a peek at him. This is nice. It’s nice to pretend, if only just for a moment, that my life is as normal as the next student beside me. That my life is not fraught with danger and uncertainty. That I can hang out with a friend after class and eat ice cream. If only.
“What happened to you?” Max flicks his spoon at me. “Why did you skip class yesterday?”
I swallow my mouthful of ice cream slowly, taking a moment to consider my answer. “I was injured,’ I reply, taking the half-truth way out of this situation.
Max sits up, his eyes searching my body for a wound. “Where?”
“Is it serious? Does it still hurt? How did you get hurt?”
“I had a run-in with my friend’s dog. It was a little too enthusiastic to greet me.”
“You mean it bit you?”
“Yeah, I had to see the doctor for it. But I’m fine now.”
Anxiousness ebbs out of Max’s shoulders and he sighs in relief. “That’s good to know. But you could’ve told me. I would’ve visited you and brought ice cream.”
“It’s okay. My friend accompanied me all the way and I stayed over at her place so you wouldn’t have been able to visit me at home anyway.”
“Who’s this friend of yours? Anyone I know?”
“I think you’ve met her once or twice.” I stop, remembering the more recent encounter.
“Er, you met her at ArtsUpp. And the party. She’s, er, the one who brought me home.”
“Oh. That woman. Who is she?”
“She’s Tiffany Pink.”
“Tiffany Pink?” Max’s eyes are wide as saucers. “Wait. She’s the Tiffany Pink?”
“Yeah. The Tiffany Pink.”
“You lucky girl. How did you become friends with her?”
I try not to look too amused as I explain how I came to know Ms Pink and he looks thoroughly impressed.
“You’re so lucky.”
“Who’s lucky?” A new voice enters the conversation and I know who it is without having to look.
“Whoever it is, it isn’t me, Yoona.”
Said woman smiles at us and pulls a chair from a nearby table. “Mind if I join you?” she asks as she sits at our table.
“You’ve already joined us,” I point out.
“You’re totally welcome to join us.” Max puts on his best photo-smile and waves like an idiot. “Hi, I’m Max.”
“I’m Yoona,” she replies, her bright smile probably knocking off Max’s socks as she speaks. She would be knocking mine off too, if not for the fact that I know what she’s up to and why she’s hovering around me. I’m suddenly ferociously protective of my blood. My precious blood.
“Taeyeon,” Max is looking at me as though he’s never seen me before, “what is it with you and your new friends, huh? Good ol’ Max goes on an exchange program and you suddenly turn into the most outgoing girl in the world.”
Yoona laughs. “What are you talking about? Taeyeon isn’t outgoing at all.”
Max grins. “I know, right? She’s the homiest person I know.”
“She’s so homey, you can’t even tell her from the cushion on the couch,” Yoona says with a toothy grin.
“You know I’m right in front of you, right?” I say, glaring at the both of them.
Yoona’s open mouth laugh makes me want to stuff something inside it to shut her up. “Well, it’s been nice talking to ya, but Taeyeon here has some place to be.” She taps my shoulder as she rises. “Let’s go.”
“But she’s supposed to be on an ice cream date with me,” Max protests.
“She’s got more important things to do right now, Mr Good-looking.” Yoona hauls me up from my seat, bag and all. “I’ll return her to you some other time.”
I’m promptly tucked into a gleaming white supercar, ice cream in hand and Yoona issues a severe warning about dirtying her car seat before driving off.
“Where are we going?”
Yoona throws me a glance. “How many homes do you have?”
That’s a good question. Why am I thinking of Ms Pink’s castle when the word ‘home’ comes up? “Just one.”
I swallow another spoonful of ice cream before asking, “Why did Ms Pink hire you to protect me?”
“Because I’m the best.”
“Mhm. I have the best vampire-beast apprehension rate out there.”
“Are there many other slayers?”
Yoona shakes her head. “It’s a small circle. There’s only a handful of us. But the treaty reduces the need for us so it’s to be expected.”
“How did you end up becoming a slayer?”
“It’s a family business. My parents were slayers,” says Yoona, sticking her thumb out, “and my grandparents,”—her index finger, then middle finger—“great grandparents . . .”
“So they trained you to follow their path?”
“Well, to be a slayer, you need to have certain physical attributes. I have two sisters but they aren’t slayers because they aren’t suitable for the job.”
“So what are the physical attributes?”
“Tiffany is right. You do ask many questions.”
“It’s good to ask when you don’t know something.”
Yoona tosses her head back and laughs. “I’m surprised Tiffany hasn’t disclaimed you yet.”
The grin on Yoona’s face is a tad obnoxious. “Relax, she won’t.”
“You seem to know her very well. Aren’t you supposed to be enemies?”
“Enemies.” Yoona scoffs. “Enemies are people who have objectives that do not agree with each other. Tiffany and I have common objectives and we seek to achieve them objectively.”
“What are your objectives?”
Yoona shakes her head. “It’s not my prerogative to disclose this.”
“It’s not something bad, is it?”
The look in Yoona’s eyes is queer. As though conflicted, it takes her a moment to answer, “I wouldn’t say it’s either. Nothing is entirely black or white.”
Living with a student journalist must have rubbed off on me because her hesitation gets my ‘spidey’ senses going. And my ‘spidey’ senses are telling me Yoona’s not sure about it. I’m also pretty sure that the Sovereign would not approve of Ms Pink choice of payment for a slayer’s services. So Ms Pink hasn’t been playing by the rules. But why? What’s in it for her? And Yoona?
Strange noises greet us when we open the door to my apartment. Weird, grunting noises. Gasping.
“Summer, oh God.”
Alright. That’s enough. I turn to Yoona. Let’s get out of here. I try to convey through my eyes alone. But she must not have gotten the message because she yells ‘who’s there’ instead. A shriek of surprise followed by a thump on the floor tell the story of what must be Sunny and Summer’s predicament.
“T-Taeyeon!” Sunny is first to stand, clutching the top of her dress as she tries to smile at Yoona and I. “You’re home early,” she pauses as her eyes flick over to Yoona, “and you’ve got a friend with you.”
“Hi, Taeyeon.” Summer draws to her full height towering over Sunny, looking exactly like the situation she’s in, with her shirt buttoned up wrong and a head of tousled hair. “It’s, uh, great to see you again.” She nods at Yoona politely. “Nice to meet you.”
Now this is strange. Why doesn’t Summer know Yoona? Or is she pretending not to because Sunny is here?
Yoona turns to me. “Do you know them?”
“Of course she does.” Sunny giggles. “I’m Sunny. I’m Taeyeon’s housemate and this is Summer, my girlfriend,” she says.
“Girlfriend?” I sputter. “Officially?”
“Mhm.” Sunny nods with sheer happiness shining in her eyes. “We just went official. And we were really happy about it so we, er, celebrated. Then, you came.”
The level of awkward has never been higher. “We’ll leave you to your celebrating then. We’ll be in my room,” I say, grabbing Yoona’s wrist to pull her along.”
Yoona is all twinkly eyes and impish grins. “Congratulations,” she says to them she trails behind me.
I slump onto my bed and lay flat the moment the door is closed. “Oh my God. That was the most awkward moment ever.”
Yoona joins me on my bed and lies beside me. “That was funny.”
“You have a weird sense of humour.”
“If you’ve seen some of the things I’ve seen, your sense of humour is likely to be a little skewed too.”
“You still haven’t told me why you had to drag me back home.”
“Tiffany wants you to stay home.”
I gape at Yoona. “That’s the reason? That’s all?”
“What other reason do you need?”
“Ms Pink isn’t in charge of my life. I don’t need her permission to hang out with friends.”
A knock on the door interrupts our conversation and Sunny’s voice rings out. “I’ll be sleeping over at Summer’s tonight.”
“Alright,” I reply while sitting up. “Have fun.”
Sunny’s giggle seeps through the door. “I will. We will. All night long.”
“That’s oversharing!” I yell.
“Your housemate sounds like fun.”
I slump back onto bed. “She is.”
“Right. I’d love to lie here and chat but I need to get my payment right now.”
The thought of giving Yoona 10 cc of my blood galvanizes me into hopping out of bed and dashing for the door. But Yoona is quick to catch me. She pulls me back and I twist around to escape but I lose my balance and we fall to the floor in a heap.
“What are you doing.”
The stern tone of the voice hits me and I freeze instantly. Ms Pink? How did she get into my room?
Yoona picks herself up from my body and straightens her shirt. “Your lovely claim here is trying to skip on the payment.”
I am hauled up from the floor by familiar hands and held fast.
“Take her blood.”
That gets me kicking. “It’s my blood,” I protest. “I’m not giving it up.”
“Would you rather give her 10 cc of your blood or lose a whole litre of it to a vanguard.”
There’s nothing like having the harsh reality thrust into your face to stop your ineffectual struggles. So like a defeated boxer, I extend my arm and watch impassively as Yoona pulls a little case out of her pocket. She opens it and fixes up the needle and vacuum tube. Swab, needle in, needle out, swab. Quick and easy but that’s another 10 cc of my blood gone.
Yoona grins as she puts the tube and needle away. “Thanks, Taeyeon.”
“I’ll get going now that your princess is here.” Yoona winks at me as she opens the door. “Have fun.”
I turn away from her and pout. Staring at me straight in the face is the open window with curtains flapping in the wind. So that’s how she got in . . .
Ms Pink moves to close the window and draw the curtains. The room falls into semi-darkness with light limited to streaming in through the curtains, and I don’t know how or why I know this, but something’s up with Ms Pink.
Sure enough, she walks up to me and locks her arms around my waist, holding me so close to her that I can smell the musk of her skin. I can hardly breathe; her presence is enveloping me, suffocating me. And I would probably have fainted at the rate my head was growing light but her soft, husky voice spills out words that hit me fast and furious.
“It’s time to take our bond to the next level.”
“The next level? What’s the next level?”
“Oxytocin? Isn’t that a chemical in humans? Does it exist for vampires too?”
“Of course it does. All beings on Earth are subject to the rules of chemistry.
“But why do we need it?”
“Too many questions, stupid human. We need to build up our bond as much as possible, as quickly as possible.”
“But that would mean—”
“We’re going to have sex.” Her arms tighten around my waist. “Now.”
“Wait a minute.” Unsurprisingly, my attempt to get out of her hug fails. “Wait, wait. Let me go for a moment.”
“Don’t be afraid.” Her voice falls another notch, just audible to me. “I’ll make you feel very, very good.”
“But I’ve never done it before and I—”
“Don’t worry. I’ll teach you.”
“That’s not the point.”
Ms Pink nips at the shell of my ear, finishing it off with a lick, and my legs turn into jelly. Oh God. “What’s your point. Tell me now.”
“It’s gonna be my first time and I want it to be special.”
Eyes blazing in a ring of deep crimson pink meet mine. “Is a princess vampire not special enough for you.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Ms Pink glares at me. “Explain.”
“I meant it like, you know, the circumstances. That I’d make love for the first time with the person I love.”
A snort. Ms Pink actually snorts. “Making love is overrated. It’s just like sex but slower.”
I can’t help rolling my eyes. “You’re saying this only because you’ve been around for a very long time.”
“Exactly. I know better.”
“But doing it with someone you love is the best feeling in the world.”
“Have you tried it yet?”
“No, I told you I’ve never done it before.”
“So how would you know.”
“I may not know, but I believe it to be true.”
Ms Pink shakes her head and sighs. “Stupid human, your inexperience is annoying me. We’ll simplify things. Are you attracted to me?”
Woah, what kind of question is that? This isn’t the kind of question a person can answer easily at a moment’s notice.
“You’re taking too long to answer.” Hands glide down the length of my arm—leaving a trail of goose pimples in their wake—to my hands and fingers slip between mine. “Yes or no.”
The things she’s doing to me sends my brain into sensation overload and I can barely think, let alone answer. Holding my hands firmly in hers, she brings my arms around her waist, crushing my chest against hers. Oh my God. “Yes or no.”
My mind is still trying to collect its wits when her nose digs into the crook of my neck and the touch of her lips that follows sends my pulse reeling into utter chaos. ”Yes or no.”
Her breathy voice is more than I can handle. “Yes, okay, yes.”
Ms Pink pulls back and looks at me, her expression curious. “Do you want to have sex with me?”
The word ‘no’ teeters on the tip of my tongue but really, who am I kidding? Deep down inside, where nothing but the raw truth exists, I know what I want. And she will know if I lie anyway, so I might as well come out and say it.
“Yes, I want to have sex with you.”