It’s not that he doesn’t follow her instructions. He arranges her meetings accordingly. He books her air tickets correctly. He even makes pretty darn decent coffee. But he just—won’t—talk. And his stare is unnerving.
Not wishing to give up on him yet, Taeyeon decides to try again. So here he stands, in front of her desk, staring. Talk about a man of few words. This one pretty much takes the cake.
“Will you please tell me your name?”
“Why won’t you tell me your name?”
Slightly frowning stare.
“Are you . . . mute?”
His head tilts. Stare.
“Come on. Give me something here. Anything. Give me a word. Any word.”
An eyebrow lifts.
“Yes. I mean it. Anything.”
He lifts an arm. She doesn’t want to admit it but he’s got some kind of swag. “A story I’ve heard often somewhere ugly duckling and swan, a butterfly before it flies people don’t know, they don’t see your wings a new world you’ve met could be cruel but strong girl, you know you were born to fly tears you’ve cried, all of the pain you’ve felt it’s to prepare you for the day you’ll fly even higher butterfly, everybody’s gonna see it soon.”
Taeyeon is stunned. Downright stunned. She sits there gaping like a goldfish, not knowing what to make of this weird outburst. And what did he mean by all that? Was that . . . a rap? Was he rapping? There certainly was a kind of groove to the way he said all that. This is too much. This is too weird.
“Okay, so you’re not mute. Now that you’ve said so much, will you please tell me your name?”
“VJ, banchan sareo ganeun gire uyeonhi geseumcheurehan nunbicheuro machi baegsucheoreom ganeun geo bwatdaneun moggyeogdam big fan irago malhago jeonhwagi casee ssain badgo sipeotjiman neomu chochwehan moseube geureon maeumi ssag da sarajyeotdan ha! yeah, that’s me nugunganeun ihaega an doegetji bie beombeogi dwae, animyeon johaboyeo ttoneun chungbunhi yeppeo noraesmal sogui namjawaneun jeoldae maeching doeji anhneun moseub na jasindo injeonghae, geugeon iljongui baesin mianhajiman naega naon bangsongdo sigani akkawoseo bonbangsasu an haneunde oemo singyeong sseugo isseul sigan eobseo geu sigane surina deo peomasigeona eodi cheobaghyeoseo jageob deo haneun ge deo nasdago bonikkan yeoja jageobinji eumag jageobinjineun moreujiman—”
“STOP! STOP IT! I JUST WANT TO KNOW YOUR NAME!”
“I cannot with this. I’m leaving.” Taeyeon grabs her jacket and almost runs out of her office. She speed walks down the corridor to the elevator, desperate to get away from the secretary who is driving her insane. Flipping her pocket open, she pulls out her phone and presses a button.
“Kim Kibum at your service.”
“The new secretary is unsatisfactory.”
“I am sorry, CEO Kim. May I know what went wrong with him?”
“He won’t tell me his name.”
“He’s just shy.”
“I want a new secretary.”
“Would it help if I told you his name?”
“Kim Jin-tae. He’s a good secretary.”
“I want a new secretary.”
A sigh can be heard at the other end. “We are running out of Kims at this rate.”
Kim? Taeyeon runs through the list of secretaries she’s had so far: Kim Heechul, Kim Jonghyun and now Kim Jin-tae. Holy shit. Kim, Kim and Kim. Meanwhile, she’s talking to a Kim and she’s a Kim too. She was going to have kimchi for dinner but not anymore. No kimchi. No kim. Period.
“I want a new secretary and it better not be another Kim.”
“Good. I wanna—ommph!” Taeyeon bumps into someone as she rounds the corner and drops her phone. “My phone!”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorr—y . . .”
Taeyeon finds her heart thumping hard as soon as she recognises the face. Wide-eyed and beautiful. Stephanie. Stephanie-Tiffany Hwang. The girl of my dreams . . .
“What did you say?” Stephanie is staring at her.
“Nothing really.” Taeyeon draws to her full height so that she only has to tilt her head just a little . . . “It’s good to see you, Stephanie.”
“Is your phone alright?”
“It’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure? You should check it.”
I’d rather check you out. “Yes, it’s fine.” Taeyeon flips her phone around and presses the home button, grinning when the screen comes back on. “See?”
“That’s good. I’m glad. Well, it was nice bumping into you but I have to go now.”
Taeyeon steps sideways into Stephanie’s path. “Where are you going?”
“The recording studio.”
“What are you recording?”
“A song for a CF.”
“Good, good, good . . . yeah . . .”
“Well, I’ll get going.”
“Sure. Run along.” Taeyeon turns and follows Stephanie.
After a few steps, Stephanie stops and turns. “Why are you following me?”
“I’m not following you.”
“You are. You were going the other way before.”
“Ah, you see, I left something behind so I need to get it.”
“What did you leave behind?”
Stephanie blinks. Blinking is better than staring. Taeyeon beams. “Are you for real?” the singer asks.
Taeyeon nods. “I’m very real. If you don’t believe, you’re welcome to touch me and see for yourself.”
“Good try, but that’s not going to work on me.”
“Well, my mom taught me not to give up on my dreams too easily so I’m gonna keep working on you.”
“Oh my God.”
“You have to admire my perseverance.”
“I’m stunned by your delusion.”
“I’m not delusional. I’m a dreamer. I dream big. Then I make it happen.”
“Nothing is going to happen here.”
“I’m visiting the recording studio to get to know one of my artistes better. That’s what’s gonna happen.”
“You’re like a bug that won’t go away.”
“I’m a ladybug,” Taeyeon quips and grins when Stephanie groans.
“Please, spare me.”
Taeyeon straightens her jacket and puts on her serious face. “In my capacity as the CEO of SM, I am officially paying a visit to the recording studio to see how things are going. And if you aren’t going to get going, you’re going to be late and I will have to reprimand you for that.”
Stephanie stares at her for a moment. Then, in a moment of blazing glory, the singer nods and continues walking down the corridor towards the recording studio.
Taeyeon smiles to herself. As it turns out, the upfront approach is much better.