“Daddy, this new bodyguard has no idea what she’s doing.”
“What’s the problem, my dear?”
“Ms. Kim took my passport from the safe and she refuses to return it to me.”
Mr. Hwang turned to Taeyeon and asked, “Would you care to explain?”
Without the slightest hesitation, Taeyeon replied, “If you trust me in my professional capacity as your daughter’s bodyguard, there will be no explanation required on my part. Everything I do, whether your daughter is happy about it or not, is for her safety. However, to make things easier on the first day of our contract, I will explain. The issue lies in Tiffany refusing to call me by my name. I have explained that using our names instead of the formal address will make it less obvious that I am her bodyguard. However, Tiffany is unwilling to cooperate and since this compromises her safety, I cannot allow her to go to Singapore, where the risks are higher in a foreign country.”
“I see.” Mr. Hwang looked from one woman to the other, his brows furrowed in thought.
But Tiffany was having none of this. “Daddy, there’s nothing else to say. This bodyguard is employed by you but here she is, telling us what to do.”
“But she makes a valid point.”
Tiffany’s jaw dropped. “What?”
“My dear girl, I instructed Ms. Kim to protect you. She’s only doing her job. If you don’t cooperate with her, it is your own safety you are putting at risk.”
“Daddy, I don’t need a high school girl following me around to protect me. She looks so weak and pale and—”
“Don’t judge people simply by their appearances, my dear. Appearances may tell you some things about a person, but Ms. Kim is like an iceberg. What you see of her now is only the tip. Get to know her better and you will find that you can trust her to keep you safe.”
“I can’t believe this, Daddy. You’re siding with her instead of me?”
“I am not siding with Ms. Kim. As your father, I have no reason to side with someone that is making my daughter unhappy.” With a heavy sigh, Mr. Hwang rose from his chair and walked around his work desk to Tiffany. “My dear girl,” he said, putting his hand on her head, “I have always doted on you. I have always given you what you ask for because I love you. But just for this once, I ask you, as your father, to trust me and the bodyguard I trust.”
“Daddy . . .” Tiffany looked as though she has seen a ghost. Or a fairy from a fairy tale. “I . . .”
“I know you’re a good girl. You’ll listen to me this once, won’t you?”
“But the bodyguard is—”
“She’s here to keep you safe. She’s not here to antagonise you on purpose. Please understand that.”
Tiffany bit her lip, an act that Taeyeon noticed. From her point of view, it was obvious that the spoilt princess was struggling with herself about this. So although it did not please her to apologise, she stepped forward, looked Tiffany in the eye and said, “Perhaps I had come on too strong at the beginning. As Mr. Hwang said, I am only here to make sure nothing harmful happens to you. I apologise if I was too forceful in getting the message across. But please understand that I cannot, and will not, compromise when it comes to your safety. If I do, I will not be doing my job well.”
Tiffany’s hard gaze had begun to soften when she apologised but hardened again when she added the last bit. This spoilt princess was certainly going to be difficult. But it was nothing she couldn’t handle.
“Fine. I’ll call you Taeyeon if it’s absolutely necessary. Now, give me my passport,” Tiffany demanded as she stuck her palm out.
“Thank you for your cooperation, Tiffany.” Taeyeon took the woman’s passport from her back pocket and placed it on the outstretched hand.
Tiffany’s fingers closed over the passport and she held it to her chest as though it was her most prized possession. “I’m going back to my room. Don’t follow me.”
Taeyeon stood still as the spoilt princess swept past her and left the study room. Then, she turned to Mr. Hwang and smiled. “I will need the card by Friday, Mr. Hwang,” she said.
He nodded, suddenly looking ten years older. “Thank you, Ms. Kim.”
She nodded in return. “I’ll take my leave now, Mr. Hwang.” She walked to the door and was about to close it when she paused and turned around. “The room you prepared for me,” she said, “it is very nice.”
“I’m glad you like it.”
With another nod, Taeyeon closed the door behind her and looked down the corridor. Tiffany would have marched up the stairs to her room by now and she was probably hiding her passport in another place. Taeyeon smiled to herself. She had gotten through the introductions and made her stand clear. As expected, there was no difficult client she couldn’t handle. This rich girl would be no exception.
Tiffany placed her precious passport in her safe and was about to close it when her hand froze in mid-air. No, putting it back in the safe would only mean the stupid bodyguard could steal it when she wasn’t looking. Fuck. The bodyguard could even take it right before her very eyes. The smart thing to do would be to hide it somewhere else. That way, the bodyguard wouldn’t be able to find it. But where could she hide it?
Some twenty minutes later, Tiffany finally found the perfect hiding place. As the saying goes, the most dangerous or obvious place is the best place, so she put it on her dressing table, stuffed between wads of cotton pads. The bodyguard would never think of looking for it there. Feeling satisfied with herself, she walked to the window and opened it to enjoy the cooling breeze of the night.
Just thinking about the trip to Singapore made her heart happy. It was going to be so much fun, shopping and feasting with Yuri, Yoona and Seohyun. They had already booked themselves two luxurious suites and she was looking forward to enjoying the night view of the city skyline from her room. They could drink and play games as they wished and enjoy the infinity pool at the top and—her happy thoughts vaporised at appearance of the new bodyguard on the grounds below. The irritating bodyguard was walking about the garden, looking into bushes and snooping around. Damn it. Did it mean the bodyguard would follow her to Singapore too? How was she supposed to enjoy herself with a stubborn bodyguard breathing down her neck?
Fuck that. She was not going to allow a stupid bodyguard to ruin her trip. The words that her father used to say to her ran through her mind, ‘If there’s a will, there’ll be a way’. Yes, her father was right. She would find a way.
The next morning, Tiffany walked out to her car after breakfast with a smile on her face. The bodyguard had not appeared all morning so she was in a good mood. However, much to her annoyance, she found the bodyguard standing by her car instead of her usual chauffeur.
“What are you doing here? Where’s Uncle Parker?”
“I will drive you to your destinations from now on.”
“What about Uncle Parker?”
“Mr. Hwang has arranged for him to be his chauffeur.”
“Why was I not consulted on this? Uncle Parker is my chauffeur. I should have been informed.”
“You would have been informed if not for the disagreement last night. I was considering going to your room to inform you of the changes but seeing how upset you were, I decided to give you a breather.”
Displeasure rises in Tiffany’s blood. “Oh, so you’re blaming me for your mistake?”
The bodyguard’s eyes held her glare, calm, cool and collected. “There is no blame. Neither is there a mistake. There was a cause and this is the effect.” She opened the door for Tiffany. “I will drive you to work today. Safely.”
The desire to refuse and call a cab was strong but the knowledge that she had limited time to get to the studio burned stronger. The bodyguard was not worth being late for. So into the car she got.
Getting into the car didn’t mean she had to talk or look at the bodyguard so Tiffany didn’t bother to make small talk like she usually did with Uncle Parker. Instead, she read and replied her e-mails as the car cruised through the traffic. If there were to be one consolation, it would be the smoothness of the drive itself. The bodyguard drove well, no doubt.
Upon reaching her destination, Tiffany put on her sunglasses and stepped out of the car. She did not thank the bodyguard for opening the door for her. Instead, she walked straight to her assistant who was waiting for her at the foyer and entered the building without saying goodbye.
The bodyguard was waiting at the same place where Uncle Parker would pick her up from. Not the sight Tiffany was looking forward to see after long hours at the studio. And she was considering calling a cab when an idea popped into her head. The thought of it made her laugh to herself. Sure, if the bodyguard wanted to protect her, she would make full use of her. Full. Use.
Getting into the car without any fuss, Tiffany sat back and didn’t say a word as Taeyeon drove her home. She could see Tiffany in the rear view mirror but each time she looked, the woman was either staring out the window or looking at her phone. But when they were halfway through the journey home, she told Taeyeon to drive her to the nearest convenience store so Taeyeon made a detour and stopped outside one.
“I’m feeling very tired. Would you please help me to get something from the store?” Tiffany asked in a sweet voice.
Taeyeon knew that Tiffany was up to something but she smiled politely all the same. “I can help you to get it but I’m locking the car so nobody can get in. That also means you won’t be able to get out or drive off.”
Those twinkling eyes transformed into murderous ones for a second before Tiffany smiled again. “Okay, I need two packets of Kotex panty liners. Regular and scented. I want the ones with green tea scent. Two packets of Barely There for thongs. Two packets of Kotex Luxe. Ultra-thin with wings. 24cm. Another two packets of the same type that are 28cm. And two more packets of the 32cm. Also the Kotex Overnight. Two packets of the 35cm and two packets of the 41cm. And two packets of the Kotex tampons. Super compact. I want the ones I specified and no others. Come back and report it to me if the store doesn’t have what I want.”
Taeyeon could see the challenge in Tiffany’s eyes. This was an immature attempt to provoke her and stood no chance of succeeding. Clearly, Tiffany did not understand her work ethics. This was a job. And if she had to buy panty liners, sanitary pads and tampons, she would buy panty liners, sanitary pads and tampons.
“Please wait here, Tiffany. I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she replied pleasantly and got out of the car, leaving in it a spoilt princess with a nonplussed look in her eyes.