Tiffany didn’t quite believe the bodyguard. Dying for someone was beyond her imagination. Why would anyone give up their life for another? It might make more sense if they were family, like sisters, but she was just a client to the bodyguard. Would Taeyeon really die to save her? Then again, it was easy for the bodyguard to make a promise like that when there was no danger in sight. She couldn’t test it anyway.
“It’s alright if you don’t believe me,” said the bodyguard, smiling as though she could read Tiffany’s thoughts. “You don’t have to. But if there’s danger, trust that I will be on your side.”
“Why would you give up your life for mine?”
“It’s my job to protect you.”
“Don’t you cherish your life?”
“Do firefighters and soldiers cherish their lives?”
Tiffany stared. “Well, yes, of course they do.”
“Well, that doesn’t stop them from dying for a cause. Firefighters die while saving people from fires and disasters. Soldiers die fighting for their country.”
“And you would die to save my life.”
The bodyguard nodded. “It’s my responsibility.”
“Just because my father paid you money.”
The bodyguard’s eyes grew dark and her lips thinned. “You’re very good at insulting people, intentionally or not. I am going to leave, because I might end up punching some sense into you if I don’t. Goodnight, Miss Hwang.”
An inexplicable sense of shame clouded Tiffany’s heart as the door clicked shut. It seemed she had gone too far in cheapening the bodyguard’s honourable dedication to her job. She wanted to apologise but the bodyguard had left the room so quickly that she didn’t even have time to react. Damn the bodyguard and her swiftness. Where did she learn to move like that?
There was nothing she could do now. It was late and Seohyun might come back anytime and the bodyguard might end up punching her if she showed her face again. All the more reason to finish up her supper and get ready for bed. Her apology could wait. The bodyguard would still be here tomorrow. Or would she have quit? No. She wouldn’t be irresponsible like that.
Tiffany picked up another piece of beef with her fork but her appetite had left her just like the bodyguard and the food didn’t look appetising anymore. With a sigh, she put her fork down. Forget it. Just go to sleep. Setting the food tray aside, Tiffany went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. She had just changed into her silk slip when the doorbell rang. It must be Seohyun. Didn’t she have a room access card of her own? She must have lost it. Or maybe she was too drunk to find it.
Chuckling to herself, Tiffany walked across the living room to the door and opened it. “Seoh—” Her eyes widened in shock when she realised it wasn’t Seohyun. The stranger pressed a gag over her mouth as she opened it to scream and another stranger appeared from behind, deftly twisting her arms behind her. In the span of two seconds or so, Tiffany found herself trapped against the wall, gagged and wrists bound by some kind of cuffs. She heard the click of the door closing and panicked, fearing for her life.
That fear swelled in urgency when she was thrown over the edge of the bed and pressed into the soft mattress. She struggled, kicking out her legs and paid for it with searing pain all over her scalp as one of the men pulled her head up by a fistful of hair.
The whispered words of the man only terrified her even more and Tiffany’s eyes refused to open. She screamed, but her cry for help was muted by the gag.
“If you don’t stop screaming,” the gravelly voice growled, “I’m gonna inject you with something you won’t like.”
Tiffany stopped screaming immediately.
“She’s pretty,” said another voice, deeper than the first.
Tiffany flinched as a big hand groped her thigh, panic rising anew.
“No time. Hold her still.”
A whimper escaped as a hand closed over the back of her neck. This was it. No one was here to save her. She was going to die.
Infuriating, annoying, shallow spoilt brat of a rich man’s daughter. Numerous colourful curses came to mind and Taeyeon vented her frustration, muttering them under her breath as she stormed down the corridor. She got back to her room and threw herself onto the bed in a huff. How was it possible for someone like Tiffany to exist? Someone so rude and full of herself. Then she reminded herself that Tiffany was far from the worst there was and she ended up laughing to herself in bitterness.
But as soon as she was done laughing, she knew she had done something wrong. She should not have left Tiffany alone in her room, unguarded. A client was a client. And Tiffany, as arrogant as she was, was only being who she was. Fuck. She should never have left the corridor. Especially after spotting the car following them. Someone was watching them. Someone was waiting. And she might have given them the window of opportunity.
A sudden burst of adrenaline hit her in the guts and she sprang to her feet. For some reason unknown, she grabbed the butter knife and slid it into her pocket through her belt as she dashed out of her room. Damn it. She was twenty floors lower and the elevators were taking forever to arrive. The ride up felt like another ten years and she was on her toes, jogging on the spot as the elevator reached Tiffany’s floor.
Like an arrow shot from a bow, Taeyeon sped from the elevator towards the corridor. Out of habit, she peeked around the corner and her heart thumped when she saw a man pacing the corridor. Shit. Shit. Shit! She flattened herself against the wall and took a silent deep breath. The soft swish of shoes on carpet were approaching. She would have to take him out first.
Hoping fervently that she had mistaken the man for a villain, she put a foot out just as he went by and tripped him. The man stumbled, surprised, and that was all the time she needed to go for the point on his neck that would render him unconscious. The man slumped onto the ground like a sack of potatoes and she did a quick search, finding nothing. No wallet, no ID, no room access card. Nothing. This was bad news.
There was probably no time to lose. Taeyeon sprinted as though a train was about to run her over and whipped out the room access card. She knew it would alert the people inside the room but that just meant she had to act fast enough. Swiping the card was like tapping ‘GO’ in a game with a short time limit. She squeezed past the door, danced along the wall and rolled into the living room.
By some miracle, the two men had not heard the door opening and their backs were to Taeyeon when she entered the bedroom. Two. She had to make a quick decision. Go for the source of imminent danger. Man on the right. Assailant was leaning over Tiffany. Weapon? The glint of a syringe’s needle flashed like a lighthouse’s beam of light on her radar. Disarm. Disable.
Taeyeon delivered a swift kick to the man’s leg right behind his knees and grabbed the wrist of the hand holding the syringe. A ruthless twist denied the hand its control and the syringe fell to the ground as the man cried out in pain. Another blow to his neck knocked him out but the second guy gave her a punch, sending her stumbling onto the bed. She rolled onto her back quickly, reached for the butter knife and stabbed his hand when it came down again. The man howled but managed to wrench the knife from her.
Fuck. That was a mistake.
The man slashed at her but she managed to dodge, catching just a skin-deep cut from the blunt but jagged blade. The pain didn’t even register as she pushed up from the bed to lure the man away from Tiffany who was struggling and making all sorts of muffled noises. She ran into the living room with the man following and hopped over the couch. He did the same, with a little less grace, the tip of his knee catching the top of the couch just a little. It affected his balance and Taeyeon knew she had one chance. The menu on the table between them. She drove the corner of the hard cover straight at the man’s wrist, knocking the knife out from his hand and swung the spine of the menu towards his neck. He flipped over with a strangled choke and fell unconscious.
Taeyeon stopped to check that both men were well and truly out before jogging to Tiffany who was now on her knees, trying to get up on her feet. Releasing the gag unleashed a torrent of unintelligible sobs and words jumbled up like a tangled wad of yarn.
“You’re safe now, Tiffany. You’re safe.”
“My hands. My hands.”
Taeyeon understood that much through Tiffany’s sobs and nodded. She took a look at the cuffs. It required a key. That meant searching the men’s pockets for it but Tiffany needed to be calmed first. She helped Tiffany up and sat her on the bed, brushing her hair back from her face to wipe the tears that were wetting her cheeks.
“You’re safe. I’m here now. Those men can’t hurt you.”
Tiffany nodded but her sobs did not subside. She was probably going to take a while to calm down.
“I’m going to search the men for the key to unlock the cuffs, okay?” said Taeyeon, as she got up.
“No, don’t leave me.”
“I’m not leaving you. I’m just going to get the key to free your arms.”
“Can you give me a hug first?”
Taeyeon smiled. “Of course I can.” She put her arm around the sniffling girl and held her close. This was a problem, though. The men would not stay unconscious for long and she had to report the incident to Tiffany’s father. Fortunately, Tiffany’s phone was on the bed, lying near the pillows. “Tiffany, I need to use your phone, would you unlock it for me?”
Tiffany unlocked it as requested and handed it to Taeyeon. “Are you going to call the police?”
“Yes. And your father.”
“Daddy.” Tiffany’s eyes welled with tears again.
“Yes, your daddy.” She smiled and rubbed Tiffany’s back. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of everything.”