The sun’s rays were kept out by the thick curtains in the room so it was still dark when Tiffany woke up. She sat up, rubbing her eyes and looked at the petite figure sprawled on the bed beside her. If she hadn’t seen Taeyeon in action with her very own eyes last night, the sight before her right now would make it impossible to convince her that the sleeping girl was a capable bodyguard. Lying prone on the bed. Messy hair falling over her face. One leg pulled up with her bottom jutting up. Arms curled up around her head. Taeyeon could totally qualify as the poster child for awkward but strangely adorable sleeping positions.
Hugging her knees to her chest, Tiffany contemplated the bodyguard. There was nothing left to accuse the bodyguard of doing wrong. She could hardly continue to throw her fits at the bodyguard after last night. Remembering the sheer hopelessness had swamped her mind, she had to admit that she had been very close to dying and the bodyguard had indeed risked her own life to save hers. Just as promised.
Tiffany shifted to get a better look at the gauze. It was wrapped around the forearm, just below the wrist. She stared at the evidence that someone had actually gotten injured to save her and tried to wrap her mind around the concept of endangering oneself for the sake of another. But it’s her job, she reminded herself. But if it were me, I would probably have run away and quit. Heck, I won’t even be a bodyguard in the first place. Taeyeon’s firefighter analogy came to mind. Dying for a noble cause. Was dying for her a noble cause?
As she continued to stare at the sleeping bodyguard, Tiffany became aware of a mark on Taeyeon’s arm, just above her elbow. Taking a closer look, Tiffany realised it was a tattoo, a curious symbol design of three curls spawning from a common point. Had it always been there? She had not noticed it before. And what did it signify? Did it have something to do with her street gang days? Or was it something she got after she graduated from juvenile training school?
Made me her girlfriend.
Taeyeon’s words flashed in her mind suddenly, interrupting all other thoughts. She had clarified and Taeyeon had confirmed. But did it mean the bodyguard still swung that way or had the bodyguard changed after graduating? After all, she might have been under the influence of the street gang leader at that time. But Taeyeon did not indicate it was a thing of the past either . . .
Tiffany shivered a little as she looked around the dim room. Having the bodyguard beside her helped, but she couldn’t help but feel a little terror inside. The feeling of the man’s hand on her neck still lingered and the corners of her lips still hurt from the gag that was stuffed in her mouth. And the image of the man standing outside when she opened the door still hovered in her mind. How long would these feelings and images haunt her for? When would she be able to step into a hotel room without being stabbed by fear?
“Are you feeling better?”
Tiffany was startled by the gruff voice. “What happened to your voice?” she asked the bodyguard who was staring at her with sleepy eyes.
“It’s my morning voice. Very sexy,” replied the bodyguard dryly.
The dry humour got to Tiffany and triggered a laugh. “Yes, very sexy,” she joked.
“Thanks for the compliment,” said the bodyguard as she sat up, “but you haven’t answered my first question. Are you feeling better?”
“Do you still feel afraid?”
“Yes,” Tiffany admitted, “it’s still on my mind.”
The bodyguard got off the bed and drew the curtains, allowing the late morning’s sunlight to brighten the room. “Give yourself some time to recover. It’s natural to feel afraid for some time after the incident.”
“I don’t like the feeling.”
“It helps if you get your mind off it for a while. Do something else.”
“Your father wants you to go back home as soon as possible,” said the bodyguard as she filled the kettle up with water. “But we have to go back to the police station today. You can go shopping after that.”
“Do we have to?”
“The police need our help. Don’t you want those men to be sent to jail?”
“Yes, I want them to be locked in jail for a very long time.”
The bodyguard nodded. “Then you have to go. I’ll go with you.”
Tiffany wished she could just fly straight home and be safe again but she knew that the bodyguard was right. The police needed their help.
Tiffany’s friends were anxious to know if she was alright and crowded around Tiffany when they appeared after having lunch. They wanted to go to the police station with them but Taeyeon had to stop them from going. In the end, it was just the two of them, Tiffany and the bodyguard.
At the police station, Taeyeon stayed with Tiffany as they did the necessary evils, verifying their statements, filling in details and finally, signing off on them. Taeyeon did some investigating on her part and found out that the men had admitted to breaking in to rob Tiffany. Taeyeon didn’t think the men had told the truth but kept her thoughts to herself. She didn’t exactly have any proof and neither did she want Tiffany to be alarmed.
Once they were done with all required procedures, Taeyeon and Tiffany stepped out into the open and heaved a sigh of relief.
“Where do you want to go now?”
Taeyeon nodded. “Let’s go.”
A few minutes later, Taeyeon pulled into the parking lot of the shopping mall and followed Tiffany to the shops. As expected, the rich girl went straight to Prada and bought a purse off the shelf within a few minutes. The next stop was Burberry where she bought a coat after trying on a few. Once Tiffany paid for it, Taeyeon started walking out of the store but was called back.
Taeyeon looked at the shopping bag and raised her eyebrows. “What about the coat?”
“Aren’t you gonna carry it?”
Taeyeon stared. “No.”
“Then who’s gonna carry it?”
“Why can’t you carry it?”
“It’s big and heavy.”
“Tiffany, I’m a bodyguard, not a maid.”
“But you’re supposed to help me.”
“I’m supppsed to protect you. The coat is not a threat to you.”
Tiffany frowned. “So you’ll risk your life to save mine but you won’t lift a finger to carry a bag for me.”
“Correct.” Taeyeon stood still, watching as Tiffany glared at her. She made no move to take the bag, simply waiting for Tiffany to pick it up. For a whole minute, neither of them moved. Then, at last, Tiffany picked it up walked out of the store in a huff. Taeyeon followed, her expression stoic. And after that, things got a little frosty.
As they went on, Tiffany bought a pair of Ferragamo shoes and added a Dolce & Gabbana blouse to her wardrobe. By then, she was carrying four shopping bags and visibly annoyed.
“Stupid bags,” the rich girl uttered out loud.
Walking right behind was Taeyeon, but she gave no indication that she had heard Tiffany’s complaint. No distractions. It was her job to check their surroundings and watch out for signs of imminent danger. And that was all she was going do.
“I want to go back now,” Tiffany said to her after walking out of Gucci.
As frosty as Tiffany’s tone was, Taeyeon kept her cool and guided her back to the car without a word. She helped Tiffany to put the shopping bags into the boot and the rich girl got into the car without a word of thanks. With an silent sigh, Taeyeon got into the driver’s seat. Looks like things were back to square one again.
Back at the hotel, Tiffany changed. While her silence earlier was a kind of passive-aggressive retaliation of Taeyeon’s refusal to carry the bags for her, her silence now came from a different source. Taeyeon sensed it but handed the bags to her nonetheless. She accepted the bags with an unhappy expression which Taeyeon ignored. The priority was to send Tiffany back to her room safely. Everything else was secondary. When they got to the lobby, Tiffany approached a bellboy and told him to send her bags to Taeyeon’s room. Upon mentioning the room number, the bellboy’s eyes widened and he told them to follow him. Taeyeon stepped closer to Tiffany as they walked after him to the reception and stood next to Tiffany as he talked to one of the service staff there.
A short moment later, a lady who introduced herself as the hotel’s manager came out to see them. As it turned out, the hotel was concerned that Tiffany had not occupied the new room they had given her and wanted to know if there was anything they could rectify. After Taeyeon explained Tiffany’s situation, the woman appeared to be relieved and gave them a huge smile. She offered to move the rest of Tiffany’s belongings to Taeyeon’s room and added a complimentary spa too. Taeyeon looked to Tiffany for her decision and Tiffany accepted the offer with a smile.
With her bags offloaded and a complimentary spa in the works, Taeyeon noticed how Tiffany smiled all the way back to her room. But once they entered her room, the nervous fidgeting made a comeback. Taeyeon stood back as Tiffany gave the bellboy a tip and followed him to the door, latching it once it was closed. Then, she turned back and observed as Tiffany sat on the couch and stared at the shopping bags on the table.
“Would you like to take a shower first?” Taeyeon asked at last.
Tiffany looked up at her and stared for a while. “Why are you nice to me again?”
Taeyeon shook her head. “I’m not being nice. I’m doing my job.”
“So you’re saying everything you did last night,” Tiffany paused, “all that was just you doing your job?”
“It is my job to keep you safe. Both physically and mentally.”
“Mentally? What do you mean mentally? Are you saying I’m going crazy?”
“No, I’m saying you were traumatised by the incident and it is my responsibility to assure you and make you feel safe.”
“So all the concern, the hugs, holding my hand all night,” Tiffany seemed to have trouble saying the last part, “all that was part of your job.”
“And that’s why you would die saving me but won’t even help me to carry a single shopping bag?”
“I think you’re finally understanding the reason why your father hired me, Tiffany.”
“Yes, I get it now. I totally, completely, get it, one hundred fucking percent,” said Tiffany, with eyes blazing with some kind of lethal anger now. “So I’m gonna take a nice long bath right now and you’re gonna stand outside the door to protect me the entire time.”
“Stand outside the door? The bathroom door?”
Tiffany rummaged through the bag Taeyeon had brought over for her and pulled out a black satin nightgown. Then, she marched to the bathroom door and pointed at a spot on the floor just beside the door. “I need to keep the door open because I’m still scare and you’re gonna protect me so you’ll stand right here until I’m done. Got it?”
Taeyeon knew on some level that what Tiffany was saying was true, so despite the condescending tone the instruction had been delivered in, she nodded moved to the spot Tiffany pointed at. “I’ll be here. Don’t worry.”
“I won’t worry. I’ll enjoy my long bath, all thanks to you, my wonderful bodyguard,” said Tiffany, lacing each word with biting sarcasm.
Taeyeon stood by the bathroom door as Tiffany went in and made sure the door was left open a little. The door creaked open a little more after a while so Taeyeon moved to re-position it and got an eyeful of Tiffany’s naked back in the mirror. Thanking the heavens for her training in stifling her reaction to shocking things, Taeyeon returned to her position swiftly and stood guard over the bathroom. However, what she couldn’t stifle for the entire time after that, was the mental image of Tiffany’s fair, smooth and tremendously alluring naked back.