Tiffany emerged from the bathroom thirty minutes later. Wrapped in the fluffy bathrobe and hair still damp, the rich girl walked right by Taeyeon to the couch without casting even a glance at her. Taeyeon made no comment. It wasn’t any of her business if Tiffany was acting like a petty, spoilt brat. As her bodyguard, what Taeyeon was responsible for was her safety and only her safety.
“If you’re done, I’ll take a quick shower,” said Taeyeon. Tiffany didn’t reply, so she went ahead. It was a quick shower, barely five minutes long, and Taeyeon was back in the room, drying her hair. The rich girl in question was on the phone and shortly after she put it down, changed into a black and white outfit for the night. She curtly informed Taeyeon about her plans for supper with her friends when Taeyeon asked. And that was all the words they exchanged until they left the room to meet Tiffany’s friends.
Down at the lobby were Yuri, Yoona and Seohyun and they fussed over Tiffany a little, which made her considerably more cheerful than before. Taeyeon trailed behind them, keeping a respectable distance as they headed out to the supper place and did not join them at their table even though Seohyun had invited her. One look at Tiffany’s eyes was enough for Taeyeon to know that she was not welcome and she had no wish to incur the unnecessary tantrum of a Miss Tiffany Hwang.
Taeyeon intended to maintain the status quo for the rest of the night out, staying apart from them, yet close enough to run interference should anything happen. It didn’t bother her even though Tiffany’s friends seemed uncomfortable with it. This was her job. This was what she was paid to do. However, it appeared that Tiffany’s friends were insistent on bringing Taeyeon in, based on the frequency of their eyes on her and true enough, Seohyun came over to drag Taeyeon to their table when they got to a new place.
“Come, sit,” said Seohyun, not letting go of Taeyeon’s arm until she was seated at the table with them. “We want you to join us.”
“I’m supposed to be guarding Tiffany.”
“You can guard her better now that you’re closer, right?” Seohyun countered.
Taeyeon smiled. “I actually prefer to keep a small distance and watch the surroundings.”
“But we want to hear about your heroic rescue,” Yuri added.
“We have to be sensitive,” said Taeyeon, glancing at Tiffany. “She might not want to hear about the incident right now.”
“Oh, that’s true.” Yuri looked at Tiffany apologetically as Yoona smacked her arm in mild rebuke. “I’m sorry.”
“Nah, I’m totally fine now.” Tiffany’s eyes met Taeyeon’s. “Tell them. They wanna know.”
With a shrug, Taeyeon looked around at the eager eyes of Tiffany’s friends. “Alright, since you said so.”
Soon, the girls were tipsy and merry, including Tiffany. But Taeyeon remained sober, all the more alert and on the lookout. Unlike the clueless girls who believed that the men were simply robbers who were looking for cash and valuables to steal, Taeyeon thought otherwise and although she didn’t think they would make another attempt in Singapore, the last thing she wanted to do was let her guard down and allow something to happen.
It was about a quarter to midnight when Seohyun raised her arm and asked that they return to their hotel. It was time to rest, she told them and insisted on ending the night out there and then. Taeyeon supported the notion too and between the two of them, they managed to get the girls to go back. After all, they had a flight to catch the next day.
After sending Tiffany’s friends back to their room, Taeyeon found herself left alone to bring a tipsy Tiffany back to her room. Tipsy Tiffany had forgotten to be mean to her and was clinging to her arm like they were best friends. She was also giggling at random things like the elevator button that lit up when she pressed it and their reflection in the gold-plated doors of the elevator.
“You’re totally shorter than me,” said Tiffany, wearing a silly grin on her face. “You’re not really that good at fighting, right? It’s not fair. Why are you pretty and good at fighting? It’s. Not. Fair.”
“You’re right. I’m not that good at fighting,” said Taeyeon, desperately hoping the rich girl would shut up. But unfortunately, Tipsy Tiffany wasn’t the quiet type.
“No, you’re lying. You’re super good at fighting. You fought them so well. They were so tall. You. Short.”
“Yes, I’m short.”
“Yes, you’re taller.”
“I’m prettier too.”
“Yes, you’re prettier.”
They were almost at their room when Tiffany pushed Taeyeon away. “You should say no. You like to say no.”
“Tiffany, come on. We’re almost there,” said Taeyeon, determined to shove the woman into her room somehow. But Tiffany chose that moment to stand her ground.
“I’m not moving until you say no.”
Taeyeon stared at her. “No,” she said and yanked Tiffany’s arm hard to pull her forward. With all of her strength, she pulled and pushed and cajoled the more-than-tipsy Tiffany into their room and was immensely relieved when the door finally closed behind them. Tiffany was leaning on her, toying with the button on her denim blouse when she felt one coming undone.
“Ooo . . . black,” Tiffany cooed.
Taeyeon held Tiffany by her wrists and lifted her hands away. “Tiffany, stop it.”
“Do you still like girls?”
Staring into the tipsy woman’s eyes, Taeyeon knew that the question was not a serious one but the history it reminded her of, it hit her hard anyway. It was a question she had asked herself almost every day when she was in juvenile training school. Of course, part of the cause for that was the chasm of betrayal left behind her gang leader ex-girlfriend when the girl had tried to pin the blame on her. The party drugs were hers, the gang leader had claimed. And if it wasn’t for the officer she had fought with, she would have been found guilty of a much more severe crime.
Being in a juvenile training school of females also meant that she had to face many more prepositions from girls so it was a question that popped up every so often, with no clear answer available when her mind was muddled and confused. It certainly did not help that she was popular with the girls. For some reason, they found her ‘handsome’, according to her dorm mates. She didn’t really understand it then, but as time went by, she grew to accept it.
Now that she was older, wiser and more mature, things got sorted out. It had taken her long enough to figure it out, but now, she was sure. Now, she knew. In the face of Tiffany’s question however, Taeyeon remained silent, choosing to focus on pushing the woman onto the bed. When that was finally accomplished, Taeyeon pulled out the covers and tucked her into bed.
“Go to sleep, Tiffany,” Taeyeon cajoled with the gentlest voice she could summon.
“You must sleep with me,” said Tipsy Tiffany, “or I’ll be scared.”
“Okay, I’ll sleep with you.”
Tiffany stuck her arms out and hugged Taeyeon. “I’m scared.”
“It’s okay. I’m here.”
“Will you save me?”
Taeyeon brushed Tiffany’s hair from her face and patted her cheek. “Yes, I will. I’ll save you.”
For a long time, Taeyeon remained sprawled over Tiffany, held down by arms that hugged her and refused to let go. Then finally, the arms relaxed and she was able to extract herself and get off the bed. Muttering curses to herself, Taeyeon went to the bathroom and stared into the mirror. This client was testing her limits in self-control to the fullest. Her tantrums. Her ridiculous expectations. Her whims and fancies. But most of it was probably amplified by the trauma she experienced, Taeyeon had to remind herself. So, she had to be patient. She had to be understanding. But there was one thing she couldn’t be. She couldn’t be completely devoid of feelings and what she had felt as she laid on Tiffany were definitely improper. Especially after seeing Tiffany’s naked back earlier.
She had to clear her head. A quick shower and change of clothes was in order.
Taeyeon woke up before Tiffany did the next morning. Expecting a headache to arise from the alcohol consumption last night, Taeyeon ordered a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice and some sandwiches to rejuvenate Tiffany. The food and drinks came before Tiffany woke up so Taeyeon had to do the honours. Getting the woman to wake up was no easy feat. It involved a lot of shaking, gently of course, and inordinate amount of name calling. Eventually, Taeyeon succeeded and Tiffany woke up with a groan.
“Here, have some juice.”
“My head . . .”
“I’ll leave the juice and sandwiches here,” said Taeyeon. “Take your time. But don’t take too long. We have a flight to catch later.” With that, she left the girl to her own devices and started packing up their belongings.
Tiffany joined her in packing sometime later. The rich girl was not as frosty as she was yesterday and they engaged in a little small talk so the lukewarm atmosphere around them was an improvement. Taeyeon did not expect things to get any better than this, so she was happy with things as they were—just cordial enough.
A few hours later, Taeyeon and Tiffany arrived at the airport with Tiffany’s friends and checked in their luggage. It was time to say goodbye.
Mr. Hwang was waiting at the arrival gate when they walked out. Tiffany gave a shriek of surprise and dashed over to hug him. Seeing how Mr. Hwang doted on Tiffany made Taeyeon a little jealous. It would have been nice if her father were there to welcome her back too.
“Thank you for saving my daughter, Miss Kim,” said Mr. Hwang, with grateful eyes. “It was close but you kept my daughter from harm. I am very thankful.”
Taeyeon bowed. “You’re welcome, Mr. Hwang. But I would like to have a talk with you, as soon as possible. Privately.”
“What is it regarding?”
Taeyeon glanced at Tiffany before meeting Mr. Hwang’s gaze again. “Your daughter.”