Taeyeon stayed on her feet until the doors were closed and Mr. Hwang was seated, only sitting when he invited her to.
“I hope my daughter did not give you too much trouble in Singapore.”
Instances of all the tantrums and drunkenness flashed across her mind. “Not too much, Mr. Hwang.”
The elder man sighed. “What is it you wanted to talk about then? I hope you are not going to resign.”
“We have a three-month contract. I will not break it before that. But you seem to be expecting it. Did this happen with the other bodyguards too?”
“Tiffany doesn’t like being followed around. She hates being watched.”
“That is understandable.”
“But I have doted on her too much.” Mr. Hwang sighed again. “I am glad you understand. But if it is not about resigning, what is it about?”
“There are many types of bodyguards. Some are mainly for deterrence or ‘display’, as we call it, and some are for protection from real threats to life.” Taeyeon paused and fixed a stare straight into Mr. Hwang’s eyes. “When you hired me, there was no mention of any impending life threats but based on our conversation after the incident, I have reason to believe that you were expecting something to happen. Most people typically hire bodyguards like me only when there is genuine threat to them. But I think, in your case, it is a little more than that, am I right?”
Mr. Hwang closed his eyes. In that moment, he looked as though he had aged another ten years. “You are right,” he said at last, sounding defeated. “I was expecting it.”
“Usually, clients will inform their security about such matters. I would like to know why you withheld this information.”
“It is highly confidential.”
Taeyeon frowned. “We have a non-disclosure clause in our contracts. You shouldn’t have to worry about loose lips.”
“It involves corruption and some government officials. I cannot say more but I will tell you frankly that I have received veiled threats on my youngest daughter’s life.” His eyes closed again. “Actually, it is more than that.” His lips trembled. “They promised to make her suffer before she dies.”
“I did not think they would dare to do anything to her in Singapore. So I was glad to let her go on that trip. But perhaps, they thought it would be easier because there would be lesser security present.”
“She is very lucky that I went back to her room when I did.”
“I cannot thank you enough for saving her life. So I hope you will continue to protect her for the rest of your contract.”
“Will the threat be removed within three months?”
Mr. Hwang nodded. “The arrests should take place within this time.”
“You are a brave and noble man, Mr. Hwang.”
He shook his head. “I am a terrible father.”
“She will be proud of you if she knows.”
Mr. Hwang chuckled. “Will she stop trying to get rid of her bodyguards if she knows?”
Taeyeon smiled. “Maybe.”
“I have already said too much. But I trust you. Please take care of my daughter.”
“I will. Don’t worry.”
Now that they were back in Seoul, security was much harder to penetrate. Everyone, from her chauffeur to the butler, was security personnel. Having all these people around was definitely a strong defence against the threat, but Taeyeon knew that it was down to her if anyone managed to get close enough to Tiffany. She was confident in her abilities but Tiffany not knowing about the real threat she faced, was a problem. This wasn’t something within her control however, so what she could do was be more alert than ever.
In some cases, Taeyeon would also probe discreetly, getting in contact with a few friends who were still involved in gangs, or the officer she had fought with, to get information. But due to the confidentiality of Mr. Hwang’s case, Taeyeon approached the only friend she could really trust to keep her updated on the latest hit-jobs—Lee. She had a long history with her, ever since one particularly brutal fight in which they had taken a blow for each other. However, unlike Taeyeon, Lee had ended up joining a gang again upon her release from juvenile training school and had been sent to jail twice in the years after that. But through it all, Taeyeon had remained in contact with her, visiting her in jail frequently during her sentences, and their friendship had strengthen over the years.
So with Lee’s help to look out for information on the other side, all Taeyeon had left to do was wait. Wait for the information from Lee. Wait for a sign of suspicious activity. Wait for the arrests to come so that the threat would be over. Wait.
Tiffany was getting used to the bodyguard hovering around her. She had been fairly surprised to learn that Taeyeon had not reported everything she did to her father and even more surprised when she realised the bodyguard had no intention of quitting. Back at the airport, she had been convinced the bodyguard would resign when the request to talk to her father was made. But that had not been the case. Instead, her father had gone to her the next morning and given her a hug. Thank you for coming back, he had said in her ear, leaving her touched but mystified.
So perhaps this bodyguard was indeed worlds apart from the rest that she had managed to bully and infuriate into quitting. This bodyguard was here to stay. This bodyguard was also fairly distant now that she was back in Seoul. There were times when she saw the bodyguard patrolling around the house and times when she ran into the bodyguard along the corridor. But there was little proximity compared to what they shared in Singapore.
Nonetheless, she had to admit that the bodyguard’s presence (whatever she saw of it) made she feel safer—at night, especially. Knowing the bodyguard’s room was just next to hers had certainly made it possible for Tiffany to breathe more easily. That was, until she spotted the bodyguard dining with another girl at a restaurant two weeks later.
“Great, it’s her,” she muttered to herself.
“What did you say?” asked Bora, the friend she was having dinner with.
“Oh, nothing. Just saw someone I know.”
“Aren’t you gonna go over and say hi?”
“She doesn’t like me very much so it doesn’t matter. Forget it. Let’s order.”
Bora looked at her curiously. “Why doesn’t she like you?”
“You seem bothered by this.”
“Why should I be?”
“Right. The fact that you’re saying it like this means you’re bothered. Come on, don’t pretend. You know I can see right through you.”
“It’s really nothing.”
The waiter arrived to take their orders so Bora’s probing had to stop but she resumed it as soon as the waiter left their table. “Okay, now you’ve caught my interest. I wanna know which girl you saw.”
With a roll of her eyes, Tiffany pointed Taeyeon out to Bora.
“Oh, she’s pretty.”
“Is that all you care about?”
Bora laughed. “Someone is really sensitive tonight. So who is she to you?”
“She’s my bodyguard.”
“Oh, the new one who hasn’t quit?”
“Wow, she’s really pretty for a bodyguard.” Bora turned and looked again. “Mmm, is she a wet noodle?”
“I’m not sure.”
Bora’s eyes bored into hers. “Are you attracted to her?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know? Just look at her, I’m attracted to her already.”
“She’s the bodyguard who saved me, remember?”
“Aha . . . so you’re not sure if you’re attracted to her because she saved you or because you’re attracted to her.”
“It’s not so simple.”
“So tell me. I’ll be your agony aunt. We have all night.”
Tiffany sighed. “It’s really complicated.”
“What’s complicated about it?”
Tiffany frowned. “She’s not like the other bodyguards hired by my dad. I tried to get her to quit but she didn’t. Then she fought off three guys to save me. I mean, like who would sacrifice themselves to save someone who was horrible to them? And then she was really nice to me after that. Like she was so caring, hugs and concern and she held my hand all night while sleeping.” Tiffany paused. “So I kinda thought she liked me.”
Bora burst into laughter, attracting several stares.
“Shh! People are looking!” Tiffany hissed.
“Oh man, you thought she liked you so you thinking you liked her too but she was just doing her job, right?”
“I was traumatised, okay. They call it ‘hero worship’. I googled it.”
Bora giggled. “So now you’re embarrassed as fuck.”
“No, I’m not.”
“You totally are.”
Both Tiffany and Bora looked up. It was the bodyguard and her friend. Tiffany had to bite her tongue to stop the profanity from flying out. “Hi,” she said, hoping the bodyguard hadn’t heard too much.
“This is Seulgi. We met her in Singapore, remember?”
“Hi, remember me?”
Seulgi? Tiffany recalled the night at the club where she had spotted the bodyguard dancing with a friend. No, that was Sunny. Seulgi must be the other woman the bodyguard was talking to and danced with on the night of the incident. How did they find each other here in Seoul?
“Yes, I think I remember, vaguely.”
“Hi, I’m Bora. I’ve heard a lot about you,” said Bora, giving herself the introduction that Tiffany failed to give.
The bodyguard smiled and turned to Bora. “It’s nice to meet you, Bora. I’m Taeyeon. And this is Seulgi.”
“Why don’t we get a table together?” Bora suggested. “It’ll be fun.”
“We’re leaving, actually. But Seulgi saw Tiffany and wanted to come over to say hi.”
“Alright, goodbye,” said Tiffany. She glared at Bora who was still smiling at the bodyguard and kicked her under the table.
“She has a really nice voice,” said Bora.
Bora burst into laughter again and all Tiffany wanted to do was sink into her chair and disappear.
a/n: oh my gosh. taeyeon’s latest instagram update!!! 😍