Her bodyguard was already there when Tiffany got to the café they had agreed to meet in. It wasn’t Tiffany’s first choice—she had wanted to talk to Taeyeon in her own home, but her bodyguard had stubbornly refused to meet unless it was at premises outside of her home. Also, since it was the next day, Taeyeon was technically no longer her bodyguard but Tiffany wasn’t going to let it be. Taeyeon was still her bodyguard.
“What would you like to have?” Taeyeon inquired as soon as she sat down. “It’s my treat today.”
Tiffany was surprised by the ready smile on Taeyeon’s face. Why was her bodyguard acting all friendly again? Did she have split personality or something?
“Alright. Anything else?” Taeyeon asked as she stood.
“New York cheesecake.”
“Okay. I’ll be right back.”
Tiffany sat back and watched as her bodyguard headed to the counter to place the order. Why was she acting so differently? She had been friendly and polite enough back at the house but it felt as though there were a solid wall between them. Here in this café, it felt almost as though they were on a date. Her eyes took in the rugged denim jeans hanging on Taeyeon’s hips, ending shortly after her knees. Her bodyguard’s slim but toned calves tapered into bare ankles and a pair of sporty white sneakers. Something about the look warmed her heart. Her eyes then climbed back up in appreciation to observe the plaid shirt hanging off shoulders that Tiffany wanted to put her arms around. Damn. Where did that thought come from.
Tiffany looked away when Taeyeon turned her body and focused on the cup of coffee on the table. It looked like cappuccino. Her bodyguard liked sweeter things, she thought, remembering the packets of sweets she had seen Taeyeon eating before. She was a bit like a kid in that aspect. But nothing like a kid when it came to everything else.
A steaming cup of coffee and a plate of cheesecake were placed on the table.
“Did you sleep well last night?” Taeyeon asked after taking her seat.
“No,” Tiffany replied as she cut out a piece of the cake with her fork. “Do you wanna try some?” she asked, holding out the cake on her fork.
“If you don’t mind,” said Taeyeon.
Before Tiffany could hand the fork over, her bodyguard had already held her hand and put the cake into her mouth. She stared, empty fork hanging in the air, as her bodyguard chewed with a smile.
“It’s very smooth.” Taeyeon gave a nod to affirm her review. “It’s good.”
“What are you trying to do?” Tiffany asked at last.
“What am I trying to do?”
“This. Smiling. Buying me coffee. Eating my cake.”
“If you don’t want me to eat your cake, don’t offer it.”
Tiffany leaned back and crossed her arms. “You’re up to something. You obviously know what I meant but you’re acting dodgy.”
“I’m like this when I’m off duty.” Taeyeon smiled. “And since I’m not your bodyguard anymore, I can be my usual self.”
“About that. I won’t accept your resignation.”
Taeyeon shook her head. “I didn’t resign.”
“Stop playing around with words. You know what I mean.”
Taeyeon sighed and leaned forward on her elbows. “I didn’t resign. My contract with your father will only run for as long as your life is in mortal danger. Now that the main threat has been arrested, the contract is effectively over. Your father tried to extend the contract too. He’s willing to offer me very attractive pay and terms so it’s not his fault that I rejected his offer.”
“Then why? Why don’t you want to be my bodyguard anymore? Is it because you don’t like me?”
Taeyeon’s eyes left Tiffany’s briefly for the cake between them before meeting hers again. “Why would you think I don’t like you?”
“Why else would you reject a shit ton of money?”
Taeyeon stiffened. “I’m not the sort who will do anything for money.”
Tiffany exhaled loudly through her nose. “I’m not trying to say you’re that kind of person. But I know my father. He would have offered to triple your pay at least.”
“He did. And he was willing to give me even more off days too.”
“I already told your father the reason.”
“I’m asking now.”
Taeyeon took a deep breath. “I don’t wanna sound conceited or proud but I’m the kind of bodyguard people hire for high risk situations. There are different classes of bodyguards and right now, you don’t need a bodyguard like me anymore. An ordinary bodyguard is enough for you.”
“I don’t care about all these things. I only want you. As my bodyguard.”
“There’s also another reason why I won’t accept your father’s offer.”
Tiffany sat up straight. “What’s the reason?”
Taeyeon shocked her by taking her hand. “I would like to answer the question you asked me when you were drunk in Singapore.”
“W-What did I ask?” Tiffany asked, suddenly worried.
“You asked if I still like girls.”
Tiffany’s mind went on full alert. “And? What’s your answer?”
Taeyeon held her gaze steadily. “I will only answer it if I’m not your bodyguard anymore.”
“Why can’t you answer it if you’re my bodyg—” Tiffany’s heart began pumping harder as the possibility hit her right there and then. “Wait. Are you saying—” She stopped, feeling unsure.
Taeyeon took her hand, giving her a surprise. Her bodyguard looked at her hand for a moment, a frown forming. “So, are you going to insist on making me your bodyguard?”
A shadow of a doubt fell over Tiffany’s mind. What if Taeyeon was tricking her? What if her answer was no? And even if her answer was yes . . . what did that mean to her?
“Is it a yes or no.”
Tiffany bit her lip. Who was she kidding? She wanted to know the answer. “No.”
“Okay.” Taeyeon looked straight into her eyes with the intensity of a teacher giving a stern warning. It was mildly disconcerting but Tiffany didn’t look away. “My answer to your question. Yes, I still like girls.”
Tiffany stopped breathing. For a moment. Her fingers twitched in Taeyeon’s hand. Her mouth opened but words failed to come out. Her eyes dropped their gaze.
“Now, it’s my turn to ask you the question because I’m not sure. Do you like girls?”
Eyes flying back to meet Taeyeon’s, Tiffany almost gasped at the question. It hadn’t occurred to her that Taeyeon would ask her blatantly like that. And suddenly, it was incredibly difficult to answer.
“Should I let go of your hand?”
Still staring into Taeyeon’s eyes, Tiffany remembered the night Taeyeon had spent with her in the hotel after apprehending the two men who invaded her room and tied her up. Taeyeon had asked her the same question back then too.
“Are you seeing anyone at the moment?” she asked after a moment.
Her bodyguard smiled. “No.”
“What about that girl you met in Singapore?”
“Seulgi? No, we’re just friends.”
Tiffany nodded at her hand in Taeyeon’s. “What does this mean?”
Taeyeon’s smile grew. She lifted Tiffany’s hand and brought it close to her lips. Still holding their gaze, Taeyeon paused as though to give her a chance to pull away. But Tiffany didn’t. Hearting thumping away in her chambers, Tiffany allowed Taeyeon to lean in and close the remaining gap between her hand and those pouty lips.
It didn’t last long. In fact, it was just a slow peck. But Tiffany forgot to breathe until her bodyguard lowered her hand. The knuckles that Taeyeon’s lips had touched were buzzing. Her heart was still thumping. And her breaths were uneven. What was happening to her? It was just a peck on her fingers. She was acting like a middle school girl with a massive crush. No, no. She was just taken by surprise, that’s all. She hadn’t expected her bodyguard to make a move like this. She had been all ready to corner her bodyguard into extending the contract with her father. She wasn’t ready for this. This wasn’t what she was here for.
Calm down. Calm down. Get a grip!
“Do you object?”
Tiffany refocused on Taeyeon’s eyes. “What?”
“I said, do you object?”
Taeyeon lifted her hand a little, jerking her head at it.
“Does that mean we’re on the same page now?”
She could hear the tentativeness in Taeyeon’s question. Her bodyguard wasn’t sure and was asking for confirmation. But what page was Taeyeon talking about? “What does your page say?”
A corner of Tiffany’s mouth twitched when her bodyguard cleared her throat and looked at her solemnly. “It says on my page that I have some feelings for you that are inappropriate as your bodyguard. It also says on my page that it might be better for us to clear up the trauma,”—Taeyeon paused—“if you’re on the same page.”
Hearing her bodyguard’s confession was like an extraterrestrial experience. After all the blowing-hot-and-cold episodes and the friendly, courteous walls that stood between them, here was her bodyguard telling her she had inappropriate feelings for her. It was a little hard to believe.
“What kind of inappropriate feelings do you have for me?”
Taeyeon shook her head, ducking as she smiled, before looking back up with a serious expression. “I don’t think I should say it right now. I’m worried about your PTSD, Tiffany. I want to help you through it before talking about the rest. Will you accept my help?”
Tiffany bit her lip. “As a friend . . . or more?”
Taeyeon’s fringe flapped as she blew a mouthful of air up. “As a friend, who is interested in . . . more.”
“But I don’t want to see a counsellor.”
“I don’t like them.”
“Have you ever seen one?”
Tiffany shook her head.
“Why don’t you give them a chance before deciding?”
“I’m not crazy. I’ll get over it.”
“Seeing a counsellor doesn’t mean you’re crazy. I’ve seen counsellors tons of times. Do I look crazy to you?”
“You’ve seen counsellors? Why?”
Taeyeon nodded. “I had to see one while I was in the juvenile training school. It was part of the rehabilitation process. Then I saw another one after preventing a kidnap. I had nightmares after that and a fear of dark places but seeing the counsellor helped me a lot.”
“You had nightmares too?”
“When I was new to the job, yes. Now that I’m more experienced, I’m more used to sudden violent situations so I’m not hit as hard by trauma. But the counsellor I go to helped me to get through it more easily. If you want, I can bring you to the counsellor I know.”
Tiffany looked at the hand holding hers. She looked at the sincerity in the eyes staring at hers. Then she looked at the hand again. “Okay,” she said at last. “I’ll see the counsellor you know.”
Taeyeon squeezed her hand and smiled broadly. “Great. I’ll set up a meeting as soon as possible.”