Seeing her ex-client’s daughter walking towards her brought a warm, fuzzy feeling into Taeyeon’s heart. It was such a relief, getting everything out into the open three days ago. Although she wasn’t exactly shy when it came to getting herself a girlfriend, it had been some time since she had one and being out of practice led to some uncertainty.
While there had been signs and a certain amount of body language that pointed in the direction she thought Tiffany swung, she couldn’t be completely sure. And then there was also the huge obstacle wedged between them since she was working as Tiffany’s bodyguard. She was highly aware of how misleading it could be when she was in such a position and it went against everything she stood for a bodyguard. Quite akin to a teacher dating a student in some ways—the more commonly debated example when it came to controversial romance.
But even though she tried her best to enforce the wall of professional distance between Tiffany and herself, it had become increasingly harder to stop herself from admiring the person she was supposed to protect. And her reasons for protecting Tiffany had become a little more complicated as well. Altogether, a recipe for a workplace disaster.
It was inevitable. And her contract with Mr. Hwang was slated to run out soon anyway. Which was quite convenient in that sense. But it didn’t make meeting Tiffany in the café any easier. It didn’t make confessing any less nerve wrecking either. The question had to be asked and if her gut feeling had been wrong, it would have been terribly awkward.
Fortunately for her, Tiffany’s answer—or answering question—had told her everything she wanted to know and wished to hear. She was happy, simply put. Happy to have Tiffany’s hand in hers. Happy when Tiffany let her kiss her hand. Happy when Tiffany agreed to see the counsellor.
“Hi,” she said when Tiffany drew closer. Wearing a smile, she held her hand out for Tiffany and her heart was glad when Tiffany took it easily, as though it were the most natural thing to do. “Dr Kim Hee Chul is waiting.”
“Kim Hee Chul?” Tiffany resisted with a tug of her hand. “He’s a guy?”
“Yes, it’s a ‘he’ but don’t worry, he’s very good.”
“I’m trusting you on this.”
Taeyeon smiled at Tiffany’s frown. “Yes, you can trust me. If you don’t think he’s good after today’s session, you can ask me for compensation.”
Tiffany’s eyes sparkle with glee. “What kind of compensation?”
“Whatever you can think of.”
Taeyeon nodded. “I’m that confident in my recommendation.”
“Hmpf. We shall see.”
Taeyeon had to wait outside the doctor’s office while Tiffany was having her first session with Dr Kim. After some time, a conversation started with the girl handling the reception. They chatted about random things like music and good places to eat in the vicinity of the counsellor’s office. At one point, the girl had some problems with her computer’s internet connection so Taeyeon tried to help. She was bent over the keyboard beside the girl and in the middle of troubleshooting when the door opened. Looking up, Taeyeon met Tiffany’s eyes and she straightened up. A spark of something flared in the woman’s eyes but Taeyeon wasn’t sure what it was.
“How was the session?” she asked Tiffany as she rounded the table.
Dr Kim stepped out and joined them. “It was a good opening session with Tiffany. I’ll see her back here next week.”
“That’s just your side of it, Dr Kim,” Taeyeon countered with a smile. Turning back to Tiffany, she asked again, “Was it good for you?”
“Good. It was good. But looks like it’s even better for you.”
Taeyeon was taken aback by the biting comment. “What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean.”
Taeyeon was stunned when Tiffany left the office in a huff. She turned to Dr Kim with wide open eyes, wondering what had caused that little episode and he shook his head.
“Taeyeon, she’s feeling rather sensitive after the session so you will need to be patient with her.”
With a nod, Taeyeon headed for the door to chase after Tiffany. “I will. Thank you, Dr Kim.”
“Remember to bring her back next week.”
Taeyeon left the office in a jog and caught up with Tiffany quickly. She jogged to the front and stood before Tiffany, stopping the woman from stomping on. “What’s wrong? What did I do?”
“You’re asking me.”
“Yes. I’m asking because I don’t know. If you’d just tell me, I’d be able to fix it.”
“You need me to tell you. Okay. I’ll tell you. It sucks to go through shitty memories inside and talk about them and then come out and see you laughing and enjoying yourself outside. It sucks.”
“I wasn’t laughing and enjoying myself.”
“You were. You were having fun outside with the girl. Laughing at me while I was inside crying.”
“I would never laugh about this. I’ve been through the same things before. Remember what I told you?” Taeyeon took a firm hold of Tiffany’s arm and marched the woman to her car. “Come with me.”
“Where are you taking me? My car is the other way.”
“We’ll talk in my car.”
“What about my car.”
“It’s chauffeured. It’ll be fine.” Taeyeon opened the door to the passenger seat and got Tiffany in. Then, she went to the other side and got in as well. “Alright. Now. Let’s talk,” she said, locking her car doors with a press of a button. “Was the session bad for you?”
Tiffany shook her head. “I don’t like it.”
“He asked many questions.”
“That’s because he has to get to know you.”
“That’s what he said too. But I still don’t like it.”
“Okay. Alright. I won’t force you.”
They sat in silence for a long time before Taeyeon spoke again. “Where do you wanna go? Let’s go out together.”
“Will I go crazy?” Tiffany asked suddenly.
Taeyeon took Tiffany’s hand and squeezed it. “You’re not crazy. You’re not gonna go crazy.”
“But it felt like I’m really sick in the head when I went in there. Like I have a real mental problem. And I have nightmares every night. I’m sick.”
“Tiffany, look at me.” Taeyeon reached for Tiffany’s cheek and held her face gently. “Look. I understand what you’re going through. Completely. I’ve had the nightmares. I’ve been through the time when I kept all the lights in my home on all night because dark places terrified me. Even now, there are times when the fear hits when it’s dark. But I learnt that fear is only in my mind. And that’s what the counsellor is for. You need to talk things through with someone professional. Someone who won’t give you wrong advice.”
“But you’re different. You’re stronger than me.”
“I’m not that much stronger. I’m affected by the kidnapping too, you know. The second night after we were rescued, I woke up in the middle of the night. I thought I heard a gunshot but it was only in my mind.”
Tiffany stared at her for an extended moment. “Will it go away?”
“It will. With time.”
Tiffany heaved a deep sigh. “This sucks. I don’t like this feeling.”
“Then let’s go out. It’ll take our minds off things for a while.”
“Where can we go?”
“Wherever you want,” said Taeyeon indulgently.
“Shopping. Let’s go shopping.”
Taeyeon held in her sigh, pulling out a smile instead. “Okay. Let’s go shopping.”
Tiffany was a very different woman when it came to shopping. She was in her element, surrounded by clothes of all varieties and accessories of all shapes and colours. Being welcomed by friendly, accommodating salesgirls seemed to be her thing. She wielded her credit card like a sword, slaying all the price obstacles that made Taeyeon balk. But Taeyeon didn’t say a word or attempt to stop Tiffany from doing her retail therapy. It was probably good for her be in her comfort zone after this afternoon’s experience. But after following Tiffany around a few different boutiques patiently, the worst happened when, much to Taeyeon’s dismay, the rich woman turned all attention onto her.
“No, no, no.”
“Yes, yes, yes.”
Taeyeon was pushed into the fitting room by a surprisingly strong Tiffany and she protested loudly when the woman let herself into the room as well. “Get out,” she hissed.
“I don’t want to wait outside alone.”
Taeyeon put her hands on her hips. “That’s a lousy excuse.”
“We can stand in here and argue all day or you can try on the dress.”
“When will I ever wear this dress, may I ask?”
Tiffany flashed a wide grin. “When you go out on a date with me.”
“Why would I need to wear such a nice dress to go on a date with you?”
“Because I’m gonna bring you to fancy places with dress codes for high tea and dinner.”
“Uh uh. I’m sticking to barbeque restaurants and family eating houses.”
“We can’t eat at those places all the time. You have to go to places I like too.”
“Even then, I could just wear pants.”
“What about clubbing?”
Taeyeon scrounged up her nose. “I don’t wear dresses like this at clubs.”
Tiffany scowled. “I know. I know what you wear to clubs.”
“Yeah, so.” Taeyeon handed the dress back to Tiffany. “Why don’t you try it instead?”
“Let’s make a deal. You’ll try it on if I try it.”
Taeyeon chuckled. “You’re not very good at making deals, Tiffany. Why would I agree to a deal that has no benefits for me?”
“Too late. I’m already trying it on so you’ll have to do it too,” said Tiffany as she turned around and lifted the hem of her red and black animal print dress over her head.
Taeyeon’s mouth ran dry at the sight of the almost naked back of Tiffany’s. If only the bra could come off too . . .
“Hand me the dress, Taeyeon.”
Coming back to her senses, Taeyeon took the white floral dress off the hanger and put it in Tiffany’s outstretched hand. There was a sense of loss as the dress fell over Tiffany’s head and covered her almost naked back but Taeyeon remained stoic on the surface.
“What do you think?” Tiffany asked, twirling around in the dress.
“Very nice,” Taeyeon answered with sincerity. It was true. The dress looked very sweet on Tiffany. Or rather, Tiffany looked very sweet in the dress.
“Okay, your turn.” Tiffany pulled the dress off in a heartbeat and tossed it to her. “Try it.”
Resigned to her fate, Taeyeon turned her back on Tiffany and began undoing the buttons of her denim shirt. Shrugging it off, she hung it on the wall hook and was about to don the dress when Tiffany stopped her.
“Aren’t you gonna take off your shorts?”
“But it’ll affect the shape of the dress.”
“Why—hey, stop it.” Taeyeon tried to fend off Tiffany’s hands that had reached around her waist to undo the button on her denim shorts. In doing so, she was unable to stop herself from crashing into the mirror when Tiffany leaned on her and she found herself ridiculously helpless as she lost her shorts. “Stop it. Stop.”
“Okay. Now try on the dress.”
With an epic sigh of the century, Taeyeon put the dress over her head and pulled it down. “Happy now?”
Tiffany was looking in the mirror with satisfaction. “As expected. The white dress suits your complexion very well. You look very pretty in it. All you need is a nice bag to go with the look. And some accessories.”
Taeyeon opened her mouth to protest but Tiffany put a finger over her lips, triggering Taeyeon’s memory of doing the same thing to Tiffany back in Singapore.
“Shh . . . just let me buy you this dress, okay? And wear it out with me one day.” Taeyeon blinked. It was very hard to refuse a request that was put across so tenderly so she ended up nodding. The smile that broke out on Tiffany’s face was absolutely stunning. “It’s a deal then,” she chirped victoriously and turned around, flashing her almost naked back once again before covering it back up with her red and black dress.
So all that was left for Taeyeon to do was change back into her denim shirt and shorts and allow Tiffany to buy the dress for her. Oh, the sacrifices she had to make just to put a smile on Tiffany’s face.