All thoughts of looking for help abandon me when I am hired by Rainbow to be their marketing designer. The confirmation came quickly, much sooner than I had expected and all of a sudden, I am bogged down by mundane things like shopping for proper working adult clothes and setting up my bank account to get my monthly salary.
Another thing that is draining me of my time is the process of moving out. With the both of us graduating from university, Sunny and I will be leaving the apartment that we shared. To be honest, I haven’t been sleeping that many nights in it and neither has Sunny, so it is a natural decision to let go of the apartment. As expected, Sunny will be moving in with Summer while I will be moving in with Ms Pink. My vampire princess would not have it any other way and the discussion we had about it was short, to say the least. It lasted about two sentences:
“You’ll move in with me.”
I don’t have much to begin with (I’m not exactly swimming in money) so it doesn’t take me long to pack everything into boxes and a company that Ms Pink hired sent their men in black uniforms to load the boxes onto their black track. I had put up a little argument with Ms Pink over the issue of hiring the movers but it had fallen flat the moment Ms Pink mentioned security. Of course it would have to be a supernaturally-affiliated moving company that Ms Pink could trust. Of course the men in black would remind me of Helene’s minions. In fact, they probably come from the same place. Or species.
The men in black speed-move all my boxes into Ms Pink’s castle, turning into black slithery blurs as they complete the job in a fraction of the time they took to move the boxes from my old apartment to their vehicle. This must be why some dark, evil super wants to overthrow the peace treaty. It must be irritating for supers to hide their super powers in the presence of humans.
Unfortunately, I don’t have super powers to speed up my unpacking so I’m still unpacking when Ms Pink walks into my room and across the wide expanse of baby blue tiles to where I am. She takes one look at me on my knees, taking my things out one at a time and says, “Stupid human.” She then proceeds to speed-unpack the boxes, dumping my books on the shelf and other belongings in areas where she thinks they belong.
Darn, where was Ms Pink when I was packing up my things . . .
“How do you arrange your books?” she asks me suddenly.
I look up from the pile of random knick knacks and blink.
“By author? By height? How?”
“Oh, uh, by height, please.”
No reply is given but I have the pleasure of seeing my books almost magically rearrange themselves by height on the shelves.
Ms Pink moves to my side and I spot her picking up a solid wooden box through my peripheral vision. She opens it with curious pink eyes and they widen when she sees its contents. I hold my breath, waiting to hear what she says.
“You kept these.”
Ms Pink holds up one distorted black skull candle (the flame did it, not me) and smiles. “Stupid human.”
I resist a giggle. “I love you too, Ms Tiffany Pink.”
Radiant pink eyes turn on me and parted lips claim mine in a gasp. I sink into the kiss, loving how my words triggered this act and gradually lose my breath as she sucks it out of me. When we finally part, there’s a feral gleam of pink in her eyes and I bite my lip, wondering if I really want to roll in the sheets with Ms Pink in the middle of my unpacking. But who am I kidding? I’m in my early twenties and my hormones are raging wild. I’m ready to roll in the sheets anytime.
However, Ms Pink seems to be contented with just a hungry, soul-sucking kiss because she actually resumes unpacking after releasing my lips. It takes me three whole seconds before I realise she is serious about unpacking, holding the box of black skull candles and looking around the room.
“Beside my bed,” I suggest, thinking nothing of it.
“You won’t use this bed.”
I grin inwardly at the insinuation that I’ll be spending my nights in Ms Pink’s bed but I shrug with as much nonchalance as I can muster. “There will be nights when I just feel like being alone.”
“There won’t be.”
I stick my tongue out at Ms Pink. Bleah.
“You’re growing bolder and bolder. A good spanking will help you to remember the basics.”
In the spirit of thrill and adventure, I hop onto my knees on the bed and present my butt to Ms Pink. “Please spank me, Ms Pink. I’ve been a bad girl.”
Wiggling my butt at Ms Pink, I giggle and say, “But you like me this way. I’m your incorrigible stupid human.”
A hard smack lands on my right cheek. “Don’t be cheeky.”
“What could you possibly do to me? Hmm?”
There is no warning when Ms Pink pounces. Arms and legs and body. Everything rises into the air, hangs there for a nanosecond and comes crashing down on top of me. The only thing I have time to do is squeal. Any attempt to dodge the incoming assault is shut down. All is in vain. Ms Pink’s arms are locked around me, rolling me on top of her, then flipping me over again.
I fight back. With a mighty push, I squirm out from under Ms Pink and leap on top of her, laughing hard as I land, knees on each side of her waist. Her hair is in a mess and her eyes are laughing pink. She’s never been prettier. Leaning down, I plant my lips on hers and pull back to sit on her stomach. She follows me up and locks her legs around my waist, pulling me down for another spin.
By the time we’re done fooling around, the sheets are twisted and tangled and pillows are missing. I’m breathing heavily but Ms Pink looks ready to go for a marathon. Yes, I’m constantly reminded of the stark differences between us. It’s amazing. Unbelievable. But we make it work. Somehow.
A light smack on my left cheek is followed by Ms Pink’s reminder, “We still have work to do. Get up.”
My lips tilt into a cheeky smile. “Yes, Ms Tiffany Pink.”
The problem returned to my mind a few days later, after settling down in Ms Pink’s castle. However, with my life closely intertwined with Ms Pink’s, I find it hard to look for help. On top of that, I’ve been busy with work—both at Rainbow and in my room. It’s been barely a week but my room is lived in, meaning it’s in a mess. I tried. I really tried. But I do my work in my room and that means I have books, papers, favourite plushies and various other things strewn around flat surfaces like my unused bed, table and even the floor. I can’t believe I managed to mess up a room about the size of my old apartment but it happened. I have to admit it. I am a slob.
Ms Pink is not always present, however, and I think I can try to take advantage of this. It’s just a matter of time before I figure out a way to sneak out and get some help.
The chance presents itself about a week later. Ms Pink is out as usual, running her empire and dealing with supernatural issues. The murders have not abated since the blue mass murder and I grow more and more worried when I hear Ms Pink talking to Seo about the collaboration with Qas Sogok’s business. There’s no time to lose, I decide, so out I go. To High Society. No prizes for guessing it right.
I go down to the garage and hop into the little silver car that Ms Pink assigned to me as a transport vehicle for times when I need to get somewhere for some reason. It is a gift from Ms Pink. I’m no fool. I know a present when I see one, even if Ms Pink insists it is, I quote, “a necessity and a safety measure”. When I first saw it, I was overwhelmed by surprise. My next reaction was to say no. But Ms Pink wouldn’t let me and now as I sit on the leather driver’s seat, the little argument we had reruns in my head while I run my hands over the leathery steering wheel.
“Don’t say no,” she had said to me, even before I could open my mouth.
“It is not a present.”
“This car handles very well. It will keep you safe from harm. If you refuse to accept the car, I won’t let you leave my castle.”
“Yoona has another job now.”
“Well, I don’t see how this car can protect me.”
“If it detects any supernatural energy present, it will activate the shield.”
Ms Pink pulls me into the car with her and shows me a pink button just behind the steering wheel. “That’s the manual activation button. Press it.”
Feeling a little curious about this shield that Ms Pink has so much confidence in, I stretch my hand out and press it. Without as much as a whisper, I jump in my skin as the lights come on inside the car and stare in stunned silence as silvery sheets glide over every inch of the car, cocooning us inside.
“Oh my God,” I gasp.”
“No. It’s oh your car.”
“Seriously, what was that?”
“Metal that blocks all radiation and energy waves. It makes you invisible to supernatural creatures.”
Ms Pink frowns. “It is nothing special. The military uses it all the time.”
My jaw loosens more. “The military? Is this top secret, classified metal or something?”
Ms Pink merely laughs. “The military buys it from a company that makes it. That company will sell it to anyone if the price is right.”
“Surely not . . .”
With her pink eyes raking over my face, Ms Pink presses the pink button. Her gaze doesn’t move away even as the silvery metallic sheet retracts into the neat little linings built so neatly into the edges of the car that it gives away nothing. Then, with pink eyes that had stilled into the calmest lake on a breezeless day, she says, “Obey me.”
Everything is so still that it unnerves me, and I find myself nodding in a solemn promise. “I will, Ms Pink.”
Well, and with that, here I am, cruising down the long road to High Society in my new silver car that is not a present. Ms Pink might had proven herself to be slightly paranoid. There have been no attacks or surprises so far. I have driven to work for a week and now I’m driving to High Society. Nothing. No attacks. Nothing at all.
I park my car in the parking lot and open the door to get out but a handsome man in a black suit and neatly gelled hair tells me I have to park my car in the member’s garage.
“Yes, Ms Kim. It is courtesy of our mistress of the house, Madam Hyo.”
Blinking in surprise, I barely manage to nod. “Please show me the way.”
With a soft chuckle, the man extends his palm to me. I stare at it for a moment, then look back at him, clueless.
“Your smart key, please?”
“W-Why do you need it?”
He chuckles again. “Ms Kim, I’m your valet. I will park your car for you.”
This might be a sign I’m growing paranoid like Ms Pink but I’m hesitant to let him enter my car. “Thank you, but I would prefer to park it myself.” I smile. “Please show me the way.”
“Very well, Ms Kim.” He straightens up and points at the brick wall to the side of High Society. “Over there.”
Starting up the car again, I drive towards the brick wall without thinking it strange since I am used to vanishing walls and doors by now. A few trips to Helene’s castle will do that to a person. But unlike Helene’s castle, this brick wall doesn’t vanish. In fact, it remains perfectly solid and by this time, it is too late to stop the car. I step on the brake and brace myself for a crash but nothing happens.
Opening my eyes, I am stunned to see a whole new world of a luxurious parking lot with lush wine-red carpeting and a giant chandelier hanging down from the middle of the ceiling, just like the interior of High Society. Turning back, I see the handsome valet standing in the regular parking lot. I’m pretty certain the wall didn’t vanish so . . . what is this now? How did I manage to drive through a solid wall?
I drive on through the wall and park at the first available lot I see. The car next to mine is a flamboyant flaming red car and I wonder who it belongs to. Whoever it is, must be absolutely rich. Like Ms Pink.
“This way, Ms Kim.”
I follow the handsome valet to a door at the side of the member’s garage. He scans his eye with the security panel and the door slides open without a sound. I follow the valet into the dungeon-like tunnel and a few turns later, find myself standing to the side of Madam Hyo’s desk. She turns to me and smiles.
Not knowing what to expect now, I sit on the chair across Madam Hyo’s desk with nerves buzzing along my spine. “Were you expecting me?”
“No.” Madam Hyo’s grin is cheeky like a kid doing something naughty.
“But your valet . . .”
“Handsome, isn’t he?”
I nod mutely.
“Yeah, he’s a wet dream on legs. Very strong . . . legs.” Madam Hyo’s misty eyes regain focus as she clears her throat and smiles again. “No, I sent him down after they reported your car to me.”
“Your car was a custom order made by me.”
Madam Hyo’s glee is apparent in her dancing eyes. “Why are you calling me Madam Hyo?”
Yes, you’re totally thinking Madam Hyo.
I blink fast. Staring hard. This mind-speaking thing is something I haven’t done in a while. Maybe it’s the valet. And the wall. And your fur clothes. It’s very Madam-ish.
Madam Hyo throws her head back and laughs. “Taeyeon,” she guffaws, “you’re so funny.”
“You have no idea,” says Madam Hyo, wiping her tears from her eyes. “But call my Hyo. This Madam thing people call me sounds way too old.”
“Much better.” Hyo smiles. “Yes, it was me. Resourceful and capable me. I got the car made for you. Do you like it?”
“It handles very well . . .”
“Yeah, Pan Ni said you like cars that handle well. And the butt. How do you like your car’s butt?”
I grin sheepishly, feeling caught out by Hyo and betrayed by Ms Pink. “I like it.”
“Ms Pink knows you very well.”
I bite my lip as happiness wells up. “She does?”
“Mhm. Very well. She knows you inside out. She probably knows you’ve come here too.”
Colour drains from my face. “She knows?”
“She did ask me to tell her if you appear anywhere near High Society.”
I frown. “Why is she doing this? I’m not a child.”
“You’re in demand, Taeyeon. Your blood is worth a lot.”
“But they can’t just take me.”
Hyo leans back in her chair, elbows resting on the armrests and criss-crosses her fingers in front of her face. “Do you know who ‘they’ include?”
“Qas Sogok, I assume. Some members of the Sovereign. Some Feds.”
Hyo is shaking her head. “Nah. Not even close. Well, Qas . . . he’s your closest answer. But even him.” Hyo stands and reaches for the high shelf of the bookcase behind her. I can almost swear the bookcase wasn’t there the last time I visited Hyo’s office but I’m beginning to feel like anything can happen or appear like magic in this place.
Using two hands, Hyo pulls out a book that looks like it’s about to crumble to dust but it holds up well when she slams it on the table. “Damn heavy thing.”
“Heavy?” I look at the palm sized book doubtfully. It doesn’t look heavy at all.
“Pick it up,” says Hyo.
I look at her, unsure of her motives.
“Go on, pick it up.”
I stretch a tentative hand and grasp it by its thick spine. At first lift, the book barely budges. “Oh my God.”
“I know, right.”
“Why is it so heavy?”
“Cos some idiots from long ago thought it would be fun to make a book of solid gold and cover it with goo and muck and fashion it into some kind of golden paper.”
“Solid gold, inside like inside?”
“Yeah. Well, I suppose it’s actually brilliant on hindsight since this is the only book that survived century after century after century.”
“What’s the title of this book?” I ask, looking curiously at the inscriptions on the spine.