Yoona’s home is similar to Hyoyeon’s in size but decorated in a different style. While Hyoyeon’s home is full of warm, earthly colours like cream and yellow, Yoona’s home has a lot more pink in it.
“Remember to keep the door and windows closed and the aircon on,” Yoona tells them as they walk to her room.
“Why?” Taeng asks, curious as usual.
“If everything is closed, no one will hear Prince barking.”
“Are you not allowed to keep pets too?”
“It’s my parents. And my neighbours’ kids are really pesky so if they hear a dog barking, they’ll wanna come over and play.” Yoona shudders. “Complete nightmare.”
“Oh . . .”
“Anyway,” Yoona stops by a white door with a big smile. “This is it.” She opens the door and slips in. Taeng follows and there is a scurry of paws on the marble floor before something small and white hurtles towards him.
“Prince,” says Taeng, squatting to welcome the dog into his arms. “Boy, I’ve missed you.” Prince Fluffy is a jumping, panting, licking mess and Taeng chuckles as he settles on the floor to play with the dog.
“So there’s been this weird dude in school saying hi to me and running away before I can even see his face properly,” Yoona starts saying.
“A dude?” Steph repeats.
“Which class is he from?”
“That’s the thing. I don’t know.”
“What does he look like?”
“He wears glasses. Black hair. Tall.”
“Girl, that’s like . . . half the guys in our school.”
“I know, but I never got to have a good look at him before.”
“Has he done anything to you?” Steph’s voice is hardening.
“No. Like I said, all he does is say hi. Then he’s off like Sooyoung after food.”
“That’s . . . harmless, I guess.”
“If he does it again, I’m gonna smack him.”
“Yeah, you do that. Don’t let him bother you.”
“Mmm, do you think he has a crush on you or something?”
“Maybe he has a crush on you but he’s too shy.”
Taeng looks up at the two girls wondering if he should say something. Seo had made threats. Serious threats. Well, not really threats, but Seo made him promise not to tell anyone. And what if his deductions are wrong? What if the guy isn’t Seo?
Steph turns to him suddenly. “What do you think, Taeng?”
Taeng blinks. “Huh?”
“Weren’t you listening to us?” Steph asks.
“I . . .”
“Yeah, you’re a guy. Tell us what you think,” Yoona chips in.
“Well, I dunno . . .”
“Have you had a crush on someone before?” Yoona asks with eyes wide open.
Taeng blushes. “I don’t know what having a crush is like.”
With a gasp, Yoona squats to meet him at face level and stares hard into his eyes. “Really? Not a single crush?”
Taeng shakes his head.
“Weren’t there any pretty girls in your previous school?”
Taeng shakes his head again.
Steph squats too. “You’re not kidding.”
“I was home schooled. I never had any classmates to have a crush on.”
“Wow,” Steph exclaims and lands on her bum on the floor. “Wow, you’re so innocent, it’s almost unbelievable.”
“What about now?” Yoona asks.
Taeng looks at her. “Huh?”
“Now. You’re in a class. Anyone you like?”
Taeng turns to Steph and smiles. “Steph.”
A beautiful smile forms on Steph’s face but she shakes her head. “Yoona doesn’t mean this sort of like.”
“What kind of like does she mean?”
“The kind of like that makes your heart go ‘dugeun dugeun’ extra hard and you get nervous and excited and you wanna be close to this person all of the time and you can’t stop thinking of this person and just a simple hello makes you happy all day.”
Taeng frowns a little and thinks for a moment. “It matches,” he says, thinking out loud. There is dead silence for a while after he says that and he looks at them strangely. “What’s wrong?”
Yoona’s grin is broad as daylight as she leans in with sparkly eyes. “You just confessed your feelings for Steph. Like straight up confessed.”
Steph is shaking her head again. “Yoona, he’s only known me for five days. And he’s never had a crush before.”
But Yoona ignores Steph and leans in closer, her excitement bouncing off her in waves. “Do you want Steph to be your girlfriend?”
Taeng considers the question. “If she’s my girlfriend, I can hold her hand.”
“Yeah,” Yoona’s voice is dancing in the higher registers now, “you can hold her hand and kiss her.”
Taeng can feel his cheeks heating up like fever. He hadn’t thought about kissing before but now that Yoona mentions it, he realizes it’s something he would like to do too.
“Oh my, oh my, oh my.” Yoona is quite beside herself by now. “Taeng, you are so brave.”
“To say all these, just like that.”
“I’m just being honest.”
“Taeng, I don’t think you know what you’re talking about,” Steph says at last. Her cheeks look like cherry tomatoes and even the tip of her nose is pink. “You just like me as a friend. It can’t be more than that when you’ve only known me for five days. And I’m the only friend you’re hanging out with.”
“There’s Hyo. And Seo’s talked to me a few times. And now, Yoona too. You’re not my only friend.”
“Taeng, seriously. You don’t like me. You’re just confused.”
Taeng wants to explain that he isn’t but the look in Steph’s eyes stops him. She’s getting upset. He doesn’t know why she’s getting upset but that’s the last thing he wants. “Maybe you’re right, Steph.”
“I am right, Taeng. And Yoona, stop it.”
Yoona pouts. “Okay, if you insist.”
“Yes, I insist. We’re here for Prince. We have things to do.”
Going home is a little awkward after what happened at Yoona’s place but Taeng manages a big smile for Steph as they part ways. After having some time to think about it, Taeng admits that Steph might be right. He is spending most of his time with Steph, and she is his best friend at the moment. He still thinks Steph has the most beautiful smile and seeing her definitely makes his heart beat faster but given his inexperience, he might be wrong.
If only there were someone he could ask for help. But who can he turn to for advice? Grandpa Kim is a definitely no-no now. He would probably say Steph is bad for him and ask him to stay away from her. Is there no one else he can approach?
Oh, wait. There is someone. Someone who is likely to be crushing on a girl right now. Someone who will be able to tell him what having a crush feels like. But it is the weekend now. He will have to wait till Monday to ask him. Till then, maybe he can read some books or watch some videos to learn more about crushes. It sounds like a plan.