No Strings Attached – Chapter Three

Taeyeon had a feeling Jessica was the person she was waiting for when she saw the blonde walking in from the entrance of the restaurant. She felt a growing excitement in her heart as she scanned the blonde from head to toe.

 

She’s beautiful. The fabric of her white blouse is rather translucent. Hmmm…I can see the lacy black bra she’s wearing though the lighting in the restaurant is rather dim. Now that’s really sexy.

 

The blonde stopped at her table. Taeyeon rose from her seat and introduced herself while extending her hand for a handshake.

 

Hmm…she doesn’t seem too happy. Oh dear, hopefully I won’t get an earful from her later on. Well, a smile always helps to diffuse any tense atmosphere, so let me put on my brightest smile.  

 

“Hello Taeyeon. Just call me Jessica,” Jessica replied, feeling somewhat frustrated. She wondered why Taeyeon had the cheek to smile in front of her.  She wanted to holler at the careless person who took her bag and caused so much inconvenience for her.

 

Just then, Jessica spotted a half empty bottle of mineral water on the table.

 

She must have been waiting here since 7pm. Ah…why should I feel guilty? I wasn’t even planning to meet her. I just happen to need to grab a quick dinner and it would be boring to dine alone, wouldn’t it?

 

“Jessica, I’m sorry for taking your bag by mistake. I thought red was a rather unique colour for that briefcase and didn’t expect someone to be using the same brand and colour as me. Moreover it’s a limited edition bag. Guess we share the same taste,” said Taeyeon with a wide smile on her face. Her hands were clasped together and she was twiddling her thumbs.

 

“Having said that, I should have checked before I took the bag. It is indeed my mistake and once again, I’m very sorry about it. I hope I didn’t cause too much inconvenience for you,” added Taeyeon with a slight bow of her head. She felt very apologetic about the mix-up.

 

For the moment, Jessica’s frustration was diffused. She couldn’t get angry with that face that was looking at her intently. Taeyeon had a fair complexion that made her glow even in the dimly-lit restaurant. There was a tinge of mischievousness in her eyes when she spoke though she had a very serious expression on her face. It was such a contrast.

 

There was a rather awkward silence. Taeyeon felt Jessica’s stern glare boring through forehead and she didn’t dare to look directly back at her. She fiddled with the glass of water and hoped for the best.

 

“Thankfully I had backup copies of my presentation and managed to print it at the Business Centre,” Jessica finally spoke.

 

Jessica felt a little apologetic for missing the note when she got back to her room last night. “I need to apologise for coming here so late. I didn’t see the note you gave me last night. I only read it when I got back to my room after the cocktail reception at the conference this evening. I didn’t expect you to be waiting for me till now.”

 

Taeyeon’s eyes lit up. “It’s alright, I’m glad you came. So I guess we’re even now?”

 

Jessica couldn’t help but smile at the excited person sitting in front of her. “I guess, though dinner’s still on you since you’ve offered it.”

 

“Sure! Please order whatever you wish. Dinner’s on me,” Taeyeon said with a big grin on her face.

 

After placing their orders with the waiter, both ladies sat at the table admiring the night scenery while waiting for their orders to be served.

 

“Nice view eh? The food’s pretty good here. I usually visit this restaurant if I’m in Tokyo. You mentioned that you’re here for a conference, so this is a business trip?”

 

Jessica nodded while taking a sip of her red wine. “What about you?”

 

“I’m catching up with some old friends. I used to stay in Japan for a couple of years before moving back to Seoul.” Taeyeon unscrewed the cap of her mineral water bottle and poured herself some water.

 

“Oh I see. You studied here previously?”

 

“Hmm..sort of. I did an apprenticeship here several years ago after I graduated, just out of my own interest,” Taeyeon explained.

 

“I saw recipes scribbled on some papers while I was going through the bag to find the identity of the owner. You like to bake?” Jessica asked.

 

“I do have a keen interest in baking.  I like to try out new recipes and baking is a great stress reliever for me.”

 

Jessica laughed. “I’m the total opposite of you. I’ll probably burn the kitchen if I were to start baking. Would I get a chance to taste your cakes?”

 

“Maybe…” replied Taeyeon cheekily before breaking into a hearty laugh. “Oh well, perhaps there would be future opportunities. Who knows?”

 

Just then, the waiter came by with their dinner. The two women tucked in heartily as both of them were famished.

 

“Would you like dessert?” Taeyeon asked, handing Jessica the small dessert menu by the side of the table.

 

“No thanks. I’m quite full,” Jessica replied, wiping the corners of her mouth with a napkin.

 

“Their strawberry shortcake is delicious and you should try it. I’ll order a slice and we can share it if finishing a single piece sounds too sinful,” Taeyeon said, waving to a nearby waiter.

 

Jessica looked out of the window, admiring the numerous twinkling city lights as she drank the red wine.

 

“It’s beautiful. The night view of Tokyo city,” Taeyeon said.  And so are you.

 

“Yes it sure is. The irony is that we tend to admire and take in the sights more when we’re overseas instead of appreciating what we have back home. The stars always seem to shine brighter when you’re away from home. Do you agree?”

 

“Hmm…you sound like you travel very often.”

 

“Yea I guess. I’m practically living out of the suitcase for the past two years,” Jessica said with a bitter laugh.

 

“Awww, that sounds quite tiring. I’m sure you must be highly respected in the company and your boss trusts you a lot to let you go on such frequent trips,” Taeyeon speculated.

 

Jessica let out a laugh. “You sound like you’re reading my fortune. So what else can you tell me?”

 

“I sense you’ll like the dessert that I’m recommending and thank me for introducing it to you.” The corners of Taeyeon’s lips turned upwards, revealing a mischievous grin.

 

As if Taeyeon had just waved a magic wand, the dessert arrived at that very moment. There was half a strawberry on top of the cake and light sponge took up most of the middle part of the cake. Sitting in the middle of the slice was a layer of sponge was a strawberry filled cream.

 

“Try it. It’s one of my favourite desserts here.” Taeyeon handed Jessica a small fork and pushed the plate nearer towards her.

 

Jessica pinched a small portion of the cake with her fork and placed it into her mouth. The Japanese always had a knack for making the fluffiest and lightest cakes. She looked up and noticed that Taeyeon was smiling at her.

 

“I take it that you like it a lot since there’s a wide smile on your face and I see your eyes twinkling with delight,” Taeyeon said, looking at the happy face in front of her.

 

Jessica hated to admit it but Taeyeon was right. The sponge was light and fluffy, soft enough to melt in her mouth while the cream was not overly sweet. The strawberries were sweet and that helped to enhance the taste of the cake. She nodded at Taeyeon’s remark.

 

“A Japanese-styled strawberry shortcake is a layered sponge cake with a strawberry and whipped cream filling, and whipped cream frosting. It takes a lot of skill to be able to whip the egg whites till the right texture and the way to fold the flour into the mixture after that,” Taeyeon elaborated, pointing at the different parts of the cake.

 

“You sound like an expert on baking indeed,” Jessica said in admiration. She couldn’t cook to save her life, much less bake. Tiffany was usually the one who used her kitchen whenever she was in a creative mood.

 

“Nah, this is nothing. If you have an interest in baking, you’ll probably be motivated to find out more and learn the best techniques to use.”

 

Taeyeon picked up her fork and scrapped off half the cake. She placed it on the plate and started digging in. The dessert was finished very quickly since the portion wasn’t big.

 

“Thank you for the dinner and dessert,” Jessica said politely as she folded the napkin neatly on the table.

 

“It’s my pleasure, Jessica. Thank you for coming.” Taeyeon grinned as both of them rose from their seats.

 

As they walked along the narrow aisle of the restaurant towards the lift lobby, their arms brushed against each other. Taeyeon felt a tingle going from her arm to her stomach. The blonde had her hooked the moment she walked into the restaurant. Taeyeon couldn’t take her eyes off Jessica for the whole night during dinner. The wheels in her mind were constantly turning, trying to cook up an excuse to see Jessica again.

 

They stopped at the lift lobby and Taeyeon reached forward to press the down arrow button.

 

“When are you going back to Seoul?” Taeyeon asked as she stood next to Jessica.

 

“In three days’ time. What about you?”

 

The lift came and both of them walked in simultaneously, accidentally bumping against each other, causing Jessica to trip. Taeyeon instinctively reached out to hold Jessica’s arm to prevent her from falling. Taeyeon could smell the citrus fragrance of the perfume Jessica was using when the latter leaned towards Taeyeon for support.

 

“You first,” Taeyeon smiled and extended her free arm, motioning for Jessica to enter the lift.

 

Both of them stood side by side in the lift but they avoided looking straight ahead at their reflections in the shiny lift door. Taeyeon was looking at the lift buttons while Jessica was looking down as she smoothen the crease in her pants.

 

“To answer your question, I’ll be leaving in two days’ time.”

 

“I see. Well, have fun with your friends.”

 

“Pardon my bluntness but would you like to meet for dinner tomorrow if you’re free? I could tell you more about the mysteries of baking if you like,” Taeyeon blurted out.

 

Jessica was taken aback by Taeyeon’s straightforwardness.

 

“Unfortunately I would be having dinner with my clients tomorrow night,” Jessica said plainly. However, Taeyeon caught a flash of disappointment in Jessica’s face.

 

Ding. Twenty second floor.

 

Taeyeon let out a short sigh and extended her hand for a handshake. “It’s ok then. It was nice chatting with you, Jessica. Good night and sweet dreams.”

 

“Taeyeon, how about meeting up for a drink after my dinner tomorrow? I’ll see you at the hotel lobby at 10pm,” Jessica called out hurriedly, while pressing the ‘Door Open’ sign.

 

Taeyeon’s heart skipped a beat. She nodded happily. “Yes, I’ll be there! See you tomorrow night. Good night, Jessica,” beamed Taeyeon. She waved to the blonde until the doors of the lift closed completely, before skipping merrily to her room.

 

Taeyeon stepped into the bathroom and stood under the shower. It was relaxing and helped to ease her tired muscles. She had been on her feet for most of the day, running around meeting suppliers and getting quotes for new equipment. As she recalled the conversation she had with Jessica over dinner earlier, she saw her own reflection in the bathroom mirror. She realised she had been smiling to herself while thinking about Jessica.

 

That ninety minute wait was worth every minute of it.

 

 

The lift arrived at Jessica’s floor. She was staying two floors below Taeyeon. She enjoyed the conversation with Taeyeon and didn’t mind meeting her again since she came here alone for this business trip. She took out her mobile phone from her clutch bag and keyed the appointment into her phone. It was then she realised that she didn’t have Taeyeon’s number.

 

Hopefully nothing crops up at the last minute, else I wouldn’t be able to inform her.

 

 

Jessica heard the phone ringing from her room as she was standing outside the door. She dug the room card out of her clutch bag and hurriedly unlocked the door but the call was cut off. She walked towards the phone and saw a red light blinking on her room’s phone, indicating there was a message for her. She pressed the button on the phone to retrieve the message.

 

“Good evening Miss Jung. Miss Kim wanted us to inform you of her mobile number. She said it might come into good use. Would you like to take down her number?” the receptionist said.

 

Jessica picked up the pen and paper next to the phone and jotted down Taeyeon’s Japanese mobile number.

 

“Thank you.” Jessica ended the call.

 

She took out her mobile phone and entered the phone number into her contacts list.

 

“Kim Taeyeon. KTY. An interesting character.”

 

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