No Strings Attached – Chapter Two

“Welcome back, Miss Jung. Here’s your seat. I’ll help you with your luggage,” the air stewardess said.

 

Jessica handed her red Prada calf leather briefcase to the air stewardess before taking a seat in the Business Class section of her flight. Though it was only a short flight, she was thankful the company allowed her to travel in the comfort and privacy of Business Class. She eased herself into the comfortable seat as she flipped through the inflight magazine.

 

Soon, the plane arrived at the Haneda Airport. Jessica got up from her seat to take her briefcase from the overhead compartment. She bought a bottle of red wine from the duty free store before heading to the luggage belt to collect her bag.

 

Once Jessica stepped out of the airport terminal, she was greeted by the usual friendly looking Japanese chauffeur who led her to a large Japanese sedan that was parked by the side of the road. She couldn’t wait to get to her hotel so that she could unwind in a nice bubble bath with a glass of red wine.

 

After a relaxing bath, Jessica felt refreshed. She tied her hair in a bun and watched a bit of cable tv before looking at her conference notes. She was scheduled to do a short presentation on the third day of the conference and it was her habit to read through the notes once before the actual day.

 

Unzipping the bag and Jessica realised something was amiss. The contents of the bag didn’t belong to her. She couldn’t have been dazed after just two glasses of red wine. Reaching into the bag, she pulled out a clear folder.

 

“Chocolate mint tart? Jelly roll cake? Chi Chi Dango Strawberry? What are these? Recipes?” Jessica said in amazement when she looked at the random scribbling on the papers in the file. The bag definitely didn’t belong to her.

 

“Oh my God! I must have taken the wrong bag when I left the plane. My materials and Macbook are all in there!” Jessica slapped her forehead when she realised the mistake she made.

 

She looked around the other contents in the bag, hoping to find some sort of identification of the owner. The only clue she had was a hotel reservation slip. Fortunately the owner of the bag was staying at the same hotel as Jessica.

 

“Miss Kim T.Y. Hmm…I’m pretty sure this person has the same bag as me and had probably taken my bag by accident. I am very sure this bag was the last one in the overhead compartment when I took it out. Anyway, I better swing by the concierge to see if this person has checked into the hotel. At least I could do a bag exchange,” Jessica muttered to herself, feeling frustrated.

 

 

=== At the hotel lobby ===

 

“Excuse me, I would like to find out if this person has checked into the hotel. We got our bags mixed up at the airport and it so happens that the owner is staying here. I would like to contact her to get our bags exchanged, thanks,” Jessica explained to the lady at the reception. She pointed to the red Prada briefcase she was holding.

 

“Hold on a moment, let me check,” the lady replied politely.

 

A few taps on the keyboard and some clicks of the mouse, the lady said, “Miss Jung, Miss Kim has not checked in yet.”

 

A frown appeared on Jessica’s face. “Please let me know as soon as she has checked in. She probably took my bag by accident, and I need the items in my bag urgently for the conference which starts tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ll leave her bag here since I have no use for it. You can hand it to her when she gets in. Thank you for your help.”

 

Jessica wrote her mobile number and a brief description of her bag’s contents on a piece of paper and handed it to the staff. Fortunately she saved her conference notes in Dropbox and could access it via a computer anywhere anytime. She went to the Business Centre to get her presentation materials printed as a backup, just in case she couldn’t get her bag back in time.

 

After finishing her work, Jessica went out of the hotel for a break. However, it was rather late at night and most of the shops were closed. The only places that remained opened were ramen stores, clubs, pubs and karaoke joints. She pulled out her mobile phone from her jacket pocket and scrolled through the phone list. She stopped at the letter “T” in her contact list.

 

“TYO…should I give her a call?” Jessica said aloud to herself while standing at the entrance of the hotel. The bellboy standing her near turned around and smiled. Jessica smiled back and headed for a nearby convenience store in embarrassment.

 

Jessica grabbed some random Japanese fashion magazines at the convenience store before returning to her room. Lazing in the room seemed like the best choice at the moment. She dimmed the lights in her room and turned on some jazz music on radio. She sat by the full length window of her twentieth floor hotel room and admired the night scenery while enjoying her red wine.

 

Frequent travelling meant she had to be alone most of the time and she didn’t like that feeling. Loneliness gnawed at Jessica, sometimes causing sleepless nights. Jessica was a popular person and she had no trouble finding someone to hang out with her. To her, it wasn’t about the quantity but the quality. Even if she was surrounded by friends and colleagues, she felt emptiness inside of her. She wanted to feel loved and ached for affection.

 

However, Jessica had been hurt once. Hurt so badly that she was afraid of getting attached again, worried that the next person was going to break her heart. Since that relationship ended, she decided that she would not fall in love anymore. Loving someone was too tiring for her. In a way, she was happy she was offered the post of senior consultant which meant that she would be doubly busy and could bury herself in work so that she could forget about the unhappiness.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

After a long day at the conference, Jessica dragged her tired feet back to the hotel. She had been hopping in and out of various lecture rooms to attend the various seminars shared by companies from around the world. Before returning to her room, she made her way to the front desk, hoping that Miss Kim would have returned her bag.

 

“Good evening Miss Jung. Unfortunately Miss Kim still hasn’t checked in yet. She was supposed to arrive yesterday evening but we’ve not received any news from her yet. We’ll definitely inform you once she’s here. Sorry to keep you waiting,” said the same lady at the counter.

 

Jessica could only nod her head and smiled but inside, she was anxious to get her bag back. It contained her Macbook, her work documents and some personal stuff. She wondered where Miss Kim had disappeared to since she was supposed to check in last night.

 

Blaming on her bad luck, Jessica decided to go out for dinner and drinks since she managed to skip the dinner networking session.

 

Jessica strolled into the small cosy bar she frequented whenever she visited Tokyo for business trips. It was tucked in a quiet corner of Shinagawa and thankfully tonight it wasn’t packed with loud drunken Japanese business men. The middle aged bartender cum owner greeted Jessica with a smile as she sat down at her usual spot right at the end of the bar counter.

 

Minutes later, her favourite brand of sake and some bar snacks were served without needing to place her order. The owner also knew not to disturb Jessica and her guests until she called for the bill. Jessica appreciated little gestures like these and waved her hand to thank the owner.

 

Jessica poured the sake into the ochoko and tipped the small ceramic cup into her mouth, feeling the warm liquid trickling down her throat. She liked the crisp and clean flavour of the Japanese alcohol. Within fifteen minutes, Jessica had already drunk two cups of sake.

 

“Sica chan, starting without me?” a sweet yet seductive voice whispered beside Jessica’s ear. The person slid onto the couch next to Jessica and wrapped an arm around Jessica’s waist.

 

“It took you a while,” a smile slowly crept up Jessica’s face. The tall and slim lady placed her hand on Jessica’s face and kissed Jessica’s right cheek as she refilled the ochoko with sake with her free hand.

 

“Traffic was bad,” the lady smiled and handed Jessica her ochoko. “I’ll drink two cups as my apology.”

 

More kissing, groping and drinking later, Jessica decided to call it a day since she still had a conference to attend the next day and it wouldn’t be professional if she appeared drunk and dazed.  They kissed goodbye at their seat before going on their separate ways out of the pub.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

“Miss Jung, Miss Jung!”

 

Jessica thought she heard someone calling her name as she walked towards the elevators. She felt someone tapping her on her shoulder so she stopped in her tracks. She turned around and saw the hotel staff whom she was talking to before dinner.

 

“Miss Jung, sorry to disturb you so late at night. Miss Kim has checked into the hotel an hour ago and she had indeed taken your bag by accident. We called your mobile phone earlier but we couldn’t get through. She wanted us to pass you a note as well,” the lady apologised. She handed Jessica the red Prada briefcase and a white envelope.

 

“Great, it’s finally here. Thank you for informing me,” Jessica said in delight as she peered into the bag to check its contents.

 

“Good night Miss Jung, have a good rest,” the lady bowed and returned back to the reception.

 

Once Jessica stepped into her room, weariness seemed to have overcome her. She left the bag on the side table and tossed the note onto the dressing table. Seeing the comfortable bed in front of her, she kicked off her heels and plopped herself onto it. Within minutes, she was fast asleep on the comfortable queen sized bed.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

Early next morning, Jessica was woken up by a phone call. Thankfully she had arranged for morning call and that saved her from being late for the conference. She rubbed her temples while sitting up at the edge of her bed. Her hair was in a total mess and her lipstick was smeared onto the pillow she hugged last night.

 

After a long hot shower, Jessica felt more refreshed. She tied her hair into a neat bun and applied light makeup to her face. Fortunately she was blessed with a good complexion and didn’t need much makeup to enhance her natural beauty. She slipped on her jacket and heels, grabbed her red briefcase and left the room.

 

Eight hours later, the second day of conference had ended. Jessica managed to escape another night of networking dinner, citing the reason that she had to prepare for her presentation the following day. She only joined the attendees for cocktails before heading back to her room.

 

Upon entering her room, Jessica kicked off her heels, dropped her bag onto her luggage and opened a bottle of red wine. She swirled the red liquid in her glass before taking a sip. Walking towards the dressing table, Jessica intended to watch the television and chill for a while before grabbing dinner from a nearby eatery. Suddenly, she noticed a white envelope with the hotel’s name on the desk. Tearing open the envelope, she pulled out the white slip of paper and unfolded it. There was a handwritten message in neat Korean text.

 

Dear Miss Jung,

Thank you for returning my bag. I’m sorry I took your bag by accident on the flight two days ago. As an apology for the inconvenience caused, I would like to buy you dinner. I’ll be waiting at the Dining Room tomorrow night at 7pm. I hope to see you there.

With regards,

K.T.Y.

 

Jessica looked at her watch and realised it was past 8pm. If it was her, she would definitely had left after ten minutes. She never had the patience to wait for late comers. She wondered if the sender of the note would still be waiting there since it was more than an hour ago. On one hand, she wanted to give that person a good scolding for being so careless and causing so much trouble for her. On the other hand, she was curious to see the person was.

 

Finishing up her red wine, Jessica made up her mind to go to the restaurant since she had to grab dinner anyway. Wine wasn’t going to ease her hunger and having a meal in the hotel seemed tempting instead of having to head out and hunt for food. She slipped into a pair of skinny jeans and a pair of Tom’s shoes before heading to the top floor of the hotel where the restaurant was located.

 

When the lift arrived at the top floor, Jessica gasped at the wondering sight in front of her. The night view of Tokyo from the restaurant was breath taking. It was a cloudless night and stars would be seen twinkling in the sky. The dark ground was lit with numerous bright lights, resembling a mirror reflection of the stars in the sky.

 

“Good evening madam, how can I help you?” a tall Japanese man in a black suit greeted Jessica at the door.

 

“Oh, I’m…looking for someone. Not sure if she’s still here. Her name is Miss Kim TY,” Jessica replied.

 

The man checked his reservation sheet and nodded. “Yes she is. I’ll show you to your seat.”

 

He smiled and led the way into the restaurant.

 

Jessica glanced around the restaurant, wondering who Miss Kim aka K.T.Y. person could be. Most of the people were couples or lone business men who were having their late dinner at the restaurant. The man stopped at a table next to the window.

 

“Here’s your seat. I’ll be back again to take your order,” the man said politely.

 

The lady at the table rose. She was dressed in a light purple long sleeve Oxford shirt, with sleeves folded to her elbows and a pair of black jeans.  She had dark brown hair which ended just above her shoulders and a fair complexion. There was a wide smile on her face.

 

“Hello, you must be Miss Jung. I’m Kim Taeyeon, TY for short if you wish. Pleased to meet you,” Taeyeon said as she shook Jessica’s hand.

 

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