Heartbeat – Chapter 1

Jessica squinted, trying to ward off the sunlight that was streaming through the window blinds. She tried to lie on her side to avoid the sun’s rays but the weight on one side of her body was too heavy. Gently lifting the arm and leg that were wrapped around her body, Jessica managed to turn around and lie on her side, facing the warm body that shared her king-size bed.

 

Two years ago, Jessica would have slipped out of bed, not bothering about the person sleeping next to her. That person was just there to warm her bed, provide late night company and the occasional physical satisfaction. Now it was a totally different feeling. She would linger in bed a little longer, just to admire the face of the person sleeping next to her. The messy dark brown hair (which had grown past the shoulders), the smooth fair skin and the small face. She liked every single feature of her fiancée and would never get tired of staring at them.

It had been more than six months since Taeyeon and Jessica got engaged. Taeyeon rented out her own home and moved into Jessica’s apartment so that they could spend more time with each other amid their irregular and long working hours. For two people who lived alone for the past few years, living together was not an easy feat. Staying under one roof together also meant that none of them had to return to an empty apartment every night and it felt more like a home than a house. They learnt about each other’s quirks and habits, and how to accommodate the other person’s lifestyle.

 

Jessica was quite a neat freak. On the other hand, Taeyeon was the messy one. Jessica often nagged at the baker for leaving her clothes all over the couch after taking them out from the laundry. Ironically, the only time the baker insisted on tidiness was in the kitchen when she was baking. Taeyeon squeezed her toothpaste from the middle of the tube but Jessica preferred to squeeze it from the end of the tube. Taeyeon was an early riser but Jessica preferred to laze in bed till almost noon on weekends.

 

Taeyeon had taken on a more consultative role at the Seoul Culinary Academy after completing her course at Le Cordon Bleu in Tokyo. She taught short-term courses such as cake decorating and cookie baking instead of fixed classes. Besides the academy, Taeyeon spent the rest of her time shuttling between the two cafés which she co-owned with Yuri. She did the food reviews whenever she had some spare time. Every now and then, she would fly to Tokyo to help Suzuki-san, her mentor from Japan on various projects.

 

Jessica was a senior consultant doing strategic management in the same consultancy firm. Since she got engaged, Jessica had requested for a change in her job scope, hoping to cut the frequency of her business trips. Fortunately, Mr Sung, her boss, was an understanding man and he helped to reassign her to the current department. However, Jessica was still required to go overseas for meetings when the need arose.

 

There were periods when Jessica’s projects were lined back to back and it involved long working hours. This meant she only saw Taeyeon when the latter was already sleeping in bed. It didn’t help that Taeyeon was an early riser, often waking up before the sun rise on weekdays to get to work at the cafe. Every now and then, Taeyeon also worked on weekend mornings since the cafés had better business then. Their odd and irregular working hours meant that they didn’t see much of each other at times, besides in bed. Even then, one of them could have been sleeping already.

 

It took many sleepless nights for them to realize they loved each other and an even longer time to finally get engaged, hence they treasured the moments they spent together. Going on their two weeks holiday in Paris took a lot of arrangements and coordination in order to pull it through. Jessica almost couldn’t make it at the last minute due to issues arising at work. Thankfully, the issues were resolved quite quickly and both of them managed to enjoy a trouble-free holiday, spent with the person they loved most.

 

Staring at the angelic face that was sleeping peacefully, Jessica couldn’t help planting a light kiss on the soft hair on Taeyeon’s forehead. Lifting her own head a little, Jessica saw the numbers 1:25pm on the alarm clock. They had arrived in Seoul early that morning and were quite exhausted after the long flight. Both of them collapsed into bed the moment they got home, intending to unpack only when they had enough sleep.

 

Jessica carefully lifted Taeyeon’s arm up so that she could slide out of bed but the latter’s arm was as heavy as lead. She knew that Taeyeon was probably half-awake by now judging from that faint smile on Taeyeon’s face and that the baker was only pretending to be asleep.

 

“Taeyeon ah, it’s past lunch time. Rise and shine,” Jessica said gently, rubbing Taeyeon’s back. However, there wasn’t a response from Taeyeon. She tried shaking the sleeping woman but the latter’s eyes remained tightly shut.

 

Jessica had no choice but to use other methods of waking Taeyeon up if she was going to get out of bed. She nibbled gently on Taeyeon’s neck, nipping at the soft skin and slowly made her way down to exposed portion of Taeyeon’s shoulder. That made Taeyeon stirred a little. After a few more gentle bites on her shoulder, Taeyeon finally forced her sleepy eyes open to look at her fiancée.

 

“Good afternoon, baby.” Taeyeon yawned and rubbed her eyes. When her eyes were fully opened, a broad grin appeared on her face.  “It’s rare you’re awake earlier than me.”

 

“It’s past lunch time. Rise and shine! Let’s go eat some delicious Korean food. I’m a little sick of pasta,” Jessica said excitedly.

 

Taeyeon merely grinned from ear to ear. She ran her fingers down Jessica’s arm before stopping at the consultant’s waist. Playfully tugging at the hem of Jessica’s cotton tee, Taeyeon broke into a short giggle.

 

“Oh, I know that look. No, no, no. We had enough of it during our holidays and it’s really time to get up,” Jessica said firmly, noticing the glint of mischief in Taeyeon’s eyes.

 

“We never had enough, baby. Let’s have late lunch in bed instead.” Taeyeon swiftly pinned Jessica to the bed with her body, straddling the younger woman by the waist and attacked her lips hungrily while sliding the tee off Jessica’s head.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Tiffany pushed the buttons on the number pad and unlocked the front door. She carried the bags of groceries into the kitchen and set them on the table. While unpacking the cartons of fruit juice from the plastic bags, she heard some strange noises in the apartment. The noises seemed to be coming from the bedroom on the upper level of the loft.

 

“Ahhhhh….” A high pitched scream was heard. The scream was so shrill it could shatter windows and glass surfaces.

 

That sounds like Jess! Is she in trouble?! But she’s not back till tomorrow… maybe it’s an intruder!

 

Tiffany armed herself with a frying pan and proceeded cautiously up the stairs. The strange noises were getting louder as she climbed a step at a time. Since it was a loft apartment, the bedroom was designed with an open concept so there wasn’t a door. When she finally got to top of the stairs, she peered at the bedroom from the corner of the wall.

 

There were pillows and clothes strewn all over the bedroom floor. Under the blanket, there were vigorous movements and muffled sounds of someone panting heavily. Tiffany let out a shriek at the sight in front of her.

 

The big lump under the blanket stopped moving abruptly. Soft murmurs were heard underneath the blanket. A few moments later, a small head popped from the blanket. The person had dishevelled hair, a red face and was grinning sheepishly when their eyes met.

 

“Is that Jess underneath you?!” Tiffany yelled, pointing the frying pan at the fair slender leg that was sticking out of the blanket. The leg immediately retracted within the cover of the blanket in a blink of an eye.

 

Taeyeon nodded. The sheepish grin was still plastered on her face. “She is erm…not dressed appropriately to meet you right now.”

 

Tiffany pointed the frying pan at Taeyeon and waved it at her. “I thought the both of you are supposed to come home tomorrow morning?? What are you doing in bed here? Now?!”

 

“Having a late lunch?” Taeyeon said innocently, batting her eyelids and licking her lips. She attempted to brush her dishevelled hair from her face with one hand while shifting her body weight to the side of Jessica so that she wouldn’t crush the younger woman.

 

“Tiff, we took the earlier flight and arrived early this morning. Sorry for giving you such a rude shock. I should have texted you when we arrived home but I was too tired,” Jessica explained, her voice muffled under the blanket. Thoroughly embarrassed, Jessica didn’t dare to stick her head out of the blanket.

 

“Arrghh… I need to cleanse my eyes…my eyes!! Oh, my ears too. My poor ears…,” Tiffany’s voice trailed off as she walked down the steps with lightning speed.

 

“Oops!” Taeyeon folded the top of the blanket down when Tiffany had disappeared out of sight, revealing an extremely embarrassed Jessica.

 

“It’s entirely your fault! Having lunch in bed? What a bad idea it is! You better make amends by baking her favourite cake,” Jessica warned, giving Taeyeon a smack on her shoulder.

 

That night, all of them gathered at Jessica’s apartment for dinner. Jessica brought out a bottle of red wine and poured it equally into the five glasses on the dining table.

 

Five women lifted up their glass of red wine and clinked them together with a loud cheer. Then, they tucked into the spread of Korean dishes such as kim chi soup and japchae, made by Tiffany and Yuri.

 

“How was your Paris trip?” Yuri asked, twirling the japchae using her chopsticks.

 

“It was heartbreaking,” Taeyeon said sadly. She shook her head slightly and sighed.

 

“Heartbreaking? Why is that so, Taeyeon unnie? Everyone was telling me how lovely that place is.” Yoona was puzzled by Taeyeon’s reply.

 

Taeyeon turned to her side and looked at Jessica, who was ignoring her and was busy scooping the kimbap onto her plate.

 

“My dear fiancée wanted to bring the whole Champs-Elysees avenue home. Fortunately she realised that we had to adhere to baggage limits by the airline. Right, baby?” Taeyeon tucked Jessica’s chestnut coloured hair behind her ear and caressed her cheek. Jessica’s reddening face provided an obvious answer to Taeyeon’s question.

 

Yuri burst out laughing at Jessica’s embarrassed look. It was rare to see the powerful career woman behaving in such a docile manner. Jessica of the past would have shut Taeyeon up with one or two words from her or even with only a glare. This was the power of love.

 

“There’s always shipping services like DHL…” Tiffany said casually, trying to stir trouble for Taeyeon after her earlier encounter at the Jung residence.

 

“S-stop planting ideas in her head!” Taeyeon exclaimed. Thankfully she hadn’t put that huge piece of kimbap into her mouth or she would have spat everything out at that moment. “Here, have some kimbap.”

 

Taeyeon shoved a forkful of kimbap in front of Tiffany hastily, dropping some of them onto her plate accidentally.

 

“I need something more than kimbap to cleanse my innocent mind of what I saw this morning,” Tiffany threatened, narrowing her eyes at Taeyeon.

 

“Oh, what happened?” Yoona asked as she refilled everyone’s red wine.

 

“I was just being the kind friend, coming here to clear their mail box and refilling their fridge in case they starve. Then I heard some strange noises coming from upstairs so I had to investigate in case there were intruders. Guess what, I had the most Oh-My-Gosh moment when I discovered two people having late lunch in bed.” Tiffany hid her face behind her hands, horrified by the recollection of the scene she saw a few hours ago. She was certain those images and sounds would stay in her mind for quite a while.

 

“Nothing wrong with eating in bed right?” Yoona asked innocently, unable to understand what Tiffany was getting at.

 

Taeyeon and Jessica kept their heads down. They stole glances at each other and their faces were as red as the red pepper sauce in their ddeokbokki.

 

“Oh my…” Yuri’s voice trailed off, seeing the couple’s embarrassed faces. It was then she realized what Tiffany was referring to. Although Yuri knew that both of them were very active in their bedroom activities, it was still awkward to listen to someone talking about it face to face. She sympathised with Tiffany’s plight.

 

The two culprits were giggling between themselves and pointing fingers at each other, blaming each other in a teasing manner.

 

“See, I told you it’s an Oh-my-Gosh moment right?” Tiffany reiterated, throwing her hands up in the air.

 

“Taeyeon unnie, what did you buy for us?” Yoona said loudly, trying to divert Tiffany’s attention away from the blushing lovebirds. She finally understood what the two elder girls were driving at.

 

“Open it up and you’ll know.” Taeyeon took out the nicely wrapped presents from the paper bag that was next to her. She handed out the presents to the two girls who were smiling from ear to ear.

 

“Thank you!” Yuri and Yoona said in unison before they looked at each other, smiled and quickly looked away from each other.

 

“Such good chemistry eh?” Taeyeon teased, throwing a wink at Yuri. Yuri pretended she didn’t see Taeyeon’s wink and was focused on carefully unwrapping the present.

 

“I had to remind this woman to buy proper presents for you else you’ll end up with French loaves and quiches instead. She got so carried away with trying out almost every single type of bread and pastry at the cafes. I almost had to pay for excess baggage too, right darling?” This time, it was Jessica’s turn to expose Taeyeon’s secret. She patted Taeyeon’s tummy, hinting at where the excess baggage was.

 

Taeyeon snatched Jessica’s finger from her tummy and bit it gently. That erupted into a fight and the two of them started smacking each other playfully like naughty little kids in the playground. It was amusing to see the softer side of Jessica, one which came out whenever she was fooling around with Taeyeon.

 

Tiffany once told Jessica that Taeyeon brought out the kid in her. She was happy for her best friend to find someone who could make her smile and fill the void in her heart.

 

“Children, if you don’t finish your dinner soon, you’re not entitled to dessert,” Tiffany commanded, sounding like a mother reprimanding her kids. “Especially you!”

 

“Huh? I can’t eat the dessert I made?” Taeyeon said with a pout.

 

“You deserve it! Bleh!” Jessica stuck her tongue out at Taeyeon.

 

All of them ended up laughing heartily, bringing a happy end to the night.

 

~*~*~*~

 

“Baby, I’ll be going to Tokyo on Thursday and I’ll be back on Friday.” Taeyeon was looking through her upcoming schedule on her iPad. She walked out of the kitchen and stopped next to the love of her life. There were two neat stacks of papers and some stationery on the table as Jessica typed away on her laptop. Instead of staying late in the office that night, Jessica chose to bring her work home to do so that both of them could eat dinner together.

 

Taeyeon placed an arm around Jessica’s shoulder and planted a kiss on the crown of Jessica’s head. The warm gesture made Jessica stop her work and look at Taeyeon, the corner of her lips turned upwards in a wide smile.

 

“Suzuki san?” Jessica rested her head against Taeyeon’s stomach, circling her arms around Taeyeon’s waist. Taeyeon’s stomach was soft and smelled of cranberries. Yes, cranberries. Taeyeon’s scent changed depending on what she was baking at the moment.

 

Taeyeon nodded and stroked Jessica’s arm with her free hand. “Your sweetheart is in such a great demand, people can’t get enough of me.”

 

“Thick skinned.” Jessica giggled into Taeyeon’s stomach, making the shorter girl squirm as it was rather ticklish.

 

“If I wasn’t thick skinned enough, I wouldn’t have gotten myself such a beautiful and capable fianceé, right? Try this cookie from a new recipe I created,” Taeyeon chuckled as she fed Jessica a piece of cranberry oatmeal cookie she just baked.

 

“Hmm…crunchy…delicious…”

 

“I take it that it is okay to introduce it at the cafe?”

 

Taeyeon felt Jessica nod against her stomach.

 

“Honestly, I wonder how I managed to stay slim after I started living with a baker,” Jessica mumbled.

 

“Eating in moderation and having a healthy dose of exercise help to keep your weight in check,” Taeyeon said in a matter-of-fact tone, brushing her fingers through Jessica’s chestnut locks.

 

“Exercise? We hardly exercise besides the occasional stroll along at the river. I wouldn’t even call that exercise.” Jessica looked up at Taeyeon, her brows furrowed.

 

“We do! In fact, we exercise quite regularly,” Taeyeon sniggered.

 

“We do??” Jessica exclaimed incredulously. Besides her regular stomach crunches before bedtime, she hardly had time to exercise.

 

“Like this.” Taeyeon bent down and pressed her lips onto Jessica’s. She ran one of her hands through Jessica’s hair, her fingernails scrapping gently across the latter’s scalp. She stopped at the base of Jessica’s head and drew small circles with her thumb. Her other hand was pressed against the chair, supporting her own weight as she climbed on top of Jessica’s lap and sat down, her own legs dangling from both sides of the chair.  All this while, her lips never left Jessica’s. Her impatient tongue was tracing the outline of Jessica’s lips, trying to nudge the latter to open her mouth.

 

The moment Jessica let out a soft moan, Taeyeon slipped her tongue into the latter’s mouth, causing the latter to shiver with ecstasy as their tongues danced in sync. Jessica wrapped her arms around Taeyeon’s neck and pulled her closer. She never got tired of Taeyeon showering kisses on her at any time of the day. Her favourite was still the good morning kiss on her eyelid just before Taeyeon left for work.

 

At the height of their passionate kiss, Taeyeon pulled away rather abruptly, leaving a breathless Jessica with a surprised expression on her face.

 

“That is just a warm up, my dear. Something to get your heart rate up before we get into the serious workout later,” Taeyeon teased, her eyes tinkering with desire.

 

“You’re cunning, Cheesecake Kim.” Jessica poked the baker’s forehead with a finger.

 

Taeyeon pinched Jessica’s nose playfully before hopping out of the comfortable lap she was resting on. “I think I need to reduce the amount of oats in the cookie, judging from the amount of crumbs in your mouth. Time to refine my recipe before I start on my workout.”

 

Taeyeon’s endless energy and passion for her art was one of the many reasons why Jessica fell in love with her.  Jessica couldn’t help but giggle as she watched the baker skipped her way to the kitchen like a little child.

 

“I never said about agreeing to go on a workout with you!” Jessica hollered from the dining room before she broke out in girlish giggles again.

 

“It wouldn’t be fun to work out alone. Maybe I should find someone random who would be willing to work out with me,” Taeyeon yelled from the kitchen.

 

“Ya, go ahead!”

 

“Okay, I’ll find someone else when I’m done baking my second batch of cook…”

 

Before Taeyeon could finish her sentence, she was suddenly enveloped in a back hug and there was a sultry purr next to her ear. A pair of moist lips nibbled her left ear and whispered, “Go ahead and try finding a new workout partner.  I guarantee no one else would be able to give you as much pleasure as me.”

 

Taeyeon gulped when she felt a hand tugging at the waistband of her shorts, sliding along the rubberized band and cupping her butt, causing her heart to beat erratically. Moreover Jessica’s body was pressed against Taeyeon’s back and it was sending strong jolts of pleasures throughout her body.

 

“I-I wouldn’t d-dare, b-baby,” Taeyeon stammered. Her legs were turning wobbly from the sexual tension and she placed her hands on the table top for support.

 

“Now that’s a good girl. Carry on baking then. I shall resume my work.” Jessica briefly glazed her lips across Taeyeon’s ears, removed her hands from Taeyeon’s shorts in one swift motion and left the kitchen.

 

Taeyeon was left standing by the island in the centre of the kitchen. Her breathing was heavy from the close encounter.

 

Never underestimate the power of seduction by Jessica Jung. 

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