Heartbeat – Chapter 2

Taeyeon walked around the tables and observed her students who were trying to pipe frostings on their cupcakes. It was the first lesson of her cupcake baking class. Her class comprised of students and working adults of varying ages. Some of them were keen on picking up tips from the award-winning baker while others were simply there to see Taeyeon in the flesh.

 

The lesson was about baking cupcakes and Taeyeon was demonstrating how to whisk the ingredients in the bowl. The students listened attentively and tried to follow her instructions at their respective work stations. Taeyeon walked around the classroom, observing how each of them was doing. One student raised her hand, requesting for help and Taeyeon swiftly appeared by her side.

 

“Seonsaeng-nim, I seem to be making a mess instead of mixing the ingredients properly,” the teenager said shyly.

Taeyeon picked up the whisk and the bowl and showed the student how it was done. The student was delighted and watched Taeyeon attentively. After she was done, Taeyeon placed the bowl and whisk on the table so that the student could continue mixing the ingredients just like how she had demonstrated.  The eager student nodded excitedly and mimicked Taeyeon’s actions, gaining an encouraging nod from the baker.

 

While the cupcakes baked in the oven, Taeyeon shared her baking experiences with the class and got them to share theirs as well. She was surprised that quite a number of them joined the class because of her. Her cheeks were flushed with the colour of pink, amazed at her popularity. She thought only idols or actors would enjoy such attention.

 

When the cupcakes were ready, Taeyeon began to explain the process of frosting. She walked towards the nearest student’s work station and demonstrated the technique of piping a frosting onto a cupcake. She picked a large star-shaped tip and fitted it to the piping bag. Starting in the centre of the cupcake, Taeyeon swirled the piping bag around using an even pressure and ended with a peak at the top. Everyone clapped after Taeyeon was done, causing the baker to blush with embarrassment. To her, it was child’s play, something which she had been doing for more than a decade.

 

“Remember to apply an even pressure while squeezing the piping bag in order to have a consistent thickness. Practice makes perfect. Please choose the tip you prefer and try piping some frosting onto the baking paper first before you pipe it onto your cupcakes,” Taeyeon instructed.

 

There was a chorus of ‘Yes’ before everyone went about practising their frosting techniques. As usual, Taeyeon walked around the classroom and observed her students. It wasn’t easy to pipe a nice frosting in the first few tries.  She was quick to step in to correct anyone if their techniques were incorrect.

 

“Seonsaeng-nim, could you come over here to help me?” someone called out from one end of the room.

 

Taeyeon hurried over to help the student in question.

 

“I’m unable to pipe the frosting properly. It always turns out squishy and uneven. Could you show me how?” It was the same student that had problems with whisking earlier on.

 

“Sure, pass me your piping bag and I’ll do one example for you so that you can follow.”

 

Taeyeon showed the student how to hold the bag correctly and she piped a simple frosting on the top of the cupcake. She returned the piping bag to the student and told the student to pipe one cupcake for her to see.

 

The student squeezed the bag a little too hard. A huge lump of pink frosting sat on top of the cupcake and it looked quite unsightly.

 

“Jiyeon, you should hold your piping bag perpendicularly to your cupcake. Apply a constant pressure and move in one fluid motion,” Taeyeon explained patiently.

 

Taeyeon stood next to the student and held the piping bag that was still in Jiyeon’s hands, guiding the student as she applied frosting to a new piece of cupcake. Taeyeon failed to notice Jiyeon was focusing her attention on Taeyeon’s face than at what Taeyeon was trying to show her. The student was star struck at the opportunity of being so close to her.

 

Jiyeon smiled when Taeyeon wrapped her hand around her own hand and squeezed it gently, allowing the frosting to slowly ease out of the piping bag and onto the cupcake. Jiyeon’s heart was doing somersaults and her breath hitched. Taeyeon guided her hand to move in small circles until a reasonably sized frosting was sitting on top of the chocolate cupcake.

 

“”It’s quite simple isn’t it? Now you try,” Taeyeon encouraged, releasing her hand from Jiyeon’s.

 

The feeling of Taeyeon’s warm hand on Jiyeon seemed so surreal. Jiyeon couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as Taeyeon stepped aside to observe how she would pipe the next cupcake.

 

“Good job. Practice makes perfect.” Taeyeon smiled as she moved onto another table to check on other students’ progress. She gave words of encouragement to the slower students and praised the quicker ones while she walked around the classroom. She did her rounds until time was up.

 

“Thank you for your attention today. Class is dismissed,” Taeyeon announced with a clap.

 

The students cleaned their baking tools and filed out of the classroom, saying their goodbyes to their teacher. Taeyeon started to wash her baking tools after everyone left.

 

“Seonsaeng-nim , would you like me to help you?” a timid voice asked.

 

Taeyeon turned off the tap and turned around to face the owner of the voice. She was surprised to see Jiyeon standing in front of her work station as she assumed that everyone had left the classroom.

 

“I’m done. You should be going home since it is rather late.” Taeyeon wiped her hands on a towel.

 

“Yes, Seonsaeng-nim. I enjoyed your class a lot today. Thank you for being so patient with me,” Jiyeon beamed.

 

“If you have the chance, do watch some videos or read some bakery books. Those would help you pick up some techniques on baking,” Taeyeon said with a gentle smile.

 

Jiyeon thanked Taeyeon for her advice and said goodbye before disappearing out of the class. Taeyeon looked at the back view of her eager student skipping out of the classroom. She hoped her student’s enthusiasm would remain till the end of the class. It wasn’t unusual to see dropouts in the midway of a course.

 

By the time Taeyeon finished writing her report, it was already an hour after classes had ended and most of the students had left. The academy was quiet and there were only a handful of people milling around the carpark. Taeyeon hurried to her car and drove out of the Academy.

 

As Taeyeon turned into the side road, she noticed a familiar person walking down the street towards the main road. It was Jiyeon. She slowed down and stopped beside her. The side road wasn’t brightly lit and it didn’t feel safe for a young girl to be walking along the pathway alone.

 

“Jiyeon, do you need a lift to the nearby train station?” Taeyeon asked, leaning over the passenger seat.

 

Jiyeon’s face lit up, nodded excitedly and hopped into the car.

 

“Thank you, Seonsaeng-nim!” Jiyeon said with glee, excited at the thought of sitting in her teacher’s car.

 

“Why are you still hanging around this area? It can be quite dangerous to walk alone so late at night. You should join the rest of the students when they leave.”

 

“I noticed that my phone was flat and I wanted to charge it for a little while. While waiting for it to charge, I was playing games on my iPad and forgot about the time,” Jiyeon answered sheepishly.

 

“In future, be more mindful about time. You wouldn’t want to be locked in the Academy overnight,” Taeyeon lectured.

 

“Sorry, Seonsaeng-nim. I’ll be more careful next time!” Jiyeon promised. She turned around to face Taeyeon. She was captivated by Taeyeon’s casual dress sense; a loose white blouse with its sleeves folded at the elbows, paired with dark blue skinny jeans and a pair of loafers. It was a completely different look from the plain white baker’s uniform and black leather shoes. Taeyeon’s hair was still tied in a neat ponytail and she noticed a silver necklace around Taeyeon’s neck.

 

Throughout the short journey, Taeyeon felt a pair of eyes studying her side profile as she drove towards the train station. She took a side glance and caught Jiyeon staring at her. Both of them hurriedly looked away when their eyes met. Taeyeon felt a little uncomfortable knowing someone was staring at her in a strange way. She kept her eyes on the road in front as she answered Jiyeon’s random questions about her favourite colour and food.

 

Thankfully the traffic was relatively clear and they arrived at the train station shortly. Jiyeon thanked her teacher once again before alighting. Taeyeon gave her a quick wave and headed home. Jessica was out having dinner and drinks with her colleagues and wouldn’t be back early. After a tiring day at work, Taeyeon decided to go to bed earlier instead of waiting for Jessica to come home.

 

A few hours later, Taeyeon felt someone sliding into bed beside her and an arm snaking across her stomach. She opened her eyes sleepily. “Baby, you’re home. What time is it?”

 

“Sorry, did I wake you up? It’s past 2am,” Jessica whispered, looking at the sleepy baker whose eyes were barely opened. She brushed away thick strands of hair from Taeyeon’s face. Cupping the small face, Jessica gently drew circles on Taeyeon’s cheek with her thumb.

 

“It’s okay. Had fun tonight?” Though her eyes were barely open, Taeyeon’s lips naturally found Jessica’s and they indulged in a long kiss. The taste of alcohol still lingered in Jessica’s mouth even after she had brushed her teeth. It was Bailey’s, Jessica’s favourite choice of drink.

 

“Go to sleep. I’ll tell you about it another time. Lunch together tomorrow?” Jessica said after they broke apart from their kiss.

 

Taeyeon didn’t reply Jessica immediately. Instead she gently rolled Jessica on her side, wrapped her arm around Jessica’s chest and intertwined her fingers with Jessica’s. She curled her leg across Jessica’s and buried her face in those chestnut-coloured locks, spooning the younger woman. This was their favourite sleeping position since the first time they slept together in Tokyo. The warmth on Jessica’s back and the protective arms around her body gave Jessica a sense of security and love.

 

Jessica felt Taeyeon nodding at the back of her neck as a reply to her question.

 

“Good night, baby.” Taeyeon kissed the back of Jessica’s neck and snuggled closer. Jessica brought Taeyeon’s hand to her lips and kissed the back of it. Soon, soft snoring was heard from the back of Jessica. She held Taeyeon’s hand close to her heart and joined the baker in dreamland.

 

~*~*~*~

 

“Hey Jessica, have you heard about our new colleague who’s joining us next month?” Hyun Seung gave a light knock on Jessica’s door and invited himself into her office without waiting for her reply. He sank into the chair in front of Jessica’s desk and swirled it around before stopping to face the person behind the desk.

 

Jessica was typing away, completely ignoring the well-dressed young man who barged into her room. Hyun Seung was her colleague at work and he joined the company three months ago. He was an infamous skirt chaser nicknamed Trouble Maker by all the females in the company. As long as the target was a female who wore a skirt and was relatively good looking, he would certainly make his presence felt in front of that girl.

 

One week after joining the company, Hyun Seung openly proclaimed his affections for Jessica. To him, as long as the person wasn’t married, he had the right to flirt with her. The colleagues merely sniggered whenever he would describe his plans of wooing Jessica. A kind soul once warned him that he wasn’t Jessica’s type but he refused to believe his charms wouldn’t work on any woman. He was a rather arrogant young man and the team members wanted to take the opportunity to teach him a lesson. They were waiting to see the drama unfold between him and the ice queen.

 

“Mr Sung told me she’s really pretty. Now that you’ve got competition at work, are you worried about maintaining your position as the office hot chick?” Hyun Seung said with a smirk on his face. He picked up a pen from Jessica’s stationery holder and twirled it in his hand.

 

“I’m happy she’s here. In fact, I would even put out a red carpet for her,” Jessica replied, her voice filled with sarcasm.

 

Obviously the sarcasm was lost on him. Hyun Seung looked at Jessica with amazement, surprised that she was planning something grand for the newcomer.

 

Well well, they told me she was cold and stern. They are wrong! She’s so enthusiastic about welcoming her to the company.  Hyun Seung thought to himself; a smile appearing on his face.

 

“At least she would get you off my back. If you don’t mind, I have work to do unlike someone who’s very free and enjoys lounging in front of other people’s desks.” Jessica tilted the LED monitor to block Hyun Seung’s face, a direct hint for him to leave her office.

 

“I’ll go get more scoop about her and tell you over lunch,” Hyun Seung said merrily as he left the room.

 

Jessica merely sighed as she focused on her work. Hyun Seung was a capable young man, just three years younger than her but he tended to be over-confident at times, resulting in his arrogance which pissed the other colleagues off. At times, she contemplated on telling Hyun Seung that she was already engaged and had no interest in men, but she ended up just ignoring him or brushing him away if it was non-work related matters. She wasn’t a person who enjoyed making small talk unless circumstances forced her to.

 

At 12pm sharp, Hyun Seung appeared at Jessica’s office. He leaned against the door, one hand in the pocket of his jacket and another against the door frame, as if he was posing for a fashion magazine.

 

“Are you ready to leave?” Hyun Seung asked, flashing his million dollar smile at her. “It would only be you and me. The rest of them have something on.”

 

To Hyun Seung’s surprise, Jessica rose from her seat, took her handbag from the drawer and headed towards him. Hyun Seung’s eyes were wide open, surprised that he hadn’t met with any resistance this time. He beamed merrily to himself as he stepped aside, allowing Jessica to close the door after stepping out of her room.

 

“Let’s go. I know of a good lunch place two blocks down the street. I’ll drive.” Hyun Seung fell into step with Jessica as he walked alongside of her.

 

“I don’t recall saying that I’ll be eating lunch with you,” Jessica said firmly.

 

“Neither did you say that you’re not eating lunch with me,” Hyun Seung grinned as he caught up with Jessica.

 

Twenty minutes later, Jessica and Taeyeon were sitting face to face at a table in a small sandwich bar.

 

“Sorry someone had to interrupt our lunch date. He was very persistent and I couldn’t get him off my back,” Jessica said sadly with a pout.

 

Taeyeon reached across the table and pulled the pout into a smile with her hands.

 

“Who is he?” Taeyeon chuckled as she admired the forced smile on Jessica’s face.

 

“A thick-skinned pest,” came a frustrated reply. Jessica’s brows were creased at the middle and she let out a long sigh.

 

Taeyeon let out a laugh. She held Jessica’s hand under the table and rubbed it gently. “Nevermind, at least we’re still eating lunch together and we even have someone to serve us.”

 

Jessica turned to look at Hyun Seung who was patiently queuing up for his turn to place his orders.

 

“He’s quite a nice guy. I would have introduced him to Tiff if she wasn’t attached already. The both of them would make a good pair since they’re equally loud and hyperactive.”

 

“Well, opposites attract, just like us. Fortunately, I managed to grab the gorgeous woman off the shelf before anyone else does.”

 

“Hey, are you saying I’m a product in the supermarket?” Jessica raised her brows and glared at Taeyeon.

 

“I’m just saying it figuratively. It means you’re no longer left on the shelf. Even if you are, you’re displayed behind the shelves and you are limited edition! One…one of a kind!”

 

Jessica was shaking her head from side to side. “Kim Taeyeon, your explanation is getting from bad to worse.”

 

“Aish! You know what I truly mean right?”

 

“Yes I do. You’re saying I’m a common product that’s on special and that you managed to grab it during the hourly promotions using coupons,” Jessica said firmly, wriggling her hands out of Taeyeon’s grasp.

 

Taeyeon wanted to pull her hair out. “Argghh!”

 

That reaction caused Jessica to burst into laughter.

 

“I’m only teasing you, my dear.” Jessica gave Taeyeon a wink, causing the latter to heave a sigh of relief.

 

It was a small sandwich bar at the corner of the street. Many people were there to order takeaways since there weren’t many seats available. In fact, their legs were almost touching each other as they sat at the table as it was rather narrow.

 

Ten minutes later, Hyun Seung appeared at the table with their sandwiches.

 

“I’ve bought the house special sandwiches for everyone, I hope that’s okay.”

 

He unwrapped the sandwich from the plastic wrapper and handed it to Jessica, along with her iced coffee. Jessica peered at the sandwich cautiously, looking for a particular green vegetable. In the next instant, Taeyeon took the sandwich from Jessica, parted the two slices of bread and picked out the cucumbers before arranging the sandwich neatly and handing it back to her.

 

Hyun Seung was slightly taken aback by Taeyeon’s action.

 

“Jessica doesn’t like cucumbers,” Taeyeon said in a matter-of-fact tone as she unwrapped her own sandwich and took a bite.

 

“Oh, point noted.” Hyun Seung mentally jotted Jessica’s preference in his head.

 

Jessica flashed a grin at Taeyeon, thanking her for her thoughtfulness.

 

Throughout lunch, Hyun Seung did most of the talking. The two women nodded once in a while as a form of respect. In actual fact, they were busy sending eye signals and flirting with each other. Midway through his never-ending stories, he noticed that Jessica’s cheeks were turning from pink to red.

 

“Jessica, is it too hot over here? Shall we change a seat? Your face’s turning red,” Hyun Seung said with concern. Little did he know that it was due to the fact that Taeyeon had taken off her shoe and was using her barefoot to caress Jessica’s leg under the table.

 

Jessica was a master of controlling her facial expressions and the mischievous baker wanted to see where her limit was. It was obvious that Jessica was trying not to squirm as ripples of pleasure shot through her body. It didn’t help that she wore a short skirt and that meant a lot of exposed skin on her legs. She balled her hand into a fist and emptied the remaining iced coffee in a single gulp. A smirk appeared on Taeyeon’s face and she retracted her foot.

 

“Aww, the weather is pretty hot. Hyun Seung, I think it’s best you get her another glass of iced coffee,” Taeyeon suggested, batting her eyelids innocently at Jessica.

 

“Sure! I’ll be right back!” The moment Hyun Seung disappeared to the counter, Taeyeon buried her face in her hands and burst out laughing almost uncontrollably.

 

“I’ll get you for this, Kim Taeyeon!” Jessica growled. She kicked Taeyeon’s shin under the desk, causing the latter to shriek.

 

Taeyeon rubbed her shin. “That was revenge for teasing me earlier!”

 

On the way back to office, Hyun Seung couldn’t help but ask about Jessica’s relationship with Taeyeon after seeing their close interactions with each other such as giving each other a goodbye hug when they parted.

 

“It appears that the both of you are very close. Taeyeon’s very thoughtful and knows what you like.”

 

“Yes we are,” Jessica replied, smiling sweetly.

 

“It must be nice to have such a close girlfriend. Guys wouldn’t bother to treat each other so politely.”

 

Jessica almost burst out laughing at the mention of the word ‘girlfriend.’

 

“Yes, she’s my very close girlfriend,” Jessica chuckled.

 

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