“I heard you had lunch with Hyun Seung,” a male voice said.
Jessica looked up from her report and sighed. “To be exact, he had lunch with me, not the other way around.”
Josh walked into Jessica’s room and sat down in front of her. He set a paper cup of hot coffee in front of Jessica while he drank from another.
Josh and Jessica had been colleagues for several years. Josh was Jessica’s mentor when she first joined the company. Both of them shared a common background; they were raised in the States when they were young. They often lapsed into conversations using English when they were chatting in private.
“I knew it sounded incredible when he told us about it. He made it sound like he was on a lunch date with you. For a moment, I thought you jumped ship!” Josh chuckled, amused by his conversation with Hyun Seung earlier on.
Jessica shot Josh a killer stare; one that struck fear in her team’s hearts if they made careless mistakes at work. That stare made the smile on Josh’s face disappeared instantly though he had seen it countless times.
“On a serious note, I remember you told me you’re meeting Taeyeon for lunch today, and therefore you couldn’t join us.”
Jessica wrapped her fingers around the paper cup and took a sip of the hot coffee. The hot brown liquid warmed her hands and her body in the cold air-conditioned office. “I did. He insisted on tagging along so three of us had lunch together.”
Josh almost choked on his coffee. “What a nuisance. I hope he didn’t spoil your lunch date. And I suppose you didn’t tell him about Taeyeon?”
“He didn’t ask so I didn’t say anything. He assumed Taeyeon is my close friend and I didn’t bother to correct him.”
“I know you’re a private person who doesn’t like to share much of your personal life, preferring to keep your personal and work life apart. If you want to get him off your back, telling him about your engagement would be the only option.”
“Josh, being engaged to a woman isn’t a widely accepted norm yet.”
“I totally understand how you feel. Do you want me to do the honours instead?” Josh offered.
“Ya, why not?” Jessica shrugged her shoulders. “Saves me the awkwardness of telling him face to face.”
Suddenly, Josh snapped his fingers and his eyes lit up. “Oh wait, I have a brilliant idea!”
At the end of the second cupcake baking class, Taeyeon noticed Jiyeon lingering around her workstation after everyone had left.
“Do you have a question for me, Jiyeon?” Taeyeon asked as she untied the apron and folded it neatly.
“I would like to give you this.” Jiyeon took out a small package from her bag and handed it to Taeyeon.
“Oh, what is it? What’s the occasion?”
“You’re a wonderful and patient teacher and it’s like a small gift of appreciation from me. Bye, Seonsaeng-nim!” Jiyeon said hastily. She dashed out of the classroom before Taeyeon could say anything.
Puzzled by her student’s sudden burst of excitement, Taeyeon unwrapped the small package. It was a Mickey Mouse-shaped cookie cutter. Taeyeon laughed, amused by the random gift.
This would suit Yul more than me. That woman is still a huge fan of the mouse.
Taeyeon made a mental note to pass the cookie cutter to Yuri tomorrow morning when they meet at the café. Unknown to Taeyeon, Jiyeon was seeking a peek from outside the classroom. Jiyeon was pleased to see a smile on her teacher’s face when the gift was unwrapped. Giggling to herself, she headed home with a happy heart.
It was the end of class at the Seoul Culinary Academy. Taeyeon packed her stuff into her bag and headed for the car park. She was glad to see improvements from her students and more importantly, knew that they enjoyed themselves while baking. That was her satisfaction derived from teaching.
As she was walking towards the near empty car park, Taeyeon was engrossed in replying to her text messages on her mobile phone. Grinning like a fool as her fingers flew across the keyboard, Taeyeon was typing her replies to a particular consultant who was stuck at a department dinner function. She didn’t notice a slim and tall figure standing next to her car until she heard a voice calling out to her.
Startled by the voice, Taeyeon almost dropped her phone but thankfully the person caught it in time before it landed onto the tarmac. Their hands brushed against each other’s as the person pressed the phone onto Taeyeon’s palm.
“Sorry,” the person muttered apologetically.
“Oh, it’s you, Jiyeon. Why are you lingering at the car park?” Taeyeon hurriedly stuffed the phone into her jeans pocket lest she dropped it by accident.
“I…erm…need a favour from you.” An embarrassed smile, shuffling of feet and playing with the ends of the blouse told Taeyeon that something was on Jiyeon’s mind.
“What is it?” Taeyeon asked in a concerned tone.
“I left my wallet in my school’s locker and my T-money card ran out of stored value,” Jiyeon said almost inaudibly. “I planned to borrow a few dollars from one of the classmates. However, by the time I stepped out of the toilet, they had already left… so I’m wondering if I could borrow some money from you to catch a train home.”
Taeyeon’s heart softened at the sight of Jiyeon who looked like she was about to burst into tears. She took a glance at her watch. There was still a little bit of time before she was due to pick Jessica up.
“Where are you staying?” Taeyeon asked as she unlocked her car.
“Seonsaeng-nim, I’ll just borrow a couple of dollars from you and return it to you at the next lesson. I feel bad if you send me home,” Jiyeon said hastily.
“Tell me your address and I’ll see where I could drop you off somewhere close by,” Taeyeon insisted. She gestured for Jiyeon to hop in.
Jiyeon was obviously delighted though at the same time, apologetic for causing so much inconvenience to Taeyeon. Jiyeon gave her home address and it was coincidentally on the way to the restaurant where Jessica was at. Being a kind-hearted person, Taeyeon decided to drop Jiyeon home instead of the nearby train station instead.
Recalling the previous incident where Taeyeon caught Jiyeon staring at her while she was driving, Taeyeon reminded herself to keep her eyes on the road at all times. She didn’t dare to turn around to take a glance at Jiyeon while they were conversing for fear of awkward moments.
= Flashback =
Jiyeon was in awe the moment her teacher stepped into the classroom. Hearing about Taeyeon and her achievements from her friends, Jiyeon was surprised to see such a baby-face woman instead of a more mature-looking one. Despite her small built, the petite baker exuded an air of confidence as she walked in. Taeyeon was dressed in the white baker’s uniform, complete with the baker’s hat. Her shoulder-length brown hair was tied neatly into a short ponytail and she wore a bright smile on her face.
Taeyeon introduced herself and requested for everyone in class to do the same. Jiyeon was nervous; her hands were shaking and her breath was short. She racked her brains on what to say about herself. When it was Jiyeon’s turn, she froze the moment Taeyeon’s eyes fell on her. Jiyeon felt her heartbeats increasing rapidly and her palms were a little sweaty. Taeyeon’s warm smile melted her heart like butter on hot toast.
Taking a deep breath, Jiyeon introduced herself as a final year university student and that she was inspired to learn baking after a friend introduced her to a food program that featured various pastries and cakes. Her friend encouraged her to join a short-term baking class at the Seoul Culinary Academy to test if her interest in baking would last. It happened that Taeyeon’s class was the only short-term baking class that matched her schedule.
Taeyeon gave a short applause and nodded before moving onto the next student. Jiyeon heaved a sigh of relief, happy that she didn’t mess up her short introduction.
= End of Flashback =
Jiyeon did most of the talking in the car, something which Taeyeon didn’t mind. What Taeyeon hadn’t expected was that Jiyeon was rather animated and would touch Taeyeon’s arm whenever she got too excited. When Jiyeon touched Taeyeon’s arm for the first time, it caused the baker to jump. The second time, Jiyeon was laughing and she lightly patted Taeyeon’s arm. Taeyeon twitched a little but said nothing. At the third time, Taeyeon decided to tell Jiyeon about her discomfort. She told Jiyeon she was driving and that it was distracting for someone to be tapping her arm. Embarrassed, Jiyeon tucked her hands under her bag.
Since Jiyeon started class at the Academy, she had been raving to her best friend about Taeyeon. Now, Jiyeon was squealing inwardly, delighted at the thought of being driven home by her teacher and being able to spend private time with her.
Seizing the lively atmosphere in the car, Jiyeon asked Taeyeon if she would like to be part of her school’s upcoming charity event. Originally she wanted to learn baking so that she could bake three hundred cupcakes to raise funds for the needy students. The cupcakes had to taste good and look presentable in order for people to want to buy them. She knew her baking skills were definitely not up to standard. Selling cupcakes from a popular store would definitely attract people’s attention, thereby resulting in sales. Therefore she decided to approach her teacher for help.
Just then, Taeyeon stopped the car by the side of the road, near Jiyeon’s house.
“Seonsaeng-nim, thank you for sending me home. Sorry for causing so much trouble for you,” Jiyeon said apologetically.
“It’s okay, just remember to be more careful next time. Regarding your school’s charity event, I’ll be more than willing to help. However, I just need to check on my schedule when I get home. If I’m available, I’ll be pleased to help you out. I’ll let you know at the next class, is that alright?” Taeyeon offered.
“Yes, there’s still time. Thank you so much! The students will be grateful to you!” Jiyeon said, overjoyed at her teacher’s reply.
“No promises yet, so don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Have a good night. Bye.”
Jiyeon alighted from the car and watched her teacher drive off. Her heart was beating very fast having heard the good news from Taeyeon. She skipped her way home, excited at the prospect of spending more time with her teacher over this charity event.
Taeyeon waited patiently in the car, occasionally looking at the entrance of the restaurant. There were people coming out of the restaurant but none of them was the person she was waiting for. After fifteen minutes, she spotted a few familiar faces coming out of the restaurant. They were Jessica’s colleagues and it meant that Jessica would be coming out soon.
Finally, Jessica walked out of the restaurant with a guy standing next to her. He had one hand behind Jessica’s back and the other holding Jessica’s arm as both of them walked down the steps.
Taeyeon got out of the car and walked briskly towards them. When she got closer, she realised the guy was Hyun Seung. She was feeling a little uncomfortable seeing Hyun Seung’s hands on Jessica’s back. Nonetheless, she approached the both of them with a smile.
“Hi Taeyeon, I’m surprised to see you here. I’m about to send Jessica home since she had a little too much,” Hyun Seung explained.
Jessica turned around, breaking free from Hyun Seung’s grasp and glared at the man. “I told you umpteen times I’m still sober. Do you want me to give you a lecture on Google Analytics right here, right now?”
Taeyeon almost burst out laughing but she held it in. From Jessica’s reply, she knew that Jessica was indeed sober. Jessica could be feeling high from the alcohol but definitely not completely drunk yet. In fact, she had never seen Jessica in a drunken state because the latter always knew her limits when it came to drinking.
“Hey, I’m being concerned. What if those guys took advantage of you?” Hyun Seung defended himself, randomly pointing at some men who were smoking outside the restaurant.
“I should be more concerned about you. What if you have any ulterior motives instead?” Jessica sneered, taking a step away from Hyun Seung. Hyun Seung instantly raised his hands up in the air, as if to say that he was innocent.
A shade of red filled Hyun Seung’s cheeks and Taeyeon suspected it was definitely not due to alcohol.
Taeyeon stepped forward and Jessica naturally gravitated towards her. Taeyeon wrapped an arm over Jessica’s shoulder as the consultant leaned against her. She could smell whiskey from Jessica’s breath in their close proximity.
“Thank you, Hyun Seung, for taking care of her. We’ll be making a move now. Drive safely!” Taeyeon said politely with a slight bow. She led Jessica towards her car, leaving Hyun Seung standing at entrance of the restaurant.
“Baby, are you alright?” Taeyeon asked with concerned. She leaned across the passenger seat to pull the seatbelt so that she could fasten it across Jessica. Jessica stopped Taeyeon midway, pulling the seatbelt and buckling herself in while stealing a quick peck on Taeyeon’s cheek when no one was watching.
“Yes, darling. I know my limits.”
“That’s good to know. Dinner must have been fun.” Taeyeon smiled and settled into the driver’s seat. As if attracted by a magnetic field, their hands always found each other and their fingers naturally intertwined with each other’s. It was a habit for them to hold hands when they were in the car.
“Mr Sung was generous about the alcohol orders. I think he probably drank more than what he ate. In his joy, he made all the senior consultants drink like a fish as a celebration for his birthday.”
“No wonder your face looks so red. Close your eyes and rest. I’ll wake you up when we get home.”
“I’m not sleepy yet. What did my award-winning celebrity baker do at work today? Did you manage to wow your students with your delicious cupcakes?” Jessica lifted their intertwined hands up and kissed the back of Taeyeon’s hand.
“I’m not a celebrity. I’m just an ordinary baker with an extraordinarily gorgeous fiancée who could give lectures whenever she’s high on alcohol,” Taeyeon chuckled before stealing a kiss from Jessica’s lips at the red light junction.
“Are you doubting me, Kim Taeyeon? I could tell you how traffic light signalling systems work right now,” Jessica said arrogantly, slapping Taeyeon’s thigh with her free hand. “There are many types of traffic light signalling systems in the world. Some of the countries use a flashing red man to mean…”
Taeyeon couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of Jessica’s insistence on lecturing how traffic light signal systems work around the world. That was how adorable Jessica could be when she was high from alcohol.
“Baby, if you aren’t going to stop telling me about traffic lights and whatever road systems, I’m going to have to pull to the side of the road and kiss you silly so that you can stop rambling,” Taeyeon warned, raising an eyebrow at the dreamy looking Jessica.
That made Jessica stopped immediately. A moment later, the corner of her lips slowly tilted upwards until a smirk was formed.
“That sounds like a really fantastic idea!” Jessica leaned forward, closed her eyes and stuck out her lips in a pout.
Taeyeon pursed her lips and paused for a moment before answering her passenger. “On second thought, I’m not going to kiss someone who smells like samgyupsal. Smelly Sica, ewwww!”
Jessica leaned back into her seat and sulked. She sniffed the ends of her hair and agreed that she didn’t smell very pleasant, or rather she smelled like she worked in the restaurant the whole night. “Drive home quickly then. I really do need a shower soon.”
“I don’t want to risk getting a speeding ticket. I’ll take my time…lalala…” Taeyeon hummed, teasing Jessica.
“Kim. Tae. Yeon. If you don’t get us home soon, you can sleep on the couch tonight since I smell like samgyupsal,” came a menacing reply.
“Aish…! Okay, I’ll step on it!”
“Sorry baby, I can’t make it to dinner tonight. The person I’m meeting is running late. I’ll make it up to you another day,” Taeyeon said over the phone.
Taeyeon was supposed to have dinner with her but was unfortunately caught up in a meeting. The couple had been busy with work and rarely had the time to eat dinner together. Feeling hungry, Jessica ordered pizza and ate it with red wine while watching documentaries on the television.
Later that night, Jessica was reading a book in the living room when she heard the main door being unlocked. An exhausted looking Taeyeon appeared at the door, taking off her shoes before she walked towards the couch. Taeyeon bended down and kiss Jessica’s forehead before sinking into the empty space next to her. She rested her head on Jessica’s shoulder, closed her eyes and circled her arms around Jessica’s waist.
“Have you eaten dinner?” Jessica asked with concern. She felt Taeyeon nodding in the crook of her neck. Jessica stroked Taeyeon’s arm gently, like a mother caring for her child.
Moments later, Jessica felt a warm and wet sensation on her neck.
“Sorry about dinner tonight,” Taeyeon mumbled, amid her gentle nibbles.
Taeyeon shifted her body, gave Jessica a tight side hug and nibbled Jessica’s neck. She moved slowly, from Jessica’s jaw to the base of her neck, before heading for the latter’s collarbones. Jessica felt the heat rising in her body as she let out a short but satisfied sigh.
“Is this what you mean when you said you’ll make it up to me?” Jessica removed the rubber band that held Taeyeon’s hair in a ponytail and ran her slender fingers through the soft locks.
“Switch off the television. Let me turn you on instead, baby,” Taeyeon whispered in a husky voice as she continued her path across Jessica’s collarbone and upwards towards her ear.
“Aren’t you very tired already?” Jessica said, trying to catch her breath.
“I come alive at the sight of you. You’re my energy pill.” Taeyeon had slipped her hand inside of Jessica’s pyjamas and was feeling the bare skin on Jessica’s back.
Taeyeon’s lips grazed along the length of Jessica’s neck. “Moreover, I didn’t order dessert earlier on because I know there’s a yummy one waiting for me at home.”
After a quick heated session on the couch and showering together, they lay in bed facing each other and updated each other about their day. Taeyeon wrapped an arm around Jessica, stroking her back while Jessica laid one hand on Taeyeon’s cheek, gently drawing circles with her thumb.
“Remember that time I flew to Tokyo to meet Suzuki san? He is bidding for the contract as the dessert caterer for a charity event in Tokyo. The event would be helmed by an upcoming Japanese actress and is said to be her first time hosting such an event since she shot to fame in her recent movie,” Taeyeon said softly, gazing lovingly into Jessica’s eyes.
“This project is huge and would be widely telecast by the media. He has invited me to be part of his team for this big project so it means that…,” Taeyeon paused.
“You would be spending a lot of time in Tokyo,” Jessica completed Taeyeon’s sentence.
Taeyeon nodded as she let a short sigh. “If we are awarded the contract, I would need to go to Tokyo quite often. Suzuki san has offered a room in a student hostel for me if I wish to stay in Tokyo without the hassle of flying so often. If I do go, I wouldn’t take up his offer of staying at the hostel. I rather come home to see you. This is the longest time we would be apart. You know I can’t bear to leave you. I can never get enough of you. Nothing is worse than being apart from you.”
The corners of Taeyeon’s lips were turned downwards as she blinked pitifully at Jessica like a sad puppy.
“Silly girl, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Suzuki san must have held you in high regard to extend this invitation to you. He could have easily called any of his other senior students to help,” Jessica comforted the pouting baker, brushing her hands through Taeyeon’s hair.
Jessica hugged Taeyeon and kissed her forehead. That turned the pout into a smile. Then, she stuck her hand into the front of Taeyeon’s pyjamas and fished out the ring that was on Taeyeon’s necklace.
“JJ loves TY, always,” Jessica whispered, reading the words that were engraved on the inside of the white gold Cartier ring. It was their engagement ring. Taeyeon wore it around her neck on a necklace as she was worried about dirtying or losing it while she was baking. For special occasions, Taeyeon would remove it from her necklace and wore it on her finger instead.
Taeyeon smiled. Her heart was filled with warmth. She lifted Jessica’s left hand and played with the tri-coloured Cartier ring on Jessica’s finger.
“TY loves JJ, forever,” Taeyeon whispered the words engraved on Jessica’s ring. “And I mean every single word.”
“I know. You’re tired, let’s sleep. Dream of me.” Jessica kissed Taeyeon one final time before turning her back towards Taeyeon, allowing the baker to hug her from the back as they slept.