Chapter 8

The best thing is listening to someone’s heartbeat & knowing that it’s beating like that because of you. – Unknown

 

Taeyeon showered and dressed in a light blue Oxford blouse that was folded till the elbows and a pair of black jeans. She had her shoulder-length hair tied up neatly in a ponytail, just like how she tied her hair for work. Looking into her luggage, she realised Jessica had packed a pair of dark brown loafers for her and she was thankful for that. At least it meant she didn’t have to wear her black work shoes tonight.

 

She thinks of everything. It’s so sweet of her. My darling fashion consultant.

 

Taeyeon saw herself smiling in the mirror as she smoothed her blouse before wearing her shoes. Grabbing her messenger bag, she hurried to the hotel lobby to hail a taxi.

 

While walking out from the lift to the hotel entrance, Taeyeon decided to give Jessica a quick call. It took a few rings before Jessica picked up the phone.

 

Instead of a chat with just her lover, it ended up as a group chat since Jessica was having dinner with Yuri and Yoona. It was loud and filled with laughter. Taeyeon ended the call with a smile as she kept the phone in her bag.

 

Travelling through the streets of Tokyo brought back memories of Taeyeon’s second encounter with Jessica in Tokyo. She remembered hailing a taxi from her hotel to look for Jessica as the latter was running late from a business dinner. Recalling those memories made her smile.

 

The taxi stopped outside a popular yakitori restaurant in Shinjuku. It was the same restaurant which Taeyeon picked Jessica up from two years ago. She was surprised that Yukiko would pick such a crowded eating place since she was an actress and would be easily mobbed by fans.

 

When Taeyeon entered the restaurant, a person at the counter immediately ushered her to a private room upstairs when she gave her name. Walking along the narrow corridor of private rooms, they stopped outside a room at the end of the corridor. The person gave a slight bow and left.

 

Taeyeon slid the door apart and saw the actress sitting on a tatami cushion with both legs crossed to one side. The actress stood up as Taeyeon removed her shoes and stepped into the room.

 

“Taeyeon-san, I’m glad you came. Is it easy to find this restaurant?” Yukiko greeted in a sultry voice as she rose from her seat to greet her visitor.

 

“I’ve been here on a few occasions. It’s a very popular restaurant and very difficult to get bookings especially on weekends. I didn’t know they had private rooms like these.” Taeyeon took a seat facing Yukiko.

 

A waitress appeared and served them ocha. After eating the first three sticks of yakitori, Yukiko ordered a bottle of shochu, giving the reason that it complemented the food she ordered. Taeyeon could only smile weakly, knowing that she would definitely have to drink tonight.

 

They chatted about random stuff from being an actress to learning to bake. Yukiko did most of the talking and Taeyeon listened intently. She wasn’t a particularly chatty person in front of people whom she didn’t know well. Jessica was the rare exception and she was glad she took the initiative back then.

 

Plate after plate of skewered meat arrived at their table. Taeyeon didn’t ask how much food Yukiko had ordered. While they were eating and chatting, Yukiko kept refilling Taeyeon’s cup with shochu. The baker had tried to reject the alcohol on several occasions but Yukiko was very insistent and she had no choice but to relent.

 

At the end of the dinner, Taeyeon’s face was as red as a tomato from the alcohol she had consumed. Her ears were warm to touch and she felt the alcohol coursing through every vein in her body. Fortunately, she managed to munch on some bread at her hotel, filling her stomach with food before she started drinking. This helped to slow down the absorption of alcohol in her body system, a trick which Jessica taught her.

 

Yukiko offered to send Taeyeon back to her hotel since the latter was feeling tipsy. They left through a private exit at the back of the restaurant. Riko helped Taeyeon into the last row of seats in the company’s black MPV. Yukiko took the seat next to Taeyeon as Riko closed the back door. The windows were heavily tinted, making it difficult for people to see inside the MPV.

 

During the ride to Taeyeon’s hotel, Yukiko had one hand on Taeyeon’s thigh while the other was gently caressing Taeyeon’s jawline.

 

“Are you alright?” Yukiko purred into Taeyeon’s ear. Her lips grazed the shell of Taeyeon’s ear, causing the latter to let out a low hum.

 

“I’m okay. Just a little sleepy,” Taeyeon answered with a yawn. The alcohol was making Taeyeon drowsy and she struggled to keep her eyes open during the journey. It didn’t help that the roads were jammed and that would mean a longer time was needed to get back to the hotel. Someone was stroking her thigh very gently and it was sending ripples of pleasure throughout her body. She tried to push that hand away but the hand was very persistent to stay on her thigh.

 

“You’ve a very fair complexion. Your body seems to be heating up, are you feeling warm?” Yukiko was playing with Taeyeon’s collar. She moved her long slender fingers to the first button of Taeyeon’s blouse and unfastened it. She slid her hand underneath the blouse and caressed the smooth skin, running her fingers across Taeyeon’s collarbone.

 

It was the icy cold touch that jolted Taeyeon out of her sleepy and dazed state. She realised that Yukiko had her hand on her and her lips were just inches away from her face. Taeyeon instantly backed away in shock.

 

“Takahashi-san, I… I’m fine. It’s the alcohol that’s making me warm,” Taeyeon replied, pulling the collars of her blouse together hastily.

 

“I’m just checking to see if you’re running a temperature.” Yukiko had a devilish smirk on her face despite the innocent reply.

 

“Thank you for your concern. I’ll be alright after a good night’s sleep.” Taeyeon tried to maintain a gap between Yukiko and herself.

 

“You’re cute, you know that? It’s the first time I see a grown woman like you being so shy.” Yukiko patted Taeyeon’s thigh.

 

“Takahashi-san…” Taeyeon shifted a little. She realised she couldn’t move away any further as she was already leaning against the door of the MPV.

 

“Call me Yuki chan when we meet at casual occasions. I’m sure after our long chat at dinner, we’re friends already?”

 

“But… it would seem disrespectful since you’re the client.”

 

“Come on, it’s already after working hours. Are we still on the topic of work? I invited you out for dinner as a friend, not as a client,” Yukiko said in an exasperated tone.

 

Worried that she may had offended Yukiko, Taeyeon hurriedly added, “Yu…Yuki chan, I’m happy to be your friend. I…I don’t know how to put it across nicely. I feel a little uncomfortable being so close with someone, especially someone I’m not very familiar with. I’m sorry if my words offended you.”

 

Yukiko stared at Taeyeon for a moment before breaking out in a high-pitched laughter.

 

“You’re a shy little kitty eh? Don’t worry, I’m not offended. I’m sure we’ll have more opportunities to become more familiar with each other and perhaps we could become closer very soon.” Yukiko’s eyes twinkled with delight.

 

Taeyeon swallowed hard. What does she mean?

 

“You sure are an interesting person, Taeyeon-chan,” Yukiko grinned, patting Taeyeon’s arm. “Can I call you that?”

 

Taeyeon hesitated before nodding her head very slowly. Thankfully, Yukiko slithered back to her seat, leaving a gap between them. There was a dark shade that shielded that last row seats from the front so her manager wouldn’t know what was going on at the back.

 

They continued to chat about random topics as such popular tourist spots in Korea and Japan. Taeyeon did most of the talking in a bid to keep herself awake throughout the journey.

 

After what seemed like an eternity for Taeyeon, they arrived at Taeyeon’s hotel. Taeyeon thanked Yukiko for giving her a lift home and quickly alighted from the MPV. Yukiko watched the disappearing back view of the baker as the latter headed for the lift lobby. She giggled to herself, seeing the unsteady steps of the baker.

 

When Taeyeon disappeared from view, Yukiko told her manager to drive off. Yukiko was pleased with the encounter tonight and was looking forward to more ‘close encounters’ in the near future.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Incheon International Airport

 

Taeyeon looked around the arrival hall, trying to find Jessica. She stood in the main arrival area and glanced at her watch.

 

She told me she’s at the airport already. So where is she? Now that she changed her hair colour from blonde to chestnut, it’s so difficult to spot her among the crowd.

 

Taeyeon’s breath hitched when a pair of arms wrapped themselves around Taeyeon’s waist and a chin propped on her left shoulder.

 

“Hello Cheesecake, missed me?” a sultry voice whispered into Taeyeon’s ear.

 

Taeyeon relaxed into the back hug and stroked the pair of arms around her waist. She turned around slowly, a huge grin plastered on her face. Then she planted a light peck on Jessica’s cheek. “Of course. I always do.”

 

There was a sense of guilt that overwhelmed Taeyeon when she finished her sentence. Last night’s close encounter with Yukiko made her feel bad. It felt like she had an affair behind Jessica’s back though nothing happened.

 

“I bought you the famous strawberry shortcake from the hotel. That particular hotel.” Taeyeon grinned as she held up a small box in front of Jessica. She had made a last minute trip to the hotel where they first met to buy the cake for Jessica. Truthfully, it was guilt that made her want to be nicer to Jessica in order to make up to her.

 

Jessica’s eyes lit up at the sight of the champagne-coloured box that bore the hotel’s name.

 

“I thought you stayed at another hotel which is a distance away from this one?”

 

“I would go the distance, just for you,” Taeyeon smiled and patted Jessica’s butt.

 

“Gosh, did you buy a strawberry cheesecake instead of a strawberry shortcake for me? Let’s go home,” Jessica said happily, linking her arm with Taeyeon’s as they exited the airport terminal.

 

On the way home, Jessica decided to break the news of her impending overseas assignment to Taeyeon. She talked about the project with Taeyeon listening intently. When she finally told Taeyeon her decision to go, all Taeyeon did was to give her hand a squeeze and an affirmative nod of her head. Those simple actions said it all.

 

Jessica was grateful Taeyeon gave her fullest support and encouragement for this overseas assignment. Mutual support was important for them to build a trusting relationship, especially when they had to be apart from each other for a long period of time.

 

Back at home, Jessica prepared a lavender scented bath and Taeyeon’s favourite gummy candies to welcome her home. Taeyeon, though delighted by the sweet gesture, was having a bit of mixed feelings due to the incident in the MPV.

 

After a nice warm shower, Jessica was eating her cake happily with Taeyeon lying across her lap on the couch. Taeyeon enjoyed watching Jessica eat and savouring the cake she bought. She played with the ends of Jessica’s hair mindlessly. Doing nothing much meant absolutely everything to the couple as they basked in each other’s company.

 

Taeyeon watched with amusement as Jessica bit into the cake and there was an exaggerated expression of joy on her face. Jessica made that face on purpose and Taeyeon couldn’t help but chuckle at that adorable sight. It wasn’t something the cold and domineering woman would do in front of others but Taeyeon was blessed to be able to enjoy such a sight.

 

“Did your clients like the menu you proposed?” Jessica asked, licking off bits of cake on her fork.

 

“Ya, they gave very good reviews of the food. Most of them were surprised I could speak Japanese fluently. I guess they didn’t expect Suzuki-san to take in a Korean as his student. By the way, the Mont Blanc was a hit!” Taeyeon beamed.

 

“Great job, darling!” Jessica bended over and gave Taeyeon a light peck.

 

“Hmm, the cake tastes great.” Taeyeon licked the cream off her lips.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want any? I’m down to the last mouthful.” Jessica combed her fingers through Taeyeon’s soft hair, admiring the wide smile on the baker’s face.

 

Taeyeon shook her head. “The results would be out either tomorrow or the day after. I have a feeling we’ll win so I’ll have lots of opportunities to eat the cake again.”

 

“It’s no fun eating by myself, join me,” Jessica cooed. She picked out of piece of strawberry from the remaining cake and bit it between her teeth, leaving the plate and fork on the coffee table. Then she propped her legs up, causing Taeyeon’s head to rise along with it. Using the strawberry that was between her lips, she gently grazed across Taeyeon’s lips.

 

Taeyeon shivered at the brief contact. Flames of desire lit up her brown eyes and her heartbeat quickened. Jessica used a little more force to press the strawberry against Taeyeon’s lips, trying to push the pair of lips apart. Once there was a little gap, Jessica seized the opportunity to push the small piece of fruit into Taeyeon’s mouth and sealed their lips together.

 

Taeyeon cradled the back of Jessica’s head and adjusted her position on the couch to get a better angle as they kissed.

 

“Hmm…I miss this pair of lips…I could have it for breakfast…lunch…dinner….supper…,” Taeyeon mumbled into the kiss after she swallowed the small piece of strawberry.

 

“Stop talking and kiss me…” Jessica commanded, stroking the t-shirt cladded back she had her arms around.

 

When they finally broke apart, Jessica was curious about the actress Taeyeon mentioned. “What’s her name, the actress who is hosting this charity event?”

 

Memories of what Yukiko did to her while travelling in the MPV flooded Taeyeon’s mind. There was a heavy feeling in her heart. She released Jessica from the hug they shared and looked away.

 

“Darling?” Jessica called out, puzzled by Taeyeon’s odd behaviour. Usually the baker enjoyed hugging her after their kisses but today, it appeared that she was hugging a hot potato and couldn’t wait to get away from it.

 

Taeyeon snapped out of her reverie. “Oh, I can’t reveal anything at this point in time. We had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.”

 

“Guess I’ll have to wait till the actual event then. Is she beautiful?”

 

“Yes she is. Her complexion is like the snow, so clear and fair. She is very slim and is a little taller than Yul. The men were busy ogling at her the moment she stepped into the meeting room.”

 

Taeyeon noticed a change in Jessica’s expression. Jessica was sulking a little and Taeyeon presumed she was jealous. Taeyeon placed her palms upright on either side of her face and looked straight ahead at her fiancée.

 

“I only have eyes for you,” Taeyeon assured. She placed her palms on either side of her own cheeks and looked straight ahead without blinking. Seeing the beautiful and earnest face in front of her, it affirmed Taeyeon’s affection for Jessica.

 

Jessica giggled. “You look like a race horse with the flaps beside its eyes.”

 

“And you look very tired, baby. Time for an early night!” Taeyeon proclaimed. She jumped off Jessica’s lap and weaved her fingers with hers before leading her fiancée upstairs to their bedroom.

 

While cuddling in bed, Taeyeon suddenly realised she had been going on about her trip but didn’t ask Jessica about her day.

 

“Sorry baby, I went on about my trip in Tokyo and didn’t ask about your day,” Taeyeon said apologetically, running her fingers through Jessica’s hair. She enjoyed the soft and luscious texture of Jessica’s mane and couldn’t resist planting a few light kisses on the crown of the latter’s head.

 

“It’s alright. Your trip is at least a ten times more interesting than my boring work routine,” Jessica mumbled into Taeyeon’s neck, eyes closed. She relished in the warmth of Taeyeon’s body, the fresh scent of lavender in Taeyeon’s hair and the concerned tone in Taeyeon’s words. She rested her head on Taeyeon’s chest, listening to the heart that was beating a little quicker than usual. She knew it was beating this way because of her and couldn’t help but smile.

 

“Aww, let’s plan for a holiday soon. At least it’s something to look forward to.”

 

“I’ll be happy even if we stay here and chill, as long as it’s with you,” Jessica said sweetly.

 

“My cheese is taking effect. Ah, the wonders of cheese! Ouch!!” Jessica pinched Taeyeon’s stomach, causing the baker to squeak.

 

“I’ll teach you a lesson for pinching me, Miss Jung!” Taeyeon crawled on top of Jessica and covered her fiancée with kisses.

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