Part 1 of 2

Beep

 

Kwon Yuri, Officer, 805-125, Access Verified

 

The red text flashed on the seven-inch LCD screen when Yuri scanned her police id. Yuri worked as a police officer in the small coastal town of Hani. It was a sleepy peaceful town with a small population and was a three hour drive from the city. Hani was surrounded by the beautiful coastline on one side and the rest were bordered by greenery. The town was largely peaceful and quiet with the occasional tourists.

 

Being a morning person, it was usual for Yuri to be the first person to arrive in the office. She was used to waking up early for her morning jog or swim before showering and getting to work. However, this morning was different. The light in her chief’s room was lit and the door of her room was opened. Yuri kept her bag into her drawer before heading over to the room.

 

“Good morning, Chief!” Yuri greeted. Her superior was wearing a frown on her face, her arms were crossed in front of her chest and there was an almost empty cup of coffee in front of her. Her superior preferred drinking fruit juices because they were healthier. She only drank coffee when she needed the energy boost, usually because of a difficult case. This was something very rare too since Hani was generally a peaceful and happy town.

 

“Yuri, come in, I’ve something to discuss with you.”

 

Yuri grabbed a chair and rolled it to the front of her superior’s desk. The shiny silver name plate with the words ‘Inspector Seo Joo Hyun’ stood out among the stacks of papers and stationery on the desk.

 

“What is it regarding?” Yuri asked. It had been a while since her superior wore such a worried expression on her face.

 

“Sicasso is coming to town,” Inspector Seo announced.

 

“Here? In this little coastal town?! Again?!?!” Yuri exclaimed in disbelief.

 

“Sicasso, also known as Jessica Jung, is planning to hold an art exhibition in the city at the end of the year and she is here to draw inspiration from the natural surroundings. Another reason she chose this place is because she would be able to paint in peace,” Inspector Seo paused.

 

“Her trip to Hani is supposed to be a low key affair. However, I just received news from HQ saying that there is a person, nicknamed SunBun, who is after one particular painting which Miss Jung drew. It appeared that this drawing was on loan to a high school which displayed it in their art gallery during the school’s 20th anniversary celebrations. However, during the mayor’s visit to the school, the mayor caused a scene at the art gallery, insisting that painting be taken down with immediate effect. No one knew the reason why. The following day, SunBun offered a generous amount for the painting but Miss Jung refused to sell it,” Inspector Seo continued. She tilted her screen towards Yuri and showed her the image of the drawing which was sent via email.

 

“Is that supposed to be an imaginary creature or a human being? The nostrils are huge and the fingers are sharp, unlike a human’s. What’s the egg shaped thingy on the right? Sunny? Is she refering to the weather? Or maybe she was drawing a portrait of this SunBun person, that’s why she’s interested to purchase the painting from Sicasso,” Yuri analysed.

 

“I have no idea but it’s said that this is what SunBun is looking for. It is likely the persistent person would follow her to Hani and persuade her to sell that painting. No one has any idea why she chose that painting out of the other better ones. Our job is to ensure the safety of Miss Jung during her stay in Hani. HQ will be sending someone down to escort Miss Jung to Hani.”

 

Yuri sighed inwardly. She recalled the brief episode she had with the painter when the latter visited the town last Spring. The painter was at the beach one early morning. She decided to wade into the sea and stroll along the water’s edge. She decided to sit along the water’s edge but hadn’t expected the waves to cover her body when she sat down. Yuri happened to jog past and saw the scene.

 

Being the helpful soul, Yuri ran towards the painter, thinking that the painter was drowning. By the time Yuri reached the edge of the water, the painter was soaked completely, was coughing away as she had swallowed water by accident and was waving her hands in the air randomly. Yuri took off her shoes and ran into the cold seawater. She looped one arm underneath the painter’s armpit and dragged the latter out of the water, pulling her to the beach.

 

The painter was coughing out water and her face was turning green. Yuri cradled the painter in her arm and rubbed her back, hoping she would feel better.

 

However, Yuri was scolded by the painter for disrupting her inspiration as she was merely trying to ‘feel’ the sea and ‘listen’ to the sound of the waves. She was appalled that her good intentions were mistaken and it was obvious to her that the painter was calling for help. Who would sit in the sea, with her body half covered by the water and still wearing her track suit?

 

To make matters worse, a reporter from their local community newspaper happened to be around the area and published a photo of the painter in Yuri’s arms, at a rather compromising angle. The headline shouted ‘Police office seen frolicking in the sea with famous painter at sunrise.’ That infuriated the painter who lodged a complaint against Yuri for taking advantage of her. At that time, Yuri had just joined the police force for a year and she was worried that her job was at stake. Fortunately, her boss managed to convince the painter to drop the case. Yuri was definitely not looking forward to bumping into the painter again.

 

“Yuri, I hope you’ll put that little incident behind you and focus on the need to protect the painter and her works. We, as law enforcers, should put the public’s safety first,” Inspector Seo said in a serious tone of voice, as if she knew what Yuri was thinking about.

 

“Based on the insider news from the HQ, SunBun is only interested in the painting. As long as Miss Jung is willing to sell it to her, she wouldn’t cause any trouble.”

 

“That’s good to know,” Yuri replied.

 

Inspector Seo clasped her hands and placed them on the table. She leaned forward and stared at Yuri.

 

“You’re tasked to patrol the place she would be staying more frequently, just to keep a lookout for any suspicious characters. If the need arises, try to persuade Miss Jung to give up the painting for the sake of her own safety.”

 

“Alright, Chief!” Yuri had a bad feeling about this task.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Yuri was lying face up on her beach towel when she heard someone sit beside her on the beach. It was her day off and she was sun-tanning after spending the earlier part of the morning swimming in the sea. She opened her eyes and used her hand to shield them from the sun. Then she saw a face that was merely inches away from hers. The person was smiling brightly with her eyes in the shape of inverted letter ‘n’s.

 

“What are you doing?” Yuri exclaimed, quickly backing away from the intruder. It was the overly enthusiastic reporter from their local newspaper, Tiffany Hwang. The reporter moved into town two years ago to escape the hustle and bustle of city life but had since decided to stay here after falling in love with the serenity and beautiful surroundings of the town. One thing was for sure, Tiffany didn’t lose the volume in her voice. It was as if her volume button was permanently stuck at ‘maximum’ each time she spoke. She claimed that it was a habit to talk loudly because it was noisy in the city and that was the only way to be heard.

 

“Yuri dear, I heard that the famous painter Sicasso is coming to town. Do you know when she’s arriving?” Tiffany purred.

 

“I have no idea,” came a curt reply. Yuri got up and quickly pulled her tank top over her head and put on her shorts. Although her body was in good shape due to her regular exercise regime, Yuri felt self-conscious to be seen by Tiffany while wearing a bikini.

 

“Aww, I’m sure you do. Lately there hasn’t been anything interesting to report and my boss is breathing down my neck for a story. This would be the perfect headline for our newspaper!” Tiffany grabbed Yuri’s arm and was rocking her gently while unleashing her aegyo on the police inspector.

 

Yuri quickly got up and shook the reporter’s hands away. “I really don’t. Even if I do, I wouldn’t tell you.”

 

“Awww, Yuri dear, are you still angry about last year’s incident? I only published what I saw. You can’t blame me for misunderstanding. She was in your arms and the two of you were so close, too close. From my angle, it looked like you just kissed her or maybe you did but is too embarrassed to admit,” Tiffany teased.

 

“How many times do I have to tell you that I was just making sure she was alright because that crazy painter suddenly decided to jump into the sea for a swim with ALL of her clothes on?? She could have drowned with the weight of her wet clothes!” Yuri said, irritated at the mention of that incident again.

 

“Using mouth to mouth resuscitation on her is a good excuse to kiss someone. Were her lips soft? Was she a good kisser? She’s quite pretty though a little eccentric. Then again, all creative people are like that.”

 

Yuri felt her blood boiling within her but she had to maintain her cool. She wasn’t about to let a nosey reporter spoil her off day.

 

“I didn’t kiss her for God’s sake!”

 

“That’s not important anymore. Yuri dear, I’m sure you’ll tell me soon right? The newspaper has been quite quiet and my editor is hounding me for more stories,” Tiffany cooed, batting her eyelids at Yuri.

 

“That has nothing to do with me.”

 

“Hmm…I wonder if Mrs Kwon knows about the spanking new motorbike you bought last month,” Tiffany cooed.

 

“Aish!!!” Yuri called out, rushing forward to cover Tiffany’s mouth with her hands. She bought the motorbike secretly and parked it at her best friend, Sooyoung’s house. Ever since Yuri’s older brother was seriously injured in a motorbike accident, Mrs Kwon was banned the said vehicle from the Kwon household. Mrs Kwon even wrote an appeal letter to Yuri’s boss, pleading for Yuri to ride in a car whenever she went out on patrols instead of using the motorbike.

 

“Mmmmph…mmpphh…mmmmppphhhh….!!!” Tiffany tried to pry Yuri’s hands away from her mouth. However, Yuri spun Tiffany around and used one arm to lock Tiffany’s arms behind her back while Yuri’s other hand was still on Tiffany’s mouth.

 

“I’m going to let you go only if you promise not to breathe a word about the bike!” Yuri threatened the squriming reporter.

 

“Whoa whoa whoa, what’s going on?” A voice appeared behind the duo.

 

Yuri immediately released Tiffany, who by now was red-faced after trying to talk through Yuri’s palms. Tiffany muttered some inaudible swear words while rubbing her arms.

 

“Nothing, Soo. Got your hotdog and drinks? Let’s go,” Yuri said to her best friend Sooyoung. She bent down to grab her bag and towel and walked away briskly.

 

Sooyoung caught up with Yuri and fell into step alongside the tanned girl. She knew it had to be about the motorbike because that was the only thing that could provoke Yuri. The Yuri she knew wouldn’t even hurt an ant.

 

~*~*~*~

 

It was a good thing the painter chose to visit Hani town during Spring. Blossoming flowers filled the trees that lined the main roads of the small coastal town. It was a beautiful sight for people to admire.

 

Inspector Seo and Yuri went to personally greet Jessica and Hyoyeon, the police officer from HQ, at the chalet where the painter was staying. Jessica chose the chalet near the sea as she wanted to be closer to the ‘sounds’ of the ocean. Moreover, it was within a secured compound so it was safer for the painter.

 

The memories of saving the painter at the beach flooded Yuri’s mind. Jessica was more beautiful than the last time they met. The painter dyed her blonde hair dark brown and kept it straight. Her complexion was fairer and she still had the infamous smirk that seemed permanently plastered on her face.

 

She would be such a lovely person to be around if it wasn’t for her eccentric behaviour. What a pity. Yuri thought.

 

Jessica recognised Yuri at the first instant. She uttered a quick hello and refused to shake Yuri’s hand. Yuri forced a smile and retracted her hand in embarrassment. She spotted a hint of pink creeping up on the painter’s face. After a quick introduction, the painter retreated to her bedroom, leaving the three police officers standing in the living room.

 

“My job’s pretty much done until the day she’s going back to the city. Is there anything to do around here?” Hyoyeon asked.

 

“You can go for a nature walk up the hills behind or go to the beach to swim,” Yuri offered happily. Those were the two activities people staying in Hani town enjoyed most during their leisure time.

 

“Nah, not keen on nature walks. It sounds so boring. The beach sounds cool. Is there any clubs around here? Anything good night spots to recommend?” Hyoyeon was looking forward to enjoying her little break here. She doubted that SunBun would stalk Sicasso at this little town.

 

“There is a pub on the beach and the other one in town. I wouldn’t call them clubs since they’re quite small establishments without a proper dance floor,” Yuri replied.

 

“Ahh…I should have expected it. It’s such a small town. Oh well, got to make the best of my time here with whatever that’s available,” Hyoyeon grumbled.

 

Inspector Seo and Yuri looked at each other before turning back to Hyoyeon. It was a typical city dweller comment whenever they visited Hani town. However, they wondered about Hyoyeon’s duty. Wasn’t it supposed to be looking after the painter?

 

“Officer Hyoyeon, we’ll take our leave now. If you need anything, please feel free to contact us,” Inspector Seo said before she beckoned Yuri to follow her out.

 

Once they were out of the chalet compounds, Inspector Seo spoke. “Yuri, I’m depending on you to ensure that the painter is safe. Judging from Officer Hyoyeon’s reply, she wouldn’t be bothered looking after Jessica. I suspect she thinks her job is just to escort the painter to and from Hani.”

 

Yuri nodded. It was obvious the task of the painter’s safety was indirectly assigned to her. Though she didn’t fancy looking out for the painter, she knew it was a job and she had to do it to the best of her ability.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Jessica was holed up in the chalet for most of the time except in the mornings where she hung out at the beach to paint. She rarely interacted with people except Sooyoung. Sooyoung’s parents owned a minimart and she was in charge of delivering the groceries to Jessica.

 

In the afternoon of the first day of Jessica’s stay in Hani, she placed an order for some daily necessities. Sooyoung was tasked to deliver those items to Jessica. On the way to the chalet, Sooyoung was intercepted by Tiffany. The reporter was curious about what Jessica ordered. Her boss was hounding her for news and Tiffany thought writing about the painter would gain her some brownie points. She didn’t care if no one in Hani town knew much about her. She just wanted to get her boss off her back and submit her story just to fill up the space in the newspaper.

 

“Hey chopsticks, you look like you need some help with the bags,” Tiffany called out. She volunteered to hold two of the heavy bags which Sooyoung was lifting out of her van.

 

“It’s alright. I’ll just make two trips,” Sooyoung replied. Yuri had warned her about Tiffany and told her not to let the reporter tag along lest the latter caused any inconvenience to the painter.

 

“Nah, I see there’s milk among the groceries. It wouldn’t be good to leave it out in the open for too long,” Tiffany insisted.

 

Sooyoung refused to budge and in the end, Tiffany gave up or so it seemed. When Sooyoung arrived at the door of the unit, she was surprised to see Tiffany rushing up to her from behind.

 

“How did you get it?” Sooyoung asked in surprise.

 

“Well, I have my ways,” Tiffany grinned.

 

Sooyoung sighed as she knocked on the door.

 

“Good afternoon. Groceries delivery from Choi’s Minimart,” Sooyoung called out.

 

Minutes later, she was greeted by a pint size blonde with long hair.

 

“Hello, I’m Choi Sooyoung from Choi’s Minimart. Are you Miss Jung?” Sooyoung greeted.

 

“Do I look like a painter to you? I’m Office Kim Hyoyeon, from the City Police HeadQuarters. Who’s that behind you?” Hyoyeon asked, trying to tiptoe to have a clearer view of the person behind Sooyoung.

 

Tiffany emerged from Sooyoung’s back and introduced herself. She snatched a bag of groceries from Sooyoung and claimed to be helping her to deliver them. Sooyoung wanted to correct Tiffany but the latter had stepped on her foot intentionally, sending the taller girl jumping in pain.

 

Hyoyeon waved them in and pointed at the dining table. “Just leave the items there.”

 

The duo did just that and was ushered out of the chalet after Hyoyeon paid them. Tiffany tried to hang along a little longer but Hyoyeon shoved her out and closed the door.

 

“Aish, I thought I would be able to get a glimpse of the painter. Maybe I should ask for an interview,” Tiffany said aloud.

 

“I thought you aren’t supposed to bother her while she’s here?” Sooyoung said.

 

“Well, I need a story to fill the space in the newspaper. Can’t be writing about cats stuck on a tree or missing dogs all day long.”

 

“You’ll need to get pass the police officers first. Good luck.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

Yuri made a slight detour to the chalet during her morning jog just to check on the painter. She was surprised to see the painter up so early. The painter obviously recognised Yuri from afar and gave Yuri an icy glare when Yuri was within sight. Yuri merely smiled and jogged past quickly, fearing that she would turn into an ice sculpture if she held Jessica’s stare for any longer.

 

The first two days were rather peaceful. Yuri didn’t notice anything unusual. She kept a keen eye on any strangers that lurked around the chalet and the pub, including Tiffany. She specifically told the security of the chalets not to let Tiffany in.

 

On the third day of Jessica’s arrival, Yuri had a day off from work and she decided to visit the pub on the beach in the evening. It was one of the two pubs in Hani and this one was more popular because of its location by the beach. Uncle Gary was the owner of the pub and he was also the bartender. Yuri gave him a wave as she stepped in. She headed for her usual spot at the end of the bar counter and was thankful it was still empty.

 

Sipping on a cold beer, Yuri noticed Jessica sitting across her at the end other of the bar counter. She was surprised to see her at the pub.

 

Just then, their eyes met. It was an awkward moment. Yuri hurriedly looked away, unable to hold her stare with the icy pair of eyes that were glaring at her. She wrapped her hands around her mug of beer and gulped the rest of its contents in one go. She made a mental note not to look in that direction for the rest of the night.

 

“Officer Yuri, you’re here too! Nice music tonight! The DJ’s great!” Hyoyeon shouted into Yuri’s ear. She spotted Yuri from the dance floor and went over to say hi.

 

“It’s not too bad. I love drinking Uncle Gary’s handcrafted beer. He has a microbrewery at the back of the pub,” Yuri yelled back. The music was loud and pulsating. Everyone had to raise their voices when they spoke.

 

“I tried it and it is awesome stuff! By the way, she told me she’s bored and didn’t have the inspiration to paint so I brought her here. Maybe you would like to keep her company,” Hyoyeon said, pointing to the painter at the other end of the bar counter.

 

There was a guy sitting next to Jessica and he was trying to hit on her. The painter was ignoring him but the guy was pretty persistent. The painter’s face was filled with discomfort as she tried to avoid the guy.

 

“She needs help,” Yuri said, getting up from her seat.

 

“In times like this, why doesn’t she use her icy glare at him?” Yuri muttered to herself as she weaved through the crowd to get to Jessica.

 

Yuri went over and stood next to the guy. It was Taecyeon, a tall muscular guy who had a chiseled looking face with floppy hair. Unfortunately the handsome package didn’t come with brains. He was the infamous thick-skinned skirt chaser in town who lacked the intellect to hold a proper conversation for long.

 

“Taec, leave her alone,” Yuri said firmly, tapping on his shoulders.

 

Taecyeon looked up and saw Yuri glaring at him. He huffed and turned his back on her.

 

“Taec, leave her alone,” Yuri repeated each word slowly. “Or risk having your fingers broken.”

 

Taecyeon quickly got up from his seat. He easily towered over Yuri by half a head. He clenched his fists and let out a grunt.

 

“Go. Now,” Yuri commanded, wriggling her fingers in front of him. Reluctantly, Taecyeon backed away and left the two women alone.

 

“Office Yuri, you’re good!” Hyoyeon said in admiration. “Why is he so concerned about his fingers?”

 

“I broke them once while arm wrestling with him. He was making a nuisance of himself so I decided to teach him a lesson,” Yuri said calmly.

 

“You’re amazing. I’m off to the dance floor, have fun!” Hyoyeon called out before she disappeared to the makeshift dance floor in the outdoor area of the pub.

 

“Hey, it’s my off day!” Yuri’s voice was drowned in the music. She turned around and saw a dazed looking painter. Her cheeks were pink and her eyes were half open.

 

“You had too much to drink. You better go home,” Yuri advised. “I’ll get Hyoyeon to escort you back.”

 

Just as Yuri turned around to walk towards the dance floor, she felt someone tug at her collar forcefully and pulling her back. She stumbled backwards and hit the bar stool.

 

“Ouch!” Yuri cried out, rubbing her butt.

 

“Sit down and drink,” Jessica commanded. Her cheeks were pink, her eyes were half closed and she looked a little dazed. She showed two fingers to Uncle Gary and soon two mugs of ice cold beers appeared in front of them.

 

“You had too much to drink. You ought to go back to the chalet now,” Yuri insisted, trying to give a hand to lift the painter off her bar stool.

 

“Noooo, I’m not leaving! I wanna drink!!” Jessica yelled, causing several people to turn around and look at Yuri.

 

Yuri’s face was as red as a tomato. Most of the people at the pub knew her and it wasn’t a good time to cause a commotion. They merely gave Yuri a smile and a quick nod before turning away.

 

“Uncle Gary, sorry we wouldn’t be drinking these beer. I’m going to bring her back now,” Yuri called out. She pulled the drunk painter from the bar stool and draped her arm over her shoulders.

 

With each step, the weight on her left shoulder was getting heavier and heavier.

 

“Sheessh, she looks so frail and skinny but is deadweight when she’s drunk,” Yuri complained as she struggled to maintain her balance while trying to walk to the chalet. The painter merely grunted as she leaned heavily against Yuri’s body.

 

Yuri missed a rock on the ground, kicked it and almost caused the painter to slip from her grasp. Thankfully Yuri’s quick reflexes prevented Jessica from kissing the floor.

 

“Now who’s the drunk here?” Jessica said with a slur. Yuri wished she could leave the painter on one of the benches and go home instead of torturing herself like that.

 

Yuri took a deep breath and exhaled.

 

“Kwon Yuri, forgive the painter because she is drunk and doesn’t know what she is doing. Keep calm and good karma will come. Good karma good karma, all for the sake of good karma,” Yuri muttered to herself.

 

“Quit mumbling nonsense and bring me back,” Jessica yelled, smacking Yuri on her back.

 

“At the rate we’re walking, it would be dawn by the time we arrive at the door. Put your arms around my neck and climb onto my back. I’ll piggyback you to the chalet,” Yuri said with a sigh. That was the only and fastest way she could think of now.

 

“Are you trying to take advantage of me again?” Jessica raised one brow and stared at Yuri while pointing an accusing finger at the police officer.

 

Yuri smacked her own forehead. “Good karma good karma. Kwon Yuri, keep calm and good karma will come.”

 

“Quit mumbling and squat down!” Jessica commanded, pressing Yuri downwards by her shoulders. Yuri almost lost her balance because she was caught unaware by the painter’s strong arms.

 

Reluctantly, Jessica put her arms around Yuri’s neck and she hooked her legs around Yuri’s waist. After another countless sigh, Yuri slowly rose from her squat, wrapped her arms backwards under the painter’s bum and proceeded to walk towards the chalet.

 

Yuri’s heart skipped a beat when she felt Jessica’s body pressing against hers. There was an electric jolt that struck her heart and travelled with lightning speed throughout her body. The painter’s body was soft, a little too soft at a certain part.

 

She is very…very….well-endowed. Yuri gulped and pushed all impure thoughts from her head.

 

After taking a few steps, Yuri felt something hitting her right shoulder. Then thick strands of brown hair cascaded down Yuri’s shoulder. She realised that the painter had fallen asleep on her back and was resting her head on her shoulder. Yuri tilted her head slightly and regretted it almost instantly as she was merely an inch away from a pair of luscious pink lips. She instantly turned back and focused her attention on the road in front. Her heart was beating faster but she told herself it was due to carrying the heavyweight on her back.

 

Unfortunately, Yuri had to bump into the most nosey person in town on her way to the chalet.

 

“Yuri dear, who’s that on your back?” Tiffany asked sweetly. She skipped to the back of Yuri and lifted the brown hair from Jessica’s face. “Oh, isn’t this? My oh my, it’s Sicasso!”

 

Yuri wanted to face palm herself but she couldn’t else the painter would slip from her back. Blaming herself for the bad luck, Yuri pretended she didn’t hear a thing and walked on. Tiffany whipped out her phone from her bag and was about to take some photos when she heard Yuri speak.

 

“No photos okay? She’s drunk and it wouldn’t be nice to publish a photo of her in this state,” Yuri warned without turning her head.

 

“She’s a rising star in the art scene. Giving her a little publicity wouldn’t hurt.”

 

“If you were her, I’m sure you wouldn’t want such an unglamorous shot of you splashed all over the local media right?”

 

Tiffany kept quiet.

 

“I already have a problem on my back, literally and I don’t need to deal with another one right now. If you insist on taking a photo, I’ll get my HQ to issue a warning to your newspaper and get it terminated,” Yuri snarled.

 

Tiffany put her camera away sadly and followed close behind quietly. Yuri spoke to the security guard at the chalet entrance briefly and was allowed into the compounds. Tiffany insisted on following, saying it would be good to have an extra pair of hands to help. Yuri unwillingly agreed since her hands were indeed full and she foresaw having problems to unlock the door of the chalet.

 

Tiffany unlocked the door after fishing out the key from the painter’s bag. Yuri cautiously carried the sleeping painter into the chalet and laid her on the bed. She pulled the blanket up to the painter’s shoulders and tucked in the sides.

 

Just as Yuri turned around to go to the toilet, Jessica tugged at Yuri’s arm forcefully, causing the police officer to fall onto her.

 

Yuri let out a short ‘Ah’. She used her hands to prevent her body from landing onto Jessica.

 

“I want … water… ,” Jessica said sleepily.

 

Tiffany headed downstairs to the kitchen and brought up a few bottles of mineral water from the fridge. She handed one to Yuri and left another on the bedside table. Yuri slipped an arm behind Jessica’s shoulders and used her other free hand to bring the bottle to the painter’s mouth so that the latter could drink.

 

All this while, Tiffany was watching Yuri closely, not saying a word. After Jessica had finished drinking, Yuri laid her down on the bed before going to the toilet. Yuri went to get a wet towel to clean Jessica’s face and neck. She uncapped the spare bottle of mineral water on the bedside table, in case Jessica was thirsty later on. Tiffany watched with curious eyes as the police officer went around ensuring the painter was comfortable.

 

“I never knew you’re such a caring person. Is it because she’s a celebrity?” Tiffany asked.

 

“I would do that for anyone in need, well, almost anyone,” Yuri said while glaring at Tiffany.

 

Tiffany gulped. She knew Yuri was referring to her.

 

“We should leave.” With that, Yuri beckoned for Tiffany to follow her out of the chalet.

 

“Stay clear of the chalet compounds. It isn’t safe,” Yuri said in a serious tone once they got to the main road.

 

“That’s just an indirect way of telling me not to disturb the painter because you want her all to yourself right? I saw the look in your eyes!” Tiffany rebutted her arms akimbo.

 

“You…You’ve got to be kidding. Why would I want to be with such an eccentric person? Anyway, it’s for your own good,” Yuri defended.

 

Tiffany suddenly stopped in her tracks. “There’s something you’re not telling me.”

 

Yuri refused to stop and carried on walking. Tiffany was the last person on earth she wanted to share the news about Sunbun.

 

“Silence means consent! What is it, Kwon Yuri, the owner of the black Yamaha motorbike that’s parked at the Choi’s residence?” Tiffany threatened.

 

The last sentence made Yuri stop in her tracks. She turned around and glared at the reporter. Very often, she wanted to strangle the reporter and tie her to the lamppost. This was one of the moments.

 

“Stop using the motorbike to threaten me,” Yuri said firmly.

 

“Come on, you think no one else knows that it belongs to you? Choi Sooyoung doesn’t even have a bike license!”

 

Yuri was on the verge of throwing the reporter into the dark and cold waters of the sea.

 

“Why is it that you always have to pick on me? There’re so many other people in town with more secrets to hide. Why is it me?” Yuri said exasperatedly, burying her face with her hands.

 

“I don’t know. You just… I… I just like to tease you…and only you…,” Tiffany’s voice trailed off. She looked away, unable to meet Yuri’s eyes.

 

It’s because I like you, silly! Tiffany wished she had the courage to voice her thoughts.

 

Yuri looked up from her hands with a puzzled look on her face. There was an obvious change in the tone of Tiffany’s voice and it seemed softer.

 

“Ah, we’ve arrived at my car. Good night and good bye!” Tiffany unlocked the door to the small pink car sitting at the car park, hopped in and drove off.

 

“Why is she suddenly in a rush in the middle of the night?” Yuri scratched the side of her head and wondered as she saw the rear lights of the pink car disappearing down the road.

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