Sequel to Lips
“Today, if possible.”
Tiffany readjusted the phone, holding it against her ear with the curve of her shoulder. She held up the fabric in front of her, inspecting it in the bright light from above.
Her design room was white, with blank walls and pale worktables. The only colour came from the swashes of fabric scattered over the tables amongst papers and pencils and scissors, and a small collection of photographs pinned in the centre of one wall. The windows had no curtains, providing a glimpse of the busy city centre on one side and the faded brick wall of the next-door building on the other side.
Tiffany glanced behind her, keeping the phone in place, and set herself down on a whitewashed wooden bar stool as she ran the fabric through her fingers and listened to the person on the other end of the call.
“O-kay, I’ve just got to wash off this paint and then I’ll come over.”
“Oh I don’t mind if you’re a bit messy,” Tiffany said absently, testing the elasticity of the fabric by tugging at it. “I’d rather just get started right away.”
“It’s a bit more than just messy, I’m afraid. Head to toe in pink paint.”
Tiffany tossed the fabric to the side, unimpressed, and its blood-red form deflated onto the light grey linoleum floor. She rolled her eyes and said, “Are you really completely covered in pink paint?”
“Yes. Is that really so unbelievable?”
Tiffany thought back to their first meeting in the bar, when Taeyeon talked enticingly of the sensation of a kiss and found ways to express lips differently. “No, I suppose not. Well could you be quick? I feel like the sooner we get a move on, the better.”
“In the zone?”
“You sound like you’re in the zone. Creativity. Art. It’s a sensitive thing, isn’t it.”
Tiffany blinked. “Just get over here, please. You have the address, right? My assistant sent it to you in the last email.”
Taeyeon’s hum filtered through the phone. “On my way, Ms Tiffany.”
Tiffany settled her phone down tidily on one corner of the worktable in front of her. Order was important in certain areas of her design room. Some parts needed to be messy to flow, so everything else had to stay out of the way.
She stood up and wandered around the room, running her fingers over discarded fabrics and tapping a few photos on the wall. They were mostly photos of lips; female, male, adults, children, with make-up or without, pursed or slack or parted, in black and white and colour.
Her mind wandered back to what Taeyeon said the first time they met, about the sensitivity of lips and the connection of senses that create fireworks. She frowned at the photographs; they provided a good image for form, line, colour, visual texture, but she needed the rest of it. The feeling. The sensation of lips upon lips. The expression of a kiss, to wear and to amaze.
If she could do it, it would be her greatest design.
She needed Taeyeon. That artist knew how to make her feel the sense of lips.
As if on cue, the door burst open and Taeyeon tumbled through. She seemed out of breath, her jacket only on one arm, her t-shirt rumpled, her shoes untied. She spotted Tiffany and gave her a big grin, bringing out her dimple, and two thumbs up.
There was a tiny smudge of pink paint on her neck.
“Made it,” she said. Her bag fell to the floor beside her. “Still in the zone?”
Tiffany eyed her for a moment. “Let’s find out. Get settled first. You look like you ran all the way here.”
“I did.” Taeyeon readjusted her jacket, and then took it off altogether and dumped it over her bag. “Okay, so, what are we doing today, Ms Tiffany?”
Tiffany sighed. She stepped over to the nearest worktable and scrunched some peach-coloured fabric in her hands. “I don’t know. I’m at a bit of a loss. Ever since our first meeting, I’ve been rethinking my designs. I feel as if there is something missing. The sketches look great, the lines and shades and colours, but I just… it needs that extra layer of feeling.”
Taeyeon raised her eyebrows. She didn’t respond right away, sticking her hands in her pockets and strolling around the room. She traced a pair of lips in a photograph, tilted her head at the sight of some of the sketches, and poked a few fabrics.
Then she stopped, turned to Tiffany, and clicked her fingers.
“Eyes,” she said.
Tiffany stared at her. “No,” she said at length. “Lips. The concept is… lips.”
Taeyeon waved her hand. “Yeah, yeah, but I mean what you need to focus on is eyes.”
Tiffany frowned. “Eyes? Eyes… on lips? I don’t understand.”
Taeyeon shot closer, suddenly right in front of Tiffany’s face again just like the first time they saw each other, and she pointed at her eyes with both hands. “Eyes,” she said again. “You want clothes that are amazing, awe-inspiring, striking, with feeling? You have to make it so that everybody’s eyes –” she clicked her fingers again “- snap.”
There was silence for a moment, and Taeyeon swayed a little before balancing herself better in her spontaneous position. Then Tiffany crossed her arms over her chest and regarded Taeyeon stoically.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Taeyeon smiled. “Eyes really are the window to the soul. Pupil dilation can be a great and uncontrollable indicator of interest. Attraction. A little flash of,” her eyes flicked to Tiffany’s lips, “arousal.”
Tiffany found herself swallowing at the sight of the brief widening of Taeyeon’s dark pupils, and then their gazes met again. Taeyeon’s smile had curved more on one corner of her mouth.
“There’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it,” said Taeyeon, voice soft. “You aren’t even aware it’s happening. Your eyes show your feeling before you know it. See something you like, your eyes flash.” Her smile turned into a toothy grin. “Just like that right there. Your eyes just now.”
Tiffany blinked repeatedly, quickly. “What?”
“Ah,” Taeyeon held up an admonishing finger between their faces. “Don’t think you can hide it. Your mind will now try to deny it and you will be totally convinced that it never happened, but it did. Your eyes told me exactly what you meant to say.”
She rocked back on her heels, sticking her hands back in her pockets.
“You want your lips to trigger that reaction, that instinctual unstoppable desire.”
She leaned a little closer again.
“And I don’t think you’ll have any problem with that,” she whispered, eyes dark. “Ms Tiffany.”
Tiffany was sure her pupils must have dilated again because Taeyeon smirked wolfishly.
“Once the eyes are hooked, you can reel them in.”
Their faces were close. Tiffany felt the lightest brush of Taeyeon’s breath over her parted lips, and it was almost as if she could feel her body reacting all the way up to her revealing eyes.
Then Taeyeon stepped back.
“The expression of a kiss,” she said. “Eyes.”
Swiftly, she gathered up her things and stepped halfway out the door. Over her shoulder, she sent Tiffany a wink, and then she was gone.
Tiffany took a long, deep breath and let it all out. She closed her eyes, and traced her lips. Her mind was vibrant with images and ideas, forming together. She was on fire.
“Some kiss,” she murmured.