“Do you come here often?”
Taeyeon turns, honestly surprised by the question, and sees a woman smiling at her. “Pardon me?”
The woman wiggles her eyebrows and winks. “I’m trying to hit on you with a classic one-liner. Is it working?”
Taeyeon appraises the woman; supple, beautiful, playful – immaculately styled, not like someone who is exceedingly rich but like someone who has an eye for fashion and a genuine interest. Her eyes curve when she smiles, and her smile comes easy. She seems to be in her element here, leaning against the bar using a pick-up line on a single woman. But it isn’t anything to do with arrogance, Taeyeon senses. It’s a woman who is comfortable being herself.
“Well, I’m not likely to run away screaming any time soon,” she responds, playing it safe.
The woman nods. “Okay, I can work with that.” She shifts slightly, angling more towards Taeyeon. “So, do you?”
Taeyeon tilts her head questioningly.
“Come here often,” the woman elaborates.
Taeyeon sips her drink, a delicate raspberry vodka soda mix. “I wouldn’t say that.”
The woman regards her for a moment, not taking a sip of her own drink – some sort of martini – and says, “My name is Tiffany. What’s yours?”
“Taeyeon,” she answers, and she peeks up at Tiffany with a shy gaze. “How about you? Do you come here often?”
This garners another warm smile from Tiffany who seems pleased that Taeyeon is willing to play the game. “No, actually, I don’t live in Seoul. I’m visiting from LA and this is my last night here. I thought I’d come check out the local nightlife.”
Taeyeon checks her watch, eyeing the dead-on six o’clock she can see there, and points the same look to Tiffany. She receives a bashful shrug in return.
It’s kind of early for Seoul and she imagines the same would be true for this scenario in Los Angeles.
This is the happy hour crowd approaching the moment of indecision between dwindling home or bending it into a night out. Taeyeon herself is still undecided, on her second drink and questioning a third. Now that Tiffany’s here, all her ruminations are out the window and she finds herself ready to drift whichever way comes around.
“Business or pleasure?” Taeyeon asks. “Your visit.”
This makes Tiffany sigh. She finally drinks her martini, taking a good long sip, and when she sets it back on the bar the olive takes a spin around the glass.
“You know what, Taeyeon? I want to pretend for one night that my life is something else.”
Taeyeon tilts her head questioningly again, bemused.
“Tonight, none of that matters – business, visiting, whatever. I’m going to be whoever I want to be.”
She looks at Taeyeon – directly at her, into her, and her eyes seem darker.
“Do you want to play?”
Taeyeon’s fingers involuntarily tighten against the smooth surface of glass. A droplet of condensation slips onto her skin. She looks anywhere but at Tiffany.
The silence stretches between them, buffeted around by the sound of others in the bar laughing and talking.
“I’m sorry,” Tiffany says eventually, sounding genuine and looking concerned, “did I take it too far? I bet you think I’m just weird now.”
“No,” Taeyeon is quick to say, she finds, “it’s just that I do actually want to, I don’t know, pretend I’m someone else for a while. I think that’s why I’m here tonight. I never come here.”
Tiffany’s smile this time is comforting, a small curve of her lips, and she rests the very tips of her fingers on Taeyeon’s forearms lightly. “I guess we have something in common, then.”
Taeyeon eyes those fingers on her skin with an undecipherable feeling in her chest.
Yes, most likely they are here for the same reason, after all.
“So, since we’re picking our own lives,” Tiffany continues, “let’s see, what do I want my career to be?”
She removes her hand to wave at the bartender and gesture at her glass.
“I think I’m a superstar,” Tiffany ponders. “Just some kind of mega-celebrity. Amazingly talented – I can sing, dance, act, model – I’d get into fashion that way, maybe do an editorial for one of the big magazines, maybe get into designing my own line, probably a winter collection. And I style my best friends just because I adore them.”
Her drink arrives, and she accepts it graciously. Then she turns that dark gaze to Taeyeon again.
Taeyeon takes a deep breath, unaware that she needs it. “Well, since you mentioned celebrity… I like listening to the radio. I’d – I do something in that, you know, have my own show or something.” She smiles and shakes her head at her glass. “I think it’s something I’ve heard from my friends before. They say my jokes are lame, and best if they’re not in a conversation where someone’s supposed to respond. Having a radio show would be almost like a captive audience, you know? But then on the other hand, I’m a singer too, and it’s my true passion. I get shy whenever I play my own songs on the show.”
When she looks back up at Tiffany she’s struck by the urge to wink but she stops herself – at least she’s pretty sure she does. She edges the glass away from herself and busies her hands with the napkin next to it. She starts tearing it to shreds and wonders if she might be nervous.
Tiffany’s hand covers her own and she realises that she is nervous.
“So, you’re an incredibly talented singer and radio DJ with cheesy jokes which you use to hide your other skills, and I’m a multi-faceted superstar edging into the world of fashion,” Tiffany says, sounding amused but not mocking. “We meet at a bar in Seoul and I hit on you with my lame pick-up line. Is that how we meet?”
Taeyeon meets her gaze. “Maybe not. Maybe I hit on you with my lame pick up line.”
Tiffany looks intrigued. “And what would that be?”
Taeyeon turns away, smiling to herself, and gulps down the rest of her drink. She clears her throat, tugs at the collar of her dress, adjusts her necklace – then she turns back to Tiffany, as charming and disarming as she can be.
“Are you a triangle?”
Tiffany’s brow furrows. “What?”
“’Cos you’re acute one.” This time, Taeyeon winks.
Tiffany closes her eyes. Her grin is wide, showing the attractive shape of her mouth and the lines of her face, then she emits a groan of such delicious timbre even though it’s all because of Taeyeon’s lame pick-up line.
“You got me,” she confesses, opening her eyes again. “You really, really got me. I mean, you got me. That would totally work on me – it does totally work on me.” She laughs for the first time and every other laugh in the building is snuffed out. “You got me.”
Taeyeon mirrors her grin without any thought at all. “I got you,” she echoes.
And then she’s being kissed. Tiffany swoops forward, cups the back of her head, and kisses here right then and there. It’s not long; a brief introduction of lips but the kind of greeting that is given at the start of something new, whatever it may be.
Tiffany moves her hand, runs it down Taeyeon’s neck and then brings it back to wrap around the stem of her martini glass.
“I’m here for one more night, Taeyeon,” she says, her voice low and so warm. “Show me your Seoul, in one night.”
And Taeyeon doesn’t even look for any way to resist.