Taeyeon felt herself shivering while she walked through the streets of Seoul. Winter season is approaching and she could feel it very easily. She was never the one for being immune to the weather. She could not withstand the temperature of the weather and the word itself brought nothing but sentiments to her. The time that she last saw her Angel, the time that she had to let go of her parents , the time that she and her siblings had to leave Jeonju, all of them happened in winter.
She stopped her tracks as her phone beeped. She looked down and saw that she was already at the right place. She could only trust her GPS in this hustle of the city. She sighed as he put her phone back in the pocket. She sincerely hoped she would get hired this time so that she could have some deposit enough to pay the bills.
“You are currently studying at KAIST , black belt in taekwondo, just received the blue tassles for muay thai, and you are now looking for a job that can be effective immediately?”
Taeyeon gulped as she looked back at the scrutinizing eyes for 6 foot 5 inches man sitting across her. “I hope so, sir.”
“Mind asking why you want this job in contrast to your degree? You could have easily find other part time jobs.”
“None taken, sir. I am just not interested in admin and waiting tables.”
“Why did you even bother taking that degree?”
‘”It was what my parents would have wanted.”
“And I also found out that I would be getting half of my pay first once I started.”
“IF you are hired, Ms. Kim.And not to mention, you are tiny and you are a female. ” The man assessed her without holding back.
“I understand that, sir.”
“Very well. You will be contacted if you are hired. I don’t care if you have assignments or not. It’s four night straights, is that clear?”
“Did you get the job?”
Taeyeon shrugged as she stared out of the window, ignoring the lecture. Sooyoung patted her arm and told her quietly, “You know that you don’t need to do this alone. I can help you.”
“I know,” Taeyeon grunted,” It’s already enough I am living at your grand apartment with shitty price.”
“I know. I know that you are doing this for me as a friend but it is okay. Besides, you have already done more than enough, Soo.”
Sooyoung sighed as he looked at his stubborn friend. Taeyeon was someone genuine whom he can proudly call as his best friend in his life which was full of fake strangers stucking up to him for his so-called wealth and status. At first he just apprached her due to the stupid bet he made with his friends . But the latter saw through his actions and told him the words that sounded disgusting but included pities.
Nobody has ever pitied him. In fact they are jealous of him. But a girl who was working as a part-timer told him that he was disgusting because he was faking. It was a platonic friendship and he’s glad that he took the bet that day.But sometimes that righteousness irked him to his core.
“Well, have you decided to date the girl that I have introduced?” Sooyoung found out that Taeyeon was bisexual after six months of friendship, the girl confessed after being set up on blind dates by him. She thought he was gonna be disgusted considering his religious faith. Instead the guy just thanked her for being truthful with him. And the next day, she was set up on a date with a pretty girl from another university.
Taeyeon chuckled as she shook her head. “I barely have time to visit Hayeon. I can’t date someone. I have to give time for that.”
“At least you’re being attentive. Still cannot remove her from your mind?”
“You are a poor drinker and all you do is talking about the Angel and I quote, ‘who is living on the earth gracing everyone with her beauty’ after two shots.”
“Haha. I am just having fun with you.”
“I will show you the meaning of ‘fun’ when I tell Aunty Choi about your ‘diarrhoea’ at the family dinner.”
“She was hot!” Sooyoung defended himself, although the stuttering was obvious.Taeyeon snorted as she replied, “Well, you should have at least control yourself at your parents’ house!”
Sooyoung bit his lips for a while,frusturated. Then, he let out his playful smirked and whispered, “Like you would control yourself when you see her again.”Taeyeon glared at him and retuned her concentration to the lecture. Taeyeon just mumbled, only loud enough for him to hear, “Touche.”
“I think I will be back by Christmas. We can go to Busan if you want to. We will visit Grandma and Grandpa.”
“Yeah, I promise.”
“Will Oppa be back as well?”
Taeyeon sighed inwardly as she heard the question. She composed herself and breathed in deeply. “He’s still serving the country, Hayeonnie. I will bring his letter okay?” She faked a cheery tone as she clenched her fists.
“Good girl. See you at Christmas?”
Taeyeon smiled as she imagined her sister smiling and giggling while talking to her on the phone. She hanged up and looked at the phone in sadness. She glanced at the sideways and observed the snow falling and gracing the city of Seoul. She could only hope it graced her as well.
“Are you going to the party this Friday?”
“Depends…” Tiffany replied coyly at the question and smirked observing her friend from behind, “On when will you be telling me about this scholarship boy that you have flirting with?”
Jessica immediately turned around and glared, “Hwang Miyoung.”
“I am not obliged to tell you who I’m dating with or whom I’m flirting with.” Jessica replied in annoyance.
“Aha! So you are flirting with him.” Tiffany grinned and poked the latter teasingly.
Jessica huffed and pushed her best friend away,“Oh, shut up! He’s just a guy who helped me with my assignment. In fact, he is studying Criminology and he’s just here for a short period.”
“Which is totally unrelated with your fashion major and yet he helps you with your assignment.” Tiffany pointed, pretending to not notice the temper rising from the latter.
“He has eyes for fashion okay? You can see he knows how to dress up in his own style despite being a nerd. It sometimes is refreshing to have a new perspective for sketches.” Jessica answered, hoping to end the interrogation. Tiffany Hwang could be very annoying from time to time.
“Very unusual for someone who takes pride in her own ideas.” Tiffany remarked casually as she lay down on the bed.
“I don’t care if you are going to the party or not. I am out of here if you are continue acting like this.” Jessica got up and prepared to leave.
Tiffany immediately dragged her back down and apologized, “Okay! Okay! I’m sorry. Jeez.”
“So are you going or not?”
“ I am going. Unfortunately.”
“Well, I kind of lost the bet that egoistic Lee Donghae made and had promised him to attend the party.” Tiffany replied annoyingly when she remembered the meaningless bet he took on her.
“As in accompanying him?” Jessica asked curiously.
“Ugh, no. “ Tffany immediately shook her head,”I told him I would just attend. I like partying but not that kind of party.”
“Well, it’s his 22nd years old birthday party. Of course he will hire male and female strippers.”
“ I still cannot believe Korea allows such things.”
“Money, Tiff”, Jessica pointed out. “Money can buy everything, even the guns and the country.”
“Did that criminology guy tell you that too? While helping with your assignment?”
“You are lucky that you are hired, Ms. Kim. It turns out we need some females for the job.“
“Thank you sir!”
The manager looked up from his book to observe the eager young woman who seemed to be very enthusiastic to get this job. “Well, most of the bouncers we have here are former prisoners and un-graduated guys so we figured we could use some educated fine young woman for the upcoming private party.”
“Look, like I said, the guys here are street guys so you will face a lot of snarky comments and taunts. I cannot help you so it’s up to you whether you can survive the night.”
“You seem tough despite your looks and body. Just make sure you survive the night first before the party on Friday.”
“Thank you very much, sir.”
“And also, make sure you are dolled up. Bouncers also need to look good.”
Taeyeon sighed in relief after the manager went to the bar counter. She looked down at her bouncer uniform. It was a black suit with a security logo on her right side of her arm. The clothing still needed to be fit considering her petite size but it was comfortable enough to work for the first night.She heard some snickers and looked up as three tall and bulky guys looking down at her, not even trying to hide their smug grins and perverseness. But it was no matter. She came here to do the job and do the job, she will.
Tiffany dropped her shopping bags on the floor as she closed her bedroom door. She lied down on her bed glancing at the shopping bags. She had no desire to attend the party where the youngsters are partying mindlessly amid the political unrest and the problems surrounding them. She would rather cuddle with her cozy blanket and a hot cocoa accompanied by a nice romantic novel.
Sighing, she got up from her bed and slowly stripped her clothes. She looked up to the window. Snows were frequent in Seoul during the winter. Sometimes its breathtaking, sometimes its bittersweet to watch. Her mother’s funeral, her high school graduation and her memorable part-time job at the Lotte World. It was short but one of the happiest state she had been in her lifetime.
Her phone vibrated, disturbing her returning to memories. Jessica texted her to confirm the rendezvous tomorrow evening. She replied with a short note and locked the phone. She dressed up into her gym gear and left the room. She had promised to attend. She should at least look good for the party.
Taeyeon grunted in pain as the guy pushed her to the wall. They were at the back area of the club near the dumpster. She was smiling at the customer after he tipped her when someone pulled her from behind.“Are you trying to be a slut, babe?” The guy spoke as he grabbed her collar, forcing her to lean towards the disgusting smell of his mouth. She should hear the snickers from the back, indicating there are others watching them. “If you are, you are doing a poor job at it.”
Taeyeon immediately grabbed one of his hands holding her collar and twisted it harshly. She then immediately punched the jugular with her elbow, hard enough just to hurt him really badly but not deadly. Taking advantage of the confusion, she kicked the guy towards the group behind.
“I-is he dead?’
“Just fainted.” Taeyeon replied as she tidied her clothes looking down at the disheveled group. She smirked as the guys backed away in scare as she walked towards them. “Next time, teach your guy better to do at pick-up lines. I came here to work and I want to work without problems. If you guys continue to harass me like this”, she paused as she took out the recorder from her pocket, “I will show this to Manager Kang. Got it?”
The guys nodded hesitantly.
Taeyeon glared at them and yelled,”I said, Got it?!”
“Y-yes!!!” The answer came out shakily.
Taeyeon smirked after hearing the satisfactory answer. She turned around and went back inside the club, leaving the stunned and bruised guys behind.
“May I know what kind of part-time job are you doing, Taeyeon?” Sooyoung asked as soon as he saw his best friend turned up for class with bandages on her hand and her elbow and a small scrap on her chin. Taeyeon mumbled indignant words carelessly as she laid her head down on the table closing her eyes.
She came back from her work around 2 am at midnight and immediately did her homework. She barely had 3 hours of sleep. The work along with the altercation at the job didn’t help with the soreness and the pain in her body. She had drained what left of her energy as she dragged her sore body to the school.
She helped wait the tables, took a few orders and dragged the rude customers out aside from her entrance security duty. 70$ tips in addition to 98$ pay in just one night was worth every second of the job. And not to mention, she got to drink a few here and there. The manger was also pleased with her although he didn’t show it directly. Female customers thought she was cute and male customers preferred her over the lanky waiters for the order. It’s good for business and good for her.
“Taeyeon, you haven’t answered my question”, Sooyoung asked her irrittated. The girl was obviously worn out. Dark circles were visible under her eyes indicating she didn’t get any sleep last night. Taeyeon never liked complications or owing someone’s money. She liked to be independent and she was very stubborn.
“Just some nightshift job, Soo. The pay is good enough to pay my tuition fees and bills.” Taeyeon spoke without opening her eyes.Sooyoung bit inside his lips not to make another remark. He sighed and looked at the clock.”I give up. Have you done your homework?”
Taeyeon dug her hand inside her bag and fumbled and took out her book. She then silently dropped the book besides Sooyoung. The latter smiled at the action and patter her head. He leaned in and whispered, “Sleep, little sheep. I will wake you when he’s near.” Taeyeon nodded and smiled at him in gratitude, “Komawo…”
The bell rang indicating the school was over for the day. Tiffany put her laptop back to the case and stood up. She was barely leaving the room when she heard the voice, “Tiif, Wait!”
She turned around and saw Donghae jogging up to her. The guy was obviously wearing a polo shirt to show off his body in this cold winter. She faked a smile and greeted, “Hi, Donghae.”
Donghae smiled at the greeting and looked at her in adoration. “Are you up for the party?”
“I guess so.” Tiffany replied simply. She didn’t want the latter to think of other meaning such as she was returning his feelings or she was volunteering herself to be included in his list of women.
“You want me to come pick you up?” He asked eagerly. Tiffany shook her head and spoke in apologetic, “I am going with Jesssica.”
“I see..” Donghae replied dejectedly.
Not wanting to get anymore awkward, she smiled and said, “By the way, Happy Birthday, Donghae.”
Donghae immediately brightened up and grinned, “Thank you very much, Tiffany.”
Tiffany nodded and started to leave, “See you later, Hae.”
“See you later.”
“Excuse me?”Sooyoung asked to confirm if he had heard wrong. Taeyeon slept throughout the classes she shared with him. And today was Friday. He used to ask her to join him to the club on Friday nights and she would always turn him down.Taeyeon contained herself not to smile and she spoke again, “ I said, see you later.” She felt freshened up after sleeping five hours worth of sleep. It would give her energy enough for the work tonight.
“But you usually say ‘See you tomorrow’…” Sooyoung mumbled in a daze. Taeyeon chuckled and squished his cheeks. “Adios, Shikshin. And don’t take the girl back home, will ya? Aunty Choi will call me again.”
“Arasso…” Sooyoung responded while holding his cheeks, the earlier conversation forgotten. He watched her leave the class hurriedly. He then watched the clock. He had to get ready for Donghae-hyung’s party tonight.
“Just make sure you are not mistaken for a stripper.”
“D-dae?” Taeyeon asked as she felt herself blushing. They had already started preparing for the business to start. It was Friday night, which meant there would be a lot of clubbers. And there will also be a private party on the VIP floor. She was asked to dress as the same uniform the night before and to put on a makeup.
Eyes focused on her as soon as she entered the club for the job. She shyly fumbled around to check if there was any wardrobe malfunction. The manager smiled when he saw her and briefed her for the position. She had a driver license so she was directed to be at the valet and the security for the private party as the attendees would be more ‘posh’ than most of the regular clubbers.She immediately accepted when she heard she would be paid 240$ in cash as a bonus. But she didn’t expect the remark from her boss.
“There will also be a few strippers at the VIP Party, I’m afraid.” Kang Ho dong spoke, apology evident in his voice. “The host knows the owner and asked for the strippers to be permitted. It will only be for tonight.”
Taeyeon didn’t say anything for a while as she took the news in. She then understood why Manager Kang posted her at the VIPs. Obviously, guys are perverts and they will not be able to control their behavior and the attitude. He wanted someone who could be levelheaded in case something happened.
“I understand, Boss. I will do my best.” Taeyeon responded sincerely, letting out a small smile.
Kang Hodong smiled at the answer and patted her shoulders. He felt lucky to get her as an employee. The girl was diligent, observant and composed. People would point out her education as the factor but that was not the case. Female clubbers were mostly the same age as hers and yet they were vastly different from her. “Thank you, Taeyeon. “
He then turned around and faced his employees. He gathered himself and got ready for the night. “Let’s get the party started!”
“How old are you, pretty girl?”
“Old enough to park your car, sir.” Taeyeon answered while controlling her temper. The guy was already drunk even before entering the club. She jotted down his name and ID as she prepared to park his Mercedes at the lot.
“Then, you can join me upstairs, baby. I will buy you a drink.” The guy flirted her again while looking at her with obvious lust. Taeyeon took back the book after he finished signing. “Thank you for the offer but I am working. Junyoung, show the guest upstairs.”
Junyoung nodded immediately as he sensed the discomfort in Taeyeon’s voice. He ushered the guy while opening the entrance door to the VIP area. The guy didn’t move and lingered instead watching Taeyeon drove his car to the basement. He took out some money and showed it to the latter.
“I want to know her name and I want her upstairs, boy.”
Junyoung shook his head and looked at the guy in pity. He just continued to push the guy gently towards the entrance and replied calmly, “She’s black belt in Taekwondo, sir. Have fun at the party.”
Sooyoung traced the girl lips as he leaned in and grinned. The club was already crowded for the Friday night so even the VIPs had to queue to enter. Sometimes,it was a blessing in disguise. He already got himself a gorgeous girl even before entering.
“Your ID please, sir.” The woman’s voice disrupted the trance. He mindlessly took out his card without turning away from the lady he’s sure he’s gonna spend the night with.“Sign here, please.” A request was made again. He sighed as he tapped the girl’s nose. “Just a second, babe.” He looked down at the book and signed besides his name.
“Here you g-Taeyeon?!”
Taeyeon tried to contain her smirk looking at her best friend’s bewildered face. She was initially amazed at his obliviousness to surrounding assisted by his horniness.
Sooyoung couldn’t hide his shock. His mouth was wide-opened for quite sometime until he felt a strong nudge in his ribs. He looked at his side and saw his companion pouting. He recovered himself and looked at Taeyeon again.She was wearing a black blazer with a white shirt underneath. Her top-button was opened and she was wearing a make-up and a shadow-eye liner. He had never seen her in such state before and he couldn’t stop checking her out.
“Oppa!” The girl besides him shouted, jealous and angry at him for drooling at the female bouncer. Sooyoung looked at her apologetic and pushed her to the entrance. “S-sorry babe. Get inside first. I have to talk to my friend first.”He then immediately dragged Taeyeon by the arm and walked ignoring the shouts. Taeyeon shouted at Junyoung and the other guy to take over her post as she let herself dragged away earning looks from the queue and the passersby.
“Are you insane?!” Sooyoung immediately shouted as soon as they stopped walking. “I told you to let me help you!”
“That’s why you told me’ See you later’, isn’t it?” Sooyoung remarked in anger. He was also flustered to see his best friend in this outfit and frustrated at her stubbornness in everything.
“I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to hide it from you. I knew that I was gonna see you tonight so I was just teasing you.” Taeyeon spoke, observing the latter. The guy could not even hide his surprise. He was still bewildered and in a daze state. She gently held his arm and spoke softly, “I liked this job, okay? They are respectful , don’t worry. Besides, where else would I get to use my skills? Hmm?”
“You must be kidding me.”, Sooyoung replied annoyingly. “You got bruises even from the first night. And not to mention, tonight is Friday! It’s ten times worse than Thursdays.”
“Look, we will discuss this later okay? Manager Kang will kill me once he found out I have been away for more than ten minutes.” Taeyeon spoke as she prepared to return to the club.“No”, Sooyoung rejected as he grabbed her arm and turned her around. “You are obviously not going back there. I will not attend the party. You will come back with me. NOW.”
Taeyeon felt her anger started to raise, “Choi Sooyoung, enough. I have already apologized. I know you are looking out for me but I can look out on my own. You just go to the party and have fun. As for me, I will go back to my post and I will talk to you tomorrow about this matter.” She removed the hold but Sooyoung didn’t flinch.
“Kim Taeyeon. There are strippers!!”
“Put your hand away from her, Mister.”
Two best friends stopped bickering and looked at the intruder. Or the intruders to be specific. The latter was holding something small in her hand and Taeyeon guessed it could be a pepper spray. The woman was blonde and behind was the brunette with the meanest look in her eyes she had ever seen.
“Do it or else.” The latter spoke again. Soft husky sound with a stern voice. A voice that was familiar to Taeyeon. She swore she had heard this voice before. Both of the girls slowly approached, the hand still holding the pepper spray.Taeyeon could make out that the blonde girl was wearing a black collared pink dress cut above her knees. She was wearing too decent to be going to the club. When she stopped walking and stopped under the light, Taeyeon stopped her breathing.
The eye-smiling girl.
Stephanie Hwang Miyoung.
“M-my angel…” she unconsciously let out a whisper, forgetting the argument, forgetting her anger, even forgetting that she was still on the planet earth. All she could see was the girl in the pink dress, just like she first saw her five years ago.“W-what?” Sooyoung mumbled as he saw his best friend immediately froze seeing two women, one of them holding something and threatening him.
“Mi-miyoung….” He heard her again. Taeyeon was already looking like a fool, her mouth-open, and her face getting whiter from lack of breath. Yet, he saw her eyes sparkling at the view in front of them.
“Do you know her?” He nudged, couldn’t hide his eagerness to know what had made his friend like this.Taeyeon slowly turned around and looked at him absentmindedly. She nodded slowly and whispered, “It’s her,Soo….the Angel…”