Title: In Good Taste [Part Eleven]
Rating/Genre: PG-13 + Language; Coming Out, Girl-Meets-Girl
Disclaimer: I don’t own Soshi. I don’t own anyone, in fact. All Fiction.
Warning(s): Some homophobia.Author’s Notes: To clarify, this fic will have thirteen chapters in all! Sorry if my ‘final stretch’ made it seem like it’s ending sooner, but that's honestly how the last few chapters feel for me. >.< Read, enjoy, and don’t let the news get y’all too crazy~
Choi Sooyoung was the lost member of Tiffany’s crew.
The seven of them assembled at a bar popular for its lychee cocktails and understated music. There, around a collection of short tables pulled together, Sooyoung owned center stage, going into indelicate terms on how much alcohol she could consume. Which shocked the lot of them, taking her wisp-like build into consideration.
And such consideration absolutely thrived in the eyes of Hyoyeon and Sinbi, who’d parked themselves on either side of Yuri’s best friend. Aptly charmed. And drooling.
Yep. Women who gave Tiffany a hard damn time about her non-heterosexual girlfriend lusted over the ruler-straight bestie. Smirking, Tiffany curled her fingers into Yuri’s under the table.
“You’re not sexually flexible at all?” Hyoyeon asked, going right for the jugular. “The majority of our population’s a tad fluid, in my book.”
Sooyoung flipped a piece of her pink hair. Both coquettish and attractively campy. “Besides a couple celeb crushes…nah, sorry.”
Sinbi flagged their waiter by swaying her phone in the air like a concert lighter. Eyes on Sooyoung, offering, “Another drink?”
“Putting my tolerance to the test, I see. How old are you?”
“Twenty-two,” she purred.
“I’m half a decade older than you.”
“Yeah, leave the adult women to their devices,” Hyoyeon teased, hailing the same flustered waiter. “Another one of whatever this model—” She nodded to Sooyoung. “is having, thanks.”
Tiffany watched Sinbi fight off an immature pout. Yuri surprised them all, adding, “Soo, don’t pretend you’re above age gaps.”
The women fake gasped, growing louder.
“They were moments of weakness,” Sooyoung wagged her finger, feigning insult. “But, to your credit, my Prince Charming will probably be in his forties.”
Adamantly queer, Sinbi deepened her own cleavage with a tug. Giving a peep show Tiffany hadn’t signed up for. “I’ve slept with experienced older women.”
Yoona cackled. That line obviously pertained to her. “Oh, go to hell.”
Hyoyeon drew a stirring straw along her bottom lip seductively. “Soo needs her mental and sexual equal.”
Sinbi sneered. “I’m an adult, last time I checked.”
“Your mom drops you off at work.”
“My car’s getting detailed, damnit!”
“You’re probably grounded.”
“Ladies,” Seohyun waved her hand of reason through the commotion. “Sooyoung’s heartbroken. Let’s try on some sensitivity or else she’ll think the lesbian predator stereotype is true.”
Tiffany really liked Seohyun. She winked at Yoona, who appeared just as proud. “Well said.”
“Yul doesn’t talk about me enough, then,” Sooyoung placed placating hands on Hyoyeon and Sinbi’s shoulders. “Attention feeds me.”
“It does,” Yuri confirmed in a saucy grin. “It’s her favorite food group.”
Nobody could’ve prepared Tiffany for her and Sooyoung’s first meeting outside the bar. Where both their eyes stretched in recognition. In tandem, they exclaimed, “You’re that nosy sales associate!” and “You’re that sketchy fake idol!”. She’d surely seen pictures of Tiffany beforehand, but the in-person encounter jogged her memory.
Sooyoung performed her one-woman act, their party engrossed as the waiter refreshed their drinks. “I’ve been analyzing social mores. Who the hell dictated the one-partner rule and why did we listen to them?”
“Him,” Yoona tersely corrected.
“Bingo. Him. Why is monogamy so widespread, you know? We should be bucking against that.”
“Here, here!” Hyoyeon cheered, clinking her glass to Sooyoung’s.
As their crew erupted into debate, Yuri bent to Tiffany’s ear. Breath tickling as she whispered, “I don’t want anyone but you.”
“Good, because I’m stingy.” Tiffany leaned her chin onto her wrist, gaze purposefully smoldering. “I don’t think you could physically handle more than me.”
“Should I, um, spend the night at yours?”
She shivered at the intention, though knowledge of tomorrow’s duties doused that flame. “Sorry, my sweet, but I’ll have a tragically responsible number of errands to run. You’re the opposite of a sleeping pill.”
“We could just cuddle.” Yuri’s grin couldn’t convince the most gullible lesbian.
“Tomorrow’s Friday. What I’d do for an entire weekend to ourselves.”
“I could pull some strings.”
“If...if you’d like.”
“Can you imagine? Undisturbed hours with me. Under me. On top of me.” Tiffany relented no shame in kissing a receptive Yuri deeply, murmuring, “In me.”
“Yul, what the hell?!” Sooyoung begged, pulsing an invisible heart within her hand. “Han and I swore you were raised in a cult since you responded so timidly to PDA and now you have a hot girlfriend and hot gay friends and you’re like, hot.”
Hyoyeon and Sinbi’s laughter was over the top, trying to out-obnoxious each other. Sinbi dipped her head, raking in Sooyoung’s undivided sight. “We’ll be your hot gay friends, too.”
“My dream to be a token straight is fulfilled!”
“After you heal more, you should club with us,” Hyoyeon glanced to everyone, nodding her blonde head as if she’d proposed the world’s greatest way to get into Sooyoung’s pants. “Then, I’ll test your heteroflexibility.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Sooyoung betrayed a smidge of pain. Clearly not towards Hyoyeon, but to the inevitable healing. “Anyways, I should find a new job before clubbing even graces my schedule.”
“Where are you working again?”
“At Craftie’s, with Yuri,” Seohyun supplied. One of the only people who actually listened. “Have you given your notice?”
Sooyoung mimed a noose at her neck. “I’m contracted for one more week. Then, back on the job hunt.”
Hyoyeon spoke with a cherry stem hanging from her teeth like a toothpick. “Well, that’s dumb. Work for us.”
Tiffany blinked as rapidly as a meme. Um…
“That’s a great idea!” Sinbi’s fingers flirted with a loop of Sooyoung’s hair. “My old position is open. Full time. Benefits.”
Yoona avoided Seohyun’s glare as she stated, “Don’t sleep with Sinbi if you’re gonna be her coworker. It’s a nightmare.”
“Hit on her or hire her. You can only do one,” Tiffany warned. She shot a look worth a thousand questions to Yuri. All asking, help?
Yuri’s eyes twinkled in a smile. So genuine, so open. “Soo’s great on the job. If constantly losing her name tag is a deal breaker, seek elsewhere.”
Sinbi yanked her head far enough of out Sooyoung’s orbit to scoff. “Name tags are fucking tacky. We don’t wear those at THY. Duh.”
Sooyoung, on the immediate defensive, smacked Sinbi’s hand from her hair before Tiffany could intervene. “That’s how you talk to your boss’s girlfriend!? You have some nerve.”
“What’d I do?”
“Everyone spoils Sinbi,” Tiffany casted a nod to the youngest, who appeared more than wounded. “She doesn’t even sense her own attitude anymore. You’d make a wonderful addition.”
“Well, my attitude is older and half a decade louder.” Sooyoung reached for Yuri’s free hand, giving it a solid squeeze and Tiffany beamed. Yuri deserved love from every angle.
Again, Tiffany met Yoona’s eyes. Mutually, they agreed that Sooyoung would be just the boost THY needed.
“No take-backs,” their soon-to-be employee snapped. Tone playful, and more than relieved.
“Making my friend’s day? You’re the best.” Yuri pecked Tiffany’s cheek. “Tomorrow, pick me up outside Taek’s.”
Tiffany eyed her warily. “Why?”
“I oughta do a quick measure of my furniture. For when I eventually move and all. Is that okay?”
She loathed the bite of her own insecurity. “Yeah…yes. Sorry, I’ll reiterate this stingy streak I have for you.”
They hadn’t noticed Sooyoung keyed into their conversation. “Tiffany, girl, you can rest your unfairly stylish head ‘cause Yul practically prays to your selfies before she sleeps.” She stole some time, swirling her cocktail. “Like, you’re her focal point of the universe. And Taek’s a fading blip. All she’ll do is gush about you the second we head to my parents’.”
Looks like the loose lips of alcohol kicked in. Speaking of kick, Yuri probably knocked Sooyoung in the shin, judging by the latter woman’s abrupt swearing. Everyone else at the table quietly sipped from their glasses. They knew Tiffany was a sure thing. And now that Sooyoung confirmed Yuri’s requited feelings...
“Polyamory, then,” Seohyun announced, journalist-level committed. What a godsend. “It’s not very mainstream. How does one approach that?”
Hyoyeon hopped on that train. “With whom would you approach it?”
“Unlike Yul, I was born with trash taste.” Sooyoung fixed a kind smile on Tiffany, causing her heart to skip. “Douchey guys sorta do it for me. Edgy sheared hairstyle, playboy swagger, deep, manly voice, chest hair…”
Yoona raised her lychee cocktail to the sky. “And thus, expands the mighty chasm between lesbians and the lady straights.”
Everyone toasted to that.
“Buttercup, you made it.”
Tiffany awarded her father a tight smile as she crossed the threshold into his bachelor pad. Which, ultimately, she found depressing being that she’d lived in this bachelor pad as a young teenager. Were she to visit her old bedroom, she wouldn’t find her childhood fixtures frozen in time. No, she’d moved everything out years ago. The room now housed barbells, a treadmill, and anything else that contributed to the muscled arms pulling her into an uncoordinated hug. Weird to picture how puny he used to be.
She’d loved him puny.
“It’s been sweltering since 10am,” he said, offering a bottle of water .
Taking one out of politeness, Tiffany waited in the foyer until he indicated for her to take a seat—any seat. She stiffly fell onto an impossibly uncomfortable recliner. What purpose did an uncomfortable recliner provide?
Right. Eye candy for his women.
Dad rubbed at his hair—a mix of salt and pepper that’d done his appearances well. He screwed open his water, gulping hard. “You still look sixteen to me. Funny, how time slips by.”
Tiffany tapped painted fingernails to her bottle. How could a house so familiar seem so foreign? Not a trace of their past besides a couple of grade school Tiffany photos (she’d checked) and a framed image of her mother. “New window shades?”
“They block out the sun perfectly. Your father really knows how to spruce up a place, huh?”
Sharp edges, exposed brick, greys, stainless steel. “It’s nice. A little masculine for my tastes.”
“Mm, you sound like Chun-ja,” he muttered, assessing the room. “She swears a lady’s touch would even it out.”
“Many ladies have touched this place, I’m sure.”
Dad threw her a ‘watch your mouth’ glare. Resembling a father who actually disciplined. “Feminine and masculine are to be matched. They balance. How nature intended.”
Now, Tiffany glared. She wasn’t a stranger to homophobia. Especially from this guy. “I could leave, you know.”
“You never stay long. Let’s talk.”
She took in the Fitbit on his wrist, his black training pants. “Is the gym still your second home?”
“Is the boutique yours?”
“Undoubtedly. It pays my bills.” Tiffany met his stare. “A few of yours, too.”
“How’s that, uh, friend of yours? Opinionated little Yoona?”
“Yoong hasn’t been ‘little’ in years, Dad. She’s taller than either of us.”
He dismissed her sass with a shrug. “She married yet?”
“Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.”
“That’s a pity. I have sons of coworkers who’d tap-dance over coals for anyone remotely as pretty as her. You, too, but we’ve exhausted that old chestnut.”
“Ad nauseam,” she gritted out. God, how her father irritated her. “I’m happy.”
“You don’t look happy right now.”
“What do you expect? You’ve never tried to understand my point of view.”
“Do I succumb to the desirable assets of the female sex? Yes, there I can relate. As I’ve observed—taboo is celebrated nowadays. It’s fun, it’s dangerous. Eventually, you’ll tire of those games.”
“Does that apply to you, too, Dad?”
“Ah, settling down and being a man.” He chuckled, ticking a checkmark with his pointer finger. “I’ve run that course of my life already.”
Not really. Her father must’ve omitted all the childrearing he’d missed out on. “This secretary of yours isn’t ready to move in and start a new family with her boss? Oh, the shock.”
Dad kept ticking invisible items in the air—maybe he picked this habit up from this Chun-ja lady. “As your age climbs, you’ll seek more guarantees. Someone to provide for you, to protect you, to make an honest woman of you, to nail this lifestyle choice of yours in a coffin.”
“At thirteen, my sexuality became real and true. Guess I’ll stick with this ‘choice,’ since it’s working so well for me.”
She recalled Yuri’s gentle smile, the apparent desire in their kiss goodbye last night, after the bar. “I’m in love.”
Relentlessly, Tiffany had fought the honor demons of yesteryear, defying her father's wish for her to slip back into the closet, to uphold protocol by not mentioning her girlfriends at family functions.
Alas, she’d once kept a racy photo of Sooyeon as her phone’s lock screen, available for every aunt and cousin to “accidentally” see. Her stories of a romantic island vacation with Sumni were the opposite of ambiguous. She’d even brought Hyoyeon along to an event at her father’s job. Broken up by then, Hyo attended for morale support. They’d held hands, shared a fruit plate, and whispered intimately after being introduced to one too many single male executives. She shook her head, remembering how they were escorted out.
But through all this, her private affairs of the heart remained off-limits. Until today. “She’s distressingly stunning; she’s astute, hardworking, and so humble, my mouth sings praises of her before my brain even catches up. At first, it seemed irrational. Now, I’m just letting myself fall.” Light tears wet her lashes. “She feels like forever.”
“Are you hungry?”
Talk about subject whiplash. “What?”
He fumbled to his feet, bottle still uncapped. “I’m thinking about ordering out. Are you free to stay?”
Tiffany jerked upright. Blazingly hot in her chest, eyes still shimmering. “I haven’t felt ‘free’ around you in literal years.”
“I’ve relaxed my sense of right and wrong with you for too long. It’s vile of you to deny me, Dad.”
He scoffed. “Crack open any religious text and get back to me on right and wrong, little girl.”
“I don’t need to,” she refuted, standing firmer. “Nothing I’ve read told me to love you; I just do. No matter how you’ve neglected and abandoned and siphoned money out of me, I love you. Had you been anyone but my own flesh and blood, this would be considered abuse.”
“Don’t you disrespect me under my own roof.”
“Exactly. Your own roof. I’m a stranger in my parent’s home!”
“I just can’t understand this, Tiffany.” Dad shook his head, placing the water onto a coaster. “You—you didn’t even have a tomboy phase to ease into it. Or given boys a chance yet.”
“I encouraged you to find love. Why won’t you do the same for me?”
The man peered at her like she were daft. “I date. I have drinks. I vacation. I spend nights. You and your fanciful ideas cannot force a happily ever after on other people. Anyways,” he shook his head, stricken, “my love has long passed.”
Noting the symbolism there, Tiffany squeezed the handle of the bag on her shoulder. Inside lay a pink envelope full of money. “A happily ever after can involve you learning about your daughter. Like, really learning me. I miss you.”
“I won’t bend,” he put up a barrier with his outstretched palms. “Like any foolish decision a thirteen- or fourteen-year-old makes, I include this, er, lesbianism. It embarrasses me; it embarrasses our family. I regret ever dating if it meant leaving you alone for your perversions to take root, to solidify.”
Grief could be deadly all on its own, Tiffany contemplated as silence wafted through the room.
Those old romances lied. Love couldn’t conquer all.
Not an aging man’s prejudices, at least.
“Daddy,” she muttered, swallowing hard.
His eyes widened. To something recognizable—to something akin to her own. “Yes, Buttercup?”
“If…if I married her, would you walk me down the aisle?”
“That’s not a true marriage.”
“If I married her,” she stressed, “would you even attend?”
“Tiffany.” Dad searched the floor a bit, eyed the rug at his feet. “I’m no moral example here, right? I’ve been called a womanizer, a sexist. It’s my burden, my cross to bear ‘cause I know how I’m living is flawed. The fact that you don’t even feel shame troubles me.”
Her lip trembled. Tears flowed. How could this man, her Superman long ago, be so damned ignorant?
He nudged the rug with this slipper. “I’m sure your…companion is a nice gal—”
“She’s not a Pomeranian, Dad.”
“Your friend deserves more. She deserves a man.”
She blinked again.
Her eye twitched, even.
Had anyone ever recorded the sound of a familial bond splitting? Similar to the harsh, slow ripping of raw denim stretched to threads. She’d heard it countless times at work, but never like this. Outside the boutique.
“Take that back,” Tiffany growled.
“You’re being sensitive. Let’s cut this visit short.”
And with all the fucking audacity in the world, he held his hand out.
At zombie speed, Tiffany slid the pink envelope from her bag. She jerked it from his reach, asking, “Am I your daughter or your sponsor?”
His warning frown couldn’t compete with the fire radiating from Tiffany. “You’ll always be my daughter.”
“No, I’m done. I’ve built my own family and I’ll torch any evidence of my relation to you if need be. I’d change my surname.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Consider this carefully.” Her voice came out much calmer than the typhoon whirring within. “If you respect me as a daughter—a daughter who won’t yield to any fucking man at an altar or temple or civil court—you’ll tell me to stick this money back in my bag. But, if you view me as a sponsor, I’ll get one of my employees to hand deliver an installment to you every month until you die.”
“These things you say,” he narrowed his gaze. “are disgraceful.”
“I’m succeeding despite what you haven’t contributed to my life. I won’t pick at the scraps of your affection anymore. I can’t…” She sighed. “I can’t be your Buttercup without your blessing.”
“You really are still a teenager.”
“What’s your answer?”
“I need this for bills, Tiffany.”
“Gay daughter or anonymous sponsor?”
They faced off in a meaningful stare-down.
And, five minutes later, Tiffany boarded her car. Her fancy handbag now, disappointingly, an envelope of money lighter.
Thankfully, Tiffany drove home unscathed, as much as she’d shaken, tortured by the acute sensation of rejection. The antithesis to conditional love.
As Yoona opined for years—since they were teenagers, actually—seeking attention from her father came with a disclaimer. One written in red, written in the blood that tied them as family. Reading: Temporary. She’d sloughed through his passive aggressiveness and rude comments and money-loving until she’d expended the last of her ‘loyal child energy.’
Her “work from home” that day involved sobbing over old photos, texting her friends for support, and replying to her least aggravating emails. She’d left a few summary texts for Yuri as well. Not revealing that his refusal to acknowledge Tiffany’s love for her was one of the final straws to break the homophobic camel’s back. The manager position kept Yuri pretty tied up, so she didn’t expect any messages in return until the end of her shift. In—Tiffany eyed her phone—ten minutes.
Once she parked in the lot nearest to Yuri’s old apartment, she faux-wept. That being when the body reacted in every way similar to crying, but the tears were spent.
The sky, a serene mix of blue and violet hues, soothed Tiffany. It reminded her that this, too, would pass. Her heart would mend. And snuggling up to her compassionate girlfriend would speed up the process. Really, Tiffany would’ve preferred to pick her up from Craftie’s, but Yuri’s been accompanying Sowon on the bus rides home. Apparently, Sowon recently moved off-campus with some friends and the commute sketched her out. So, Yuri took the long route around, just to be good company. A good friend.
Tiffany’s heart pounded. That woman was the antidote to this pain, her loneliness when she stalked home after a tiresome day. She wondered if hoarding a love declaration for too long leads to cardiovascular disease.
She stepped out of her car, weakly smiling into the breeze, the pre-dusk crispness. Vaguely, she considered jogging a block or two. To burn off some of this emotional filth. Though, one glance at her spiked booties and skirt put that urge to bed.
Rather, Tiffany wandered to the front entrance. The whole area kind of sickened her, on a purely jealous level. Everyone in and around this building knew Yuri as a straight woman. Grouping her and her ex as a single package, making comments to embarrass them, chit-chatting about how picture-perfect they were. Had Tiffany lacked etiquette, she’d greet them all with, “Yul may pass as a straight girl, but she fucks like a lesbian, bitches.”
You know, if she lacked etiquette.
Yuri managed to finagle out a workless weekend, leaving the rest of Friday and two beautiful days for them to be a normal couple. To not rush into a uniform between hours of sex. Available to maybe cook together? Something that tasted like childhood— pancakes with red bean filling or rice cakes. Too much time had gone by since another woman claimed Tiffany’s kitchen.
As she googled recipes, someone caught the corner of her eye. And, she just felt who it’d be. The angry heat from earlier stroked her throat. Even when she trotted over to him, snatching up a bag of groceries before it ripped onto the sidewalk.
“Thanks,” Taekwoon grunted. He juggled three heaping paper bags within his lanky arms.
Two industrial size boxes of detergent were stacked in the bag she lifted. “Are you stocking up for an alien invasion?”
“No, I’m just clueless.” He laughed to himself, shuffling his quantity. “The person who usually takes care of this stuff is my—” His eyes met hers, stretching slightly. “girlfriend.”
Tiffany didn’t know why she joined him, carrying that heavy bag up to the apartment floor she’d traipsed before.
Lies. She did know. Jealous curiosity. She wanted to size him up. To see who Yuri chose to spend her life with for this long. Also, men who dated closeted gay women were a quirky interest Hyoyeon and Tiffany shared. Like, had they no gaydar? Or, were heterotypical norms too intoxicating to even entertain anything different?
“So, uh, do you live close by?” Taekwoon slammed the groceries onto the countertop, breaking at least three eggs. He didn’t seem to care, if the obvious interest in his eyes were an indicator.
Tiffany left the detergent bag on the floor. Under his gaze, her discomfort multiplied. She played it off by leaning her elbows on the same counter. “No.”
“Yeah. I’d remember you.”
Was that a come-on line? She grabbed a bag of pre-made salad, distributing it to the refrigerator. “How do you like living here?”
“It’s good—uh, great.” Taekwoon appraised his own apartment. “My girlfriend. Um…ex-girlfriend. She’s moving out.”
“Does that bother you?”
His smile faltered. “I have mixed feelings.”
Tiffany studied the studio apartment. Thoroughly, without the distracting allure of Yuri in a pencil skirt.
Since her last trip here, it’d undergone a touch-up. A comically giant television replaced the reasonably-sized one. All the mismatched furniture other than the oak desk and Yuri’s couch had been divested. In their stead stood sleek, all-black fixtures. The divide between his new items and Yuri’s sad little section was staggering. A wealth gap meant for Yuri to see tonight.
Not a stranger to high-name things, this still pissed Tiffany off. How childish to show off his money to someone struggling to find her place in the world. “That little fold out couch is cute.”
Taekwoon could’ve snapped his neck, shocked at the sole thing she’d pointed out belonging to Yuri. “It’s just my ex’s. One of her coworkers had a yard sale or something.” He tossed the eggs he’d broken (six of them) into the sink. “It’s from one of those huge Scandinavian warehouses. Pretty cheap. Not even that comfortable.”
Sure, it wasn’t made of the coziest material, but who the hell cares when you're between Yuri’s legs? “It’s economical and minimalist. I like it.”
“I wouldn’t know.”
Tiffany onced him over. Money surely couldn’t buy him style. “Well…your ex’s taste impresses me.”
She’d meant herself. And the couch. Instead, Taekwoon took that as a comment on his physique and he ran with it. “Wow, noted. Uh, would you like anything? Some wine?”
Plenty of time would pass before Sowon’s route ended. Tiffany nodded. “Half a glass, thanks.”
He went straight to the fridge, grabbed the only bottle of red next to several beer cans, read it as if he knew what years were good, and hunted his cabinets for cups. From where she stood, Tiffany spotted a carton of ice cream. It’d already begun to melt, on the brink of becoming completely inedible once refrozen.
Petty as hell, Tiffany didn’t lift a finger to take it to the freezer. Fuck his rocky road.
And, sure. Some of her bitterness towards Taekwoon stemmed from her father’s ‘needs a man’ remark. Why were sexist men like that? What possessed them to find women so inadequate that they couldn’t make the best lifelong mates to other women?
Taekwoon rinsed a stemmed glass for Tiffany, a regular mug for himself. “Sorry, I don’t drink wine, really. My friend Han bought me this to ‘expand my palate.’”
“Wine’s my favorite.”
“Then, we’re both lucky.” He passed over her portion; she made sure not to brush his fingers like he’d probably hoped. “I’m Taekwoon. May I ask your name?”
“Tip? Tip—uh…” Taekwoon recited the non-Korean name to himself until the ‘f’s were coherent. “You’re from…”
“Oh, cool. I surf.”
He grimaced at his sip of wine. “You’re a lady of few words. That’s rare.”
In high school, Tiffany would wear rainbow accessories—a headband, bracelet, necklace—so this very thing wouldn’t happen: being confused as heterosexual. She and faculty feuded over ‘uniform violations’ until she graduated. “Do you miss your ex?”
“Less as the days move on, but…yeah. I do.”
Tiffany stared. Stone-faced.
“She cheated on me. And…and I’d forgive her if she’d dump this dude. Or, or woman? Out of the blue, she came out as gay. It’s suspicious.”
“She could be telling the truth.”
“We were supposed to go the distance. I wasn’t ready to let her go.” His gawky body leaned onto the counter. “Unless, I meet someone different. Someone new.”
Yikes, if she didn’t loathe the guy, she’d pat his cheek for this suave attempt. “How do you know she doesn’t love this new…person?”
“That affair was borne of deception. I’m her soundest option.”
“What’s your boyfriend or husband like?”
“I have neither.”
His eyes shyly darted into his mug. “Guess we, um, were meant to cross paths.”
And this was why ‘nice guys’ like Taekwoon irked Tiffany. Outwardly unassuming, their scope of the world skewed very straight, very gendered. Hell, his startup fit the description of a boys’ club. As if none of his female alumni counterparts specialized in web design.
For lesbians and any other queer or non-conforming person, they’d trained themselves to pick up on nuances. To be absolutely sure before they endangered themselves by coming out or proposing dates. Taekwoon, a straight guy, had a worldview so clouded by the privileged fog of society’s approval that he overlooked the hate in Tiffany’s eyes. Her closed-off body language. The disgust focused on a man whose ugly shirt should’ve been tucked in, at least. Nope, all he saw was a love interest.
Yuri, as adorable as she was in a club outfit that clearly wasn’t her idea, needed comfort, tenderness when Tiffany spotted her on the hallway floor. Helpless, drunk, liable to creeps. Then, after Yuri confirmed her safety did Tiffany try her hand at flirting. Taekwoon, on the contrary, invited an unknown woman into his home, offered her alcohol, and hit on her. With zero regard for her vulnerability, how she would’ve felt apprehensive.
Fed up with the direction of their conversation, she set her untouched wine aside. “I have to go. Prior engagement.”
“Oh, so some guy’s on his way to making you a girlfriend or wife. My timing sucks.”
Yes, because she couldn’t possibly wrap herself into other tasks. Like a business meeting or a group of friends or even a dinner with a parent. Her stomach clenched at the last choice. “Bye, Taekwoon.”
“Give me your number, then? We could link up.”
Tiffany got the door herself, urging him to not move with a brusque wave. “I’m afraid not, no.”
“Can I see you again?”
If she and Yuri were super serious, it’d only be a matter of time. “You will.”
Tiffany spent the rest of her time waiting on Yuri in her car. Seething, crying. Smudging makeup she’d painstakingly adorned for Yuri’s pleasure. Now, only that damned Taekwoon got to see it perfect.
She and Yuri surely had more in common every day. Since they both parted ways with men they’d outgrown.
It hurt to acknowledge. She’d outgrown her own father, who’d sold her out for a cliché romp with his secretary. Who’d reacted to her love confession as if she’d admitted to a mild headache.
Yoona, Hyoyeon, and now, Yuri were Tiffany’s family. Sinbi, too. And, hopefully, Seohyun and Sooyoung as time marched on.
Yuri escaped a monotonous life of excessive groceries and terrible sex. She’d cast herself from the safe harbor of a strong man’s arms for the softness, the growth, the sensuality Tiffany proffered without hesitation.
Her phone buzzed.
Yuri: two stops away! I’ll measure my things and rush out for our romantic weekend 😍😘
Yuri: oh shit.😨the bus braked too hard and I spilled my whole ass tea
God damn, she loved this woman.
Tiffany willed away any residual bitterness, determined to be everything Yuri deserved and more. She vowed on it.