Title: In Good Taste [Part Twelve]
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): Not that I remember~Author’s Notes: Winding down now. I decided to be kind to y’all cus I’m feeling all soft. One chapter left!
Yuri arrived outside Taek’s apartment building, sensing a disturbance in the universe. Per her text, Tiffany could be found in her car. And if Yuri’s blossoming girlfriend senses were any indicator, there would be many cuddles tonight to mollify what seemed to be a terrible day for her. Yuri merely waved through the driver’s seat window and Tiffany sprang out, hugging her desperately.
As Yuri jogged up the stairs alone, she couldn’t shake Tiffany’s uncharacteristic flimsiness, her palpable frailty. All her strength had been sapped.
The sooner these measurements were finished, the better. She ached to make Tiffany smile again.
Taekwoon opened his door after the first knock. His face lighter, less taciturn than usual. Which befuddled Yuri as well. Of all days for Tiffany to be in shambles, her ex-boyfriend smiled? At her!? These were bad, bad vibes.
“Brought my own tool,” Yuri announced, tossing and catching it in demonstration. Okay, the retractable tape measure belonged to Sooyoung’s parents, but did it really matter?
“Hello to you, too, handywoman.” Taekwoon stepped aside for her to briskly hop to her task. “I could’ve measured it myself.”
“Didn’t wanna hassle you for anything else.”
“Who drove you here?”
Annoyance tickled Yuri’s back, where she felt Taekwoon’s gaze. She crouched to the base of the oak desk. “I’d tell you, but bus drivers aren’t big on small talk, you know?”
“Burn.” He chuckled. “What sassy people have you been hanging around?”
Who in Tiffany’s clique wasn’t sassy? “The Choi household, of course.”
“You’re pretty late.”
“Riding with Sowon. New apartment, unfamiliar terrain. Just being a friend.”
“Ah. Gotta love your selfless side.”
Yuri tapped the desk measurements into her phone, determined to appear ultra-concentrated. “Uh huh.”
He strolled into her peripheral, crossing his arms. “To you, I extend a proper congratulations on your new job.”
Yuri glanced up, puzzled.
“Heh, you’ve noticed my upgrade.” She hadn’t changed out of her Craftie’s attire yet. And a sorrow akin to her first visit to THY paralleled how sorely she stuck out in his redecorated apartment. “Thanks. They threw me a party and everything.”
“Are you taking that dresser?”
“If…if you don’t mind.”
While Yuri took down the dimensions of her few bits of furniture, she dredged up the nerve to address the elephant in the room: Taekwoon’s cheerfulness. “You’re smiling hard. New client?”
“Yes, new clients,” he concurred, stepping closer. As if he needed Yuri to hear his every word. “However, not why I’m smiling.”
“Should I ask for a hint or phone a friend?”
“I met someone.”
“You did.” Yuri pressed a palm to her chest. She and Taekwoon, after all, dated for years. A blip of jealousy would be normal. “That soon?”
“Look who’s talking.”
She matched his stare in exasperation, hand jabbed to her hip. “I understand I’m the villain here, Taek. I’m only asking. If you’re gonna dance around the subject, I’ll leave you to it.”
Her ex-boyfriend winced like she’d thrown a handful of powder in the air and proclaimed her acceptance into magician school. “Yul, uh…that was weird.”
Yuri’s brow tensed. “How? Gay different?”
Taekwoon dramatized a hand to his own hip. Being funny, his old self. “This no-nonsense, straightforward ‘tude.”
Now, that reflected her constant exposure to Tiffany and Sooyoung. Nobody could resist taking pointers on Tiffany’s balancing act between unapologetic authority and her natural friendliness. And Sooyoung…well, lectured her to grow a spine if she wanted ‘our unruly Craftie’s team to give a shit about you’. “Guess that promotion training is paying off.”
Damn, even post-breakup, Yuri lied to him. What a doomed relationship.
“The girl I met…” Taekwoon thumbed at the desk’s edge. Blushing, was he? “She’s um, standoffish. Mysterious. Not big on drinking. I only know her first name—”
“Why’re you telling me this, Taek?”
“You said you wanted to be civil. If telling you about my day bothers you, then I’ll back off.”
“No.” Yuri swore a vein at her temple throbbed. “It bothers me because you’re trolling for a reaction I’m not going to give.”
Taekwoon threw a hand up, façade shattered. “Losing you’s made me a bit of dick, Yul, sorry. I used to know your whereabouts, your weekly schedule, your thoughts...those simple pleasures have all been ripped from me. Pretending to be casual friends sucks.”
“Yeah, I understand.”
“I’m not anti-gay, alright?”
She braced herself for more. “You’re not anti-gay, but...?”
“I wish you’d trusted me enough to say how you felt. Our sex, your aversion to touch makes sense now.” He coughed, adding, “It’s problematic, but, I feel like I’ve failed as a man. My love for you couldn’t keep us together.”
Yuri gripped the back of her computer chair. For years, she’d worn blinders. Before, she would’ve vouched for her and Taekwoon’s ‘progressive’ relationship.
Sure, between the two of them, Taek had a longer sensitive streak. He pushed to communicate, to discuss current events and emotions. And she’d loved him for that. By-and-by, though, his ownership of her fate and income were quite gendered. Quite typical, societal. Which wasn’t a negative, though these weeks as Tiffany’s partner opened her eyes to a path without instructions. Few books dictated how the ideal lesbian relationship operated. They had to build their own dynamic organically, based off their complexly harmonious personalities. And sexual chemistry—god, the sexual chemistry.
“I’m excited for you to move on. If not with this new woman, someone right for you.”
Taekwoon lost steam, sinking a couple inches in height. “Don’t you want to know her name?”
“Fine. What’s her name?”
“What’s your...new person's name?”
“See ya, Taek.” She dashed for a clean exit, thwarted by Taekwoon swooping in faster. Defeat clear in his dark eyes. “Haven’t we broken up enough times?”
“Not knowing anything about who you’re with makes me crazy. If…if I could have some closure—”
“Taek, no.” Yuri anxiously fiddled with the tape measure’s metal tab. Coming out to him seemed so…Twilight Zone bizarre. She should've skirted the issue forever.
“T-tell me, at least.” He shrugged, as awkwardly as their first meeting—at the party, in his Jack Skellington stripes. “Do your interests overlap? Does she speak to you kindly? Does…does she love you?”
Like an incantation, the word spurred a sudden anguish to her heart. Tiffany, her wilted, hurting partner needed consoling and here she dawdled, minding a man who wouldn’t let go.
She walked straight at Taekwoon and gently guided him from the door.
“Um...” Yuri shut her eyes for a tic. Finding anything to tie over his curiosity. “Our humor’s almost identical, but she banned me from eating sugary cereal.”
Taekwoon smiled sadly. “This girl must be worth it.”
With that lingering in the air, Yuri rushed out. Through the hallway, down the steps. Out to the parking lot.
She had an incredible woman to comfort.
Friday night had begun roughly, fattened with questions and answers regarding Tiffany’s ordeals. Eye-opening (and heavy) stuff. Heartbroken, Yuri stuck to her guns to turn it all around. She brewed them both cups (Tiffany owned literal teacups) of chamomile, played soft music from her phone, and improv-acted a cliché drama so absurd, Tiffany nearly choked laughing.
Also: copious cuddling.
They exchanged stories of their entire day. Piecing together the clues of Yuri’s run-in with Taek to Tiffany’s, concluding on his very obvious crush. It miffed Yuri, but not enough to cause a fuss. Especially since his efforts to rekindle his relationship earned Tiffany nuzzling away bad memories, kissing Yuri with life-altering affection.
Yuri owed a lot of favors for the sequence of shift trades she’d done just to get this whole weekend off. It happened to coincide with an insane Craftie's sale (Expanded clearance section! 60% off floral! Half-priced framing! Coupons up the wazoo!) So, she’d be feeling the brunt of that next week. But, it was worth it to spend the night, to sleep in. Strewn into Tiffany’s sheets, awakened by the smell of a coffee brand leagues better than any Starbucks.
Being sweet and couple-like with the woman she loved.
Yet, at fate would have it, Tiffany was summoned for an emergency meeting at THY Saturday evening. A potential investor, who’d been slated to show up in three weeks, booked an early trip to Korea. Meaning Tiffany and Hyoyeon had to scramble to arrange a barely-finished proposal. Tiffany promised it would rob only a few hours from their little honeymoon, but Yuri didn’t mind slacking around the store after closing. She savored these tastes of entitlement.
And, that entitlement took a turn when she realized Yoona and Sinbi would be milling about, gossiping about their patron who apparently laughed like a hyena giving birth. The cashier, a smiley acquaintance of Sinbi, just clocked out. Leaving Yuri alone to fend for herself as the co-owners cloistered themselves in Hyoyeon’s office.
She pretended to browse the selection, even as most of the lights dimmed. Frankly, she’d hoped to hide behind the racks. Or shrink into herself enough to be invisible.
Until Yoona called out, “Why are you lurking in the shadows?”
Yuri’s breath hitched. Her cue. “Um, uh sh-shopping.”
“Can’t you read the sign? We’re closed.”
Resigned to being roasted, Yuri peeped over a row of rompers. To Im Yoona. Um...smirking. It wasn’t a glare at the pathetic Craftie’s manager! “Damn, there goes that friends and family discount I wanted to use.”
Sinbi, routinely attached to her phone, spoke without looking up. “Where’s Sooyoung? We already okay’d her application and background check so, like, I want her here already.”
“Oh.” No ‘haha-you’re-poor’ comment? “Giant sale at Craftie’s.”
“The infamous Craftie’s.” Yoona scrunched her nose, hands tucked into her stylish pants. “Tiffany bragged about your promotion for two days straight.”
“Four,” Sinbi corrected, “if you count the text reminders.”
Yuri grinned through a soft blush, idly skimming through patterned shorts. Then, the hangers themselves pushed her blush to flaming hot. She couldn’t glance at a hanger without remembering Tiffany’s hidden tattoo. “Did she, now?”
“She sent pics like the proud dork she is. Kudos on the better manager shirts.”
“We’re not joking.” Sinbi eyed Yuri from her vantage point (propped onto two chairs, legs stretched out). “That polo from before did nothing for your boobs.”
Yoona snorted prettily, which apparently was a thing for lifeforms like her. “She’s not lying. Ill-fitting uniforms are an injustice.”
Yuri shrugged. “They’re just work clothes. Who’ll see me?”
“Like, hundreds of people a day.”
Huh. She’d never thought about it that way. “I don’t exactly have access to a tailor.”
“Jeez, you say stupid things.”
Between Sinbi and Sooyoung, Yuri had her fill of being called stupid. “I’m sorry?”
“You have us,” Yoona held her hands up to the store’s ceiling. “We could literally tailor clothes for you.”
“I…I wouldn’t bother y—”
“Your uniform includes black bottoms and black shoes, right?”
Yoona sprinted to the back room while Sinbi pointed to a middle platform, aptly illuminated. “You. Up there,” she ordered.
Yuri could’ve argued no, for the sake of her anxiety. Though, really, she needed the kill time. And they’d hound her until she bent to their demands. Doing her best to seem casual, she sauntered up the steps and mounted the circle. She whimpered at the harsh lighting. “I feel like a science experiment.”
“Sis, this is science.” The 22-year-old prowled, scrutinizing. “Ugh, you have a hot body. Pilates?”
“Eh, no. I run around Craftie’s.”
“In college, I’d shop there for vellum paper. And watercolor pencils. Everything was, like, forty percent cheaper than the art shops on campus.”
“Did you use a coupon, too?”
“I did! An associate just handed me one. So fucking nice.”
Yuri swallowed, keeping her giddiness at bay. A pleasant one-on-one with Sinbi. Either Soo’s reprimand changed her for the better or hell rivaled the Arctic about now.
Yoona jogged back in, arms laden with black garments presumably from the consignment area. “Okay, my skillful assistant—” On command, Sinbi bowed her role. “let’s hook Yuri up.”
Yuri resigned herself to the reality that whenever she spent more than ten minutes at THY, she’d be made over. Had she been a fashion terrorist her entire life and nobody broached the subject?! “Guess…I’ll be your hookee...hooker?”
Sinbi cracked the roll of measuring tape like a whip. “Prepare your ass for the YoonBi special.”
“Again, with combining our names?” Yoona sighed.
“We used to sleep together!”
“I know that. You remind me every damn day!”
“We’re a team now. Hyo calls us YoonBi.”
“Seo’s gonna whup both your asses.”
Their bickering lasted about fifteen minutes. Although, Yuri didn’t mind a bit. By some miracle, she’d become enough of a staple to enjoy their squabbling without centering attention on herself. Well, until they got to business.
Over the next two hours, Yuri cycled through a dozen pairs of black pants and two skirts at least twice. Sinbi and Yoona, a dream team in the works, pinned and tucked and muttered to each other. All while recording notes on their phones. And if Tiffany hadn’t planted a respect for their ‘dress up’ craft before, she would’ve gained it now. Magically, eight pairs of pants and one skirt formed onto her hips like they would on her favorite drama characters. Most of them would be fully tailored in a few days. Which would elate her, except,
“I can’t afford any of these.” Yuri tugged the tight pants she wore by the pockets. “You see, Sooyoung and I are moving. It’ll eat up every bit of my wages as it is.”
Yoona shouldered off her words with bored refinement. Instead, she presented a pair of black shoes. “Try these on. I bet they’re your size.”
They were. Yuri secured the laces, impressed. “Another thing I can’t pay for.”
“There’s a small scuff on the side,” she pointed out nonchalantly. “Either I’d buff that out and put it in donations or throw ‘em away.”
Yuri tapped the toes together. Man, she hadn’t expanded her wardrobe in ages. And as Yuri currently sported Tiffany’s cute gingham top, she checked off another box for lesbianism: clothes-sharing. “These are classier than any shoes I’ve ever owned.”
“Then, Merry Gaymas,” Yoona insisted. Obviously perturbed. “You’ll be the belle of the Craftie’s ball.”
“Are you for real?”
“Listen here, Kwon.” Her pissed glare from the club made a comeback. “We’re not treating you like a pathetic charity case, okay? The girls and I make claim on shit we want all the time. Seohyun’s gotten cute sunglasses and pumps, you’re welcome to anything that fits today, and if someone actually loved Sinbi, they’d have their own set of free stuff, too.”
Sinbi stamped her foot. “Yoong! I’m saving myself for Sooyoung.”
Yuri’s chance to scoff. “Good luck with that.”
“Being Tiffany’s long-term plus-one comes with perks,” Yoona explained. “How about this: we’ll hire Sooyoung and if she’s a horrid cashier, you’ll owe me the original price of everything.”
Oh, hell. She’d be threatening her best friend every day. Yuri bowed. “Deal.”
“I’m deadass. If she’s a thief or secretly can’t count, I’m mailing you a massive bill.”
Yoona smiled. “Fabulous.”
“All I want to do,” Tiffany stealthily nipped Yuri’s earlobe as they shimmied through a crowded restaurant. “is drag you back into my car and have my way with you.”
Needless to say, she was quite pleased with not only the new pants that hugged Yuri’s ass like…well, like Tiffany wanted to do, but the easygoing nature amongst her, Yoona, and Sinbi. Yuri had never been so thankful for attention. Especially when bolstered by Hyoyeon’s wolf whistle.
Since Yuri made off like a bandit with expensive new digs (and Tiffany still refused money for gas), she offered to pay their dinner bill. This time, Yuri chose a place blocks away from where the awful celebratory meal for Taek’s company happened.
A date as a couple. A lesbian couple. Yuri was walking on air.
“Wait.” She seized Tiffany’s hand, moving behind the other woman’s chair. “Okay, now sit.”
Tiffany tilted her head. “What are you on about?”
“Trying out roles. Testing what feels natural.”
She complied, falling back in the seat for Yuri to push her (a little too closely) to the edge of the table.
“Hmmm.” Yuri tapped her chin.
“Meh. I’d rather you sit yourself.”
“So would I.”
As they settled themselves, going through the motions before deciding their orders, Tiffany crept a hand over, loosely twining their fingers. At the lychee bar, they’d been shielded—both emotionally and physically—by friends and their sitting arrangement. Now, not so much. Unsure, Yuri cut her eyes to anyone nearby. “Y-you’re not wary about uh…” Her pupils zipped down to Tiffany’s pointer sensually stroking the tendons on Yuri’s hand.
Whatever swoony fog that’d been filtering Tiffany’s gaze evaporated. “Sorry. It’s automatic.”
Yuri stopped her from pulling away. “I’m not ashamed.”
“People can be rude.”
“I’ll be brave if you’re around.”
“Are you sure?”
“Uh, I think so.”
Tiffany gently detached her hand, delivering a small pat. “Tell me what’s good here.”
“Anything, really,” Yuri mumbled. Attempting to shake off her disappointment. If only she’d answered more confidently. “An old lady and her family own this place. Most of the meals are their own traditional recipes. They keep the prices low, too.”
“What do you normally eat?”
The dumplings. But, that was what she ate every time, when she’d dated Taekwoon. She folded her paper menu, banishing it to her lap. “You choose for us.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, you’re the one with the good taste.”
Tiffany tucked her chin into her upturned hand, trailing back into Daydreamland. Eyes hazing, she whispered, “I hate not being able to kiss you right now.”
Yuri giggled, not dredging up the nerve to dare her: kiss me. “Soon.”
After Tiffany ordered two rice bowls (one with spicy chicken, the other an unspicy short rib), Yuri worked up the nerve to reveal what’d been bugging her for the past few days. “One, um, one day—no pressure, though, this is a mountain of pressure—I’d like you to meet my parents.”
Tiffany’s jaw dropped, far removed from the calmness of Sooyoung’s first meeting discussion. “Isn’t that a little premature?”
“It’s not my fault.” Yuri threw her head back. So embarrassing. “My mother’s onto me.”
“That’s huge.” Tiffany batted her long lashes, intrigued. “Have you dropped hints on purpose? Or was it some weird motherly instinct?”
“Neither. She’s addressing how I’ve broken up with my boyfriend, Sooyoung and her fiancé called it quits, and conveniently Soo and I are moving in together. What does that look like to you?”
“Like two lesbos giving in to their deep, Sapphic desires,” she teased, totally amused.
“You should meet them. To set them straight—for a lack of a better term.” She nudged Tiffany’s knee beneath the table. “My parents aren’t scary. My mother emphatically screamed, ‘I knew Sooyoung swung for the other team!’ and she has no fucking clue how wrong she is.”
“I mean…” Tiffany’s smile dulled, as did her energy. She fussed with her napkin. Twisted fingers through her long hair. “Blood family can surprise you. I…I don’t want to cause a hostile environment.”
That father of hers really killed Tiffany’s trust in parents. “Don’t worry. I’ll save you from any danger.”
“You’ll be my wings.”
Yuri thanked whoever dropped off their bowls, then murmured, “Of course, for as long you’ll have me.”
“Then, you’re in for a long, long ride.” Tiffany replied as diplomatically as one could. She gestured an excited little dance to her food before saying, almost as an afterthought, “I wouldn’t want to hurt your relationship with your parents.”
“Nah. They’re confused, but harmless.” She snorted, confident about the awkwardly humble people who raised an awkwardly humble Kwon Yuri. “I swear on my roaring appetite they’ll love you as much as—as, um…”
As much as Yuri. She loved Tiffany so much, she’d risk it all. Or, had she already?
Tiffany continued to be tactful, changing the topic. “How’s the apartment hunting?”
“Sketchy and possibly deadly.” Shuddering, Yuri blew at a clump of rice. “Soo’s been getting suggestions from our coworkers. Most of the pictures they’ve linked could pass as psycho killer settings. Our budget calls for it.”
“I could help.”
“No, Fany. You’ve done enough.”
“You’re my beautiful, scaredy-cat Froot Loop.” Tiffany pooched her lips for an air kiss. “I couldn’t live with myself if you’re lodging in a dungeon.”
“I’m pretty low maintenance, yet…”
“Sooyoung needs her space, you know? We both do. Then there’s Tetris, her bull terrier—”
“She has a dog?!”
“It’ll be a tight squeeze.”
“Hon, pardon my tone.” Tiffany dropped her chopsticks, face serious. “But, you will accept my help. This is me forcing nice things on you.”
Yuri couldn’t hide her gratitude. “Even when you force, it’s sweet.”
“I know some experienced low-fee brokers. I’ll refer you and Sooyoung.”
“Send me a package containing your combined budget, your preferences, employment history…” She brought out her phone, typing resolutely. “I’ll vouch for Sooyoung’s job at THY so she’ll seem more stable and financially dependable.”
“I know you’re asking for nothing in return, but,” Yuri lay a hand on Tiffany’s thigh, fixing their gazes. “I’d like to compensate for all of this. One way or another.”
“Shall I give you a deadline?”
“As you wish.” Tiffany lowered her phone. Lost for speech for a matter of seconds, until her response: “I’ll give you forever to prove how much I deserve you.”
Yuri sipped her water. It was the only action keeping her from imploding.
After dinner, they paced the street, enjoying the sweetness of a duty-free evening. Yuri glanced at the shoes from THY. Being nearly brand new, they needed some breaking-in if she’d be patrolling Craftie’s floor in them come Monday. She admired their semi-matte shine, the orate silver detailing, their feminine contours that exhumed maturity and class. And next to her, clicked Tiffany’s booties, bold in deep red velvet.
The whole of her girlfriend screamed bold, proud. She’d only wished to step up to her level someday. “How do you do it?”
“Do what?” Tiffany asked. Though, the lightness in her voice hinted she had an idea.
“Be you. Be gay. To be so sure about everything.”
“Quite the contrary. ‘Fake-it-‘til-I-make-it’ is my lifestyle.” She threaded her fingers in front of her, swinging her hands aimlessly. “I pick my battles wisely, that’s all.”
“Was…” Yuri licked her lips. “Was giving me a chance a battle?”
Tiffany’s giggle melded in the activity, the wind of passing cars, the chatter of people like them—not busy, not stressed. “I would say so, yes. You weren’t easy, but you’re mine.”
“I’m sorry again…about your father.”
The conversation meandered into observations—that guy’s bolo tie, the fluffiness of an adorable Bichon Frise—until Yuri couldn’t stand it. “Am I moving too slowly for you?”
“Are you kidding me? Did you not ask me to meet your parents an hour ago?”
“Right, I, um,” Yuri swept dark hair behind ears she knew were burning. “I’d like to stay on that course, you know? The course to being super open, unafraid to express who I am.”
“You’re not only your sexuality, Yul. Give it time.”
A frustration from a place Yuri couldn’t pinpoint took hold. She kicked nothing on the sidewalk. “While Yoona and Sinbi dressed me up, they discussed a few of your exes.”
Tiffany stilled in step, only momentarily, but it meant enough. “Are they sabotaging us after all?”
“Nope.” Yuri caught the fear in Tiffany’s eyes. And, she smiled. “You and Soo share trash taste.”
Instantly bursting into a laugh that turned heads, the other woman loosely hooked their arms and switched their course, back toward the restaurant. Her car was parked there, after all. “Horror stories, each and every one of them.”
“They shared a common theme, however.”
“Marks of the beast on their scalps?”
“No, they were out.”
“Oh.” Tiffany huffed through her nose. “Yeah, I suppose they had that going for them.”
“I wouldn’t want any part of you to become closeted, dating me.”
“It’s a process, right?”
Yuri fidgeted, conscious not to spill what she really needed to confess. Her true feelings. “That process should be sped up. Holding your hand, kissing you, flirting with you in public doesn’t come as second nature. I’d like to correct that.”
“It’s all about safety, my dear.” Tiffany pulled Yuri closer. Her perfume wafted around them. “Even I take inventory of my surroundings before doing PDA. It’s a survival tactic.”
“Soo applauded my PDA side with you. I don’t want that to die.”
“Then, continue to live honestly.”
Tiffany deserved her honesty.
Yuri contemplated how to approach this. How to not come off as some clingy baby gay. And, damnit, the parking lot came into view. She’d thought her way to a dead end. Not that she couldn’t confess in the car, but the weather, the atmosphere all pointed to romance. The romance her girlfriend deserved.
“Hey, Yul. This way.” Tiffany led them astray, to the space between the restaurant and a moderately populated outside dining area. Strings of white lights were snaked onto posts and its ornate gate. They were brighter, more festive than the barely visible stars within the city sky.
Seconds later, their fingers were curled together, into a ball of softness, warmth. Tiffany was still so warm. “You’re incredible, Fany.”
Her dark eyes sparkled, contrasting to the slight shake of her head. “Don’t compare yourself to my exes. They’re exes for a multitude of dramatic reasons.”
“Are you uncomfortable?”
Yuri eyed their joined hands, hearing the diners nearby. “Just a little nervous.”
“It’s okay to be nervous. Would you like to let go?”
Yuri then realized the sparkle in Tiffany’s eyes wasn’t only figurative. Her unshed tears caught the light just so. “Did I say something wrong?”
“No, but I might.”
Stomach tangling into a painful knot, Yuri only gulped in response.
Was this it?
Where the dream reached its finale, when Yuri sprung up in bed, sitting a pool of sweat. Where Taekwoon slept at her side. Where the oak desk she helped him carry up several flights stood like a beacon to coupon clipping? “Tiffany, don’t.”
“I...” She laughed humorlessly, shuffling until only they could hear each other if she whispered. And she did whisper, “I’ve been speaking my truth since I turned fourteen and I won’t stop tonight. Not for my friends, not for my dad. Not for anybody, even you.”
In a blink, the vulnerability of the club (post-Pink Halter) reemerged. Yuri could almost feel the tile on her hands, the frayed texture of her worn jeans. The bile of a few too many drinks.
Yuri braced herself.
For the threat of her happiness.
For, instead, Tiffany’s lips pressed into hers.
And in a cool, soft breath, Tiffany said, “I’m in love with you, Kwon Yuri.”
Yuri broke the kiss for a quizzical squint. “What the fuck?”
Then, Tiffany returned a glare so scorching, Yuri wouldn’t wish it on her worst enemy. She backtracked to clarify. “No, I mean. Fany…you love me? That’s why you almost terrified me into wetting myself?”
“We…we haven’t been dating long and you just ended a long-term partnership and—”
“Jesus, Fany, I love you, too.”
“You’re in-tune with others’ emotions so I know you’ve felt it from me.”
“Well, yeah, but...” Shaken, a tear finally skimmed down Tiffany’s perfect cheek. “Some of my exes have fooled me before. I don’t have a great track record in that department.”
Shit, Yoona and Sinbi more or less warned the same thing. Tiffany put on a strong front, but she had her shortcomings. That being women, declaring love too soon, giving too much. “Hey, hey,” Yuri cooed, kissing her cheek. “Did you miss when I said I loved you, too?”
Tiffany’s eyes rounded. Perplexed.
Wow, she had missed it. On a rare occasion, she’d been the one too stuck in her own head.
“You do? You love me? And—and you admit to it?”
Yuri framed Tiffany’s face within her hands. Admiring the angle of her jaw, her large, questioning eyes, lips designed for kissing and confessing, apparently.
“Your exes and family failed, okay? With me, you don’t have to doubt my love. It’s here—” She lifted their hands over a heart doing jumping jacks. “And it’s not going anywhere.”
As passionate as she was shameless, Tiffany pushed Yuri into one of the poles. Kissing hard, sucking Yuri’s lip into her mouth, masking nothing as she whined, “I want you now. In my car.”
Shit, she hadn’t graduated to exhibitionist-level yet. She fixed her mouth to say so when a deep voice intercepted.
Yuri parted from her love, gazing over at a very, very, very shocked Han.
Sooyoung’s ex-fiancé hovered feet away. Takeout bag in his fist. A black eyebrow cocked in shock. A gaping, stunned mouth.
“Uh, hey, Han.” She glimpsed over at Tiffany, needlessly annotating: “Sooyoung’s ex-fiancé.”
Tiffany mumbled that she’d gathered while she tidied her lipstick with two fingers.
“Does Taek know about this?” Han, ever the one too-confident boomed. A sparse number of people full-on watched. “Seriously, what the hell is going on? Who the ever-loving fuck is this?”
Yuri’s everything burned in a full-body flush. “She’s—she’s—”
“Tiffany Hwang, her girlfriend,” Tiffany supplied, rivaling his tone and volume. “Problem?”
“Does Taek know?” he repeated, disregarding her.
Yuri nodded, feeding off Tiffany’s boldness. “He knows what I’ve told him.”
“This is a sick game you're playing, woman.”
She sucked in a deep breath, expelling, “I’m not playing anything. For the first time in my life.”
“We should go.” She trailed Tiffany on a trek away from Han, away from the onlookers who’d have a lot of dinner conversation thanks to them. “You should, too. Before your food gets cold.”
“I’m calling Taek!” he shouted after them.
“I don’t care!” Yuri shouted back.
Actually, she realized she didn’t care what Han told Taekwoon. Past the initial embarrassment, his outrage meant jack.
She smiled as Tiffany unlocked the car.
Han had jogged after them. As menacing as a wet puppy, despite how he carried himself. “Yul, really. What the hell?! Neither of you even look gay.”
Tiffany paused as she swung the door open. Leering like a menace as she snapped, “Well, she fucks like a lesbian, so…”
Then, her door closed on however the hell he responded. They laughed themselves into tears while Tiffany pulled out into the road.
This laughter, this carefree, irreverent attitude.
How come Yuri lacked this before? When life was, arguably, simpler?
“I wanted to call him a bitch, but…” Tiffany dabbed her eyes with a napkin. “That title’s too elevated for him.”
“You made a great impression.”
“Do you think he’s already tattling to your ex?”
“Absolutely.” Yuri grinned to herself, recognizing how much of a non-issue that was. “Han probably burned rubber out of there.”
“Are you okay?”
“Mmhmm.” Tiffany’s hand found hers. Her delicate, smooth hand. Lovely enough to hold at for a wedding photographer’s camera. “They’ll empty every beer in Taek’s fridge and vent all night.”
“They’re not your problem.”
“Thank you, Fany. For rescuing me.”
“I just held your hair while you puked, love.”
Yuri kissed Tiffany’s knuckles, letting her girlfriend be humble. Humble, beautiful, sociable, funny, phone convo-loving, intelligent, sexy… “Let’s enjoy the rest of our weekend, Marie Antoinette.”
“With pleasure, Yura.”