I could never understand why Jeonghwa felt the need to take this long to finally get off the set. She could just hurry away and get into the waiting van, like many of the other actresses did. But no, she always bowed and said goodbye to every bloody person on the set, leaving me standing there waiting for her in the cold rain. As if she wasn't going to see them all tomorrow.
I glanced up as Jeonghwa went through her usual ritual. For the past few days it had been cloudy and raining. When you're shooting a drama weather matters a lot, and the cameramen had been complaining that it was impossible for love scenes to look romantic underneath this endless expanse of grey.
Not that I knew much about shooting a drama, beyond what Jeonghwa and the cameramen told me. I was just Jeonghwa's bodyguard, after all.
Finally done, Jeonghwa stopped in front of me.
"Ok! Let's go!" she exclaimed, smiling that sunny smile that made her so famous.
I opened the door for her- celebrities are apparently incapable of opening car doors, I'm not sure why- and she got in. I got into the front, signalling to her manager Hyerin that we could go.
The sun was setting as we drove away. I watched Jeonghwa through the rear-view mirror as she stared pensively out the window.
Jeonghwa had been an actress for forever, since she was nine years old or something. She was known for playing the nice girl, from the idealised teenage daughter to the pretty and aegyo-filled girlfriend to the male lead. Her image was squeaky-clean, way too perfect. And yet, as far as I knew, it was completely true to life. I'd worked for her for a couple of months now, and I'd yet to see her anything other then happy.
"Look! That's me," Jeonghwa exclaimed, pointing to a billboard as we drove by.
It was a poster for her latest drama, the one we’d just been shooting the final scenes for. Jeonghwa played the daughter of a rich family who falls for a poor man. The poster showed them smiling at each other, Jeonghwa wearing a wonderful-looking dress. It would have been cute if I didn’t know that that dress had been incredibly uncomfortable and the male lead was actually an arsehole. Jerk had once asked me to get him a coffee, like that was my job.
As suddenly as Jeonghwa's smile appeared, it vanished. She slumped back in her seat, sighing. "I don't want to go home tonight. Take me to Changbul street."
Hyerin glanced at her. "Are you sure? You've been going there a lot lately."
"I'm sure," Jeonghwa said decisively and got out her phone.
We soon pulled up to an apartment building on Changbul street. Jeonghwa usually went here around once a week, though as Hyerin said it had been more then that lately. She never told me why she was going there and never allowed me to go there with her to inspect the place, which I always did when Jeonghwa went home. We would pick her up from Changul street the next morning.
Jeonghwa adjusted her mask so it was covering almost all of her face before getting out. Secrecy was of the utmost importance.
After she had left, Hyerin drove me home. We were awkward with each other when Jeonghwa wasn't around, but that was alright. We were just there to do our jobs, after all.
I dragged myself up the stairs to my tiny apartment and flung my coat on the couch, collapsing into the cushions. It was good to be home.
I turned on the tv, flicking through the channels. Since I started working for actresses, I've found that I have no interest in watching dramas anymore. I suppose knowing the truth behind the shows makes them less fun.
I watched a music show for a bit before switching to the news. I was falling asleep when I saw a very familiar sight. It was the mysterious apartment on Changbul street! The entrance was now covered in police tape. I sat upright, turning the volume up.
"And now for our breaking news item. Two men have been arrested for attempting to break into the home of rising vocal duo Dasoni. The men were carrying letters declaring their love for the duo and are suspected of being saesang fans. They are currently being detained at the police station for questioning. The singers have not been harmed."
I didn’t usually follow singers, but I actually knew Dasoni, mostly because Jeonghwa was a big fan. She must have made Hyerin play their last comeback, I Love You, a million times. I really liked their music. When I was in high school I had a stupid hobby of composing music, and I always thought that if I had stuck with it Dasoni's music was the type I would have made.
On screen, Solji looked uncomfortable as half a hundred cameras were shoved in her face. "Um, we're just happy that nobody else in the building was hurt. This type of fan behaviour is not supported by us or our label," she stammered.
I frowned disapprovingly. Why on earth was there any need to interview her? The poor girl had just been through a traumatic experience! If I was her bodyguard I would definitely be keeping her away from crowds right now for her protection. Mental protection is just as important as physical protection to me, especially in this industry.
Although I obviously wasn't happy that this had happened to Dasoni, I couldn't help but be relieved that at least it wasn't connected to Jeonghwa. She was obviously there to meet a lover, so there must be an unrelated male celebrity in the same building. Still, it was scary to think that this kind of thing could happen to anyone. I might have to consider getting Jeonghwa round-the-clock protection.
By the next morning, I had completely forgotten about the incident with Dasoni. Jeonghwa had texted Hyerin that she had gone home last night, which was a first. She must have been freaked out with all the police and people on Changbul street.
That day Jeonghwa and her co-stars had a press conference, which was always busy work for me. By the time evening rolled around I was exhausted. Jeonghwa, on the other hand, was a ball of nervous energy. She was fidgety and kept looking at me for some inexplicable reason the whole ride back. By the time we got to her apartment I was thoroughly annoyed.
She followed me up the steps as she always did, looking ridiculously nervous. Before we entered her room I rounded on her.
"Alright, what's up? Why are you being so weird?"
Jeonghwa took a deep breath, eyes fixed on her shoes. "Well, you know that apartment I'm always going to? I'm dating someone there."
I nodded. "Yeah, and?"
Her eyes went huge. "You already knew??"
"Of course, I'm not stupid. What else?"
A lot more confidence now, Jeonghwa kept going. "Well, she's actually staying with me right now. So she's in my apartment. I just thought I'd warn you"
I was just thinking that that explained why she'd gone home last night when it hit me. "Wait. She?"
Jeonghwa swung the door, revealing her apartment, which probably cost more then the accumulative cost of everything I'd ever owned- and Hani from Dasoni, sitting on the couch.
I think I went weak at the knees. I had to work not to stumble, my hand groping for the doorhandle to steady myself. Jeonghwa was much, much stupider then I'd thought. If anyone found out about this her career was toast. What was she thinking, date an up-and-coming star, and a girl at that? I had to protect her.
Jeonghwa, the little fool, skipped happily towards Hani and sat on the couch next her. Hani put her arms around her waist, resting her chin on Jeonghwa's shoulder.
"Are you the bodyguard?" she said to me.
I nodded. Jeonghwa looked at me, eyes sparkling. "So?" she asked tremulously. "What do you think?"
I run my fingers through my hair. I'm not homophobic, of course- I'm a lesbian myself. But there were a whole host of other very good reasons why this relationship was a bad idea.
But faced with Jeonghwa's cautiously hopeful face, I couldn't bring myself to say any of them. She could probably never tell her fans about this relationship, or even her family. Yet she had trusted me. Not that she had had much choice, but still. I couldn't let her down.
"Of course I approve," I said. "I'll continue to protect you from anything that might threaten you. Both of you."
Hani smiled at that as well. She nodded at me as I did my rounds and left, mouthing thank you. Despite myself, I liked her. At least she appreciated me.
I tried to justify this reckless relationship to myself on the way back to the car. Jeonghwa had been keeping it a secret for this long, with only one close call last night. And it seemed to make her really happy. If I had to pick between my career and my happiness, I had to admit that I would selfishly pick happiness every time. So I could understand her.
"Thank god she told you," Hyerin said when she saw my shell-shocked expression. "Now you can help me plan dates and stuff."
"Yeah, they like to go on dates sometimes and Jeonghwa's been getting me to plan them and get her to them. It's so inconvenient. You have your driver's license, right?"
I slumped back into my seat. Yep, my job had just gotten way more complicated.
Just a few days later, my fears were realised when I was asked to drive Jeonghwa to a date in the woods near Seoul. Hani had moved out at this point, Dasoni finding their own dorms somewhere away from sasaengs. Jeonghwa kept up her usual loud, happy chattering all the way to the campsite. I fancied I was becoming less annoyed by it, but maybe I'd just been stockholm-syndromed into liking it.
It was late, so the area was deserted over then us and one other car. I got out and was about to go investigate the other car when Hani got out of it. To my surprise, Solji climbed out of the driver's seat.
Jeonghwa kissed Hani and turned to me to get her backpack. I presented her with two different coats to wear, which I was confident would keep her warm. She put them on reluctantly.
"If anything goes wrong, yell as loud as you can and I'll come get you," I told her. "I have a car, remember."
Jeonghwa frowned. "I don't think you're allowed to drive on the trail."
"I don’t give a shit. Don't go too far away, alright? No going out of earshot."
"Alright, mum," Jeonghwa said, rolling her eyes.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Solji behaving in a similar way with Hani. Eventually the two girls extracted themselves from us and headed off down the hiking trail together. Solji waved to Hani until the last moment.
Then she turned to me. I'd seen her face many times smiling up at me from various cds and album covers and I'd noticed how pretty she was, but now I was really struck by it. Her long hair was unstyled and she wasn't wearing makeup, but somehow she looked even prettier then she did on cds.
I stuck out my hand. "Um, hi. I'm Hyojin, Jeonghwa's bodyguard."
She shook my hand, not introducing herself. She probably figured I already knew who she was.
I coughed awkwardly. "I, uh, I really like your voice. Your singing, I mean."
"Oh! Thank you." She said politely. "So, Hyerin couldn't come tonight?'
"I think she's sending me more from now on. She wanted a break." Solji nodded, clearly not sure what to say.
We both just stood there, avoiding eye contact. I wanted to punch myself in the face for my uncharacteristic silence. God, pretty women were totally my weakness. I wrapped my coat around me to protect from the biting night air and kicked the stony ground with the tip of my shoe, wondering if I should go back to my car.
"Hot chocolate?" Solji suddenly asked.
"You have hot chocolate?"
"I packed a thermos of it. There's enough for two?"
"Thank you." Hot chocolate sounded incredible. I was getting worried that I hadn't given Jeonghwa enough coats.
We got into Solji's car, which was mercifully warmer then outside, and she poured two styrofoam cups full of hot chocolate. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold, which improved her looks even more.
"So, how'd Jeonghwa persuade you to drive her here? You must be a pretty dedicated bodyguard."
I'd never really thought about whether I was dedicated or not. "I'm just doing my job. I have to keep her safe. How'd Hani get you to drive her? I imagine she's not paying you."
Solji laughed. "In my dreams! No. I'm the only one with a driver's licence and none of our staff know about the relationship. So lately Hani's been forcing me to take her to these dates. Although she always says that my driving will kill her someday."
"She must be willing to die for Jeonghwa," I smiled.
"That's definitely it! You should see the way she goes on about her. It's all Jeonghwa, Jeonghwa, Jeonghwa from morning to night. I hope if I ever fall in love I'm not that obnoxious about it."
"I think it's nice that she likes her so much. If I ever got a girlfriend I'd appreciate if she was that affectionate."
"I think I'd like a more strong and silent type girlfriend." Solji mused.
I had to shake myself to change the topic. Fuck, how did I end up discussing ideal types with the hottest, most off-limits girl I'd met in a long time? Jeonghwa's bad decision-making was rubbing off on me.
"So, how did you become a singer?" I asked.
Solji looked a little nonplussed at the abrupt topic change, but launched into her life story happily. She had an amazing story to tell, full of fate changes, unexpected happenings and at least one serious illness. I was completely wrapped up in it.
We ended up spending hours talking. At one point she asked me about my own life, but I redirected the topic, saying it was boring. I hated telling people about my past, about up my producing dream and settling for being a bodyguard. It sounded especially bad when contrasted with Solji, who had spent her life chasing her dream no matter what obstacles she faced.
Besides, I was content to listen to her talk. I found that I loved her talking voice just as much as her singing voice. She become so animated and passionate about whatever she was saying. And her smile- I thought I could write a song just about her smile. No, I could write an album.
I was actually sad when Jeonghwa walked out of the woods, hand in hand with Hani. Even though it meant that she was safely returned to me, I was sad to leave Solji. While Jeonghwa turned to Hani for one last tender kiss, I said goodbye to Solji and got out of her car, leaving the door open in case Hani had that celebrity car door thing.
On the way home Jeonghwa was over the moon. She talked about what she and Hani had done- from what I gathered, mostly kissed- and how much she loved her. She seemed to love her a lot. I zoned out thinking about Solji for a while and when I zoned back in I swear she was composing sonnets.
My mind, however, was focused on Solji. Love at first sight is definitely not a thing, but if it's not I wondered what I was feeling. She was so nice! She was just so nice, and so pretty, and if she wanted to date me I wouldn't say no. Except I would, of course, because she's a celebrity.
I dropped Jeonghwa off and headed back home. On the way home I spotted a 24/7 store advertising a sale on kpop albums. Against my better judgement, I went inside. I wasn't sure if it was a good or bad thing that they had what I was looking for.
I got home and sat on the edge of my bed, looking at my new Dasoni album. Talk about an impulse buy! Why on earth did I have this? I leafed through the pages of the photobook, trying not to stare at Solji for longer then was appropriate. I told myself I needed to know more about Jeonghwa's girlfriend, attempting to justify it.
When I had satisfied myself that I had a perfectly normal, job-related reason to buy this album, and I certainly was not buying it just to stare at Solji's smile for longer, I put the album on my bedside table and went to sleep.
Over the next month Hyerin continued making me take Jeonghwa on dates. I saw Solji a handful of times and each time we talked with each other as Hani and Jeonghwa went on their date. We spent a lot of hours sitting in one car while Jeonghwa and Hani made out in the other one. I still hadn't fully worked out my feelings, but I knew I liked the famous singer a lot. Once, Hani mentioned that she was going for her drivers licence and I had to resist the urge to scream at her not to.
One day Hyerin called me to arrange another date. Jeonghwa had no schedule so all three of us were having a welcome day off. I was sitting around the house, listening to a Dasoni song from my album, when my phone buzzed.
"'Sup," I said casually.
"Oh, Hyojin, thank god!" Hyerin exclaimed. "Jeonghwa wants to go out on a date with Hani, and I need you to take her."
"What the fuck?" I said, more then a bit pissed off. "No way, it's my day off! Can't you do it?"
"No, it's-" Hyerin's voice briefly cut off, and I heard kid's screams in the distance. "It's my dad's birthday and we're having a celebration."
"Well then she should know that she can't go on a date during our days off!"
"Look, I don't want her to insist on having a fucking date right now either- don't tell your mummy that I used that word-" that was directed at someone next to the phone, "but Hani's going overseas on tour for ages so she'll be super mopey if she doesn't get to see her. I really don't want to deal with her. Please? I'll pay you double time."
I sighed. I wanted to relax, but it would be unbelievably cruel to force Hyerin to leave her dad's birthday. Anyway, there was always the off chance Solji would be there.
Jeonghwa gave me a massive hug when I showed up at her apartment, which softened me up a bit. She and Hani were having a coffee shop date. This was incredibly risky in my opinion, but Jeonghwa said it was a place she went to often and nobody would think twice about her being there with a friend. Hani was famous, but she was still at the level where she could go out in public without being recognised. I knew Jeonghwa missed those days.
My job was to take Jeonghwa to the shop, wait around while they had their date, and drive both Jeonghwa and Hani back to Jeonghwa's apartment. I felt like an uber driver, but there was nothing that could be done about it. Being a bodyguard is essentially just waiting around at various places anyway. I've yet to discover a mafia assassination plot against any of my clients, but I live in hope. It would make my job a bit more interesting at least.
Solji wasn't there, so I didn't bother to get out of the car. From where I was parked I could keep an eye on Jeonghwa, who was sipping her coffee with one hand and holding Hani's hand with the other.
I spent my time chilling in the car, continuing listening to the Dasoni album that I'd been listening to at home and tapping my fingers on the wheel in time to the killer beat. Out of long habit I continuously scanned my surroundings for any threat to Jeonghwa. It was then that I saw something that made my blood run cold.
There was a guy with a camera crouched behind a nearby bush. The way he was hiding immediately made me suspicious, and when I followed the sight line of the camera my worst fears were confirmed. He was trained directly on Jeonghwa, who was currently pressing a kiss to Hani's cheek, all starry-eyed and in love.
I saw red. I immediately jumped out of the car and sprinted across the street, not bothering to check for cars. He must have seen me, because he got to his feet. I was so filled with panic and anger that it blinded me, so I didn’t see where he went. I just knew that he didn't have time to get far.
I sprung through the bush, fully intending to tackle this arsehole to the ground, only to find him already pinned down, face mushed into the concrete.
"Get his camera!" Solji shouted, her knee pressed to the back of his neck.
I stopped short, thoroughly impressed. "You know how to tackle someone?"
"Both Hani and I know self defence," Solji said. "We learnt it after someone tried to break into our house. And, as you can see, it pays off."
I scooped up his camera and went through it, deleting all the photos he'd taken of Jeonghwa and Hani.
"You can't do this to me," he spat. "I'll have you arrested for assault."
I flicked him an amused glance. "Stalking is illegal too, you know."
He stayed shut up until I had finished deleting the pictures, at which point I signalled to Solji to let him up. He scrambled to his feet and I tossed him the camera, which he caught and hugged to his chest like Gollum with the ring, glaring at us. We watched him scuttled off until we were sure he really was gone.
"Thanks," I said to Solji. "That was really impressive."
"No worries. I hate dispatch, plus if they caught Hani she'd be really upset."
"Jeonghwa would be devastated too, " I said. "I'm banning them from public dates from now on."
She half-smiled at me, just raising one corner of her mouth. "Wanna go back to my car? I'm parked nearby."
"Sure," I accepted, following her. She was parked around the corner from my car, which explained why I thought she wasn't there.
"Why are you sticking around?" I asked. "I thought I was taking Hani back to Jeonghwa's."
Solji shrugged a bit. "To be honest, I was hoping I'd see you. Even if you just came to pick up Jeonghwa and Hani."
"Oh!" I was surprised, but very pleased. "Did you want to talk to me about something?"
Solji produced a pen from her pocket, then grabbed my hand. She scribbled a string of numbers onto my palm. I squinted at them.
"It's my number. I'm going away on tour with Hani, so I thought it'd be nice if we had a way to keep talking to each other."
"Yeah, that would be nice. Thanks!" I blurted. I tried very hard not to blush, but I think I was unsuccessful.
"I think you need to go," Solji smiled, pointing over my shoulder.
I turned around to see that, sure enough, Jeonghwa and Hani had emerged from the café and were inspecting the car and looking around for me.
Before I could hurry off to them, Solji pulled me into a goodbye hug. I inhaled sharply, shocked, only remembering to hug her back at the last minute. When we separated she wore her heart-melting smile.
"Text me when you get home so I have your number, alright?"
I was too embarrassed to do anything other then nod and run back to Jeonghwa.
"Hyojin, where on earth have you been? You're as red as a tomato," Jeonghwa said playfully.
I told her the story about tackling a dispatch reporter. Fortunately, the girls seemed to buy that my hue was the result of physical exertion, so my tough bodyguard image was kept intact. They also agreed to my request for no more public dates, clearly spooked by the reporter. I considered the whole day a win.
The whole way home I kept glancing at the number scrawled on the back of my hand. When I finally entered my own apartment I gave in to my compulsions and danced around the room, squealing and pumping my fist like a teenage girl. Solji liked me! She really liked me, enough to want to talk to me while she was on tour. I was so happy.
I deliberated for ages about what text to send her, eventually settling for;
'It's Hyojin, this is my number."
I cringed at the directness of it, waiting to see if she'd respond. She quickly did.
'Wonderful, thanks <3'
I looked at that heart for way longer then it warranted, finally flinging my phone on the couch and burying my head in a pillow. Fuck, this crush was getting really bad!
Solji and I texted often during her tour. Dasoni were spending three weeks in South East Asia, where most of their fans were. They weren't big enough to have a concert in Seoul yet, though Solji said it was their ultimate dream. She sent me photos of all the amazing places they went to, often with cute emojis and messages attached. I'd never been outside Korea so I really enjoyed living vicariously through her.
One night after work, she called me from Vietnam.
"Hi," I said as soon as I answered. "What's with the call?"
"Nothing, I just miss your voice," Solji hummed from the other end.
"I miss yours more," I said jokingly, causing Solji to go into squeeing mode.
"Get a room!" Hani shouted from the background. I could hear the whump as Solji threw a pillow at her.
We talked for a while before becoming serious. Solji was talking about her dissatisfactions.
"I guess the number one thing I regret is that we don't write our own songs," she said. "It's not that I don’t like our songs, I love them! I just kinda wish I knew how to produce a song and stuff like that."
"It's not hard to learn," I told her. "I used to produce songs when I was in high school."
"Why'd you stop?"
"I don't know. I wasn't good enough, I guess."
Solji's voice took on a curious quality. "If you wrote a song for Dasoni, what would it go like?"
I let out an embarrassed cough. "I don't have any words, but maybe something like this-" I sang a series of notes to her in my rough voice.
She repeated the simple tune perfectly. "I really like it! When we get back we're going to work on our next comeback, you should get involved."
"Me? No, I could never."
"Just come and try writing your song down. I personally think you would be an excellent producer." She paused as the door opened and I heard a voice talking to them. When she got back she sounded sad. "Sorry Hyojin, my manager just told me I have to go to sleep. I'll talk to you later."
Long after she had gone I lay awake staring into the darkness, silently crafting a melody in my head. Thinking of myself as a music producer was sheer madness. But there was just something about Solji that made me think I could do anything.
Jeonghwa's drama started airing around the same time as Dasoni got back from their tour. The ratings on the show were good, borderline great, and the critics once again had high praise for Jeonghwa's acting. The tour had also gone well, so Jeonghwa and Hani had a lot to celebrate. I, on the other hand, was feeling pressured.
Solji mentioned my potentially writing a song a couple more times, but I could tell she was holding back, wanting me to decide for myself. I wanted to do it, but ever time I tried to write a song it somehow never seemed good enough to show to Solji. Honestly, I was scared to show her. What if I wasn't good enough and in the process I screwed Dasoni over too?
I was hunched over my laptop one night, fruitlessly working on the song, when my phone buzzed with a call from Hyerin.
"Hello?" I said.
"Heeeey! Can you come pick us up?" Hyerin's voice was indistinct and I could hear muffled club music in the background.
"Are you drunk?"
"I think so!" Hyerin giggled. "'S why we need you. We went out to celebrate the drama airing. We're at Trunk."
Trunk was my favourite gay club. I felt a little sting at not being invited when Hyerin was, but it made sense that Jeonghwa wanted to go somewhere without her bodyguard trailing her.
"I'll be right there," I sighed.
Hyerin had taken the car to Trunk, so I caught the subway. On my way there it started raining and I stupidly hadn't brought an umbrella. I ran all the way from the station to the club, but I was still completely soaked by the time I arrived.
"Hyojin! Over here!" a voice shouted.
I turned. It was Solji, standing outside the club waving to me from under an umbrella. I jogged over gratefully.
"You're soaked!" she exclaimed, patting down my sodden, misshapen hair.
"I know," I responded. "I'm going to kill Jeonghwa and Hyerin. What are you doing here?"
Solji was wearing a short pink dress and looked freezing, so I instinctively took off my coat and put it around her. She huddled into it.
"Hani persuaded me to come, but there's only so long I can deal with Hani and Jeonghwa being all lovey-dovey. I came out here to get some fresh air. Oh, and you're really not going to like this, but they've decided to stay."
"Seriously? After getting me to come all this way?"
"Yeah, they said they'll get an uber home."
I was pissed, so I left Solji with my coat and went into the club to confront the others. I found them sitting at a booth, Jeonghwa practically on Hani's lap. Hyerin had rounded up a gaggle of guys who were listening to her loudly tell a story. She waved to me when I came in.
I dragged her away from the guys, practically shouting to be heard over the music. "Hyerin, what’s going on?"
"Hyojin! Thanks for coming! Don't worry about it though, we're going to stay, but we'll get some other way home because we don't want to keep you up too late."
"I'm not sure about this. It doesn't seem very safe for Jeonghwa."
"She'll be fine, I'll look after her. Let's just let her be an adult for one night of her life. You can take the car home, and get Solji as well."
I glanced over at the young actress, who was currently making out with her girlfriend. I wasn't being paid right then to look after her, so I guess I could let it go. Hyerin probably had a point. This was the closest Jeonghwa could get to independence.
"Alright, I'll go with Solji then," I told Hyerin.
She nodded and dug around in her tiny, fashionable purse until she found car keys, which she deposited in my hand. "By the way, take care of Solji, ok? That girl is an amazing person. If you hurt her, I'll kill you!"
I laughed. "What are you talking about? You're acting like Solji and I are dating! It's just a lift home."
"Oh, am I? I'm sorry. I am drunk, you know."
With that Hyerin wandered away back to her guys. I stared after her. Hyerin didn't seem actually as drunk as she wanted me to believe, so I had my suspicions about her. But in the end I decided to leave, figuring I'd left Solji along for long enough.
She was shivering despite the coat when I got back, bathed in the neon lights from the club. I showed her the car keys triumphantly.
"I'll take you home, at least then this night won't have been a total waste," I said.
She agreed eagerly so we got in the car and she gave me instructions to her new place. It was a swanky apartment, definitely an upgrade from her old home. I admired it.
"Walk me to the door?" she said.
It had stopped raining briefly, so the air smelt like that wonderful heady post-rain scent. I breathed deeply as we walked up the long driveway. She abruptly put her hand in mine. I started, but figured she might just be cold, even though she was still wearing my coat. She refused to make eye contact with me, blushing furiously.
I would have been content for that walk to go on forever, it was so nice feeling her hand in mine, but we were soon at the door. She took off my coat and gave it to me.
"Thanks," I muttered. There was something awkward in the air that wasn't normally present between us, but I couldn't work out what it was.
"Well, goodbye," she murmured.
As I turned to go, my coat flung over my arm, she suddenly grabbed my shoulder. "Hyojin, wait!"
I spun around and before I knew what was happening her lips were pressed to mine. Her hands were on the back of my neck, pressing me closer, and I was more then happy to reciprocate. I put my hands around her waist.
Even though she had presumably been drinking, she smelt and tasted amazing. I made a mental note to ask her for what perfume she used, before I snapped out of it and remembered what I was doing. Oh my god, what was I doing? I was kissing up-and-coming singer Heo Solji on her front doorstep. Fuck, I was as stupid as Jeonghwa.
Solji seemed to have none of my reservations. She was kissing me hungrily, as if to make up for all the time we had spent not kissing. Her lips seemed to burn against mine in the best way. The kiss demanded that I let go of my worries, so I did, and suddenly I could not work out why I hadn't done this long ago.
She felt really, really good against me and the more we kissed the happier I was. I felt light, like I was floating, and a little dizzy. Oh wait, I needed to breath!
I broke away from her to get a breath in, but didn't stop hugging her. We both stood there embracing for a while longer, struggling to comprehend what had just happened.
Finally, Solji moved back so we were looking at each other.
"So, this is a bit obvious, but will you be my girlfriend?" she said.
Then she smiled, which pretty much made my decision for me. How could I say no to that smile, which made her whole face light up in hope? I couldn't resist her or deny my emotions any more.
"Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes!" I exclaimed.
So that's how I started dating Solji. I've thought many times since then about everything and I think I spent too much being too worried about stuff like careers and reputations. Ultimately, when I had to make a decision about my happiness, all that fell away. It was just me and her and our love.
Once I’d realised that I managed to not think too hard and made that song Solji wanted. My first ever producing credit was Dasoni's next comeback. Jeonghwa starred in the mv and it turned out to be a smash hit.
In the end, I quit my job as a bodyguard and became a music producer! Don't worry, I screened all the candidates for Jeonghwa's new bodyguard personally until I found the perfect guy to ensure her safety.
Solji and I were incredibly happy together. We had so many double dates with Jeonghwa and Hani. These eventually turned into triple dates with Hyerin and her new boyfriend- the bodyguard I picked out. Go figure.
My new career involves a lot of uncertainty, so I'm not sure where any of us will be in five years time. Dasoni's star could keep rise or start falling, as could Jeonghwa's as could mine. The only thing I know is that Solji will definitely be there. She's the love of my life. Whatever the future holds we don’t care, because we know we will face it together. Side by side.