Less Than a Hundred Days of Summer

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Chapter 3

They got in just in time, the rain was still drizzling, but as soon as they crossed the threshold of her home, the dribble of the drops on the doorsteps and on the awning above them began sounding much louder. Tae Soo took the shoes off and stood by the door, searching with his eyes for slippers, as customary in every Korean home, and a bit stumbled about what to do next.

"Come on in, don't be shy," invited him Giselle, who slid out of her sneakers and bravely stepped barefoot on the cool wooden floor. She had perky toes, toenails colored in defiant purple, and she walked lightly, the floors slightly creaking under her feet. The guest shifted from foot to foot, suddenly embarrassed of his large feet, wishing he washed them before leaving the house; the soles got a little dirty from the sneakers he wore. He had a habit of not wearing socks with his shoes, now he regretted it, worried that his feet smelled.

"Aren't you going to come in?" She inquired, already in the middle of the room, turning on lights everywhere. The lights flickered a few times, giving a sense that electricity will not last long. "Wait a minute," and Giselle left into the room to the right, soon returning with a box, labeled Hurricane supplies. She opened it and took out a couple of flashlights, matches, a smaller box filled with candles of various colors, shapes and sizes, a small gallon of fuel and a portable burner. Tae Soo finally came over, trying to hide his feet under a low coffee table.

"I'll boil some water and make a fresh pot of coffee while we still have electricity," and she went into a small kitchen area. "Are you hungry?"

"No."

"Me neither, but who knows how long we will be stranded here. I will make us something quickly for later. Don't hesitate, seat down. There are some books and magazines on the table and also on the bookshelf, help yourself."

The man lowered on the sofa. Rubbing his thighs anxiously, he first stretched his legs, then pulled them back, planting feet firmly on the floor, but found that his knees were sticking up too high off the low sofa, then he leaned back and slid down, trying to stretch the legs again, in a very weird and uncomfortable position, looking quite bizarre. He finally straightened up and tried to put one leg on another, finding this position the most comfortable for the moment. While Giselle was busy in the kitchen, he lowered his head and pulled his foot up to his nose, smelling it.

"Are you all right?"

He jerked back, hearing her voice right above him. Sure enough, she was standing right next to him. He immediately got covered in red blotches all over his face and wished to magically disappear materializing preferably on the other side of the globe.

Giselle smiled just with her eyes and for a second it looked like she understood exactly why he was embarrassed. "If your feet get cold, I can give you socks, I have plenty of clean ones, don't worry."

"Thank you." He did not dare to ask now, but decided that it will be more appropriate a bit later after the sniffing his foot incident will be a thing of the past. Only now he thought about the fact that he was with a woman at her apartment in the evening, stranded by the hurricane and there was no telling how long he will have to be here till it was safe to return to his house. Was not she uncomfortable?

"Do you want something to drink?"

"Water, please."

He looked around, studying the room. It was a pretty small apartment, with a cozy living room, kitchen, a small entrance and another room behind the closed door, he assumed was Giselle's bedroom. His eyes wandered, paying attention to the stacks of books, DVDs and CDs, most of them were in English and some in Spanish. A small TV was hiding to the side and a laptop was casually sitting on the kitchen table. There was nothing special about this place, like any other apartment of a regular person, nothing fancy, but it felt warm and welcoming.

He noted that she did not seem like a clean freak, with a sweater thrown on the side of the couch and some papers laying on the floor. The curtains were half pulled aside and he could see the mayhem the wind started to cause, with the loud howling noises attacking the glass.

How come this girl was so fearless? Is not hurricane dangerous enough? Of course, he was not scared, but it was his first time to experience something of this magnitude. He was somehow grateful that he was not alone, in his large and empty house with the huge glass windows staring at him in the dark.

His water arrived in a glass, and he sipped it quietly, not knowing how to do small talk. Giselle sat next to him, relaxing into the sofa and he moved slightly away to the side, feeling strange to be so close to her, just the two of them alone in this small house and the wind screaming outside, shaking the window out of its frame. As if spooked by it, electricity went out, making the light bulbs flicker for the last time.

It was not the kind of darkness that swallowed everything, but still he could not really see.

"I'll light the candles."

And he heard matches spark, and soon the candles on the table shed light around them. He could now see the girl next to him, leaning toward the table, light playing with shadows on her face and her long hair hugging her back, a shoulder, and sliding to the side blocking most of her face besides her lips and nose. She tucked the strand behind her ear, and he stared at her profile.

Her face was so different from the faces of the women he was used to seeing. It had a certain vibrancy to it that everything in the Caribbean had, the golden hues of the skin, the warm cocoa of the eyes, which were shaped quite differently from the Asian girls. He caught a glimpse of them as she turned and announced, "I should probably do the rest."

He sat, quietly watching, as she got up and went to light more candles around the room. Suddenly, it felt peaceful. This small house was their sanctuary in the midst of the storm and she was his guardian angel, making sure he was safe under her watch.

"Giselle," he started speaking, not having formulated a thought, it was more of a feeling he wanted to express, "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For staying with me through the hurricane. You let a stranger into your home and I just wanted to thank you. Honestly, I would not have felt so safe by myself in my large empty house." He struggled to piece the words together, but pulled it off in the end.

"No problem. When you grow up here, hurricanes become just a part of your life. It is just like any other season, we simply call it hurricane season."

Her cell phone rang, playing a loud tune and they both looked at it, quite surprised. She came up to the table and picked it up, "Allo, Allo?"

"Bad reception." She put it down, but it signaled that a text arrived. She read it, silently moving her lips and looked quite panicked. She started blushing, as a couple of more texts arrived. Tae Soo waited patiently. Then a number of beeps followed. "I don't think so!" she said and then quickly covered her mouth with her palm, realizing that her guest heard it as well.

"Is there something wrong?" he asked.

"No, nothing. Just… something I should not concern myself with."

"Then don't," his advice was plain and made sense. She wished it was that simple. It was hard to ignore. All ten of the texts, one after another, trying to confuse and seduce her, and ultimately get her into bed.

I miss you. I'm sorry about last time. It was all a misunderstanding. I think you are so sexy, that's why I felt intimidated by you. That girl, I brought her over to make you jealous, so that you would go after me yourself.

I am at a hotel. I got us a room. Let's spend a night making love. With the hurricane, nobody will bother us. I want you. I want to feel your luscious body next to me, sweet baby. I'm ready for you, just thinking about your wide hips and strong legs.

Come Giselle. It's room 6. You know the place next to your house. I can't wait to finally satisfy our desires.

She hesitated, that moment of hesitation was a weakness, but for a few seconds she was swayed to think about sex. How much her body missed a man's touch, how she liked to be held and kissed and be told she was beautiful. This guy was a player, but he was hot and sexy, and time with him would have been exciting and fun. Maybe, she can go just for a night of sex, nothing more, nothing less. Obviously, he was not a boyfriend material. Cheating, lying bastard!

"Mr. Jerk?"

"What?" she realized that she again said that last sentence audibly. She was not alone, she had a guest, a foreigner, who should not be left alone during hurricane. She invited him over herself, what would it look like if she left, abandoning him here? Maybe, it was a good thing, otherwise, she might have conceded to the booty call invitation and then felt humiliated.

"Yes, Mr. Jerk. How did you know?"

"Bastard. I know it is a bad word," He smiled. "What does he want now? Is he… hold on," and he quickly typed something into his phone again, needing assistance for translation.

Is he trying to apologize? Did he say he was sorry and liked you better, than the other girl? She read and was surprised that he figured it out so easily, nodded.

"Are all men such pigs?" she wondered out loud again.

Was she comfortable around him because he did not speak good English or because she did not really consider him a man? He did not like either of these choices.

"Pigs? What is pigs?"

"Animal, a pig," she took his phone and typed in a word and then switched the arrow from English to Korean. "Here".

"Ahh," He shook his head in understanding and started laughing.

"Is it funny?"

"Yes. Men are pigs. Very funny. I'm not pig. My friends not pigs. Not all like that," he finally said in his broken English after his bout of laughter subsided.

She remembered about the stupid messages and hurried to enter a response, but a loud knock on the door stopped her. She just stared at the door, not moving.

"Giselle, open up, please. I need to talk to you, baby. Giselle, please."

"Mr. Jerk?" Tae Soo asked again, obviously knowing men, despite the fact that he claimed not to be a pig himself, he seemed to know all the tricks all too well.

"Yes, Mr. Jerk."

"Giselle, I brought you something. Please, the wind is crazy, open up, we need to talk. Giselle. I need to say something, please."

She did not move from her spot. How long will he stand there before he figures out she is not letting him in? Was she heartless? No, she was just hurt and angry. He was the one, who was heartless.

The banging continued and his calls grew more insistent. Tae Soo moved around the sofa in discomfort. He had no say in the matter, but at this point it seemed more reasonable to let the guy in, tell him she does not want to see him and get rid of him altogether. Giselle seemed to figure it out, as well.

"Sorry", she said to Tae Soo and went to the door.

Mr. Jerk, looking pitiful, like a wet street cat, with wet lumps of hair stuck to his skull and a wet face, drops of water dripping from his nose and chin, arms and legs, took off his rain poncho. She immediately locked the door as a strong gust of wind with some rain rushed into the house.

"Stay here, I'll bring the towel. Don't move," she said and went toward her bedroom, glancing at Tae Soo, who was sitting on the sofa, patiently waiting for the outcome.

Mr. Jerk was in a small foyer and from where he was standing, he did not see that Giselle was not alone. She returned with a large towel and watched him wipe his face and hair first and then arms.

"Don't even think of coming in," she warned him. "What are you doing here in the middle of the hurricane?" She stood with her hands crossed, anger building up and frustrated at herself that she opened the door and let this asshole inside.

"Gisselle, baby," he tried to take her hand, but she glared sternly, making him reconsider.

"I'm sorry. I lost my mind, I was just dying for you, and I thought I'll show you how much I want you tonight. Nobody needs to know. That girl and I, we had a fight, I like you, not her. I'm breaking up with her."

"Why should I care?"

"But baby, I'm doing it for us!"

"There is no us."

The man opened up a plastic bag he was holding. "I got us the wine you like and the chocolates." He looked at her with expectation.

Was he waiting for her to jump with excitement and fall into his arms, forgetting the pain and humiliation he caused her?

"Baby, come on. Give me a chance. The kind of things I can do to you - you won't be disappointed."

Giselle measured him with her eyes, wondering how incredibly obnoxious, insensitive and self assured he was. Was he high or plain stupid?

But he pretended not to notice her expression. Instead he stared at her with lust, zeroing on her bust and without hesitation, extended his index finger into the small opening of her shirt, pulling just enough for her button to open up, revealing more than appropriate.

"Baby," he moaned sliding the fabric of her shoulder along with a bra strap.

It all only took a few seconds, but Giselle could not move or breathe, she was so ambushed by his boldness and commanding confidence, her skin begged her to let him continue and her chest was stifling with exhilaration as she imagined Mr. Jerk doing all kind of delicious and slutty things to her…

But then the bastard stopped, looked at her and asked, "So do you like what I have to offer? This is just a preview."

She slapped him, she slapped him hard, anger spilling on her blushing cheeks and her body trembling at such impudence, which she had allowed herself, so ultimately she was the one to blame. He was Mr. Jerk for a reason, not Mr. Nice, Caring and Sensitive.

The man just shook it off, obviously, it was not the first time he's had that done to him. He fixed his hair and stretched his lips into a flashy smile.

"Giselle, don't be mad. I just think you are very sexy. I could not help myself," He grinned, completely without any concern for how disrespectful and disregarding he was toward a woman he supposedly liked.

"I hate you," screamed Giselle all of a sudden, all of her fury splashing into the surface and without any thought, her hands collected into fists; she was shaking, outraged and disgusted, "You, you!" she was yelling, not even able to put any meaningful words together, "you are not even a person, you are like a…" her mind went blank with rage and the next thing she knew her arm moved back as if ready for a throw, but instead, she was just trying to gain momentum for a punch, targeting his stomach.

Mr. Jerk instinctively stepped back, even this idiot was not that stupid to recognize when he pissed somebody off enough to get hit.

But nothing happened. Her arm was stopped by someone's strong grip and a soft voice by her ear said calmly, "You don't have to." She felt the kind of warmth one feels when standing close to another, simply because you can feel that person so close.

Mr. Jerk's eyes rounded like saucers, blinking and with his mouth opened in surprise he mumbled, "Who are you?"

Giselle was still in shock, she was not fully comprehending what had just occurred till she felt a gentle touch on her shoulder: her bra strap and a shirt were pulled back up to where they belonged and in a second her body was turned to face practically collapsing into a man's.

She lifted her eyes, bewildered. Tae Soo was looking at her gently, warm and caring, and his fingers deftly fixed the two buttons to cover her exposed flesh.

She gasped, tears running down her cheeks and his arm enveloped her back and moved her pressing softly against his chest, his hand covered the back of her head, as if protecting, and his voice towered above her, "Leave now before you get hurt and never contact her again, understand?" His English was still a mess, but the message was clear enough.

His tone changed instantly, directed to her, as his lips lowered closer, "Are you OK? I'm sorry. Don't worry, I will take care of him."

Giselle finally realized that she was crying on this man's chest, not very muscular, or wide, hardened by pumping weights in the gym, chest, but simply toned and slender, like the rest of him. It was a comforting and safe place to cry, there was nothing sexual or obscene about his touch, his embrace was innocent and devoid of lust, but full of kindness. And then her heart trembled and moved lightly, and she felt butterflies fluttering in her stomach. She pulled away quickly, trying to collect herself.

Not looking back, she moved into the living room and curled up on the sofa, pulling up her legs under her, her head resting on the pillow and eyes closed.

Suddenly, Mr. Jerk's presence meant nothing to her at all. A simple word of reassurance from the foreigner was good enough for her. Why? Because he seemed to mean what he said and she knew it without any doubt.

The two men now faced each other without any witnesses. Mr. Jerk quickly assessed the situation and smirked, "So, you are the reason she is dissing me. You got here first. I can respect that. But you have to share, man. She is one tasty piece of meat."

Lee Tae Soo was not a violent man. He was not a man who picked fights. He was athletic and with all the training in martial arts and other forms of self defense he has received for his roles, he could protect himself if needed. But he never attacked first. There was never a need.

His devoted fans loved him, general public liked him; he was a very friendly and likeable person all around. He never even play-fought with friends, like many guys do, it was never his style. He would rather avoid confrontations all together or walk away if somebody got overly aggressive. So what happened next was a complete surprise to him and a mystery to be solved and ponder about later on.

He punched the guy in the jaw, quite hard. He even thought to himself that he might have broken his hand, because it burned so much on the impact. But all of his bones seemed to be intact.

Next he deflected a blow, coming at him, and delivered another hit to the side, making Mr. Jerk groan and grit his teeth in anger. The man lost his cool and jumped on the actor, who backed out into the living room, bumping into the furniture, which obstructed his path.

Giselle now was standing up and yelling at the men to stop.

Mr. Jerk realized that this would not score him any points or land Giselle in bed with him, so he retreated, panting with adrenaline and hissed through his teeth, "Let's take it outside!"

Tae Soo stared at him, also pretty wound up. He did not understand what they needed to take outside, looking around.

"What, afraid?"

He understood that. "I'm not afraid," he accepted the challenge.

Mr. Jerk looked at Giselle, "Baby, I will be back," he said with theatrical aplomb and marched to the door. He thought for a minute and started to put on his rain poncho, then turned back at Tae Soo, who stood in the middle of the room, staring at him, apparently confused.

"Chicken!" called out Mr. Jerk, sinking lower and lower with each word that came out of his mouth, rapidly downgrading to a 5 year old level of maturity and intelligence.

"Chicken?" Actor turned to Giselle for advice and interpretation.

She sighed, "Don't listen to that idiot. Let him go."

"Chicken is food, why is he saying chicken?" He looked so innocent, she could not help but smile, trying not laugh. He was cute, if anything. And the language barrier only offered more opportunities for his cuteness to shine.

"He is just trying to say that you are a wimp."

She saw no recognition in his face to that word. "A coward?" She tried, but unsuccessfully.

Finally, she picked up his phone off the table and entered definition to translate, she handed the gadget to him, and his fired up expression said it all.

"I'm coming!" He stated with determination.

"Stop it, both of you!" Screamed Giselle, kind of exhausted from this drama.

The tension has subsided and the heat of the moment has passed. Mr. Jerk all ready in his rain poncho looked ridiculous, thinking that it made him appear ready for a fight.

But Tae Soo turned to her and gave her a nod of assurance, "I will be fine."

He headed to the door, and opened it, barely able to hold the handle, as the strong wind pulled the door out with a push, slamming it against the wall, rain slapped his face and Mr. Jerk for the first time started to regret his macho behavior.

They both disappeared into the darkness, the door shut with a loud bang, and Giselle stood in the room, wondering what kind of crazy situation she has just gotten herself into.

It was like a movie, the fight between the good and the bad guy, and the heroine in the middle. Two men were fighting over her. That was fun, even if it was wrong on so many levels.

This Korean was afraid of the hurricane just a few minutes ago. And now fearlessly he ran into the storm to fight for her honor? Maybe, he was just not that smart or maybe he was impulsive? But he did not seem like either. Was it that he cared? She wrinkled her forehead mercilessly trying to process this completely unrealistic and outrageous idea. He cared about her enough to do that?

It was true, she was not lucky with men in her life. Maybe, she just was not used to having a decent man around, maybe, it was a perfectly normal behavior to be kind and protective of a stranger, or maybe, it was Korean way. Yet, her heart hoped that it was because he actually cared about her. Not out of pity or some code of honor, but cared.

Shit! What was she doing contemplating his motivation when he might have been getting himself beaten up to a pulp by the Mr. Jerk - fighting machine. That dude worked out and had some biceps and six pack on him – one reason for her getting so stupid around him.

She ran up to the window and tried to make out what was happening in the yard.

Among the flashes of lightening she saw two men in a fight. The actor used his long legs for kicks and even threw Mr. Jerk to the ground, utilizing some kind of martial arts move and a lock… She covered her mouth, gasping, her heart hopped around her chest anxiously; they were rolling on the ground… It was dark and she could not see anything… The door was opened with great effort and almost smashed the person, who entered.

"Oh my God," she ran toward him and stopped just short of hugging and kissing the guy from the immense relief of seeing his face, albeit completely dirty and wet.

His clothes were completely covered in mud, his hair and his face as well, dirty streams of water were pouring from him onto the floor, but he was radiant through all that smothered mud; wiping off his face, he looked at her, rather apologetically, as if he was sorry he acted so childish and misbehaved … like a guy.

Black lines and big hunk of mud on his cheek, muddy droplets falling from his nose and onto his lips, which he licked, and looked at her with his gorgeously stunning almond chocolate eyes, still bright and untouched by all the forces that nature threw at him… He stood there, panting hard, his breathing still ragged and uneven, his chest expanding, while his eyes just staring into her …

Unlike wet kitten Mr. Jerk look, the Korean was smoking hot, H-O-T!

"Giselle," their eye lock was interrupted by an annoying whimper coming from outside.

Tae Soo turned and pushed the door ajar, Mr. Jerk stuck his head in and then forced the rest of his body inside as well.

The actor grunted, anger still alive in his body, and Giselle grabbed his arm, "Don't." He listened, glaring.

"Giselle," Mr, Jerke whined, "Can I at least clean up? How am I going to get into my car like that? I lost my poncho," he complained.

"What?" She had to make sure she heard him right. He was stupid and inconsiderate, brazen even, but this?

She moved Tae Soo to the side and looked over the man, who broke her heart. He was buff, well built and sexy in a conventional Latin kind of way. But why was it that to her he only looked dirty?

"Leave, I hope I'm clear. Forget about me." She was completely over him right there, right now, in this instant she felt nothing for him.

"So, you are with this guy now?" He smirked. "So, he knows a few moves. But is he good in bed? Can he even kiss? Have you at least kissed him? Or are you going to keep him waiting forever? If you gave it up earlier, we would not be in this situation," he finished clarifying the issue at hand.

What happened next, occurred so quickly, that neither of them realized it till after the fact. Giselle gutted Mr. Jerk really well. He bended and groaned in pain, not able to breathe.

He tried to grab onto her, but Tae Soo turned her around and said loudly, "I can kiss, watch!"

Then he pulled Giselle closely with one hand by the waist, and cradled her neck with the other, with a well trained move he dipped toward her, turning his face slightly to the side and took her lips inside his mouth. He held onto her for a second, just to prove his point, but the kiss had to look real, so his lips moved, tasting her and he continued as she responded lightly touching his soft and tender mouth.

The kiss lasted and lasted till Giselle dared to take a breath and he slowly let her go. His eyes peered at her and then toward Mr. Jerk who has not fully recovered from the punch, but looked completely defeated after what he had just seen.

"See you around," he said bitterly and left; nobody cared to look at his back.

Giselle was quiet and licked her lips; his taste was warm and a bit sweet.

She knew it was just for a show, but what a show! She wished Mr. Jerk would not have left and continued saying the most offensive and horrible things to her, so that the foreigner would have to continue kissing her forever just to prove him wrong.

Tae Soo sighed and lowered his eyes. "Sorry, I thought," he struggled to express what he thought. Giselle suspected it was because of his limited English.

But he knew there was another reason for it. Life was not a movie - he realized it very clearly as his heart was jumping in his throat and he felt a shiver sending tingling all over his skin; the lingering sensation of her lips stayed with him.

They both laughed nervously, no words were necessary. Universal language of discomfort was plenty to see that they were both embarrassed and had no idea how to proceed.


How long they just stood there... the time seemed to drip each second slowly, just like the little water drops from Tae Soo's hair.

"Mwo…" he said retiring to Korean and turned, feeling that under the layers of watered down muddy splatters, his face was burning with a blush.

It was an incredibly awkward situation. He looked like shit, had nowhere to go and nowhere to hide away. He was a guest in her home, where he kind of invited himself because of the stupid hurricane.

Hurricane! I was just fighting during hurricane!

He was not sure whether to pat himself on the back for bravery or hit himself over the head for stupidity. It sure was not safe. The wind was going more than 45 miles an hour, the trees around him were bending like thin grass shoots, the rain was pouring and the ground was so slippery that he could not even stand, falling constantly.

Yet, he somehow managed, survived and prevailed in this crazy rooster male hormone fueled fight with Mr. Jerk.

He smirked. Being an actor had its perks. He learned many skills, sometimes he could use them in real life. Such as martial arts or kissing.

Kissing… He was considered a good kisser among the young actors of his generation. He was always satisfied reviewing the video after the shoot: he did not look like a dead fish, his face expressed feeling, his body was dynamic, his pose emphasized the emotion he was trying to deliver, and his lips moved to signify pleasure and excitement. The actresses never complained about having to kiss him, like some other guys he knew.

It was always a bit odd and sometimes confusing, especially if the girl was cute or he felt attracted. With some of the women, he just felt shy, because they were much older, but he learned to separate himself from the character. He was very talented in doing that. For that moment of kiss – he was whatever role he played. He believed, the actress believed and the audiences believed it.

So what he did tonight was not much different. At first he was offended by insinuation that he would be bad. It was unthinkable! That bastard!

But then he thought that the only way to save Giselle the humiliation was to actually play a role that Mr. Jerk challenged him to play. He has done that move numerous times. It was easy and he did not have to plan it out in his mind or practice in front of the mirror, like he did before the first time.

So he pulled his signature kiss out of the pocket and planted his lips on a woman's, like in a movie. Although … and that's where it got complicated.

He sighed deeply. His gaze lowered and he noticed standing in small pool of murky water, collected from his soaked in the storm clothes.

"Sorry," he mumbled, "Messy." And turned to Giselle who was still frozen in her spot much more shocked than he was.

Yet, she managed to form a trembling smile, her eyes not able to lift off the ground and look at him straight, "Come with me to the bathroom."

She was resourceful and able to deal with crisis. She grabbed a few large candles and rounding him showed the way.

Still dripping dirt from his hair, he followed, terrified at the trail he's been leaving behind on her clean floors.

She opened up the door to a small room. It consisted of a cramped to the wall shower stall, toilet, stuck into a narrow space between the shower and the bathroom vanity, and a few towels hanging on various hooks. On the top of the shower there were two simple cotton bras and a pair of panties with a flower motif, staring at him, before he managed to turn away and swallow hard.

"Ahh," she grunted in frustration, jumping up to grab her underwear. The blush on her face was luckily covered by the dim candle lighting.

"Well," she pushed him gently toward the wall, while bending to open up the cabinet and taking out two thick towels. "You can take a shower, I think the water is still running. Maybe not very hot, but not cold either. I have a heated tank… Never mind. Or if it's too uncomfortable, you can just wash over the basin. Here is soap," she pushed a bar of soap toward him, "and shampoo", she brushed dangerously close to him, shoving him in another direction again and reached out into the shower stall. "It works for my hair. I'm not sure if you like it. It's expensive, salon quality," she added, stammering.

He smiled and looked at her, "Thank you."

"I meant to ask if you got hurt? You probably did. Let me see," she lifted on tiptoes getting dangerously close to him, still far enough for him to stop her.

"Not hurt. OK."

"Then, I shall go, right?" she waited not sure what for, but he did not answer, just standing by the wall, trying to keep his distance.

She left, but then stuck her head through the door, "Wait, I will give you something to change."

He stood, staring at himself in the mirror. He was quite disheveled. Apparently since various chemicals in his body settled after the end of the fight and endorphins attack from the kiss subsided, he started to fill the aches and pains of the beating. His jaw was hurting, and he moved, groaning. A few knuckles on each hand were bleeding and his ribs felt sharp pain on the right side. He started unbuttoning his shirt and touched his stomach, where another source of pain was emanating. "I will be covered with bruises tomorrow. Luckily, I don't need to film," it occurred to him and he chuckled. He was a free agent, free to get beat up and walk around not looking pretty for the cameras.

Giselle returned soon and hung a loose t-shirt and wide pajama bottoms, decorated by cute puppies, on the hanger, then added a fluffy bathrobe to the pile.

He scoffed. She was not seriously expecting him to wear that? He was more relaxed about his style outside of South Korea, but this… this won't do.

As if reading his mind, she explained, "I know. But it's all I have. It will be short, but you are very slim, so it should fit you. Don't worry. I don't care about what your wear."

"That girl, chincha!" he groaned. "Really, no really!"



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