I've loved him as long as I can remember. I followed him with heart eyes throughout my whole childhood.
The beautiful alpha with cat yes and mint hair who grew up into an intoxicating man desired by half of the town.
He wears arrogance like his second skin and ambles with a swagger that makes panties drop.
We grew up together.
We played hide and seek in the Graveyard. Had our little house with kitchenette still in my toy collections.
It didn't matter that he was three years older than me.
It didn't matter that he looked at me as a little brother even as I grew into the omega I am now.
It didn't even matter when he left me behind to go to college and start his new life.
He'd be back.
We were always meant for each other.
He came back, all right.
But instead of smelling of promises and love, he stunk of betrayal and revelations.
And he destroyed me-us-the day he married the more beautiful twin, Omega Taewon instead of me.
So I did the only thing a sane wolf like me in my position could do. I got my revenge. I married his step brother, Alpha Jungkook. Now we're one big happy twisted family.
A/n: another me, another prompt, another poll:—
Twelve months ago…
My eyes were blue glimmering with unshed tears. My omega taking over me.
‘You are pathetic.’ My omega spit at me from the mirror.
A tear left my eye as I stare at my tuxedo as frosty as the lies I told.
‘Why would you do this to him?’ My wolf screamed again.
The tears travelled its path through the cheeks covered the lies I came up with.
‘You are worse than him.’ My inner demon was restless now.
The tear reached the curve of my smile lines where smiles and soft words dissuade and swindle.
‘You can fake it human but I cant.’ And the wolf disappeared into thin air, my turning green again leaving me alone with my worst nightmare.
A marriage of rage burning in me.
A marriage of revenge destroying me from within.
The tear run down to the neck where the golden necklace rests, the sign of my failure, my worthlessness, rests, shimmering, blind all.
I know the truth.
I take myself in, from the perfectly gelled hair to the white Prada shoes. I stare at myself in the full-length mirror, not recognizing the superficial man staring back.
A scowl turns down the corner of his mouth.
Conviction clouds his unusual green eyes.
Sorrow plays in the thin lines on his face and in the slight slump of his bare shoulders.
My animal is judging me.
I’m a horrible, awful person.
I smile but he doesn’t smile back.
My animal is judging me.
I’m a horrible, awful person.
In less than ten minutes, I will let my father walk me down an aisle lined with fresh flowers and silk bows tacked onto the corners of every other bench.
I will reach the end, let Dad kiss me bye with tears blurring his vision, and give me away to another man.
I will take his hand in mine, gaze into his doe eyes overflowing with joy, and betroth myself for life to someone who is noble and loyal and kind.
I will promise to love, honor, and cherish him all the days of my life.
I will exchange in-sickness-and-in-health-forever vows in front of Goddess Selene, our family, and friends to a great man out of spite and revenge.
As a giant Fcuk-you to the man I really love but can’t have.
I will marry a man I genuinely respect the hell out of and love…but just as my very best friend.
Who does that?
A destructive, selfish b@stard like me.
I let my gaze fall down the length of my body, trailing over the hand- beaded lace wedding dress that hugs my petite body perfectly.
The same dress my best friend sobbed over the second I walked out of the dressing room, telling me “that’s the one.”
I didn’t choose pick blush or ivory or cream or even something unconventional like gray.
I went with stark white.
The symbol of purity.
A sardonic laugh escapes my scarlet-painted lips.
I’m anything but innocent.
My soul is lost.
My heart cold.
I’m a devil in angel’s skin, trapping a man for life who could have anyone he wants but for some reason wants me.
Because I’m a masochist, I guess.
Though I should be running as far away as possible from my fiancé , I can’t seem to do anything but run in the direction of the one man I’ve loved my entire life: his brother.
The only man I truly want even though he betrayed me in the worst possible way.
There’s still time, Taehyung. Do the right thing.
I should call it off.
Tell Jungkook this was all just a big mistake. Confess I’m not in love with him the way an omega should be.
Tell him the entire time I’ll be saying my vows, I’ll be picturing his brother standing in front of me instead.
Let him find true love because he’ll never be that for me.
I might as well write my own ticket to hell. If I go through with this, that’s exactly where I’ll burn for eternity.
I already feel the flames of deceit licking the soles of my feet.
Do the right thing for once in your godforsaken life, Tae.
I find my eyes in the mirror once again.
I already know I won’t listen to that small part of me that begs to be righteous.
The bigger part of me is contaminated with retribution and anger and the need to hurt him just a little.
The only way I’d call this off is if— A knock on the door startles me and I jump.
I take a calming breath in.
Blow it out slowly.
Turning away from my deceitful eyes, I make my way to the door and open it after only a brief hesitation, expecting to find my father on the other side.
But instead of graying hair and deep laugh lines framing a soft smile, I’m greeted with a melted dark chocolate stare and thin, angry lips.
My “if” has arrived.
“Alpha?” I breathe, hope rising in me like a tidal wave.
I discreetly pinch my arm to make sure this isn’t a dream.
I look both ways down the hall to find we’re alone.
“What are you doing here?”
He steps inside and closes the door.
Then he gets right in my space, grabbing my face between his hands.
My soul sighs, and I close my eyes to focus on the touch I’ve been paralyzed without.
This is happening.
It’s really happening.
He’s come for me at last.
It’s almost too late, but that doesn’t even matter.
Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, I silently scream.
When I don’t feel his lips on mine, I pry my lids open.
Yoongi’s staring at me with turmoil on his face.
My heart sinks.
He’s standing here, touching me, yet a whole gulf still separates us.
“I love you hyung,” I vomit.
It’s the same words I spoke to him on his own wedding day two years ago. To my twin.
I begged him to choose me.
But he butchered me, marrying him instead.
“Don’t do this, little tiger,” he pleads, his voice strained. “I’m begging you not to do this.”
I used to love that endearment…now I fcuking hate it. Every time he says it, it reminds exactly what he thinks of me.
“Leave him,” I demand. “Tell me you’ll leave him and I won’t.”
His face screws up.
His eyes close.
His head drops heavy on his neck.
It’s the same response he always gives me.
He’s not here for you, Taehyung. He never is.
I yank out of his hold, pushing him away.
The half sandwich I ate an hour ago threatens to make a reappearance.
“Get out,” I choke, stabbing my finger toward the door.
He squares his broad shoulders, standing to every inch of his height.
“You’re being reckless and immature. You’re not in love with him.”
“Fcuk you. You don’t know shit.”
He hates it when I curse. Says it’s “improper for elegant omegas to curse.”
Well, fcuk him and the fcuking gentlemanly horse he fcuking rode in on. Fcuk has now become my favorite fcuking word.
“Don’t you dare, Alpha,” I whisper, close to breaking, which I swore I would never do in front of him again. “Unless you’re here to finally admit you married the wrong one then just get the fcuk out.”
“Just wait a little more. That’s all I’m asking.”
“Wait? Wait for what, Yoongi? Wait for you to grow back the balls Taewon cut off and tucked under his pillow? Wait for you to tell him that you know what my shit tastes like or how you can’t forget that I made you cum harder than you have in your life when I deep throated you?+
+ Wait for you to confess that all you can think about is fcuking me and you can’t stand the very sight of him in your bed? Wait until he gets hit by a car so you’re free to be with me? Tell me…what exactly is it I’m supposed to wait for?”
“You’re being crude and petulant.” My eyes track the crossing of his arms.
I hate that it goes straight to my nether region, knowing what every muscle and ridge under that tux feels like.
“Well…bleeding out on the inside tends to make me snarky and bitter.”
His jaw clenches and his stare turns flinty.
He’s here begging me not to marry his brother, but that’s all I’ll get.
Sorrys, empty promises, no commitment.
A wave of incredible—almost debilitating—sadness washes over and through me, threatening to drown me in a lifetime of permanent sorrow at the prospect of being without him in the way we both want.
I don’t get it.
I don’t understand how we got here…to this very moment.
I don’t know where the wheels fell off, changing our course or why he won’t just admit he made a mistake marrying someone who treats him like a worthless pile of shit.
Min Yoongi loves me.
The alpha my omega craved for, dying for, loves me.
He always has, and that’s not the neurotic projection of a psychotic wolf feeding into his own mental illness.
It’s always been true.
Which makes his own farce of a marriage to my brother all the more confusing.
He must have a golden fcuking hole and mind-altering powers.
Could be. I haven’t met a bigger witch than my brother, Taewon.
“You need to leave.”
Before I drop to my knees and make a bigger fool out of myself than I already have.
He opens his mouth to no doubt try some other tactic to get me to change my mind, but the voice of my father bellows from behind him.
“Yoon, there you are. You need to get back up, the bestman.”
Neither of us moves.
‘Bestman—in my marriage—to his own brother.’
I feel frozen, dead.
“Ready, winter bear?”
I cringe inwardly at my father’s childhood nickname for me.
How ironic that he called me strong animal but tries constantly to turn me into a omega.
It’s a lost cause I wish he’d just give up on.
“Yes, Dad,” I answer evenly, my eyes never leaving the alpha’s.
Don’t let this happen, they beg.
Don’t make me choose, I assume he replies.
Fcuk you, I say. Fcuk you and your misplaced honor.
I see Dad’s head peek around Yoongi’s small frame.
“Come on, sweetie, almost showtime.”
I couldn’t put on a bigger fcuking sad play than if I’d scripted it myself.
I catch his joyous eyes lined deeply with wrinkles and adoration and smile as brightly as I can while I let myself mourn inside.
Then, I skirt around Min Yoongi, take my father’s hand, and leave him behind, wondering how you go about falling out of love with one man and in love with another.
I’ve tried for years and still haven’t mastered it.
I can’t breathe.
PRESENT DAY OCTOBER 28TH
All I hear is pathetic wheezing and my future breaking into pieces.
Black edges my vision, the inky rings drawing me under.
My head falls between my splayed legs in an attempt to get closer to the floor, where I pray the blessed darkness takes me at long last.
I want it to.
If he dies, I don’t want to live.
This can’t be happening.
Why is this happening?
Why aren’t the doctors coming out?
It’s been six hours.
That can’t be good, can it?
Distant buzzing fills my head, getting louder by the second.
You deserve this, Taehyung, My omega, my worst enemy whispers sweetly in my ear.
Karma is conniving with my omega, those ruthless bitches. Her saccharine tenor cuts through the incessant ringing with clarity.
You caused this. You deserve this.
I don’t know.
Maybe this is the only way to atone for past indiscretions and sins.
Losing the one person in this world I hold most dear.
I start sobbing uncontrollably, my cries muffled by my position.
“Taehyung, calm down,” he says sternly beside me.
He reaches for my hand, but his touch burns.
I jerk away, hissing like an infected animal ready to attack.
“Hey,” he says softer this time.
The gentle, calming tone I’ve heard my entire life echoes loudly off these four bland white walls that hold chaos, suffering, and shattered lives.
It sounds like nails being driven into my ears. “It’s going to be okay. He’s going to be okay.”
He was shot! Gunned down by a fcuking lunatic, and this man here telling me everything is going to be okay in that eerily calm voice like I’m ten years old and my pet dog just died.
I hate him.
I hate this alpha.
He doesn’t know heat love feels like.
Was he ever been in love with anyone?
I hate that he’s here, talking, breathing, living, and the man I want more than anything is fighting to come back to me.
“Just breathe. Nice and slow. You’re going to pass out.”
His hand lands on my shoulder and squeezes lovingly, reassuringly.
I jump up and lose it.
“I don’t want you here.” My voice is strangely even but poisonous. “This is your fault.”
My behavior is irrational, but how does one react when the love of their life is fighting for his?
I need to transfer the bone-crushing agony and debilitating fear that’s threatening to overtake me.
Drowning slowly in heart-wrenching torment and a lifetime of regrets and wrong decisions.
We haven’t had enough time.
Not nearly enough.
His mouth drops open then closes.
Without a word he stands, grabs my shoulders, and forces me back down into the hard plastic chair I’ve been occupying for hours and hours.
I don’t even feel it anymore.
My body is as numb as my soul.
Kneeling in front of me, he takes my hands, grips tight, and just breathes with me.
My shoulders shake with silent terror and morbid thoughts.
Tiny stings of misery run in droves down my face.
Every part of me hurts.
I take it back. I’m not numb.
I’m nothing but a distorted ball of pain.
The past pelts me as I struggle to remember every touch, every word, every memory.
There are so many.
Our lives are eternally interwoven.
Our futures together already penned.
They have been since the day of my birth.
He can’t die.
We were just getting started afresh with our lives together.
The way it was meant to be.
I can’t go on without my alpha I love.
I bore my watery gaze into the man in front of me, the one who loves me so much, and spit venomous, hateful words.
Words I don’t mean but can’t call back now that they’re out.
“I wish it was you,” I say heartlessly, callously.
I ignore the hurt in his eyes.
Hurt my words inflicted.
He’s already devastated enough after how things ended between us weeks ago, and here I am…adding to it with my heartless tantrum.
I wish I could make myself care.
I am destroyed.
I will never survive this if he’s taken from me.
“If it would save you even a moment of pain, Taehyung, then so do I,” is his quiet, sincere reply.
He doesn’t move.
He doesn’t release his grasp, even the tiniest bit.
He’s holding me here, tethering me to a place I’m not sure I want to be a part of anymore.
He doesn’t move, so neither do I.
Thats just a start—was it worth reading?
A/n: this is the first time I am trying a TIME STAMP AU. It will be running back and forth in timeline so always heed the first tweet of every update. Also it will be mostly Taehyung’s PoV until unless mentioned.
morally ambiguous characters
Angst- a lot of it
omega Tae/ Alpha Kook
Friends to husbands
mention of Mpreg
TIME STAMP AU-don’t ignore it
leave likes-it inspires me
I park my car in the desolate, dim parking lot, turn the key to the off position, and sit there for a few moments, gathering my wits for the day ahead.
The glint of my wedding set catches in the streetlight, drawing my eye. I hold my hand out and study it, ignoring the manicure that’s now grown out.
A near flawless three-carat cushion cut surrounded by a carat of pavé diamonds, all set in platinum.
The wedding band boasts another two carats of round diamonds that span the entire length of the circle.
It was bought with love.
It was given with trust.
Neither of which I deserve.
I stare at the expensive piece still in disbelief that I did this.
To Jeon Jungkook.
My best friend since I could walk.
Brother to the alpha I really want.
I am now a mated omega.
It’s the family I’ve always wanted.
This just isn’t exactly how I pictured getting it.
I can’t recall a single second of my wedding day after I walked out on Yoongi.
I don’t remember Dad giving me away.
I don’t remember the vows I recited or the cheer of the crowd as Jungkook and I walked out husband and husband.
The taste of our wedding cake eludes me, even two weeks later.
The chords of our first song are just white noise.
The feel of him moving inside me on our wedding night was as if it was happening to someone else while I watched, detached, from above.
Jungkook didn’t ask for mating right on our wedding night and I was glad for it.
This situation is so messed up, I struggle to get my head around it most days.
And I don’t know how to fcuking stop it.
I haven’t stopped riding an emotional rollercoaster for over two years.
Since the day Yoongi married the other twin.
One second, I’m still in shock and the next, I want to die.
Outwardly, I’m portraying the perfect, happy newlywed, but inside all I feel is desperate, lonely isolation.
I think that’s probably called despair.
And I’m angry.
So fcuking angry.
All the time.
With Jungkook for marrying me, refusing to see what was right in front of his fcuking face.
With this godforsaken town and life to which I feel chained.
But mostly I’m angry with me.
Why can’t I cut that lousy alpha loose who spouted his love through cryptic words but showed his true colors through real actions?
Why can’t I return the love of a man who treasures me more than air or life or his precious restored 1969 yenko?
If I could, I’d go back in time and change so many things. The first being: I would never let myself fall hopelessly in love with the b@stard alpha, Min fcuking Yoongi.
That emotion has this entire despicable scenario wrapped up in a nice, neat little weaseled package, tied up tight with a bright shiny bow of infamy.
Pining after someone’s else’s mate is one thing. Pining after someone’s else’s mate when you’re now married—to his brother—is taking immorality to an entirely new level.
But that’s me.
I always manage to find fresh and juicy ways to skirt around the edges of acceptable social behavior.
Sadness and regret envelop me.
This ring represents my own betrayal.
My own deception.
My self- destruction.
It should belong to someone else.
Anyone else but me.
I love Jungkook.
I can’t imagine a day in my life without him.
The last thing I want to do is hurt him, but I don’t know if I can ever love another person the way I love Yoongi.
I have made a grave, life-altering mistake that will do nothing but bring pain to people I love.
This time, I’ve gone too far, and I don’t know how to fix it.
I breathe out a long sigh, knowing there aren’t any answers to be found.
None that I want to face anyway.
I glance at the clock. It’s just past 4:30 a.m.
Shit, I need to get inside.
Putting on my game face is tough sometimes, and after the last two weeks, today will be a true test of how well I’ve perfected my acting skills, because I’m back in Bukchon.
Population 7500 according to the last census. We’re not quite like Cheers but pretty damn close.
Everyone knows your name.
It’s especially true for me, given who my father is.
Looking in my rearview mirror, I paste on a fake smile and test it out.
“Did you have a good time?” I mock play, watching my own reaction.
“Fantastic!” I reply.
That was terrible.
I sound flat, like an out-of-tune piano.
One more time.
“Did you have a good time?” I try again.
“Oh my God, it was so fantastic! Dream comes true sort of fantastic” I say to my reflection, injecting myself with faux enthusiasm.
Tone down the bonded omega accent and I’ll give myself a pass.
Exiting my car, I head down the sidewalk toward the bay with a single light glowing from inside.
The one that’s mine.
I let myself dawdle in the quiet for just a moment.
Taking a giant whiff of the sugary confections, I already smell baking.
Pride swells for at least one thing in my life I’ve done right.
I gaze up at the neon sign I designed, not yet lit for the day, and smile.
𝐆𝐞𝐦𝐦𝐞’ 𝐁𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐚 𝐏𝐚𝐧𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐞.
White Gem Bakers.
The one piece of solace I can completely immerse myself in.
‘I’ve missed you,’ I whisper, holding the key to my business tightly in my fist.
Opening a business, an Italian bakery at that, in a small town that caters to humble people, was a huge gamble, but it’s doing well.
Much better than anyone expected.
Well, except Jungkook, that is. He always thought it was exactly what this stuffy town needed.
He was right.
I see movement inside and shake my head.
Jimin’s screeching voice grates—I mean greets—me the second I walk through the glass door. “How was it?”
I would say the turn of the lock or the sound of chimes bouncing against the steel frame gave me away, but that would be a lie.
I bet Jimin’s been here since before 4:00 a.m.—a cat waiting in the bushes for his chance to steal the milk.
I’ve been dreading this interaction the most.
The twenty questions, the scrutiny, the knowing, hawk-like stare.
He’ll watch every twist of my fingers, listen to every inflection in my tone, or track my hand as I tuck a piece of unruly hair behind my ear.
He’ll read something into everything I do.
He’s too damn perceptive, but of course…he knows the truth.
He’s always known the truth. He’s been my best friend since the first grade when I saved his life.
Well…that’s the way he looks at it.
All I did was save him from going bald when Lee Jihan stuck not one, not two, but three giant wads of bubblegum in it, right in the roots.
He was in the bathroom trying to rip it out, along with fistfuls of his strawberry-blond hair when I led him to the lunchroom instead, asking the lunch lady for some peanut butter.
Half an hour and a few hundred strands lighter, he was gum free. He stunk of peanuts for days, no matter how much washing he did, but at least he held on to his smooth silky locks.
Ones he still has to this day. Exactly the way it was in first grade.
This omega needs a makeover.
“Wow, I can’t even get a cup of coffee before the interrogation starts?” I say, throwing my keys onto the counter with a flourish.
I guess I’m not quite ready to paste on my fake smile yet.
“Here.” He offers me a steaming black cup of life and manners.
“Kissing the boss’s a/ss?” I watch him over the rim of my mug as I take a nice long swallow of the hot, sweet brew. It tastes like a cup of sugar with a little coffee thrown in. Just the way I like it.
Wow, I’ve missed this place.
He huffs. “I don’t like the taste of ass.”
“Don’t tell me you don’t like it? What will Namjoon hyu—”
“Okay I like it. Well, I do but not yours though.” He smirks.
I’ve missed bantering with my Jimin for the past fourteen days. “That’s why we’re friends.”
“So…how was it?”
“What exactly do you mean by ‘it’?” I ask, stalling for time.
Jungkook and I returned two days ago from our two-week honeymoon on the exclusive Bora bora, island in French polynesia.
It was paradise.
I should have enjoyed our private, luxurious, fully staffed home, fine lagoons, and unmatched sunsets more than I did.
My chest clenches hard.
It’s the exact honeymoon Yoongi promised me to take after...
“Well, I’m not talking about the view from your private balcony.”
“Why not? It was spectacular.” I take another sip and wait for him to take the bait.
“Was your alpha’s tight naked ass framed in it?” he asks, his arched brows wagging.
‘Your alpha.’ I don’t want to ponder on the word more so I take a sip.
He wiggles his eyebrows not giving me a breath time.
“Maybe,” I tease sighing.
“Do you have a picture?” His voice pitches an octave higher.
I laugh harder.
“Possibly.” I do raising my brows.
“Holy cow.” Jimin fans himself with both hands and my entire body shakes.
He’s had some unholy fascination with Jungkook’s behind since the ninth grade when he swears, we were mooned by three alpha’s driving the loop on a Friday night.
I keep telling him it wasn’t Jungkook. It was Kim Yugyeom. Jungkook was the one driving, but no matter what I say, he won’t listen.
“I think I just had a mini o/rgasm. For real.”
“Oh. My. God,” I squeal.
I wad up a paper napkin and throw it at him. “That’s my husband you’re ogling over.”
“Hey, I can’t help that you married a ridiculously good-looking man, Indeed one of the s3xiest in Bukchon. And that’s the most protective I’ve ever heard you get about Jungkook. Guess the s3x was more than good, huh?”
Tiramissu, bitch.” I may use fcuk like punctuation, but if I so much as utter waffles name in vain, I kid you not, the taste of Lava soap magically appears in my mouth. A bad side effect from my childhood.
“I hate it when you say that. You’re a grown-a/ss omega now.”
“Well…I hate your face.”
He grins widely, showing off his slightly crooked two front teeth. “That’s lame, Tae. You can do better than that.”
I flop onto the wooden stool behind the counter. “I know. I’m tired. I haven’t been up this early in two weeks.”
“Yeah, you’ve been in a s3x coma for a straight fourteen days.”
That’s not exactly true, but I don’t correct him.
I feel guilty enough as it is.
Believe it or not, while Jungkook and I had done plenty of fooling around, we hadn’t slept together before we were married.
It’s not that I’m old-fashioned or was saving myself because I certainly wasn’t a virgin.
It’s just that a large part of me wasn’t willing to cross that line with him, hurt him even more if I didn’t walk down that aisle.
And it was just so…weird to have s3x with my very best friend, a boy who used to sneak toads through my open bedroom window at night to scare the shit out of me.
But thankfully, Jungkook was understanding, the way he always is.
He assured me that we’d have a lifetime to get to know each other ‘that way.’
Besides, we threw the wedding together on a wing and a prayer, married only six weeks after we got engaged.
I didn’t want anything fancy and I certainly didn’t want a long, drawn-out engagement. Although if I had, maybe I’d have come to my senses before it was too late.
“Is that all you think about? S3x?” I ask.
“Says the one who’s probably been banged day and night since he left. I know if it were me, I wouldn’t let that hot piece of ass out of bed even to eat. Well…except if he wanted to eat—”
“Okie dokie, then.” I stop him before he digs himself any further into a hole.
Then I shift subjects, not wanting to dive into my lame honeymoon, s3xwise anyway.
“What happened to Fifty Shades night?” I ask, genuinely wondering if he actually went through with letting his husband, Joon the plumber,
flog him with the cat-o’-nines he bought from an online s3x toy store.
And by the blush I see, even in the dim lighting, I’d say he not only went through with it, he enjoyed it.
“You sultry omega.”
“Hey, don’t knock it ’til you try it.” Jimin laughs, throwing the napkin back at me, which I successfully dodge.
“What else did you do?”
Jimin’s shoulders rise and fall quickly.
“Come on,” I whine. “Don’t leave me to my imagination.”
When he bites his lip and looks away, I can’t resist.
“N!pple clamps? Some a/nal beads, maybe?” His eyes snap back when I mention the a/nal beads.
“A/nal beads!!!” I practically scream in disbelief.
Jimin is about as tight-laced as they come, and up until I plied him with enough a/lcohol so he’d watch Fifty Shades of Grey with me last month, he’d never been exposed to anything other than vanilla.
“You go from missionary s3x and sweet nothings to floggers and a/nal beads in the span of two weeks? What the Fcuk, Jimin? Next, you’re going to tell me you ordered a s3x swing.”
His eyes shift…It was slight, but I saw it.
“Oh, hell. Just stop. I don’t want to know any more.” I lost it and laughed so loud. So loud for after almost a year.
I may have forgotten to mention that Joon the plumber is also my cousin. In retrospect, I should have never gone down this line of questioning.
I push myself up and head through the swinging doors into the kitchen.
In short order, I have all the supplies I need to start the chocolate croissants, one of our best sellers.
Jimin has already made two batches of brioches and I smell the baguettes baking that we’ll use for lunchtime paninis.
“Napoleons and apple tarts are done. The apricots didn’t come in, so I tried that organic farm in Greenwood and they sold me twelve flats of gooseberries at a steal.”
“Really? We’ve been trying to negotiate with them for decent prices for the last three months. They wouldn’t budge.”
“Well, turns out Namjoon’s boss’s sister, Ahn Nayeon, is married to the owner’s girlfriend’s son, Kang Daniel. She didn’t take his last name, though, so we never connected the dots.”
“Well then. Glad we got all that worked out. I’d love to buy more ingredients locally if we can. How are they?”
Jimin stops filling the coffee filter with our flavor of the day, which smells like Snicker Roo,
and stares at me. “I’ll tell you if you tell me how your honeymoon went. And no bullshit this time. Don’t think I didn’t know what the hell you were doing out there with your little diversion tactic.”
I let a curl turn a corner of my mouth. “I can just try it, you know. Answer my own question.”
“Tae.” That’s all he needs to say.
My name in that tone of his.
I flip off the industrial KitchenAid and take a deep breath before I say, “It was…nice.”
“Nice?” His voice positively drips with incredulity.
“S3x with the hottest alpha on the planet was just…nice?”
I know why he’s acting like this. Jeon Jungkook is not just stunning. He is stunning stunning.
Tall. Lean but buff. Soulful round starlike eyes the color of well-aged Scotch, thick lashes, cut cheekbones.
An a/ss you could bounce a quarter off of. Big hands and thick fingers, which I’m a total sucker for. But his devastatingly good looks don’t change the fact that he’s still my best friend and that my entire s3xual appetite has been elsewhere.
Namely his brother.
I shrug one shoulder.
“It was strange, you know.”
Jimin blinks, so I elaborate. “I guess it’s what I imagined s3x with my best friend would be like. It was pleasant, but I don’t know…”
…he’s not my alpha, My Yoongi, I leave unsaid.
His sigh says it all.
He’s disappointed in me. Well, the fcuk-up club is accepting new members. One is an awfully lonely number.
“So, pleasant and nice, huh?” he injects with sarcasm.
“I’m trying, Jimin-ah,” I tell him quietly. “I’m just not sure how to fix this mess I’ve made.”
My eyes sting.
I blink the feeling away.
If I let one tear go, a whole waterfall will gush.
It might not stop.
“Maybe it doesn’t need fixing at all, Taetae,” he replies just as softly. “Maybe it just needs nurturing.”
If only it were that easy.
They’re incestuous, some say.
Lives intertwined, pasts linked, destinies already determined.
In some regards ‘they’ are right.
Not the incestuous part, of course, but there is no such thing as anonymity, even if you want it.
Everybody knows everybody.
People are up in your business.
They formulate opinions of who they think you are simply because they sent flowers on the day of your birth and heard ‘rumors’ of when you lost your virginity in Jogger’s Park (untrue, by the way).
You can’t drive a mile down the road without waving at a dozen people you know.
You can’t make a quick run for milk or eggs without bumping into a distant cousin or someone from your graduating high school class you never even liked but who will talk your ear off for thirty minutes about shit you couldn’t care less about.
Your Auntie Maeri has a big-ass hemorrhoid? Nice.
A visual I didn’t need, but thanks for sharing.
You learn secrets and shames about your friends, neighbors, and community you never wanted to know.
And they learn yours too.
My first day back in a place that generally fills me with pleasure and accomplishment was anything but comfortable today.
I felt like a bug being studied under a microscope.
I was sure I was the topic of gossip on every single street corner and in Love Soul’s Diner two blocks over.
But the more I recited my lies, the easier it got.
With each story I told about romantic moonlit dinners or the best rum cocktail I’ve ever tasted or even the spider bites I woke with one morning, the more I began to believe that I had had the honeymoon of my dreams.
With the man I’d dreamed about having it with.
That is until Choi Gayun strolled in.
Gayun, or Macaws as she’s known in certain circles due to the shape of her nose, has always had the hots for Alpha Jungkook. The feeling was not mutual, but that didn’t stop Macaw from living pretty in her little delusional world.
I’ve known Macaw, as well as most of my fifty-nine school classmates, since before kindergarten.
But we were the furthest thing from friends.
Her envy of my family’s wealth has always been a sore subject.
Grants, funded by people like my father, paid for her narrow-minded education. Her family struggled to make ends meet while mine went on exotic vacations every summer.
She shopped at the Pretty Nina, a local thrift store; I had designer clothes (which I rarely wore, for the record).
In fact, she was so poor that people in town renamed penny Choi’s and when they drove by her house, they’d throw the copper coins in her yard.
I did it once.
Couldn’t sleep that night, I felt so bad.
But all of that paled in comparison to what I had that she truly wanted. The affection and attention of Jeon Jungkook.
Gayun’s never gotten over her feelings for Jungkook, and the fact that I’m now married to him probably burns her like I imagine it burns me that Yoongi’s married to Taewon.
Except in my case, Yoongi really does love me. So, when she saw the blinding jewelry adorning my left hand, it didn’t just bring out claws, it brought out the rabid.
The second her eyes fell to my hand, they hardened and I knew shit was about to get ugly.
“I’d heard you’d gone through with it, but then I told my mom it must be one of those small-town rumors. There’s no way The Kim Taehyung I know would marry a good, honest man like Jeon Jungkook when he’s still in love with his better twin’s husband. But I guess you did.”
I hear a gasp behind me at the same time the chatter in the bakery dies.
Instantly, like a needle being pulled from a record.
“Get the Fcuk out,” Jimin growls angrily.
After not so gently ushering Macaw to the door, Jimin yells after her, “And swines aren’t welcome unless you want to be on the menu.”
When he mumbles, “Pig-nosed fat ass,” under his breath, a snicker of laughter runs through the small bistro.
“She’s just a jealous cow,” Chang Aena, an eighty-year-old regular announces.
Several others join in agreement. Aena smiles sympathetically when my eyes swing her way. I muster a weak smile back, trying to hold my head up while shame threatens to drag me down.
Jimin then insisted he take over in the front while I remained in the back until we closed at 2:00 p.m.
Jimin has a better eye in the kitchen and I’m better with customers, but after that run-in, I was so shaken up there was no way I could muster up any more happy lies.
All I kept thinking for the next several hours was how right Aena was.
Gayun was jealous. But sadly, was he right, too.
I married a good, honest alpha while I’m still in love with another, dreamed of mating Yoongi while Jungkook was inside of me.
She just had enough balls to call me out on it. As much as I don’t like her, I have a whole different respect for her now.
And at least I know what half the town actually thinks.
After we closed for the day, Jimin pulled out his emergency stash of Jim Beam, practically forcing two shots of that swill down my throat. Jim, Jack, or Johnny may not solve the world’s problems, but they do a fine fcuking job burying the ugly truth for a while.
Two hours and a bottle of wine later, we now sit at my kitchen table, and Jimin says the harshest, most candid words he’s said to me yet.
His bluntness is both what I adore and loathe about him.
“You’re a married and mated now, Tae. You made the choice to be Jungkook mate.”
“He’s crazy about you. That man has been by your side your entire life, not Yoongi. Yoongi is a d!ckless, gutless prick.”
“Once again, I know this,” I say, my tone holding a slight bite.
Could he make me feel any worse about myself?
He stares at me for a few beats. “If you didn’t think you could fall in love with Jungkook, you shouldn’t have married him. If you don’t think you have that ability now, you should do the right thing and end this before you do any more damage.”
“Truth hurts like a bedsore, doesn’t it?”
I nod my agreement because my throat is too clogged with emotion. My teeth dig into my cheek so hard I’ll probably have a canker sore tomorrow.
He reaches across the table, gripping my hand in his. It’s hard to see him through the water now glassing over my pupils.
“It’s not such a bad thing to fall in love with your husband turned bonded mate, Taehyung.”
“How do you do that when you’re in love with someone else?” I whisper, desperately wanting someone—anyone—to give me that answer.
If I was handed the key to falling out of love with a man who’s nothing but destruction, I’d use it.
In a heartbeat.
Then I’d throw that fcuker in the Han River so I wouldn’t be tempted to undo it.
“Simple. You have to let him go first.”
“It’s not that simple, hyung. If it was, I would have done it already.”
Only an omega who isn’t hopelessly pining away for an alpha he can’t have would think in such naïve terms.
“It is that simple, Taetaetae. Know what I think?”
“No. But that won’t stop you from telling me anyway.”
My snarky comment doesn’t slow him stride in the slightest. “I think up until the second you walked down that aisle you were hoping for a miracle.”
I look away, embarrassed at my transparency.
“But what I think you’re failing to see is that you’ve got one. He’s right in front of your face and if you don’t pull your shit together and realize the gift God has handed you in your alpha husband, you’ll end up losing him, too.”
I don’t respond.
Once again, he’s right.
Jungkook is an amazing man.
He wanted me.
He married me.
He loves me.
Whatever Yoongi’s excuses are for giving up on us, they aren’t enough.
He’s lost to me forever.
The truth is he’s been lost to me for years now.
It’s time I begin the grieving process and start accepting it.
But the pain of that thought weighs me down until I feel I can’t take a full breath.
“I’m not sure there’s room for anyone else, Jimin,” I say honestly.
“That’s because you haven’t tried making room for anyone else. You need to kick him out. He’s taking up space that’s not his to take anymore. Now, come on. Let’s try out that religious recipe you’ve been babbling about.”
Two hours of baking and drinking fly by.
Well, more drinking than baking.
By the time Jimin left shy of an hour ago, we’d managed to kill almost another entire bottle of wine.
Namjoon hyung came to pick him up while his brother followed behind with my car.
One benefit to living in a small town, I guess.
Folks think nothing of doing small favors like that for others.
Losing myself in whiskey, wine, and laughter, I’m now sufficiently tipsy and my rough day feels like a distant memory.
Of course, it’s not.
And come tomorrow, I’ll have yet another regret to add to my growing mound: a bitch of a hangover.
I’m just pulling out a fresh batch of choux from the oven when the garage door opens indicating Jungkook is home.
Jungkook is home.
To our home: a modest two-story, shafty, old Victorian house that was once mine, which we now share together.
As bonded mates, not a couple of roomies.
It will take me a while to get used to that.
Growing up, Jungkook and I spent so much time together it was as if we practically lived with each other anyway.
This is no different, Tae.
Except it is.
He’s now sleeping in my bed, naked, not camped out on the floor in a pile of blankets and pillows, watching reruns on TV Land until we fall asleep.
When I hear his footsteps, I keep focused on the double cream I started to whip, calling over my shoulder, “Hey, how was your first day back at work?”
I feel the warmth of his body heat right before he molds his front to my back.
Heavy hands land on my hips at the same time his lips land on my exposed throat where my mating mark lies, almost healed “Long. I missed you.”
“I missed you, too,” I tell him softly, knowing it’s what I’m supposed to say.
“Whatcha making?” he breathes in my ear. “My mouth is watering.”
I try to forget how much he sounds like Yoongi when I answer, “Religieux. I’m thinking of putting it on the menu, but I need to perfect the cream for cornette de religieux first.”
I’m on my third batch of the custard.
The first one curdled.
The second one didn’t set quite right, but this time, I think I’ve finally perfected it.
Too bad I did it half-cocked.
“God, I love it when you go all Italian on me, Tae.”
I laugh, but it comes out more like a huff when he places another hot, openmouthed kiss on the very back of my neck.
My stomach flutters a little when his teeth clamp my skin. When he runs his tongue along the line of my throat to my ear, I can’t suppress a light moan.
“You smell incredible. Like sugar and nutmeg. And maybe a little wine.”
“Jimin came over.”
“Mmm. That explains everything.”
“Want a glass?” I sound breathy and needy and apparently, it’s all the encouraging Jungkook needs.
“No. I want something else entirely.”
He reaches around and scoops up a finger full of custard. The gooeyness disappears out of view and I think he’s going to taste it, but I jump when he begins to paint the cool cream along the length of my shoulder.
It’s hot today.
And so damn humid.
August in Bukchon can be hot.
Temps are nearing thirty-two degrees. The heat index just an hour ago was thirty-five.
So, I have my permed hair tied into a messy manbun and a tanktop on trying my best to keep cool, but now my internal temp just shot up ten notches.
Not only is Jungkook nibbling his way along my collarbone, his right-hand snakes underneath my dress and tunnels into my shorts.
“This is so Fcuking good,” he murmurs hungrily. I’m not sure if he’s talking about the filling or the hand he is running up and down.
“Jungkook, what are you doing?” I squirm, responding to his touch.
My mind may understand I’m sleeping with my best friend, but my omega and my body, they have their own mind…my responds in multiple ways.
While my omega…he’s not confused in the slightest. He’s drunk. Thanks to said drunkness, now my wolf is horny. And he wants the devastating pleasure the alpha is offering.
Even if it is weird, I’ll admit Jungkook is a very talented lover.
“You know…I know you so well, Taehyung.” Hot breaths fan my cheek and fall down my neck, doing nothing to quell the goose bumps now blanketing me.
“I know you can’t sit still longer than five minutes. You bite your nails when you’re bored. You’re a tomboy who’s strangely addicted to lip gloss and carries around thirty-two varieties in your oversized bag.”
“Oh, shit,” I gasp when he increases his pace. I’m starting to get very hot and very pliable.
“But for as much as I know about you,” he husks, “I don’t know what makes you drip with desire. I don’t know what makes you so fcuking hot you’ll combust in my hands.”
His hand leisurely moves up and down as he talks. It’s as if he’s trying to learn every bumpy ridge of mine. Or drive me wild.
When his thumb starts lightly grazing my the tip of my d!ck, my head falls back against his shoulder.
I should stop this.
I shouldn’t want this…should I?
“I want those secrets, Taehyung. And your body will tell me everything I need to know.”
His caress is whisper soft as he traces a line across the top of my dress, over my perked-up nipple.
It’s slow and languid and makes my skin tingle.
I hold a breath when he dips shallowly in to tease the pink bud before tugging one side down, exposing my left nub, which now feels swollen and achy.
His overly light circles around and around my sensitive nipple make my back arch and my breath catch.
I need more.
“Mmm, a soft touch makes you quiver. Let’s see what else does.”
Stop. Tell him to stop.
But God, I can’t.
I don’t want to tell him no like I have the last three times he’s tried making the moves on me. And let’s face facts: the way I’m undulating under his ministrations doesn’t exactly scream back off.
The hand between my legs still working its magic, I silently watch on as he leans forward to dip a finger into the ganache, I planned on icing the choux pastry cases with.
He brings a chocolate-covered digit up and circles it around my peaked bud. I gasp loudly when he pinches and tugs.
Hot, dirty words trickle into my ear. “Oh Fcuk, yes. This makes your d!ck twitch, Swan.”
There’s no denying it.
I felt the clamp around the fingers inside me as much as he did.
“You like a little pain with your pleasure?”
I like it.
I like it a lot.
When I don’t answer, he tweaks again and I choke out a yes.
“You know how sexy it is that you’re like this for me?” he groans. “Fcuk. I want to bend you over this counter, Taehyung. I want to rip off your shorts, hike up this dress over your bare ass, and adorn your butt cheeks red with my handprints. +
+ I want to wind your gorgeous hair in between my fingers and pull your head back so I can watch your eyes as I slide into you and mark my omega as mine again and again. So, you never forget.”
My head is spinning.
My bones are liquid.
Did someone just drop a dirty-talking Jungkook look-alike in my house?
What the hell happened at work today?
In all the months we’ve been an official ‘couple’ he’s never spoken to me like this.
He’s treated me like glass…or as a bride who might flee any second.
Even on our honeymoon, he was tender and gentle.
“I want to do such sinful things to your body, swan.”
And God, who knew his childhood pet name for me could be so damn sexy when purred like satin in my ear?
Jungkook expertly brings me up, higher and hotter.
Already throbbing for release, but he demands an answer.
“Tell me you want that, swan.”
I want to tell him the more sinful the better but I don’t have a chance.
With a strong hand, he pushes my face toward him so he can capture my lips in a heated kiss.
It’s forceful, a clear stamp of ownership, but it’s so damn sensual at the same time it makes my toes curl.
I feel gooey chocolate smear on my face, but I’m too gone in an alcoholic s3x haze to care.
I want this.
I need this.
‘You can have this…stop thinking so damn much.’
My breath kicks up and my d!ck convulses as he picks up the pace, shifting into high gear.
Playtime is over.
He means business.
“Yes, Tae,” he pants against my lips, encouraging me.
𝘠𝘦𝘴, 𝘛𝘪𝘨𝘦𝘳. 𝘚𝘰 𝘍𝘤𝘶𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘰𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘵. 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦, 𝘓𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘦𝘳. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘩 𝘮𝘺 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥.
Stay with Jungkook.
His thick erection twitches at the small of my back.
A bite on my mate mark, makes my knees tremble.
I beg for more.
“Yes, so good, baby,” he croons softly.
𝘑𝘦𝘴𝘶𝘴 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘴𝘰 𝘍𝘤𝘶𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥, 𝘛𝘢𝘦𝘩𝘺𝘶𝘯𝘨. 𝘏𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘴 𝘮𝘺 𝘩𝘪𝘱 𝘴𝘰 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥, 𝘐’𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘦. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘴.
I squeeze my eyes shut, completely disoriented.
My body moves in time with his hands pumping up and down. Hands that demand everything from me, while the past and present cruelly play tug-of-war.
“Cum for me.”
𝘊𝘶𝘮 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦.
“So Fcuking close. Give it to me. I’ve got you.”
𝘎𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘦. 𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘦.
His pace increases, supplicates, and I already feel an orgasm barreling down on me.
The other side of my dress is tugged down, my nipple rolling between deft fingers. I’m adrift in that space between yesterday and today.
“You’re right there.”
𝘍𝘤𝘶𝘬 𝘺𝘦𝘴, 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦.
“I’m cuming,” I announce on a short, ragged breath.
𝘎𝘰𝘥, 𝘐’𝘮 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨.
My hands fly to his forearms and my fingers dig into his flesh.
𝘐’𝘮 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘠𝘰𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘪. 𝘖𝘩, 𝘎𝘰𝘥…𝘐’𝘮 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘐 𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘢𝘴 𝘐 𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘴𝘰𝘢𝘳, 𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘤𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘺 𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘮𝘺 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘵𝘴𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘪.
I’m falling, tumbling, starting my downward descent into the rabbit hole of bliss and obscurity when his body tenses and he releases me like a hot ember.
I’m suspended midair, desperately trying to reach that pleasure now rapidly slipping away.
Then I’m being whipped around.
I glance up, blinking rapidly, to find hard eyes and a ticking jaw.
A/n: the things in italics is Taehyung thinking about his past time…
Jungkook yanks my dress back in place, not bothering to wipe me off first. The sugary substance sticks to the inside of the thin fabric like paste, molding it around my still stiff peaks like cellophane.
“W-what’s wrong?” I stutter, completely breathless.
Oh sh!t. Oh no no no. Please tell me I didn’t…
“He’s here,” he repeats, clearly irritated.
Oh, merciful God. Thank you, Lord. Thank you. Thank you.
“Who do you think?” he grates.
Who do I think?
Who do I think?
It’s hard to think about anything except the fact that I was on the precipice of one hell of an 0rgasm that I genuinely wanted.
I needed that 0rgasm, dammit.
I don’t give a crap who is here; I’m about two seconds away from grabbing his hand and shoving it back down my shorts, forcing him to finish what he started.
Jungkook snags a dish towel hanging from the oven handle and vigorously wipes the mess from my face.
Maybe it will leave some marks too.
I know I’ll have a red streak against my skin when he’s finished.
His entire demeanor has shifted from s3xy and playful to downright angry.
My brain is still trying to catch up to what’s going on when it hits me.
Only one person would make him react like this.
Why couldn’t I smell him?
I hold my breath as the sound of knuckles raps on the front door.
Jungkook and I exchange a look, probably both thinking the same thing.
When I was eleven, I almost died. It was New Year’s Day.
Wonie and I had each received the most perfect pair of white leather ice skates for Christmas. In typical stuck-up Taewon fashion, he thumbed his nose at the gift and threw the skates in the corner of his closet.
“Oh my gosh, Wonie, don’t you love the skates? They’re my favorite present!” I squeal.
“Love them? I hate cold. It makes my skin dry,” he says in his snotty- a$s voice ruffling his red hair in what looks like is complete annoyance.
He never took them out of the box.
I, on the other hand, loved mine.
As usual, we each had a giant pile of presents we didn’t need and most I probably wouldn’t use.
The skates were the least expensive of my gifts that year, but I treasured them as though they’d been dipped in gold.
I remember that year as if it were just yesterday.
Both Yoongi and Jungkook had been distant.
Yoongi turned sixteen in September and had gotten his driver’s license.
He was never around. Always teaming up with alphas—calling it an alpha instinct.
He’d dropped out of our homegrown band, which we thought we’d smartly named Kimmin, a combo of our last names.
And since he was the drummer and none of the rest of us could play drums, Kimmin’s fizzled shortly thereafter.
Jungkook had started high school that year, ninth grade, and was starting to change.
He was in football, which took up a lot of his time.
When that ended, he immediately picked up basketball.
He didn’t get home from school regularly until at least seven and then he had homework.
I was lucky if I saw him once a week.
I terribly missed not only the alpha I crushed on but my best friend, kookie too.
I specifically recall feeling as if I was the little kid being left behind while they grew up. And my twin was a raving b!tch, as usual, never giving me the time of day.
I was lonely inside.
I think that’s what prompted me to go out that day even when I knew I shouldn’t.
I was smart enough to know better.
It had been cold and snowy early in the season, bitterly so, and the ponds and streams had frozen up ahead of normal.
But we’d had a warm streak for the two weeks leading up to Christmas.
Temps soared into the tens and even twenties on a few days. In that atmosphere, thin ice melts rapidly.
I was dying to try out my new skates, begging every single day.
Both my parents had told me no.
“It’s not safe, Winter bear,” Daddy said. He’d even gone so far as to hide mine because he knew me.
He knew I’d do what I wanted when I wanted.
But I knew all their hiding places.
It took me all of three minutes to locate the box in the shed on the top shelf behind a box of Halloween decorations.
So that morning, while Daddy went deer hunting and my mother rode out a New Year’s Eve hangover,
I tied the strings of the skates together, threw them over my shoulder, and headed out.
When I was a kid, I loved the isolation of rural Bukchon, especially because we lived on twenty acres on the outskirts of town.
Right next door to the Jeons.
I loved the silence.
The centering I felt going on inside me when I just sat, listened, and took in the fresh, clean air.
I loved the color of the sky, the sound of crickets chirping, the crackling of bonfires at night.
Everything about living in the country made me feel whole and present. It was a balance I couldn’t find anywhere else.
And that day, the second I’d crossed our open lot and set foot into the dense woods behind our house, obscuring me from the real world, I felt better.
Like I’d stepped into a dream.
Yeah, ice-skating was exactly what I thought I needed. The memories of what happened next are fuzzy.
I do remember the excitement as I stepped from the trees and gazed upon my private paradise.
I recall the thrill that ran through me as I laced up my skates tight around my ankles.
I can still feel the air that was warm but held a bite of ice on my cheeks, reminding me it was still very much winter.
The texture of the smooth ice as I set my first footfall down still reverberates through me sometimes.
Then the rest is relatively blank.
I remember shivering.
I was wet.
My lungs hurt.
My fingers and toes were heavy and numb.
My mind full of cotton.
And I was being carried in a pair of strong arms.
“𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘯, 𝘒𝘪𝘮 𝘛𝘢𝘦𝘩𝘺𝘶𝘯𝘨. 𝘐’𝘷𝘦 𝘨𝘰𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶. 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘺𝘰𝘶, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘥𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨.”