Chapter 2 – Don’t fuck up
Minnie’s reality check.
She was on a private island. She was in a mansion on a private island. She was in the middle of a custom-made dancefloor, with strobe lights flashing overhead, a world-renowned DJ playing their music, and at least a hundred people she’d only seen on TV or in the news. In a mansion. On a private island.
“Why are you so stiff?” Miyeon complained as she swayed to the aggressive synth beats.
“Stop making fun of my dancing,” Minnie blearily shot back.
“You look like you’re limping.”
“See, now you hurt my feelings.”
“Okay, fine.” Miyeon playfully rolled her eyes, then she stepped closer to the other girl. “Tell me where it hurts.”
“Tell me where it hurts so I can…” And then Miyeon smirked mischievously. She grabbed Minnie’s hands and used them to pull the reporter around her smaller frame. It took a moment to sort out her limbs, but soon Minnie got the hang of this closer style of ‘dancing’. Mostly it involved short shuffling movements that relied on her keeping constant contact with Miyeon’s body. “Tell me so I can make you feel better.”
“… You already did.”
And that was the honest truth. Minnie had been feeling pretty down since she lost her phone and any conceivable chance of getting her Sooshu proof pic. The other couple had immediately been whisked away by their security team the second they’d stepped foot on the island. So she’d been feeling kind of blue. But now? There wasn’t much she was feeling that wasn’t some part of Miyeon’s body, so… Yeah.
“You know, I have a room here,” the model whispered carefully in her ear.
“What?” Minnie tried to blink past the fog in her brain, but it was nearly impossible.
“Since I’ve been here before, you know. Key and everything. Shuhua said we could stay over tonight.”
“Yeah,” Miyeon bit her lip with a look designed to kill. “Just let me know.”
“Hmm, okay,” Minnie muttered, already lost again in the beats of the song that was blaring through the speakers. “You know… sometimes I feel… I feel like…”
“Do you even know what you’re saying?”
“Of course, I’m not drunk,” Minnie protested, quickly wiping some sweat off her forehead. Her bangs were killer in this heat, but Miyeon always said she liked them like this. So, suffer she would. “I’m not drunk,” she repeated.
“Whatever you say, baby.”
Sure, they’d had a few glasses of champagne since they’d gotten to the island. And there were those drinks from back on the boat… but whatever. She was sweating it out anyway.
“Sometimes I feel like we’re… like we’re dating,” Minnie finally got out. “Like this. And you call me baby too… And we go out…”
“We do,” Miyeon nodded, throwing her hands up around the reporter’s neck. Bringing them even closer if that was possible. “And you met some of my friends tonight.”
“That too… Doesn’t it feel like… Don’t you feel that? ‘Cause I do.” Minnie rested her head on the shorter girl’s shoulder for a moment, gathering her thoughts. “I’m not the only one, right? People at work too, and Yuqi. That bastard…”
“Maybe we should get you some water,” Miyeon chuckled in her ear.
“No,” Minnie stood back upright, barely missing a beat. “I’m fine. And you… are the most beautiful person I’ve ever met. Seriously.”
Even in the darkness of their makeshift dancefloor, the blush that lit up Miyeon’s face could be clearly seen. “Sweet talker,” the model whispered.
“Too bad… I really want to date you.”
“Listen,” Miyeon started, but failed to find the rest of the words needed to finish her sentence. Instead she dropped her hands down to her own waist, untangling Minnie’s hands there and gently slowing their dance until they were motionless in the middle of the dancefloor. In a mansion. On a private island—“I’m going to get you some water, okay?”
Minnie could only nod. She’d used up all the words she had in her little impromptu speech.
And suddenly Miyeon’s lips were on her own, wrapping her in a kiss that had been too long coming. And Minnie was a hot-blooded human being who knew when not to fuck up a good thing, so she moved her own lips in response, pressing against the other girl in a bid to stay in this moment forever. It had to end sometime though, and it did with a lingering peck from the model. They stared into each other’s eyes for a few seconds, uncaring for the still-dancing crowd around them.
“Also, I want to date you too,” Miyeon softly announced. And then she grabbed Minnie’s hand and started pulling her towards the bar. “Let’s go.”
It was a wonder what five glasses of water and two bathroom trips could do to one’s sobriety.
Minnie felt like a whole new woman now.
She was currently sitting in a very expensive armchair, waiting for Miyeon to return from her own bathroom trip. And it was barely 11 pm. The night was young, she had a non-insignificant chance of getting lucky, and she was at the biggest party she’d probably ever attend in her entire life. She felt good. So what if there was no pic? So what if she didn’t get to write that fluff piece? Those worries felt worlds away at the moment.
So of course that was the perfect time for her to catch a glimpse of one Song Yuqi leaving the DJ booth and disappearing down a certain hallway. Minnie tried not to react, she really did. But she could only hold her investigative journalism instincts down for so long. And Yuqi was the worst person on Earth, so whatever she was getting up to couldn’t be any good. So before she knew it, Minnie was up on her feet, heading towards the same hallway—
“Minnie?” Miyeon called before she could get too far. Minnie smoothly changed directions, swiveling to meet the model halfway. “Heading back to the bar?”
“No… No, I… was actually hoping to drop by the DJ booth for a second.”
“Oh? Do you know the DJ?”
“Maybe. I think my friend does, the same one from before. And we run in pretty similar circles, so.”
“Okay, that makes sense,” Miyeon conceded. She reached up to grab Minnie’s face and bring her down for a quick kiss. “Let me know when you’re done—oh wait, you lost your phone.”
“Yeah…” She grimaced, that particular wound still too fresh in her mind.
“We’ll do it the old-fashioned way then. I’ll be waiting down through there when you’re done, okay?” And by some weird twist of fate, Miyeon pointed towards the same hallway that Yuqi had disappeared down. “Just come find me. It’s a big room with a bunch of chairs, you can’t miss it.”
One last kiss and Miyeon was gone, leaving Minnie standing around in her now-sweaty designer shirt and holding her oversized designer jacket in her hands.
It felt like a siren call was coming from that cursed hallway. She didn’t know it for sure, but she was willing to bet anything that Soojin and Shuhua were over there too. All she had to do was go find them. Yuqi, Miyeon and the infamous Sooshu couple? She was dead certain that they were all down there.
So why did she feel so nervous to follow after them this time?
Maybe… maybe she was scared to find out who she’d pick if she was forced to make the choice.
So, instead, she walked over to the DJ booth.
She spotted a familiar head of shocking blond hair and a small figure that could only belong to one person. “DJ Jelly,” Minnie called out just above the loud music.
The DJ didn’t turn around, but she raised a hand back in a wave to show that she’d heard. Half a song (and some weirdly complex knob-turning technique) later and that same hand waved her up to the booth. DJ Jelly slipped her headset off one of her ears and grinned up at Minnie. “Knew I’d run into you, too. You’re like dumb and dumber, the both of you.”
“At least tell me I’m ‘dumb’ and not ‘dumber’. Yuqi is obviously worse than me.”
“Ha! I’m not even going to answer that.”
Soyeon, aka DJ Jelly, continued to play her songs and hype up the crowd in a way that only someone with her experience could do. It was pretty impressive. “So, are you trying to do the same shit Yuqi is or are you just here to party?”
“I don’t know.”
“Seriously,” Soyeon shook her head. “You should just forget about the rest of that mess. Look at this—go on, look.” She gestured towards the crowd going wild in front of her. And then she did some fancy DJ thing to change over to a very popular Top 40 song and the reactions were priceless. People were practically worshipping at Soyeon’s tiny feet right now. For the chance to let loose and just party their asses off—they were beyond grateful. “You should join the party, Minnie Mouse. Fuck out of here with all that work crap, when are you ever going to get a chance like this again?” A horn sound effect blared out through the speakers, adding to her point.
And Minnie found herself the most sober she’d been all night. Soyeon was right. When was she ever going to get a chance like this again?
This was her impossible moment.
“Thanks Jelly,” Minnie patted the much shorter girl’s head as she stepped back down from the booth.
“Any time.” And then Soyeon picked up the mic and yelled out, “Turning up right now, who’s ready to fucking go?!” The crowd yelled out their consent. “Don’t say I didn’t warn y’all,” she slyly grinned as the song steadily built towards the drop. “Who’s ready?!” A sea of hands raised towards her booth in wild abandon. “Ready? Let’s! Fucking! Go!”
And then the drop.
The room at the end of the hallway was the strangest room that Minnie had ever entered. In her entire life. By far.
The second she walked in, she stopped in her tracks.
Miyeon had said there would be chairs and she was right. Granted, she’d had to get through the guards stationed by the door before she could even see inside, but that was easier than Minnie had thought. One look at Shady McShades security guy and she’d gotten her ticket in. Maybe he was still sorry for knocking her phone overboard. Maybe.
So Minnie had gotten in.
And then she’d seen that the chairs Miyeon had mentioned were actually ten or so chaise lounges all arranged around each other in some kind of furniture jigsaw puzzle. Seated on each one was a different person-of-interest that Jack, Minnie’s shitty editor, would probably sell his own soul to get a feature on. And smack-dab in the middle lounge was, she’d guessed it, Soojin and Shuhua.
It looked like some kind of renaissance setup, like they were holding court or having a highly sophisticated salon of some sort. Sooshu was obviously at the center, but the conversation shifted easily from one person to another. About fifteen people in total, including Miyeon. It looked like a painting. And that thought only slightly helped to explain the presence of about a dozen painters standing around the periphery of the jigsaw lounges.
Yes, there were painters—brushes, canvases and all. And they were currently painting the scene in real time, like some kind of Victorian-era high-society party.
This—forget the boat and the mansion and the island—this was what the rich could do. Stupid, ridiculous shit like this.
Miyeon was seated two chairs to the right of Shuhua, taking up her own lounge. She’d obviously kept the space open for Minnie to join. And that was sweet. Minnie tried to focus on that as Miyeon spotted her and called her over from the door.
“You found me,” the model whispered as Minnie sat down beside her.
“Did I? I feel like I walked into Wonderland.”
Miyeon chuckled and grabbed her arm to pull her even closer. Soon enough, Soojin’s eyes found her own and Minnie knew in that moment that the actress had been waiting for her too.
“Mickey Mouse, you made it,” the ice princess drawled.
“JinJin, your memory’s so bad,” Shuhua laughed. “It’s Minnie, remember? Everyone, this our new friend Minnie. Miyeon reeeeeeally likes her.”
Chuckles filled the room but Minnie realized that the only two who weren’t laughing were herself and Soojin. Miyeon ducked her head, blushing up a storm, so she didn’t see the WWE staredown happening between the two of them. And by the time the model looked back up, Soojin was already moving the conversation along.
“Shuhua, why don’t you explain what this room is to Minnie. She probably thinks we’re all crazy right now.”
“Sure,” the heiress chirped. She moved so she was almost completely laid out over Soojin’s lap, prompting an irritated huff from the painter who’d been drawing the couple. “It’s okay,” Shuhua said in his direction. “Even if it isn’t finished, it’s still good. Next pose—time for the next pose.”
And with that, the room moved as one, everyone shifting into some new ‘natural’ position, showing off their best features. Soojin moved only so she could resettle Shuhua on her lap, ensuring that the other girl was comfortable.
And Miyeon moved too, dropping her head down to Minnie’s stiff shoulder. “Don’t worry, she’ll explain it.” That was obviously supposed to relax the reporter, but it didn’t work. This was crazytown, it had to be.
“Okay, so,” Shuhua started again, “I call this room Neverland.” Minnie inwardly congratulated herself on not being too far off with her initial guess. “It’s meant to keep… to keep memories forever. And some of the best memories I have are with my friends and with Soojin and with Soojin’s friends. So that’s why you’re all here. Tonight is the birthday of the most important person in my life. So I wanted to celebrate that… And I wanted to keep the memory of that forever. So,” Shuhua glanced up at Soojin to see her lips quirked up in a warm smile. “JinJin… I tell you all the time that I love you, so I won’t say it again. But you know my heart, right?”
“I’d be stupid not to,” the actress admitted and quite a few people, including Miyeon, gushed openly at the display.
“That’s right. Happy birthday, my love.” Shuhua finished with a blinding smile.
Minnie nearly gagged at the couple. How unbelievingly, sickeningly sweet.
And then the moment they’d all been waiting for happened: Soojin leaned down to plant a solid kiss on Shuhua’s waiting lips. A chorus of ‘awws’ filled the room and Minnie could only roll her eyes.
The couple wasn’t even trying to hide it. They were obviously dating or engaged or married or whatever. They were in love, for sure. And they had no qualms against showing it off for the whole world to see.
So how on Earth had no one outside of their circle of friends borne witness to it?
Minnie had the stray thought that if only she had her phone or a camera right now…
And that’s when she remembered that she hadn’t seen Song Yuqi once since she’d gotten into the room. But she’d definitely seen her walking this way earlier. And she hadn’t seen her leave. So surely she had to be somewhere close by. And if she’d seen that kiss—
Suddenly, a loud crash and the sound of scuffling came from the closed door. A few people jumped to their feet as the door burst open, showing Shady McShades security guy wrestling someone down to the floor.
“What’s going on?” Soojin asked in a deadly voice. Shuhua raised her head to see what the commotion was about, but the actress protectively kept her body pinned down.
“Found her hiding in the coat closet, looking through a hole in the wall.” Shady McShades security guy shifted just enough for Minnie to see the intruder and confirm her suspicions. It was Yuqi. “She was trying to take a picture.” And then he grabbed her phone and raised it high over his head, ready to smash it down into the ground.
“I’m a reporter!” Yuqi quickly yelled out in Mandarin. The only reason Minnie could understand her was because she’d heard that same plea dozens of times before when the two of them had been working together. It was Yuqi’s get-out-of-jail-free card that she used way to often to not already be in jail by now. “I’m on a case! I’ll delete the pictures, I promise! Just let me go!”
The sudden language change startled him enough that he hesitated.
“Wait,” Shuhua called out stopping him. She was standing now, looking at them with a glint in her eyes. She carefully made her way through the furniture till she was in front of the fully-restrained Yuqi. “You’re Chinese?” And then she asked the question once more, but in Mandarin.
Yuqi hesitantly nodded and the smile that lit up Shuhua’s face was so unexpected, Minnie felt like she got whiplash just from seeing it happen.
The next few seconds were filled with a lightning-fast conversation between the two Mandarin-speakers and heavy confusion from everyone else. Then Shuhua suddenly laughed and reached down to pull Yuqi to her feet.
“It’s okay,” the heiress told her security team who were all still on edge, waiting for something bad to happen. “It’s okay, she’s harmless.”
“Shu, remember what I said about being too trusting?” Soojin rhetorically asked, testily raising an eyebrow. “This is what I was talking about.”
“No, it’s fine. Seriously. Listen,” Shuhua giggled, pulling Yuqi all the way around till they were standing behind Soojin’s seat. The actress visibly shifted away from the intruder who her partner had taken such a strange liking to. “Her name’s Yuqi and she was just trying to take our picture, see? Wait, where’s your phone?”
Shady McShades security guy held up the device in question, then upon seeing Shuhua’s look, he held up his other hand to stop her. “At least let us check it first, Ma’am.”
“Fine,” the heiress huffed, wrapping her arm around her new friend.
The next few minutes found them all winding down from the sudden fright, returning to a strange new normal. One by one, they each started to relax, once again reclining in their chaise lounges. The painters even got back to their work—or had they ever even stopped?
Even Yuqi had a tentative smile on her face as she spoke with a happy Shuhua and a glaring Soojin.
Everybody was fine, except for Minnie and Miyeon.
For Minnie, it was the fact that her sworn enemy had somehow managed to survive an encounter that should have had her in cuffs by now. But there she was. Making friends with the people she’d been trying to out. Minnie felt her blood boiling past the point of no return.
But for Miyeon…
“Minnie,” the model said in a small voice, sitting stiffly beside her. They weren’t touching anymore, but Minnie hadn’t noticed it yet. She hadn’t noticed a lot of things. “Minnie.” That time had more steel behind it.
“Isn’t that your friend from earlier?”
And just like that, Minnie felt her blood run cold. All the anger she’d been focusing on suddenly fled and all that was left was a strange detachment. She couldn’t even see Yuqi anymore, her sight had blurred as her eyes lost focus. She could only hear her heart pounding in her throat. And Miyeon’s voice felt like lightning in her ears.
“That’s her, right?”
“Your friend… She tried to take a picture of Soojin and Shuhua.”
“That’s why she came here.”
Minnie swallowed around her very dry throat. “It seems so.”
The moment felt like it stretched on forever. Out of the corner of her eyes, Minnie saw the now-cleared phone being handed over to Shuhua. And the heiress positively gushed over the picture that was on the screen, though Soojin looked far from impressed. But Minnie’s focus wasn’t on them at all.
It was on Miyeon who looked seconds away from slapping her. “That’s not the reason why you wanted to come with me… Is it?”
Minnie’s head started shaking on its own. She wanted so badly to deny it, but the words wouldn’t come. “I—”
“Tell me no or don’t say anything at all.”
And there was the death sentence.
She had no response at all.
Miyeon swiftly got to her feet and stormed out of the room, leaving Minnie staring helplessly after her. The sudden action drew a few curious gazes, but none more so than one Seo Soojin.
The actress stood up and announced to the entire room, “Miyeon’s right, I think we all need more alcohol right now. And I need to get ready for the cake.”
“That’s right,” Shuhua excitedly agreed. “Midnight cake cutting! Wait until you see it, it’s almost as tall as you JinJin.”
The room emptied out soon after that and Minnie found herself alone with the person she’d been after all night. Seo Soojin.
Soojin carefully closed the door to the Neverland room after the last of the painters had left.
Now it was just Minnie and Soojin.
And that terrified the reporter like few things ever had in her life.
The actress strolled around the room, stopping every now and then to look at the unfinished portraits left on the canvases. Minnie watched her like a hawk, not knowing if she was supposed to speak first or just wait for the other girl to chop her head off.
“Shuhua’s wrong, just so you know,” were the first words that the ice princess said. “My memory’s not bad at all.” She shrugged, glancing once at the seated reporter before she walked on to another canvas. “I know what your name is. I remember the first time I heard it from Miyeon. You know what I said to her?”
A sharp brow raised in her direction, so Minnie knew she had to answer. “I don’t know.”
“I said it sounded like that rat.” Soojin stared dangerously at her. “That Disney World rat. That’s what I thought of you at first… I didn’t know you’d prove me right.”
Minnie ducked her head and focused on her trembling fingers. She felt ashamed. She knew she’d messed up, it didn’t take a genius to figure that out. She’d known it from the second she’d accepted the assignment from her editor. She’d managed to convince herself that the ends would justify the means—whatever foul means she’d have to use to get there. But now that she was at that end, all she could see was the carnage she’d left behind. And now she was empty-handed in every sense of the word.
“Miyeon is Shuhua’s ex so I never really liked her all that much,” Soojin nonchalantly revealed. “But she’s a friend, whether I like it or not. You, on the other hand… I don’t think I could ever forgive someone like you.” She scornfully looked down at Minnie like she really was nothing more than a rat to her. No, even worse than that. “She loves you so much and you’re just going to throw that away? A love like that? Do you know how rare that is?”
Minnie let the words hit her freely, not defending herself at all because Soojin was right. She’d never felt so absolutely worthless in her entire life. And it had nothing to do with the opulent room she was in, or the famous actress looking at her, or the yacht or the mansion or the private island. It all came down to her. It was all her fault.
“I’m sorry,” Minnie finally said.
“And you think that’s enough?” Soojin scoffed, but then shook her head at herself. “No, you know what? Here.” The actress walked over to a table and picked up a box that had been sitting there the entire time. As she walked back over, Minnie saw that she was holding a brand new phone. “Shuhua got it for you.” She thought she couldn’t feel any lower, but that did it. “And even though it’s my birthday, I’ll give you a little gift.”
Soojin took the sleek, pink phone out of its packaging and turned it on. Once it was booted up, she quickly flicked to a particular app and held it up to her mouth. She spoke clearly and confidently. “My name is Seo Soojin. I’ve been dating Yeh Shuhua for the past ten months. Yes, that Shuhua—the Yehtube heiress, the millionaire, the loveable puppy who cares too much and loves me more than I ever thought I deserved. That person… whom I love so much and who loves me so much… I definitely want to marry her. One day.”
Soojin ended the recording, smiling down at the phone for a second. Then she carelessly tossed it to Minnie, who fumbled to catch the device.
“Now you have what you want. Get out before I call security on you.” And with that, Soojin strolled over to the door, clearly finished with what she had to say.
“I don’t want to leave,” Minnie croaked out right as the other girl reached for the doorknob. “I’m sorry, but I can’t leave yet.”
Soojin glanced back at her one last time. “Then give us a reason to let you stay.”
An hour and a half after that and Minnie still couldn’t find where Miyeon had gone.
She’d taken off as soon as she could, checking every room in every hallway on every floor of the giant mansion. Dodging partygoers like it was her job, she’d had only one thing on her mind. She had to find Miyeon. She’d ventured outside too, scouring the nearby open land of the private island. She hadn’t gotten too far from the house though—she didn’t want to risk getting lost in the thick trees.
But still, she’d come up empty-handed.
And with every passing minute, she could feel the pressure building. She’d pass a member of the security team ever so often and she just knew that they were tracking her every movement. She had a feeling that if she didn’t successfully set this all right by the time the cake was cut at midnight, then she’d be unceremoniously booted off the island. Probably face-first into the sea.
So, she kept looking.
She was on her third pass of the second floor, when her aching feet finally forced her to sit down for a moment. She found a chair and hung her head as she caught her breath.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a familiar white suit standing not too far away.
Shady McShades security guy was staring at her from down the hall—or really, his head was turned in her direction, she still had no idea what his eyes were doing behind his ever-present shades. She thought he might be sleeping, but then he reached into his jacket. And he carefully pulled out his phone.
Minnie stared at him in confusion as he held up his device.
He nodded once then walked away, pocketing his phone once more. And Minnie was a reporter for a reason, so even in her exhausted state she was able to signal to her brain that she’d just been given a clue. A strange one, for sure, but a clue nonetheless.
A phone. He’d pointed to his phone. So maybe… her phone?
She pulled out the new phone she’d been ‘gifted’ by Seo Soojin. She’d wanted to throw it away for what it represented, but she’d been too focused on finding Miyeon first. She examined it carefully, going to its home screen and looking for anything that might scream ‘I’m a clue’ at her.
On a whim, she opened up ‘Contacts’—and there!
There was only one number listed and it was under the name, ‘Ramyeon’.
Minnie couldn’t believe it. Had the answer really been right under her nose this entire time? She felt herself tearing up as she shakily pressed the call button.
The phone rang. Once. Twice. Three times and her heart started to ache, but then—
“Miyeon?” She gasped out.
A moment of silence passed, so long that Minnie had to double-check to make sure the line was still connected. It was. It seemed like the other girl wasn’t going to make it that easy for her, and rightfully so.
So Minnie mustered up all of her remaining energy to say, “I’m sorry. I was stupid and I lied to you and I used you and I’m so, so, so sorry. Myeon-ah… I don’t—I don’t know what I was thinking… I was so focused on my job—and I don’t even like my job. I hate it so much and I let myself use it as an excuse to hurt you. I should’ve never agreed to get that story or that picture. I should’ve… I should’ve just told you the truth, from the very beginning. I’m sorry…”
When she still didn’t get a response, Minnie had to wipe at her eyes to stop the tears from falling.
“What do you want me to say?” The model’s soft voice finally came through.
“I don’t know. I don’t know, just—”
“You want me to forgive you? Just like that?”
Minnie dropped her head into her hands, trying to think of anything she could say or do to fix this. But nothing came to mind.
“You really hurt me, Minnie.”
“And I want to hurt you back. I don’t want to forgive you, I want to make you cry like how—” Her breath hitched and Minnie could hear the other girl sniffle into the phone. That only made the reporter’s heart hurt even more, if that was possible. “I want to hurt you.”
Minnie bit her lip, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She could hear the party still going on downstairs and she knew she was running out of time. But her mind was blank. She was a writer, for god’s sake, and she couldn’t think of anything to say? Fuck it.
“Fine, fine,” Minnie muttered. “Tell me where.”
“Tell me where it hurts. Tell me so I can,” Minnie suddenly sprung to her feet, summoning the confidence she needed. “Tell me so I can make you feel better.” She used the same words that Miyeon had used on her hours ago. Back when things were good. She so very desperately wanted to go back to that place. “Tell me what I can do, please. Or hurt me. Do that instead, whatever you want,” she begged. She spun on her feet, working herself up as she spoke. “Or tell me where you are, so I can find you. Please. Because I really want to find you right now. I need to see you…” She tried to inject as much of her honest feelings into her words. Hopefully it wasn’t too late for them to reach the other girl. “So just tell me something, Miyeon… Please… Or tell me no… Tell me no and—” Minnie tried to finish strong, but she couldn’t. Her words ended in a broken whisper. “… Don’t say no. Please.”
Minnie knew she sounded pitiful, but what else could she say?
She wasn’t some strong, dashing protagonist who could give the love of their life an ultimatum and not be scared out of her mind that she wouldn’t get chosen. She wanted Miyeon to choose her. She wanted the love of her life—
“Do you remember that room I told you about?” Miyeon’s voice was like a balm for the soul.
“Yeah,” Minnie said as she wiped at her nose. “You said you had a key.”
“Fourth floor, the door with the puppies on it.”
The reporter felt hope bloom in her chest suddenly and uncontrollably. She burst into a happy smile, “Okay, okay. I’ll be there. I’ll be there as soon—”
The call ended and Minnie’s face fell. Did Miyeon just hang up on her?
But it’s only when she looked down at her phone that she realized what had happened. She saw the giant digits flashing 00:00:00 and watched as a new text notification popped up on the screen. It read: Happy birthday Seo Soojin
The screen then went completely blank—not like the phone was sleeping, no. More like it was broken beyond repair. She tried turning it back on, but nothing happened. And then it all made sense.
It was midnight.
Minnie had gotten into her fair share of hairy situations in the past.
Being a reporter meant putting yourself at risk to get a good story. It also meant doing whatever you could to avoid certain arrest. In a way, she’d been preparing her entire adult life for this moment.
But still, nothing could prepare her for the act of dodging a highly-paid security team hell-bent on capturing and shipping her off an island. It wasn’t just the white-suit team either. Several times Minnie had spotted one of Shuhua’s personal bodyguards running down the hall before she would jump into a closet or hide behind a very well-placed plant.
This was definitely Mission Impossible.
Minnie slipped out of her third broom closet and eased carefully towards a set of stairs. A loud popping sound startled her and she dropped to the floor, fearing that they’d finally pulled out the big guns on her. But it was only a champagne bottle that had been opened by some revelers in a nearby room.
“Jesus,” she grabbed at her heart.
“What are you doing, Minnie Mouse?” A voice asked her from a scant few feet away. And if she hadn’t been close to a heart attack before, she was now.
Minnie roughly fell back against the wall, sliding down till she was sitting helplessly on the ground. She stared up at the person who’d found her and was only marginally relieved to see that it was her frenemy Song Yuqi.
“Yuqi… I think I’m dying,” she gasped.
“Looks like it,” Yuqi smirked down at her. “You know they’re cutting the cake right now. What are you doing up here?”
“I’m, I’m,” Minnie paused to catch her breath. “Don’t tell anyone you saw me.”
“You must be in real trouble, then. You know Shuhua was telling me that some of the people who work for her used to be CIA, FBI, Secret Service—”
The other reporter stopped when she saw the serious look on Minnie’s face. “Does this have to do with that model girlfriend of yours?”
“Yes,” Minnie nodded. “I need to make sure she still wants to be my girlfriend.”
And that seemed to be the right thing to say, because suddenly Yuqi was beside her, helping her up off the ground. “About time, you big dummy.”
They smiled as they stood facing each other, once again on the same side.
“How many of those guys you think will tackle me if I try to take a picture of Soojin cutting the cake?”
“You really have a death wish.”
“Shuhua will love it, don’t worry. And… about that picture, forget about it. It’s already deleted.” Yuqi smiled bashfully and stuck out her hand for a handshake. “No hard feelings?”
Minnie nodded and shook her hand. “We’re good.”
One explosive Yuqi-led diversion later and Minnie was finally, finally on the fourth floor. Fucking finally.
After a brief scan of the many rooms—all closed and locked up here—she found the one she was looking for. A small crest with two puppies indicated that this was the one.
So she knocked.
And she stood with bated breath.
And a long moment later, the door finally opened to reveal… the person Minnie had been looking for all along. Cho Miyeon.
But that’s all she got out before the model grabbed her by that stupid oversized designer jacket and yanked her right into the room.
“You’ll only need to apologize if you fuck up, okay?” Miyeon said with fire in her eyes. “So don’t fuck up.”
“Okay, I won’t,” Minnie immediately agreed.
“Good. Close the door.”
The reporter followed her instructions, but noted the peculiar tone of her voice.
“And take off your jacket.”
Now, that wasn’t what she’d expected to hear at all. But Minnie was a hot-blooded human being who knew that she was in no position to question any of the demands the other girl was making. So she did as she was told.
Miyeon looked her slowly up and down, then she nodded and finally said, “Don’t fuck up.”
And then she walked off deeper into the room.
Minnie furrowed her brows as she helplessly followed after the other girl. “What do you mean—”
And then she saw that Miyeon was standing in front of the large four-poster bed as she carefully peeled off the Valentino dress that had treated her so, so well that night. “Don’t fuck up,” the model repeated.
Minnie definitely got it that time. “Okay,” she said, already pulling at her own shirt. “Okay,” she echoed again, almost fighting with her clothes. “So does this mean—”
“This means yes for right now,” Miyeon slipped boldly out of her dress and right onto the waiting bed. “Don’t fuck up and we’ll see what happens later.”
Minnie needed no further instructions.
Shuhua was one of the first people to wake up the morning after the party.
Though most of the guests had been shipped back off the island at the end of the night, a handful of close friends had been allowed to stay.
And given the fact that she ran into Minnie in the kitchen that morning, she was willing to bet that the reporter had somehow managed to get herself back onto Soojin’s ‘close friends’ list. It was hard to tell who Soojin considered a friend, but a good rule of thumb was someone who could be trusted to keep a promise.
Miyeon had promised to stay in touch with Shuhua after their breakup and she did. The two of them had been close childhood friends first and the heiress had been scared to lose her after their romantic relationship ended. But Miyeon stayed and so Soojin put her on her list.
Soyeon had promised to cut back on the drinking after one too many nights spent blackout drunk after her sets. Soojin had been a friend of a friend who’d seen her hit rock bottom, but then watched in awe as she found the strength to get back up. And Soyeon had kept that promise for many years now, even as her career as DJ Jelly took off. Soojin probably hadn’t realized she’d put her on the list too.
Yuqi… Yuqi would take some time, for sure. But Shuhua had a sixth sense for these kind of things. She could see the fun, young reporter joining them in no time.
Minnie hadn’t realized she’d made a promise until she broke it. And that’s why Soojin had gotten so mad at her. But the other girl had gotten her act together fast and it looked like she’d made a new promise—judging by the smile on her face as she carefully plated a breakfast for two. Shuhua waved at her as the girl left the kitchen carrying the food she’d prepared for Miyeon. Yeah, she was definitely back on the list.
And as for Shuhua? She’d promised to love and cherish Seo Soojin for as long as she lived. And to seal that promise… Shuhua patted her pants pocket to make sure her real birthday gift was still there. If all went as planned, she’d probably make it onto a new list altogether.