This scared her.
"Good. Two," Being with him scared the living shit out of her.
"Three," Her arms were shaky that time but he stood behind her, support, strength.
"It's too heavy. I can't."
"Yes, you can." Out of all the eyes on them, his eyes on her had the most impact and that scared her. Swallowing, she nervously glanced at their reflection. They stood there in sweat-soaked clothes and flushed, him like a tall solid tree behind her. The clink of metal and machines distracted her.
"Come on, Bry. One more. That's all I'm asking." Breathing in hard through her nostrils, she stepped into the little space between the deadlift and the rack that held it together and grabbed it with both hands.
"Remember, lift with your legs. Not your back."
"You're tryna kill me." He flashed her a grin in the mirror.
"Remember your posture." He made no attempt to hide the fact that he was very blatantly staring at her spandex-covered ass now tooted up and front and center. Watching his teeth bite his lower lip made her cheeks grow hot.
"Look at you, Man of God." His cheeks grew pink but otherwise, he just cleared his throat.
"Let's go. Down." Assuming the posture he'd shown her, she grabbed it tight between her fingers and pushed off, the weight now distributed across her shoulders. Sucking in air through her nose, she slowly exhaled as she knelt down into a crouch.
"Good. Now up." Taking in another breath, she pushed up, teeth grit together.
"Legs, Briony. Good. Keep coming, sweetheart. Push." Her thighs shook and she let out a small grunt as his verbal encouragement helped her make it to the top.
"Hold it, One.. Two...Done." Helping her place it back onto the rack, he watched as the woman fell out across the handles, arms and head dangling. Her breath was harsh coming up from her lungs and her own closed eyes opened at the feeling of a towel against her forehead.
"I'm proud of you."
"Yeah yeah yeah. You're tryna kill me like I said." Laughing, he lifted her water bottle to her mouth in an offering of peace and she gladly accepted it.
"I think you deserve some spicy Tteokbokki, what do you say?"
"I more than deserve it for putting up with your ass today, pretty boy." Lifting up, she snatched the towel out of his hand and wiped the rest of her face, hand next coming to snatch her water bottle.
"You gon buy me whatever the hell I want today, got that?" Her answer came in the lifted-up white tee that he used to wipe his own face, blinding her with a generous view of his sweaty abs, OD popping from the core workout he'd gotten into earlier. Her mouth gaped open for a moment but she closed it up, pursed her lips, sucked her teeth, and turned to walk away from him. He was gon give her a heart attack by the time he was done. Jesus.
"Ugh God, I'm gonna be so fucking sore tomorrow." Playful brown eyes watched as she lowered herself into the chair, lips in perhaps the deepest pout he'd ever seen.
"You look like a flower that's in someone's overgrown garden." He observed out loud with a deeper grin. She really did, a cute little flower with her bright floral leotard in shades of yellow, pink, and green with matching leggings to match. Her hair was pulled back from her face, her natural kinks lovely. To add contrast, she wore a lighter shade of green leg warmers and white tennis shoes. Her offended face made him laugh.
"I know you not throwing shade at me, Mister 'The Only Time I Don't Look Like Casper The Friendly Ghost Is When I Work Out.'"
"Damn, it's like that huh?"
"Yeah, it's like that. Don't fuckin' come for me." Grinning, he lifted his fingers to run through his damp obsidian strands, pulling them out of his ponytail that had started to grow loose.
"You exist just to annoy me, don't you?"
"Actually, yeah. I think so."
"You enjoy being around me, Bry. Don't act like you don't." His eyes lifted as he pulled his hair up and back, winding the strands up in his ponytail holder.
"I know better." That shut her up.
"Anyway, how long's it been since we started... doing this?"
"What are we doing exactly?"
"I don't know, shit. You tell me."
"I thought we were hanging out? Like what friends do?"
"So we're friends?"
"Were we not?"
"For God's sake,"
"What do you want 'this' to be then?" His question felt like a knife straight to the throat and she actually flinched like she'd been stabbed. Beads of moisture now slipped down her glass of water.
"That's... not fair Eun-woo. Don't turn this around on me."
"Yes, you are." His hand gently reached for and took hold of her hand, letting her pull enough of it away save for two or three fingers that he'd captured.
"Tell me what you want."
"I... I don't know." He accepted the answer, accepted the nervousness in her voice. He knew she was scared. She'd made so many changes in the past year. She'd started coming around more at church and though she almost always still sat in the back, he now could spot her out. She'd started wearing more conservative clothes, and while it pleased him to see, he knew that it was really uncomfortable for her. She'd even joined a small women's ministry group, centered on something they all had in common; sex work. She'd seemed to get along with them well enough and the presence of those she could relate to made her appear happier.
"You've made so many changes this past year. It makes me wonder if you're doing it for me or for yourself." That statement made her flinch. Ah. Letting go of his hand, she hid it underneath the table.
"I'll tell you what I want then, since you won't." Her eyes lifted.
"I don't want a cookie-cutter friend."
"At this point in this...friendship, I think it's safe to say we like each other. Right?" Her cheeks grew red and she didn't give a verbal answer, just nodded her head.
"I don't want a fake Christian barbie for a... friend."
"You don't have to do any of this for me. If you are, stop. I don't want it."
"You shoulda been a psychology teacher cause shit...you pick people apart like a damn scavenger." His teeth smiled.
"You like it."
"I really don't. It pisses me off."
"That's okay. I'll take that. I'll take all of it. Your sadness. Your anger."
"I won't accept a version of you you think you should be to make me happy. That'll piss me off."
"Ooh hoo hoo, language preacher man." He lifted his water to his mouth and drank some, eyes deadlocked on her.
"Look, I... all of this is new to me. I might be throwing myself into everything all at once..."
"Mmhm," He vocalized her sign to continue talking.
"It ain't all about you, pretty boy. So let's get that straight." His lips smirked now, glass on the table.
"I... I want this for myself. I wanna... be a better person. A better woman. A better..."
"Better...?" It was like it hurt her to say the word but she pushed it out through her teeth.
"Christian." His eyebrows lifted and he chuckled at her sour face.
"Well well then, Miss 'I don't do religion'."
"Shut up." Trying again, his touch in form of fingers breezed up across the back of her hand. She flinched and he knew she wanted to pull back. But she forced it still, feeling all of their fingers intertwine.
"So, since we out here talking about our wants and everything, answer me this, angel boy."
"It's been a really long time since you've kissed me. Why is that?" Their feet were on the road, leading to her apartment.
"Looks like we need to cover the topic of sexual purity while we're on this journey, huh?"
"I'd like those lips of yours to cover mine, actually. All that other stuff can wait." He lost it suddenly, laughing until he hunched over, his cheeks growing rosy. She, however, stood there quite serious and unhappy with her arms crossed.
"You're so cute.... oh...my... God..."
"Yeah keep on laughin' smart ass." He breathed a sigh, lifting his hands up to wipe the tears that had formed in his moment of being humored.
"If you just gon make fun of me then go home." With a huff, she turned away from him, the cutest ass pout on her face as she stomped up the stairs.
"Hey, come back!"
"Nah, I'm good." She heard his footsteps drift up the stairs behind her and lifted her keys to her lock. She'd just gotten it in and turned it when she felt big warm hands slide around her waist.
"You really like making things hard for me, don't you?" His voice was low and quiet against her, his forehead laying against her shoulder.
"I try so hard to be a gentleman with you... do things right and proper... and it's not enough." He released a tiny sigh and lifted his head.
"My mind goes places when I kiss you, Briony. You understand that."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Everything." His voice was serious now and it made her shiver.
"...but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." He whispered the scripture against her ear, arms now holding her snugly against him. It left her breathless, feeling his dick press up against her lower back.
"Do not lust in your heart for her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes."
"You don't get it... how important it is for me to not let how you make me feel affect me." Her throat had gone dry and so had her mouth.
"It angers me. To know that the men you've encountered in your life have misguided you. Made you think that lust equates to love, that sex equates to care." She didn't understand why she started to tear up but his words stirred up something in her... made her want to cry. Slowly pushing her door ajar, she reached up to grip his arms that tightly held her.
"Don't be angry... I... I'm sorry. Just... just tell me to fuck off when I push too hard." He released her and watched as she entered her apartment. For the first time since their meeting, she finally left it open, left an open invitation to come in. An invitation he accepted.
Running water in a pot and on a small electric burner. Two cups on the counter.
"It's really shitty but this is where I live."
"I'm not judging you, Bry."
"It's embarrassing having you in here."
"But you want me here." Her back was turned to him and she tried to busy herself at the tiny kitchenette.
"I guess so." Taking a look around the small studio, he felt himself smile. She'd kept things light and bright to try to give the space some semblance of life. Posters of American music stars were framed and placed up on the walls above her bed, giving a fresh pop of color. Fake flowers sat on the small low table in front of her couch. An old-school record Vinyl record player sat by the couch, her small collection neatly kept on the floor.
Hanging from the ceiling were clear butterfly string lights, still turned on. The presence of the light filled the space with cozy warmth. Nearest to her bed was her garment rack, more colors of hung-up dresses, boots, heels, and other shoes. Her apartment was warm, soft, and feminine, just the way he imagined her.
"I didn't say what I said to make you feel guilty." She'd been running dishwater and pulled them out, hands soapy.
"Yeah, but it still did." Rinsing her hands, she turned around to face him.
"I feel like I'm being a bad influence on you or something. Hence why... why I didn't want to even get this far in with you. I told you that." Sighing, she knelt down and removed her shoes.
"If you want, you can chill here for a lil bit. If you don't have to um, go to the church for anything." She tried to brush past him but he put a stop to that, reaching out to grab her arm.
"What." He pulled her closer.
"Look at me," It took her a while but she did finally and hated that when she did her eyes were all teary and shit. He didn't say anything then, just removed his hand from her arm and placed it against her cheek.
"I've upset you. I'm sorry." Her chin trembled but she didn't answer and he could see that she was trying not to cry.
"You're precious in the Lord's sight. More precious than rubies." At that, she took a shaky breath, eyes glancing down now, at their feet.
"He loved and created you with care, knew you to be His Daughter and His Bride before you entered the womb." His thumb glided down across the apple of her cheek.
"You're precious to me too, Briony. Because of that, I can't let you go astray." Lifting her chin, he brought her gaze back upward.
"What kind of man would I be, what kind of servant would I be unto the Lord if I let my flesh dictate my actions? How would that make me any different from all the others you've encountered?"
"I-I guess it wouldn't."
"I know you in the Spirit. I see you in the Spirit. You're soft. Sensitive. Delicate and gentle." At that, she began to crack and tears began to escape her eyes.
"You're a chest of treasures, a walking embodiment of grace, favor, and power. I'd be a fool not to tread lightly." Now she had begun to weep and he allowed himself one touch, one glide of his thumb against her lips, lips that he wanted to take against his own.
"You've experienced enough. Enough lust. Enough emotional and mental prostitution. Enough of feeling used and abused. You deserve more than just physical pleasure and excitement that will fade. You deserve to be surrounded by gentleness, care, and understanding. You deserve to feel secure and safe." She couldn't speak, her body now pressed against his, her tears releasing pain, loneliness, and violation. Closing his arms up around her, he let his eyes close and let his ears receive her purging.
Ugh. Opening her eyes, she squinted them at the light that shined in across her face, nearly blinding her. Closing them again, she turned to curl up against her comforter. The sound of running water and the clink and scrap of dishes made her sigh quietly. That idiot. He didn't have to do that. Opening her eyes again, she stretched. It was weird... having a man in her apartment that she hadn't slept with. Most times, they fucked and went their separate ways. But... as weird as it was... having his presence here was... nice. Turning around, her entire body grew still with shock. She had to blink to make sure she was still woke. No fucking way.
Byun Eun-woo was... was standing in her kitchen shirtless. Preacher man Byun Eun-woo. Without a shirt. In her apartment. Maybe she had died. Maybe she'd gone to heaven early. Her eyes, now wide, got a good uninterrupted look at him as he rinsed a bowl. Good God Almighty. The man was a total beefcake. Slim and small at the waist but everywhere else was stacked like pancakes. The thick crispy ones your momma made you when you was a kid, all smothered in butter and syrup. Yeah, those ones. All muscle, tight, ripped muscle. Sweet Jesus.
"Oh, you're up." Licking the drool away from the side of her mouth, she forced her eyes upward to look at his own.
"Ah, wait. Hold on," He turned to put his shirt on, covering all that goodness back up. Sitting on the edge of her bed, she rubbed her eyes and yawned.
"You wanna tell me why you walking around here half-naked?" He had the utter nerve to blush as if he was embarrassed and rinsed a couple of forks.
"You fell asleep so I took a shower." Like that explained everything.
"Too comfy? Got it."
"Nah, nah. Please, make yourself even more comfy. By all means. I'm not complaining here." His ears had started to grow a light crimson.
"I've got the extra towel and wash towel I used washing in the washer."
"Didn't have to do them but thanks."
"No problem." She felt gross, the earlier sweat of the gym now dry on her body. She needed to get the yuck off of her.
"I'm sure you want to shower so I'll head out."
"The shampoo you use. What's it called?"
"The shampoo you use."
"Doubt you have it here in Korea."
"That's too bad. It actually smells good. Like Vanilla."
"Oh does it?"
"Any... other questions about my bathroom since we're on the topic or are you done?"
"Actually, yeah. I have one more." She felt her heart sink into the floor as he pulled a sparkly pink dildo from behind his back.
"What is this?" She didn't think she could move as fast as she did but she flew across the room and snatched it out of his hand.
"What the fuck!"
"It was hanging against the wall in the shower. Scared the hell out of me."
"Get out." He doubled over with laughter and as much as she tried not to, she felt herself laugh in response.
"Get OUT!" Grinning, he feigned pain as she playfully hit him.
"You're never coming back in here. Ever. Go." Shoving him now towards the door, she pursed her lips as he knelt to tie his shoes.
"Out." He chuckled now. Pouting, she crossed her arms as he gave her a quick little kiss against her forehead. Once again, her body betrayed her. The smirk and little wink he gave her left her coochie soaking as the door shut behind him. Fuck.
"Pastor Byun? Could I speak with you for a moment?" Lifting his eyes upward, he found a member of his congregation standing in the doorway, hands tightly clasped.
"Sure, come in." The woman stepped into his office and slowly closed the door.
"What's up?" He asked as she sat down.
"I wanted to speak to you in private. About one of our members."
"That black lady..."
"Seol-hwa-ssi," He corrected, using the Korean name that had been assigned to her.
"Yes. Well, um... I think you should pay less attention to her." His brows furled.
"Pay less attention?"
"When she comes to our services, you don't pay attention to the rest of us." Reaching up to remove his glasses, he visibly frowned.
"The congregation is talking, Pastor Byun. She's not from here... and...we all know how those kinds of women are. There is also talk that she may be into illicit activity. It's... not appropriate."
"Is the church's purpose to babysit you?" The woman swallowed nervously.
"My purpose is to ensure that everyone who calls me their pastor is guided along the path of righteousness."
"I will not entertain or allow gossip and slander of an innocent person. You have an issue with the Woman of God that I cannot assist you with. What I can do is remind you of Matthew 18:15-17. Should she have done something to offend you, go to her first and in private." The woman sat lips and hands pinched as he looked her head on.
"Seol-hwa-ssi is just as welcome here as any other person, native Korean or not. She, just like you, has the opportunity to grow in her faith and salvation. I pray that you do not become a hindrance to your own."
Movie at my place?
He'd just finished locking up when his pager went off again. Reaching down, he pulled it upward. The message stopped him dead in his tracks.
You're missing out.
With a heavy sigh, he felt himself smile and headed toward the parking lot. It was Mid-December now. Snow covered the streets. It was brutal, the cold. Though her playful and suggestive flirting persisted, he was proud of her. Proud of the progress she'd made. Maybe it was to shut up the naysayers who sat in the pews beside her. Maybe not. Fishing for his keys, he opened the door to his car. She was never going to be a well-behaved church girl and well, he didn't want her to be. He liked her just as she was. Once the car was started, he let out of the parking lot.
Her phone rang. Taking a deep breath, she got up and approached it. Picking it up, she answered.
"I didn't think you'd actually call me after that last page."
"Why not?" His voice sounded humored.
"I took a risk, sending that." He laughed against her ear.
"Are you still naked?" His question was innocent enough but damn. He ain't have to ask it like that, all low and shit.
"I've got panties on. Does that count as half-naked?"
"Put something on."
"Why?" There was a slight pause before he answered her.
"I'm coming to pick you up." An eyebrow lifted now and she shifted on her couch.
"Oh yeah? Where we going?"
"My place?" Okay so now both of her eyebrows were lifted.
"I-oh." She couldn't control the giggle that drifted up from her throat.
"I knew you was gonna eventually crack like an egg."
"I don't like your implications."
"It's only fair you come over. I've been to your place already, right?"
"Mmmmhm." She could hear the smile in his voice.
"Stop giving me a hard time and get ready, Bry."
"Whatever you say, pretty boy."
"It's supposed to be a snowstorm later tonight so why don't you pack a bag too?"
"All right then,"
"Cool. I'll be there in fifteen minutes."
"Okay," Hanging up, she sat still for a moment, heart beating so fast she felt like she was going to pass out. The summer months had come and gone but the heat slowly building between them hadn't gone any damn where. True to his word, he never came out of his gentlemanly ways... sometimes so chivalrous that it made her uncomfortable. Swallowing nervously, she got up from the couch.
He'd showed her sides of Seoul that she'd never seen before... his favorite sides. They'd played video games at the arcade downtown and taken night walks alongside the Han river. They'd sat at their increasingly routine spot, over chicken and beer, sometimes talking for hours. About whatever. The lady who owned the restaurant didn't seem to mind her and was actually kinda nice to her.
Around fall time, they'd gotten dressed in really pretty hanbok and walked around Gyeongbokgung Palace. Back then there was just a tinge of briskness in the air and the Autumn leaves had been breathtaking. Through his eyes, Seoul wasn't so ugly... it actually wasn't so damn bad.
As she started to get dressed, she took a shaky breath. The way he made her feel... a part of her told her that she was imagining it, that he was only being nice. She knew that it was her denial talking... her fear. She'd built up a fortress around herself... to protect herself from being hurt... letting herself fall too deep. It's too late, bitch. You already in way too deep. More than her increasing feelings toward him... what scared her the most was the future. Her future. Their- future? Don't even start. Don't get your hopes up too high. Just enjoy him. Enjoy him while he lasts.
She'd just finished packing her duffel when she heard a car honk outside. Embedding her teeth into her cheek, she laced up her boots and put on her coat. What if... what if I wanna do more than enjoy him? Lifting the strap to the bag across her shoulder, she clicked off the lights and grabbed her keys. What if I wanna be more than just friends? Opening the door, she stepped out into the bone-chilling cold. Locking her door, she turned to see him standing at the bottom of the stairs, cheeks, and nose rosy from the cold. She felt her heart leap in her chest as he smiled at her, teeth and all, one of those bright kilowatt smiles that melted her into a bowl of jello.
"Hey, pretty girl." His compliment made her warm and she couldn't help but return his smile, showing her teeth too. A rarity but here it was.
"Hey, preacher man." What if I want to be more than just your church member? Hands outstretched to take her bag from her and she lifted gloved hands to pull his arm against her as they walked by slippery patches of ice. What if I want to be your woman? Opening the car door, she slipped inside. Would you let me? The bag now in the backseat, he quickly got into the driver's seat and brushed off the snow from his coat. Giving her a cute little smile, he glanced over at her.
"Mmhm." Would you let me Byun Eun-woo?
To say that he was nervous was an understatement. As they entered his apartment, he felt his heart do backflips in his chest as he watched her pull her sock-covered feet out of her winter boots. He was more than nervous. He was freaking the hell out.
"Ah, let me take that from you." She offered him her winter coat and watched as he went to hang it up in the closet. Calm down, Byun. Inhaling deeply, he turned to see her taking a look around, now standing in his significantly bigger kitchen.
"You must got money." Lifting a sheepish hand up to rustle his hair, his eyes watched her as she inspected the fridge, opening to see what was inside.
"What do you do, outside of being a man of the Cloth? Cause it's hella nice in here."
"I model sometimes." She appeared taken aback and her whole body turned around to face him.
"Really?" With a handsome little smirk now on his face, he removed his own coat and placed it in the closet, next to hers.
"Why does that surprise you?"
"Hell, I never thought... I don't know. Just..."
"Just?" He asked, curious brow now raised.
"It makes sense. Gotta put that pretty boy face of yours to use somehow huh?" Now, he chuckled, glancing at her as she continued her expedition, back now turned to him again.
"Are you thirsty? Hungry?" He questioned, going over to turn on the television.
"I could go for some water, yeah."
"You were not joking when you said you were a comic geek." When the hell had she gotten into his bedroom? He started for her but she met him half way, holding up a 1975 copy of X-Men.
"You uh... really like Storm huh?"
"I like all of them, give me that."
"Ah ah ah, don't weasel your way out of this one. You really like her huh?" Cheeks now a bit pink, he crossed his arms.
"So what if I do?"
"Makes sense now. All of this makes total and complete sense."
"What makes total and complete sense?" He asked her, now following her into the bedroom.
"You got a thing for black girls."
"Mmhm yeah. I can see clearly now." Snickering, she placed it back and plucked out another copy from '77.
"Looks like all the ones focusing on her the ones most read," She observed, her voice humored.
"You ever fantasize about her, pastor?"
"All right. Gimme that." Plucking it away from her, he put it back on the shelf.
"You ever touch yourself thinkin about her?"
"For God's sake, Briony. Out."
"Nah, now we're even. You found my shower dildo and I've found the source of your wet dreams." She cackled, taking in his red ears and cheeks.
"Ooh hoo, looks like I hit a sensitive spot." She just couldn't help herself, not when he looked so cute and embarrassed. Lifting a hand up, she made contact with him, a slow press of her hand against his chest.
"I can make the wet dream a reality." His intake of breath was sharp and he quickly yanked her descending hand upward, fingers gripping it tightly.
"Let's go. Now." A shiver of pleasure whispered across her at his now less-than-playful gaze. She'd pushed a bit too much. Without a word, he brought her back out into the living room.
"If you're not going to at least try to behave yourself then I'll take you back home." He said, opening the fridge. She sat, pouting, but sat, watching him pour water into two glasses.
"Fine, geez. I'm just playing around."
"No, you're not."
"Okay, so I'm not." He handed her a glass and leaned back against the counter as she drank some.
"It's winter time, it's dark and cold as hell outside. Something about being seasonally depressed makes me horny as fuck. Excuse me for having needs." Snorting, he lifted his glass up to his mouth.
"You're not the only one horny and seasonally depressed. That makes two of us." Choking on her water, she coughed, eyes widened in shock at his statement. He now took the opportunity to grin.
"I don't know why that surprises you." Catching her breath, she cleared her throat.
"This isn't helping your case, Pastor Byun. Thinking about you being horny may send me to hell faster. Fuck."
"Then, don't think about it."
"Yeah fucking right, don't think about it."
"I left my pastoral robes at church so it's Eun-woo to you right now."
"Hm. Yeah, okay."
"Besides, I personally like the way you say my name. Sounds much sexier than Pastor Byun." It was her turn now to blush and he smirked in response, his own cackle one of victory and retaliation.
"Now, we're gonna have a couple of nights of clean fun until the storm passes, Briony Cayenne. Clean fun. No bullshit. Got it?" Her stunned expression made him laugh.
"I'll get changed into something more comfortable. And then, we'll take you up on that movie offer. You pick first."
"K-Kay, yeah." And so her slow descent into hell began.
God must have hated her. How could He love her and set her up like this? It wasn't fair. It was going on day four and already, they'd had a near run-in with him seeing her titties while she was changing, her having to pee with him being in the shower, and seeing a fresh and hot loaf of dick print against his sweats when he'd emerged from that same shower, five minutes later. The image of that fucking Yule log staring at her as he tried to hurry into his bedroom tormented her all the way into day four, five, and six.
Like she said, God hated her. Had to. It didn't help that his hair was all wet and slicked back from his face and shit, body on glisten mode from the water. Maybe this is why you shouldn't shack up with skinny Korean niggas with big dicks... niggas with big dicks period. All you wanna do is fuck they brains out.
"Wanna help me decorate for Christmas?" My God, he was cute as shit. The man's favorite season was Christmas. He lit up like the star at the top of the tree when talking about it.
"Sure." There that bright ass smile was and as much as it annoyed her, it also melted her like hot wax. His dude was gonna fucking be the death of her.
Warm Christmas lights had been hung up and a small tree had been put up. With the howling winds and ever-increasing snow that seemed to pile up against the window, it created a cozy, almost magical atmosphere. Under plenty of warm blankets, the two of them snuggled together as they watched a Christmas-themed drama. Smiling as he listened to her laugh, he glanced down at her head pressed against his chest.
"My mom made plenty of food so we can dig in."
"Ooh, what'd she make?"
Ttteok guk, sweet potato noodles, bulgogi. Ah, and kimchi. Fresh kimchi. Gotta eat that first so it won't go bad."
"Yeah.. she puts a lot of love into her food."
"I'm sure." Eyes now focused back on the television, he lifted his arm a bit and draped it around her, enjoying the even snugger press of her against him. She was so small compared to him and it tickled him silly how her entire upper body sunk into his side.
"How's your mom?" She sighed against him and it was a sad one.
"I haven't talked to her recently. A few months actually,"
"It's expensive to call internationally...and rent has been due every single month ya know."
"Not gonna lie, I miss my mom. Even my toxic ass family. I must be that lonely to miss them. Shit."
"The holidays can be rough for all of us. I can't imagine how much harder it is for foreigners. That must be painful being away from your family. Your respective countries."
"We'll spend next Christmas together too. I won't let you be alone." At that, she grew quiet.
"I might be leaving next year." His gaze looked down at her.
"Yeah... my um... my work visa... it expires next year. Unless I renew."
"Do you not want to renew it?"
"I don't know...The hagwon I work at is depressing and I hate it. Other from that, there aren't many other options for me here. It's... it's all too much to think about right now."
"Understood." She lifted her head up and their eyes met.
"In all seriousness... thank you Eun-woo."
"All of this. You ain't have to-"
"I wanted to." Eyes soft, she turned them back to the television again.
"I'm thankful I get to spend this Christmas with you."
"Me too, sweetheart." She knew she was blushing but she moved her body in a way to where she lay against his lap now, face turned his side up. Maybe seeing was better than saying.
"Why don't you have a girlfriend?" Her sudden question made his face grow flushed.
"Don't answer all at once, now."
"Dating today seems to be superficial,"
"What does that mean?"
"More and more now, people are choosing flings over relationships. They'd rather have one-night stands than sustained effort."
"You sound like an old man," At that, he chuckled some.
"I'm not interested any of that. I want something deeper than that. Realer than that."
"And...you haven't found it? Or you haven't given it a chance?" She asked, eyes now serious as they glanced up at him.
"I've dated before."
"Sensing a but to that."
"Don't get me wrong. Culturally, we clicked... understood one another in that sense. But... it was stressful."
"They expected perfection in every aspect of our relationship." Eyes lifted up to the playing drama.
"I didn't want to be idolized or worshipped because of my looks or my body. Hell, I just wanted someone to be intellectually competent at least."
"I mean... a nice ass and titties to go along with that intellect wouldn't hurt either right?" He snorted, cheeks red.
"Most definitely wouldn't hurt." Her lips pursed.
"The expectation of me as a pastor also can be exhausting. I love doing God's work. But... it... it can be lonely some times." Sighing, he smiled to try to lighten up the mood.
"What of you?"
"What about me?"
"Pretty little American girl all the way over here in Korea and you're telling me that you can't find anyone?"
"Well, you know what I was about when we first met. I didn't care about any of the other stuff."
"An American guy couldn't have satisfied those... wants of yours?"
"I mean, sure. But...guess I wanted to try something new. Something different."
"I needed a change of scenery. I thought I did anyway."
"My momma calls me her chocolate pie and she's always made me feel beautiful about myself. Since coming here, my self-esteem has taken a nose dive. I ain't have to worry bout all this shit back home." He didn't say anything to that, gaze now focused on her entirely.
"I haven't met a man here who appreciates my different kind of beauty. I'm not... well... skinny as a pole. I ain't flat...got curves and dips...Juust enough fat on my belly to get a good grip on but they don't know nothin bout that. Sure, they like watching my big fat ass bounce on they dick but when I turn around, the disgust on their faces just... it eats at me. Like they've seen something unsightly." Sighing, she turned her head towards the tv.
"Anyways... guess we can stop talking about that."
Sounds like you encountered some real pieces of shit." Her head turned back around so quick. He actually sounded like... mad mad. No he was mad mad. Nostrils flared and all, his jaw was clenched and his breath came out hard. She'd never seen him look so intense and angry. It was hot.
"You good, pretty boy?" Those fiery eyes drifted down to hers yet he still hadn't said anything.
"Comes with the territory, alright? Don't look so pressed."
"I'll be right back."
"Eun-woo wait a min-" Leaving her visibly flustered on the couch, he dashed into his bedroom like he was an elf with Santa's secret bag of goodies stashed away somewhere. It took a minute but he finally returned.
"Close your eyes, Bry." She was going to protest but decided not to, closing them as instructed. She felt a hand of his take hers and slowly, he began to lead her forward.
"Keep them closed."
"All right, okay. Shit," Forward and to the right. His bedroom. Why was he leading her there? Soon, his hands brought her to a stop and she heard paper ripping apart and silence. The sudden cold press of metal against her skin made her gasp and her eyebrows furled together.
"What is that, Eun-woo?"
"Look and see what it is." Opening her eyes, she found a pretty little necklace on her neck, a shiny flat pearl that glittered. Her mouth literally dropped open and her fingers reached up to touch it just as he finished clasping it.
"Oh my God.. it's... it's beautiful."
"You're beautiful." He replied, now hugging her from behind.
"I... don't know what to say..."
"Don't say anything." When he hugged her like this, all close-up and shit it made her feel a real type of way. Pretty boy face with a pretty boy body. With an even bigger heart. Damn this man.
"I... can't... I can't accept this. For real."
"I'm not taking it back."
"You shoulda asked me first..."
"No." Rolling her eyes, her eyes fell once again to their reflections awfully hugged up.
"I want you to remember just how rare of a woman you are." His eyes burned holes into her skin.
"Those bastards weren't worthy of you." Lifting hands from her waist, they now enclosed her shoulders.
"You're more precious than pearls. To God and to me. Never forget that." Clearing his throat, he let go of her. She had nothing and nobody to blame but herself as she reached up to take hold of his cheeks. Nobody to blame but herself as she pressed their lips together. She kept it short and sweet before releasing him.
"Thank you, Eun-woo...it's...I'm glad I've met you."
"I'm glad to have met you too, Briony Cayenne." Smiling now, he cleared his throat.
"I got you something else but I'll wait until tomorrow."
"Now, you're gonna make me feel bad. I ain't get you shit." Laughing, he shrugged.
"Don't feel bad. It's fine. Let's watch more Christmas movies. I'll heat up some of Omma's food for us too."
"Sounds good." As scared as she was, she think that she was getting braver... looking at him... being with him... made her a little braver. She wasn't sure what her future held but... any part of it with him would be all right. She supposed.