They had decided to meet at Phoenix, a small restaurant which was also a hotspot for artists and hipsters. Clad in her favourite batik pants, sandals made in Nepal and a shawl wrapped around the simple white shirt she had chosen to wear, Haerim sat fiddling with the napkin on the table, watching the front entrance. She didn’t have to wait long before some customers entered; a couple and behind them, a man.
The photo of ByunBH had certainly not lied, she thought as she appraised the man. Up close, he was even more attractive. His dark suit crisp, the knot of his tie tight, and his eyes dark and mysterious. And as a waitress approached his mouth curved in to a gorgeous smile that even from across the restaurant, Haerim saw the poor girl’s knees buckle.
He really was beautiful. But, even better to Haerim’s mind, beautifully anomalous.
It didn’t make sense, and to a mathematician there was no more satisfying moment than when the seemingly senseless finally added up. Jimin dated bad boys because she wanted to drive her rich parents crazy. Shakespeare liked Oreos because she’d shared hers with him the day Donghwan had left. But why would a man who looked like that needed to go online to find a date to a wedding?
Haerim ran a hand over her hair which was—by feel at least—not doing anything overly crazy. He must have caught the movement as the next moment his eyes found hers.
Wow, she thought, her lungs tightening and her tummy tripping over itself in rhapsodic pleasure, those eyes should be classed a lethal weapon.
He lifted his hand in a wave. She did the same.
Thus unfrozen, she shuffled her fork as if it was important that she do so at that very moment, and told herself to get a grip. This was research, not a real date. And if a chat with ByunBH of the dark eyes, fair skin and beautiful smile could help her nail the angle that would take her infographic from informative to viral, then she’d just have to suffer through a date with the guy.
As her research subject began to walk towards her table Haerim got to her feet. In pressing her hand to the table, her palm landed on her fork, sending it flying across the room. Haerim watched, mouth agape, as it spun towards the table of a young couple and landed with a series of less-than-musical crashes, causing the girl to shriek at the top of her lungs.
A pair of waiters in black and white zipped out to clear the mess, calm the girl and offer free desserts.
She dragged her eyes from the disaster zone in the direction of the husky voice. Her eyes hit the jacket button, red tie, thin lips curved into a smile and a pair of amused, dark eyes that made the mathematical equations in her head scatter like bowling pins.
And then her focus shifted and she noticed he was holding a clean fork.
“Right,” she said, shaking her head and laughing. “Not my most elegant moment.”
ByunBH’s mouth curved into an even wider smile. It was a mouth made for smiling, she decided, amongst other things.
“Shall we?” he said, motioning to the table.
He waited for her to plonk into her chair before he took a seat opposite her, popping his jacket button and running a hand down his perfect tie. His nails were as neat and tidy as the rest of him. His fingers were long and graceful, so exactly what she imagined a pianist’s fingers to be like, yet exquisitely masculine.
She held out a hand. “I’m Haerim. Park Haerim.”
“Byun Baekhyun,” he said, his smile stretching out into the real thing, taking him from beautiful all the way to heartbreaking.
Maybe he had a third . Or ate with his feet. But so far, Haerim saw no obvious reason a man like him couldn’t find love on any street corner in the free world.
“A friend and I had a fu