She’s just as beautiful as she is on television.” I poke at the complimentary bowl of cookies and rice crackers. “Just as beautiful as she always was.”
“She’s all right. Nothing to get worked up over.” Minseok shrugs.
As comforted as I am by his state of unimpress, it’s not enough to distract me. I sag against the railing of the teahouse, and a breeze floats across the reflecting pool beside us.
“You don’t understand. She’s Park Shin hye.”
“You’re right, I don’t.” His eyes frown behind his thick Buddy Holly frames. This is something we have in common—terrible vision. I love it when he wears his glasses. Badass rocker meets y nerd. He only wears them offstage, unless he’s playing an acoustic number. Then they add the necessary touch of sensitivity. Minseok is always conscious of his appearance, which some people might find vain, but I understand completely. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
“Let me get this straight,” he continues. “When you guys were freshmen—”
“When I was a freshman. She’s a year older.”
“Okay, when you were a freshman . . . what? She was mean to you? And you’re still upset about it?” His brows furrow like he’s missing half of the equation. Which he is. And I’m not going to fill him in.
“That must have been some pretty y for you to break those plates over.” He snorts.
“You have no idea.” I leave it at this. Minseok pours himself another cup of tea.
“So why did you idolize her?”
“I didn’t idolize her then. Only when we were younger. She was this . . . gorgeous, talented girl who also happened to be my neighbor. I mean, we hung out when we were little, played Barbies and makebelieve. It just hurt when she me, that’s all. I can’t believe you haven’t heard of her,” I add.
“Sorry. I don’t watch a lot of figure skating.”
“She’s been to the World Championships twice. Silver medals? She’s the big Olympic hopeful this year.”
“Sorry,” he says again.“Who the hell cares?”
“I loved her costumes. The chiffon ruffles, the beading and Swarovski crystals, the little skirts—” I sigh.
“Little skirts?” Minseok swigs the rest of his tea.
“And she had that grace and poise and confidence.” I push my shoulders back. “And that perfect shiny hair. That perfect skin.”
“Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.”
“You don’t think I’m perfect?” I smile.
“No. You’re delightfully screwy, and I wouldn’t have you any other way. Drink your tea.”
When I finish, we take another stroll. The only sounds are birdsong and the soft click of cameras. It’s peaceful. Magical. But the best part? Hidden nooks, perfect for kissing. We find just the right bench, private and tucked away, and Minseok places his hands behind my head and pulls my lips to his. This is what I’ve been waiting for. His kisses are gentle and rough, spearmint and cigarettes.
We’ve dated all summer, but I’m still not used to him. Minseok. My boyfriend, Minseok. The night we met was the first time my parents had let me go to a club. Mirae was in the bathroom, so I was temporarily alone, perched nervously against rough concrete wall. He walked straight up to me like he’d done it a hundred times before.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You must have noticed me staring at you during the set.”
This was true. His stare had thrilled me, though I didn’t trust it. The small club was crowded, and he could’ve been watching any of the hungry girls dancing beside me.
“What’s your name?”
“Miso.” I adjusted my tiara and shifted in my creepers.
“Miso.” His deep voice was hoarse from the show.
He wore a plain black T-shirt, which I would soon discover to be his uniform. Underneath it, his shoulders were broad, his arms were toned, and right away I spotted the tattoo that would become my favorite, hidden in the crook of his left elbow. He was the most attractive man who’d ever spoken to me. Semi coherent sentences tumbled around in my head, but I couldn’t keep up with any of them long enough to spit one out.
“What’d you think of the show?” He had to raise his voice above the Ramones, who’d started blasting from the speakers.
“You were great,” I shouted. “I’ve never seen your band before.” I tried to yell this second part casually, like I had just never seen his band before. He didn’t have to know it was my first show ever.
“I know. I would have noticed you. Do you have a boyfriend, Miso?”
Joey Ramone echoed it behind him. Hey, little girl. I wanna be your boyfr