Karina smiled cheekily at her, and something that Shuhua noticed about Karina in the short amount of time that she’s known her is that the latter had a smile that was so contagious, that Shuhua couldn’t help, but grin widely back at her.
“H-Hi, uh—,” Shuhua blinked, still surprised to have run into the taller girl, “w-when did you get back?”
Karina chuckled, “this morning, actually.”
Shuhua’s mouth formed into an ‘oh’ with a nod to her head in understanding. “W-Well, how was your trip?”
Karina let out a sigh, shrugging her shoulders, “oh, you know… just about how any trip would go if you’re going to attend your father’s funeral.”
There was a smile on Karina’s lips, despite saying such tragic words, and Shuhua suddenly felt sorry for asking. “O-Oh, gosh, I’m so sorry for your loss.” Shuhua frowned, raising her hand to touch Karina on the arm to relay her empathy.
Karina looked at her with gratitude, “he was a good man, and I’d like to think he lived a pretty eventful life with no regrets. That thought makes things a lot easier.” Shuhua took in the small smile that never left Karina’s face, and came to the assumption that Karina was the type of person to always find the good in every bad situation.
“I’m sure he did.” Shuhua smiled, thumb rubbing comfortingly against Karina’s skin.
Karina’s eyes roamed Shuhua’s face, entranced by her beauty like the first time she had laid eyes on the younger girl.
“So… I believe I owe you a promised question?” Karina’s smile turned cheeky, a little flirtatious.
Shuhua raised her brows, “a question? Whatever do you mean?” She bit back a smile, turning her back towards Karina, as she started walking the other way, and just like she expected, the latter had no hesitation in following after her with an amused expression.
“Don’t play hard to get, beautiful.” Karina smirked, stalking after Shuhua as the younger woman eyed the several lotions on display as she walked further down the shelves, still biting back her smile to faux impassiveness.
Shuhua twirled around, not expecting Karina to be following so closely and bumping into her. Karina’s hands immediately moved to Shuhua’s waist to hold her steady.
“Woah, there.” Karina chuckled, straightening the both of them, but taking the opportunity to pull their bodies flush together, respectfully, of course.
Shuhua blushed, “s-sorry, I-I’m a little clumsy.” She sheepishly said, eyes blinking up at Karina who towered above her with eyes that always abided by warm and bright chocolate hues.
“Well, that just makes me more attracted to you, beautiful.” Karina grinned, lowering her head slightly to level with Shuhua’s shy gaze.
“You’re very… persistent and bold.” Shuhua stated.
Karina chuckled, finally dropping her hands from Shuhua’s waist to take a step back, putting a comfortable space between them.
“That’s because I know what I want.” Karina replied confidently.
“And what would that be?” Shuhua asked.
“You. I thought I was pretty obvious about that from the moment we met?” Karina let out an amused chuckle at Shuhua’s stunned face.
Yes, it was obvious to Shuhua, but the bravado that Karina displayed was still very much new to her. It was certainly different from the kind of boldness Shuhua was used to, coming from Soojin.
It was much more certain. Karina’s fearlessness and valor was daring, and she definitely knew when to use it to get what she wanted, because she knew what she wanted.
Karina knew how to make a woman’s stomach become invaded by fluttering butterflies, and Shuhua’s felt just that.
Karina understood Shuhua’s silence, “was I an idiot who waited too long?”
Shuhua blinked, “I—,” she sighed, “w-well, yes… and no…”
Karina tilted her head, “I don’t think I understand, beautiful.” Shuhua’s heart fluttered at such a romantic term of endearment.
It’s like Karina was a walking romance novel being thrown into Shuhua’s face, and clearly, it’s everything Shuhua has been fantasizing about ever since she picked up her first chapter books.
“I’ve been...sleeping with someone… but it’s not serious, or at least I don’t think it is. It’s just … well.. now we’re friends…” Shuhua said, and Karina could see the flash of confusion in Shuhua’s eyes with the furrow of her brows as she explained.
“I don’t want to assume things, but is it Soojin?” Karina asked, although it wasn’t much of a guess nor an assumption, rather it was the ability to see the obvious tension between the two when Karina had seen them together at the bar.
Shuhua gave her a questioning look, “yeah…”
Karina hummed, eyes casting down for a brief moment. “And it’s something that you want to hold on to?” When Karina looked back up to Shuhua, her lips were still relaxed upwards into a subtle smile, though Shuhua took note of the way it didn’t glint in her eyes the way it had when Karina first saw her a few minutes ago.
“I-I dont… I don’t know.” Shuhua said, brows furrowing further as she conflicted in her head to try and figure out what she felt.
Karina pursed her lips to the side, “well, if it’s not serious, and if you’re okay with it… I’d still really love it if you let me take you on a date.”
Shuhua raised her eyebrows, “you’re not bothered by it if I were to go on a date with you and I’m also seeing someone else?”
Karina chuckled, “of course, I don’t like it. I’m not one for sharing, beautiful, but I can’t tell you what to do and what not to do with the relationships in your life.”
Shuhua opened to speak, but all thoughts of any coherent words vanished when Karina took a step forward to take hold of her hand in hers.
“Besides, I think I have enough tricks up my sleeve to win your heart and keep you all to myself.” Karina grinned, and oh, Shuhua swooned. Absolutely swept off her feet.
“I—,” Shuhua blinked, in a haze.
“There you are!”
Shuhua jumped a little, turning her head towards her best friend who had walked into the Bath and Body with a booming voice. Trailing behind Jeno, a stoic Soojin who had been following Jeno unwillingly in hopes to have run into Shuhua again after being bored out of her mind walking from store to store with no interest in shopping at all.
Once Soojin landed her eyes on Shuhua, her eyes lit up subtly, but her growing smirk soon deflated when she saw a person she wasn’t very fond of, standing in front of Shuhua.
“Oh, Karina? What a surprise!” Jeno’s eyes lit up, seeing an extremely great opportunity to have a little fun with the weird, yet fitting group of people that he was in the middle of.
Shuhua shot him a look, knowing her best friend and his mischievous personality all too well.
Karina turned to Shuhua with a questioning, yet amused look, before extending her hand towards Jeno in a greeting. “I don’t think we’ve met before?”
Jeno offered the woman his signature smile, “oh no, we haven’t, but my best friend here has told me so much about you. I’m Jeno, The One, and the Only, Best friend.”
Karina sported an amused smile, “that’s a very important title.”
Jeno nodded proudly, a dramatic hand to his chest. “It sure is, Karina. I’m so glad that it’s finally being acknowledged.” He turned to Soojin, giving her a sassy look.
Apparently, Jeno has forgotten who Soojin was, and that he will very much be suffering during future dance practices.
“You really know how to sweep a girl off her feet, huh. I think I can learn a lot from you.” Jeno slung his arm around Shuhua’s shoulder, pulling her closer to only have a subtle punch landed on his side.
Karina let out a laugh, turning to Shuhua with a fond look. “So you’ve talked about me?”
“I’ve never heard her talk about you.” Soojin piped from her laid back position against one of the shelves, watching them with a hard gaze.
Shuhua’s eyes lingered on Soojin longer than the awkward gazes that came from Jeno and Karina.
“Soojin.” Karina acknowledged, “it's always nice to see an old friend.”
Soojin scoffed, “I don’t think we were ever friends, ballerina.”
Karina chuckled, “I see you still have a knack for childish nicknames.”
Jeno’s eyes slightly widened, turning to Shuhua who sported a similar look.
“I have a lot of anger in me. Do not provoke me.” Soojin muttered threateningly, eyes hardening even more into an icy glare.
Shuhua sighed, stepping in front of Soojin to hide her from Karina. She definitely did not want to see a deathly brawl happen in the middle of a Bath and Body, though Jeno would say otherwise. He probably would have done something to provoke Soojin just so he can have his fun watching lotions being flung around the store.
Shuhua’s back was turned towards Soojin, but she still reached a hand behind her to get a hold of Soojin’s clenched fist, unclamping it from the tense ball that it had formed, and interlaced their fingers.
“Maybe we should talk about this another time, Karina.” Shuhua suggested.
Karina’s eyes softened into Shuhua’s gaze, and the smile appeared on her lips again. With a small and firm nod, Karina didn’t spare Soojin another glance.
“I’ll call you. I promise.” Karina told Shuhua, eyes catching the way Shuhua held Soojin’s hand that shook from anger. It heightened the bubbly feeling of jealousy in the pit of her stomach, but Karina chose to ignore it, and focused on the bigger picture; she still had a chance to make Shuhua hers.
“Nice meeting you, Jeno.” Karina nodded towards Jeno.
“Likewise!” Jeno raised his hand in the air.
Jeno didn’t bother to stick around either, because surely, Soojin probably wanted to cut someone’s head off at the moment, and of course, hypothetically speaking, Shuhua was not going to be at the end of Soojin’s sword because she was obviously very fond of the younger woman. Very fond. And so Jeno was the only target, after all, he did unnecessarily add fuel to Soojin’s fire earlier.
“Well, that was fun.” Jeno awkwardly said, eyes darting anywhere else, but at Soojin, “but I’m gonna save myself a beating, so…” Jeno lifted his hand, open palm, and a slight wave, before rushing out the door after accidentally meeting Soojin’s glare.
When Karina and Jeno left, Shuhua finally turned around to a still angered Soojin. When Soojin was angry, it was never over the top like Yuqi would be, but Shuhua thinks that it’s even scarier that way. She couldn’t tell what the older woman was thinking.
“Why are you angry?” Shuhua asked softly, concern evident on her face, keeping her fingers laced through Soojin’s still rigid hand.
“Why are you talking to her?” Soojin countered, ignoring Shuhua’s question.
Shuhua scoffed, dropping Soojin’s hand that she had been holding comfortingly. “I don’t think I need to give you a reason as to why I speak to the people that I do.”
“Don’t talk to her.” Soojin said with no hesitation.
Shuhua looked at her with disbelief, “you can’t just tell me not to talk to someone, Soojin.”
Shuhua was on the path of walking out of the store, growing tired of this little shopping trip that they were on. Usually, she could go on for hours jumping from store to store and buying things, but so much has happened that she was physically and emotionally drained.
Soojin trailed behind her, hands angrily stuffed into her jeans, “why were you even with her in the first place?”
Shuhua rolled her eyes, “not that I owe you an explanation, but I bumped into Karina coincidentally. She’s a familiar face, and I think that we might even be friends.”
“Don’t talk to her.” Soojin repeated.
Shuhua stopped in her tracks and whipped around to face Soojin, challenging her. “Why? Are you jealous?”
Soojin blinked, surprised. “Jealous?”
Shuhua nodded, “yes. Are you jealous of Karina?” Her eyebrows raised in anticipation.
Soojin paused, nose flaring, and eyes still angered. “No. I’m just not very fond of her.”
Shuhua scoffed, shaking her head. “Well, it’s a good thing that you’re not the one who wants to be friends with her, right?”
Soojin let out a bitter chuckle, “again with the friends thing? She’s going to use you. When are you going to wake up and