My eyes focused themselves on the sheet music placed securely on the shelf as my fingers grazed the ivory keys of my keyboard from side to side as if to estimate the distance of one chord to another while both my feet hovering over the pedal in case some notes needed to be sustained.
The sharps, minims, semibreves, crotchets, and other music notes seemed to come to life the more I immersed myself in my own world. They danced perfectly in sync, hopping to a certain tune, and made it easier for me to imprint them in my memory.
Memorizing the chords of a song or piece had always been fun especially if I was doing it inside the music club filled with people who would never pressure me and would smile understandingly if I make a mistake.
It was refreshing to know that I don’t have to be the best around them.
“Man, you’ve only been at it for around thirty minutes but you’re already halfway through mastering the song,” said Yeji who was most likely peeking from behind me.
“It doesn’t have a lot of chords,” I replied without looking, adamant about playing half of the song before I proceed to practice the remaining half. “It is easier than learning symphonies.”
I plan on finishing this before my next class starts so I wouldn’t have to worry about this later and just focus on my academics.
If you were good at this, then you would never find yourself cramming. Fortunately, I happen to be one of the people blessed with such useful skill.
A familiar bass riff suddenly resonated across the enclosed room, coaxing me to abandon the keyboard and turned around to pay close attention to Yeji who was playing her instrument with great expertise.
The way her fingers swiftly plucked the strings while the other was pressing down some chords in quick succession to create a deep-toned sound that was so pleasing in the ears rendered me in awe.
Everyone including myself gave her a round of applause after her mini-performance. Some were even voicing their adoration out loud with praises here and there.
Yeji bowed a bit and gave them a tight-lipped smile before her gaze moved to meet mine.
“How was it?”
“It was great.” I gave her a thumbs up. “For a second there, I thought I was watching a professional bassist performing in front of a large audience.”
“That’s a lie.” She chuckled as she carefully placed her bass down on the stand. “But I appreciate the compliment, cupcake.”
My ears perked up at the unexpected way she addressed me.
“Cupcake?” I repeated, eyeing her curiously. “Since when do you use cringy pet names?”
As far as I could remember, Yeji only calls me by either my first or last name. This sudden change was honestly amusing. I didn’t expect that to come out of .
“I usually use them with my friends.” Her sly grin had a tinge of shyness on it. “I’ve gotten used to it now I called you that without thinking.”
“Does that mean you consider me as your friend?” I said it with the purpose of poking fun at her but she merely responded indifferently.
A smile broke out of my face.
Yeji was someone I consider as more than just an acquaintance and knowing that she viewed me as a friend was making me happy on all levels. It wasn’t every day I would find a genuine and cool person such as her.
“Anyway, are you coming to the training camp?”
I looked around the room to see my clubmates in their own world. Talking with one another in low volume while some were focused on their respective instruments. It seemed that no one was paying attention to us.
“I haven’t thought about it yet.” I crossed my leg over my knee. “I’m already busy as it is.”
“It’ll be a shame if you don’t. Training camp is always fun. You’ll be in a place together with people that share the same passion as you. Also, once the training hours are done, there’ll be a barbecue party and a bonfire afterward according to pres.”
That actually sounded tempting.
I think that would be the last chance I would be able to have fun since it was going to be hell months onwards with all the stuff I must do as a student and as a pianist.
I guess going just this one time wouldn’t hurt me.
“Fine, I’ll go,” I said which earned a smile from her. “Have the location and date been decided already?”
Yeji opened to say something, but someone suddenly spoke loudly from the front, earning the attention of everyone in the room.
“Attention!” It was Chaewon who was standing on the podium. “The location and date of our training camp have already been decided!”
I heard Yeji snicker beside me.
The timing couldn’t be more precise, huh?
“It is going to be held this upcoming Saturday on a beach located in Boryeong. All fees including transportation, accommodation, and food are going to be covered by the club funds. If you wish to go, just put your name over there.” She pointed at the paper plastered on the board. “Any questions?”
“How many friends outside the club we can bring?”
“Maximum of two people.”
“Are their expenses covered by the club funds as well?”
“No. They need to use their own money for everything.”
When nobody raised any concern anymore, she allowed us to go back to what we were doing before and went back to her previous place.
“I already said this but I’m going to bring Minju and Yuna.” I looked over Yeji. “How about you? Who are you gonna bring with you?”
My mind immediately flew to Aeri.
That girl would never turn down an offer to have fun.
However, I had doubts she’d want to go.
She’d surely just get bored during our training hours since she’s not interested in music.
Ryujin was my best choice since she’s into music as much as I was and the idea of spending time with her away from the city was something I’ve always dreamed of. Though, I don’t think that’s possible.
“I’m not sure...”
“You won’t bring Minjeong Kim?”
Something suddenly had gotten stuck in my throat and I found myself coughing uncontrollably I almost couldn’t breathe.
Yeji was quick to move and rubbed my back soothingly.
“Hey, you okay?”
I waited for a while until I calmed down before facing Yeji with an incredulous look on my face.
“What do you mean?” I croaked out. “Why would I bring her?”
“Well, I heard about what happened in the nearby coffee shop yesterday.” She scanned my face for any kind of reaction. “I’m thinking maybe you two are close.”
The coffee shop incident.
Of course, it would spread like a ing wildfire around the campus.
I should’ve expected that to happen after pulling that embarrassing stunt in the presence of students of our school.
“W-We are not close.” I avoided her gaze, afraid she would see something that would tell the otherwise in my eyes. “As said before, our families are just acquainted with each other.”
Yeji appeared as if she wanted to say something more, but she only shrugged her shoulders.
“If you say so.” She stood up and walked over to her bass. “I need to go. I have to do something before my next class.”
She put the said instrument inside its case before slinging the strap on her shoulder.
“See you around, cupcake.”
Once she was out of the room and I was left alone with myself, my mind unconsciously going back to what I said just a few moments ago.
Minjeong and I weren’t close, were we...?
I left the music room after the bell indicating lunch break had rung throughout the campus. I actually wanted to stay and just skip meals to practice more, but since I gave my word to the devil yesterday, I had no other choice.
When I told my best friend about the lunch with the vice president and the secretary of the student council, she immediately agreed. Aside from the fact that she missed being with her cousin, she had always liked meeting new people.
By the time I stepped out of the building, Aeri was already at the main gate. She had her umbrella open to shield herself from the sun which at this time of the day was at its peak. It was scorching hot I’m sure I could fry an egg on the ground.
“What took you so long?”
“Sorry. I needed to do something in the music club.” I scooted closer until I was under her umbrella. “Shall we go?”
She linked her arm with mine as we walked to the restaurant the devil mentioned earlier this day. It was close to our school and I heard the food they served there was good so it was a great choice.
“Have you already messaged Minjeong?” Aeri asked when the restaurant came into view.
From here, I could see a few people dining in and most of them weren’t wearing our uniform which was enough to ease my worries about fueling the rumors about me and the devil.
Actually, the fact that we weren’t alone was enough to assure me that no one would assume that there was something going on between us.
“Yes.” I kicked the pebble in my way. “She said they are there already.”
When we entered the establishment, we spotted the two right away seated at the corner and were busy talking animatedly with themselves they hadn’t noticed us approaching them.
I knew they already told me they weren’t a thing, but I still couldn’t help but be suspicious since they seemed really close as if they had known each other for quite a long time now.
It was weird because I don’t remember Minjeong having a close friend in school as she was usually just by herself except when she was with her women.
Minjeong was the first one to notice our presence.
“What up, babe?” She tapped the seat next to her. “Sit here.”
I mentally rolled my eyes.
She really liked to order people around.
“Uchi.” Minjeong held out her hand toward Aeri. “A while has it been, huh?”
Aeri grinned at her knowingly as though there was an inside info going on between them.
“It sure has.”
They did a weird handshake before Minjeong gestured to Yizhuo who had her head down and shut all of a sudden.
“You can sit beside her,” Minjeong said. “Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite.”
Yizhuo snapped her head up quickly I could’ve sworn I heard a bone-cracking. Her eyes were bulging in horror as she gazed upon Minjeong.
“What are you saying, Winter?” she whispered harshly, a hand covering her face from Aeri’s view.
“But it’s true?” Minjeong feigned innocence. “Or would you rather I tell her you do bite instead?”
The poor girl could only groan in frustration as she slouched on her seat, figuring out anything that she would say would just be used against her.
“Give her a break, Kim.” Aeri sat on the only vacant chair which was beside Yizhuo. “We are here to eat, you know?”
Yizhuo refused to look at her as she occupied herself fiddling the utensils on the table. It was as if she was a child meeting a person for the first time.
Aeri was clearly amused at the behavior she was exhibiting.
“I’m Aeri.” The girl finally made eye contact with her after that. “You are?”
“Y-Yizhuo.” A dark shade of red decorated her neck up to her face.
I think I knew now what’s going on in here.
“I already ordered our food,” Minjeong announced. “This restaurant’s specialty is a dish with shrimp as the main ingredient, but since you are allergic to them, I chose steak for you instead. Is that fine?”
Even my allergies?
“Good.” She clasped her hands together on the table. “Yizhuo get your together. I didn’t bring you here just so you could show us how red your face can get.”
That proved to be super effective for Yizhuo as she composed herself faster than the blink of an eye and reverted to her normal self.
“Sorry about that. I am just not used to meeting new people” She cleared . “So, you two are dating, right?”
If I was drinking something, I surely would’ve spit it on her face already.
This girl doesn’t know how to beat around the bush!
“H-How did you know?” I looked at Minjeong to see if she had anything to do about this but she only smirked as if that would answer my question.
“Your actions yesterday spoke volumes!” Yizhuo said followed by a laugh. “You made quite a scene. It was really hilarious seeing you gave me a glare as if you wanted to kill me right there and then.”
Oh my ing god.
What a way to tarnish my good reputation.
“I-It’s not real!” I blurted out in panic. “Minjeong is just helping me.”
“Helping?” Yizhuo narrowed her eyes. “What’s the tea, sis?”
I bit the inside of my cheek.
Do I really need to tell her?
I looked at Minjeong again only to see her looking back at me with an unreadable expression on her face.
Ah, to hell with it.
I was about to answer her queries when the arrival of our order caused an abrupt stop to our conversation.
I released a sigh of relief.
, that was close.
I almost spilled everything to a person I barely know.
I’m so stupid.
“Here.” Minjeong pushed the plate containing the steak and a cup of steamed rice toward me. “It’s good stuff. You’ll enjoy it.”
I let them converse with one another while I chose to silently enjoy my food. Aside from I don’t want to talk while I’m eating, I don’t think I’d be able to interact with Yizhuo after what I did to her. Aeri looked like she was getting along just fine with her which I assume was a good thing since from the way the secretary was acting, she had a thing for my best friend.
For some reason, I found it comforting that Yizhuo truly doesn’t have feelings for Minjeong nor was she one of those girls who only wanted to get in her pants; that they really were just friends—hold on, were they friends? Minjeong only introduced her as the student council’s secretary, after all.
I turned to the devil to see her holding an oyster in her hand. So, that’s what she ordered, I see. She really liked seafood.
“Did you know that oysters are aphrodisiac?” She moved her hand closer to , tongue sticking out to take a small on the oyster meat while looking up at me with a certain glint swirling in her eyes. “According to scientific studies, they have unique amino acids that are known to stimulate ual—”
I slapped her arm.
What in the world was she saying in front of other people, oh my god.
I’m sure my face was burning red right now.
“It’s true!” She was laughing so hard she was coughing. “Isn’t that interesting?”
I stood up and glanced over the two who were too engrossed with whatever they were talking about to hear what atrocity this devil was saying.
I huffed out a sigh before walking towards the comfort room.
My palms propped themselves on the sink while I stared at myself in the mirror and oh was I beet red as if all the blood in my body went up to my face.
That damned devil!
I knew oysters were aphrodisiac but did she really have to say that while doing that?
“Why’d you leave?”
I didn’t have to turn around to know that it was her. Despite hating on her for years now, I’d gotten so used to her presence and smell by now I could recognize her even if I was blind.
“That’s none of your business.” I drew in a deep breath before I faced her completely. “Why are you here?”
She kept on walking with her hands shoved in the pockets of her blazer until she was a meter away from me.
“You almost told Yizhuo about our deal.”
She really had to remind me of my stupidity.
“S-So?” I willed myself to sound unbothered. “As if you were of any help. You don’t even care that she found out we are dating!”
A light chuckle escaped from her lips as she moved even closer. The smell of her luxury perfume was beginning to cloud my senses.
“You seem to be getting the wrong idea, Karina,” she muttered in the lowest voice I’d ever heard from her. “I don’t care if Yizhuo or anyone for that matter finds out that we are dating. That’s actually what I want. To have the world know that you are exclusively owned by the top-performing student of the country.”
I gulped hard.
This wasn’t the first time she was this close to me.
However, there was something from the way she was looking at me right now that was making my mind go crazy.
The way her lips were pulled into a sly smirk.
The sweat trickling down her neck.
God, she looked so y.
“But I must warn you.” She raised a hand to my mouth, her thumb softly caressing the bottom of my lips. “If anyone finds out about our deal, the conditions that you have set will be declared void and I will claim what is rightfully mine without restrictions.”
I knew this was the time I should be pushing her already.
But I couldn’t.
My body wouldn’t move.
I could feel my knees buckling.
What are you doing to me?
Goosebumps erupted all over my body when I felt her blew hot breath on my ear.
“Damn.” Her face moved down to my neck as if to take in my smell with her nose slightly touching my skin. “You are like a drug.”
She closed the distance between us by pressing her body against mine, causing me to let out an involuntary gasp.
O-Oh my god.
“And I’m high on you.”