Giselle was reminded about the benefits of being a girlfriend of a rich and famous movie star – lofty accommodations, access to VIP rooms and privately reserved patios for late night romantic liaisons. They had the rooftop terrace all for themselves. Two comfortable loungers were placed next to each other, drinks sparkled in tall Champaign flutes and warm blankets were rolled and discretely placed to the side. Soft twinkling lights illuminated otherwise dark balcony, but were not strong enough to prevent from the nice view of the night sky. Of course, the lights of the city did not allow for a real stargazing, but for LA, this was probably as good as it was going to get.
Tae Soo was unnaturally nervous, shifting in his spot, as if he had never been alone with her before.
Giselle looked at him sideways suspiciously. It could not be that even ten years later he still felt anxious about physical proximity to her. Pride boasted inside her – she still got it and then some. She was not that young and inexperienced and she was hoping that he was not either. But the innocence and purity with which he regarded her made her tone down her expectations and actually caused anxiety to ruffle her confidence. She was all ready to coldly fend off his advances, since it was the right thing to do – to make the man sweat and work hard to pursue her. Tae Soo was never a man who tried to drag her to bed, but still... He was a man who would not mind taking it to that level, any man if the opportunity presented itself would, would not he?
Starting to confuse herself, Giselle moved unconsciously away and pulled a throw over her exposed legs. She felt vulnerable and at his mercy – she did not want to seem too easy or too eager, but she also was losing confidence in being wanted and that irresistible to him. All kinds of doubts crept into her mind – who knows what kind of women he'd been with over the years. Who knows whether he even was that attracted to her any more. She felt self-conscious about the few extra pounds she put on; her waist not snitched as tightly as she wished and her limps were not as slender as when she was in her twenties. She lowered her eyes, suddenly hoping for their privacy to be invaded by a phone call or an overzealous concierge with a tray of snacks, or maybe, even that annoying Angie who always interrupted them...
"Giselle," his soft voice broke through her thoughts, causing waves of trepidation rise reflectively. The tenderness with which he pronounced each letter in her name touched her and gave her reassurance. If he was anything like he used to be before – she had nothing to worry about. "You realize this is the first time we've been truly alone since..."
"Since Puerto Rico," she finished his sentence, her eyes watering without any apparent reason.
He neared her and leaned closer, daring to gaze into her eyes, he lightly touched her exposed arm just above the edge of the blanket that covered her. "I don't know where to start or what to say. There is so much I wish to tell you."
"Me too. I don't know where to start. And honestly," she gulped, "I'm afraid to even start anything."
"Please. Don't be like that. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere this time. My situation is different. I am different. My life is different. Everything has changed for the better. There is only one thing that remained the same."
"And what is it?" she mumbled losing the ability to think because of his eyes that were swallowing her whole. If he did not kiss her this second, she might die or spontaneously combust from desire into millions of burning fireworks...
"I've missed you every day and every waking hour and I've missed you in my sleep when we were not together in my dreams. For ten years, you've never left my heart, Giselle."
Her breathing was growing erratic and his words also carrying such meaning really were not necessary – she has learned all she needed to learn from his gaze. When will he kiss her? WHEN?
She inadvertently licked her lips, leaving her mouth slightly open.
Tae Soo slowly melted into a smile, his serious eyes momentarily darkened to a lustful shade of mahogany, he recognized that thing she did, her body language giving her away. He fought against teasing her and driving her insane just to test his theory.
He did not allow himself to veer into this direction simply because he felt an obligation to explain himself, to tell her things about the last ten years she deserved to know before he could claim her as his once again. Things like his marriage and divorce and the fact that he had a son. Things that complicated their already complicated past on a completely different level.
While all those thoughts fleeted through his mind, Giselle's face looked more and more pitiful. She was utterly embarrassed. Surely, he had deciphered her expression and ... "I would like a drink, if you don't mind." She mumbled hoarsely, surprised at the loss of her voice. She attempted to get up, but he held her arm down firmly.
"Giselle, I want this more than anything. Believe me. But you have a right to know everything before we go down that road."
"Tae Soo!" Her impatience had no more restraint. "This is some kind of punishment, right? You are doing this on purpose?"
He chuckled, tenderly running his fingers over her cheek. "Punishment for what? Who am I to inflict any punishment on anyone?" His lips were brushing past her ear, his breath making her feverish and sending cooling shivers at the same time. "I'm the one who is being punished because I can't allow myself to do this..." And he barely pressed a kiss on her temple. "And this..." He kissed her forehead tenderly. "And that..." He traveled down the slope of her nose, pecking the very tip. "Perhaps, I will be punished if you don't let me..." and he finally touched her mouth. He held breath as he felt her softness against his skin. Tae Soo moved away just enough to look at her. Giselle had her eyes wide open and was immobilized. "Say something, Giselle, please." He pleaded for permission.
She finally slowly exhaled. "Who am I to dole punishment on you? If I know anything about you, I imagined you punished yourself enough on your own. Kiss me, you fool."
He smiled shyly, the sides of his mouth lifting, little smile rays shooting from the corners of his eyes and his cute dimples flowering. Without any further hesitation, Tae Soo gave her a proper kiss, deserving such long awaited reunion.
. . .
Quietly, under the stars, they sat, wrapped in a thick blanket.
"You and me - our worlds don't collide. Just like these two stars can never meet."
"Than we create the universe of our own, with our own rules, where all kinds of stars can mingle and hold hands."
"That's why I like you, Taecito, you are such a hopeless romantic," she nuzzled her nose against him, with a soft chuckle. They pressed foreheads together and closed eyes, enjoying this sweet connection.
"I missed you so much, Giselle. I did not know it was possible to feel so.., how do I say it in English? Not whole. Only when my son was born, I felt the same warmth I received from you. That baby was so cute!" His eyes twinkled. But then he caught himself in embarrassment. "Sorry. I did not mean to compare you to an infant or anything..."
"That's OK. I adore little ones."
He approached the topic cautiously. "This does not bother you or makes you angry that I have a son?"
Giselle shook her head. For some reason she felt no jealousy or anger toward a woman, whom he married. Neither did she feel slighted by him having a child with her. It was more like... she was not sure how she would fit in into the picture of his life. She has not told him yet about her own story.
"I was married myself. No children obviously," she chuckled uncomfortably. "It did not mean much. It ended fast."
"You don't owe me any explanations." Tae Soo swallowed hard and looked away. The fact that she changed her last name gave this fact away long before she admitted it. It was unpleasant for him to think of another man in her life, even if briefly. Did she used to smile at him and call him sweet names that ended in –ito? His mind took him much further and faster, and he had to squeeze his eyes and shake it off. Past belonged in the past.
"Did you..." it was difficult for him to ask, but he felt it was necessary to understand the journey she had traveled to be with him here tonight, "love anyone?"
"Love? No." She answered honestly, shaking her head. "I felt attraction, I was infatuated, and I did like somebody very much so. But it was not love." Tae Soo stared at her intently, hanging onto each word.
"Not like when I stuck my hand under the boiling coffee to stop someone from getting burned," she muttered begrudgingly. He should know the difference! For her love was not an abstract concept – it was all giving and all forgiving, it was caring about another person more so than herself without reservation...
He heard her and Tae Soo's eyes misted suddenly. Her unnecessary heroics in Utuado cottage were a sign of her feelings as he had suspected. They both sacrificed in their own ways for each other.
"You? Your wife, your ex-wife. What kind of person is she? Were you in love with her?" Giselle believed she knew the answer, but still wanted to hear it from his own mouth.
"She was a woman, who was tolerant of my keeping distance. She had financial security and societal standing in exchange for letting me be. We got along at first, but then it became hard for both of us. I tried, but could not love her. I never told her that I did or promised to love her. Living together as a family... I cared for her and felt a lot of affection. We briefly felt much closer when we became parents, but having a child also exposed how little connected us besides him. Long story short – she is married now, happily as far as I know. Lives in New Zealand. I don't get to see my son often." He let out a sigh. "Do you want to see his picture?"
Giselle nodded. The boy was adorable with chubby cheeks and pretty brown eyes. He was dressed very prim in a crisp white shirt with a bow tie. She could not hold her laughter. "He is too yummy, Tae Soo. Your kid is way too cute. I hope I get to meet him soon."
Nothing else stood between them. Otherwise, his life was an open book. He had nothing to hide or be ashamed of.
"I can see you have not changed much," happily reported Giselle.
"Nope. You are still the same also."
"That's a shame! We should have grown up in ten years, and here we are – the same."
He grinned. "Is there anything else you want to ask?"
There was one question that she often asked herself. One question that bothered her over the years. "Why did not you look for me?"
His expression suddenly grew gloomy and he seemed to retreat to a place within that was painful. "Because I promised not to. I already could not keep my promise once, when I said... what I said," he focused his eyes on his hands, long fingers anxiously rubbing each other.
"When is it you did not keep your word?" She looked upset, not understanding.
"When I broke our agreement." Her replied very softly, fidgeting nervously.
"Agreement? What are you talking about?" Giselle raised her voice, getting agitated with his nonsensical explanation and weird expression.
"I told you... the words I was not supposed to. You asked me not to. And I just could not stop myself... And I pushed you to respond... I am sorry." He did not dare to look up at her, his fingers stopped their nervous rambling and he tightly clasped his hands together, waiting for her verdict.
Giselle gasped, a cry of complete befuddlement broke the night. "Stupid!" She hit him lightly on the arm. "How stupid can you be!" She repeated. "Don't you know that I did it to protect us, to protect myself? If you meant it, you should have fought for us, you should have done something!" her voice was cracking now and her hand lay sadly on his arm. "I thought you would know. I believed you would not abandon me... Tae Soo, stupid boy!"
"Giselle?" He looked at her tentatively. "You mean I could have?"
What a sincere fool he was! He never changed, stupid Korean dumbhead!
Giselle opened her mouth to scream at him, but his eyes were filled with genuine remorse, regret so deep it hurt her to see it.
"I'm an idiot," he whispered lowering his head. All these years he thought he did the right thing, he did exactly what she wanted and now he's come to find that she actually did not. Should not he be angry at her? He could not allow himself to even think that way.
"You never pushed me to follow you. You never insisted to wait for you to come back. And I thought that I had to let you go, because I could not fit into your life. You had your dreams, too. Your career was on the upswing. Your mother hated me. I am also an idiot." Admitted Giselle. "I'm the stupid one. Proud, stupid and scared. It's me. Here I am," she made a dramatic gesture laced with sarcasm, but her voice treaded with stifled tears.
They stared at each other, reliving and reviewing the past in their minds. Ten years they have endured without each other. Ten long years of yearning. A decade of loneliness that could have been filled with love and companionship.
Giselle knew it was her fault. It was her idea not to plan the future. At her insistence, Tae Soo's hands were bound... She looked at him apologetically.
Tae Soo chastised himself severely. He was young back then, but that did not excuse his complacency. Yes, there were pressures from his family and career, but as a man he should have stepped up and took initiative. He had the money and freedom, which Giselle did not. He could have offered her the world and instead, she was left on that tiny island... He returned her gaze with his own sincere apology.
As much as there was frustration and regret, there was forgiveness and love.
Tae Soo's lips turned up in a momentary smile and he engulfed her in a warm gaze. Giselle closed her eyes and allowed herself to enjoy this almost forgotten over the years sensation – she used to bask in it so frequently that it became common place. There was nothing common about feeling loved, she thought. Nothing common about that. She had no reason to deny herself this pleasure.
"I would like to see your room, if you don't mind. I bet you are in some kind of high- end $500 a night suite." She asked trying to sound as casual as possible.
Even if Tae Soo figured out her intentions, he did not show, valiantly guarding her honor. "Yes. I was thinking of asking you over myself."
They descended on the elevator just a few floors down and then walked along the lit passage over to his room in timid silence with tension building between them as an electrical charge that only waited for a way out. It was clear to both of them what her visit meant. They were not kids anymore. They were not dancing around each other, afraid to speak up or show how they felt. Their desire for each other was transparent and had to be entertained.
Tae Soo dipped his hand into his pocket, pulling out a slim key card. It fell to the floor, sliding easily out of his shaky grip. He coughed nervously and bended to pick it up when Giselle inserted her warm hand into his for encouragement. He pressed the card against the reader and opened the door. Before coming in, he looked at Giselle. She lifted her eyes at him sweetly and lowered her head on his forearm. With her trustingly leaning onto him, Tae Soo felt that everything was finally falling into place in his life. He felt strong and sure of himself, turning, he kissed Giselle's hair as she nuzzled against him gently.
They walked into the foyer, holding onto each other and waited till the door shut behind. Tae Soo's hand flipped the switch, lighting up the foyer and a spacious living room. Giselle quickly looked around, but scarcely paid attention to the surroundings, she was not here for the grand tour, she had no interest in the modern décor and architecture. She was here to be next to Tae Soo, to be with him. She pulled back and looked up at him expectantly.
As impatient as he was feeling, Tae Soo found himself unable to make a move. It felt like the moment should have been more special, less... trivial... in a posh LA hotel room, but in his hotel room, nevertheless. He did not want Giselle to feel shameful...
The woman he loved was looking at him in a way that his passion ignited with the kind of fire that burned high and fast and before he crushed his lips into hers, she pressed the light switch off.
. . .
Giselle watched Tae Soo sleep peacefully with a relaxed and happy smile dressing his gorgeous face. His long limps were strewed carelessly to the sides and the blanket slid down exposing his toned body for her to admire. His legs reached till the very end of the bed, eliciting a silly laugh out of her – the man was so tall, even a California King bed could barely accommodate his length. She found everything about him adorable and irresistible.
She wondered if she could be any happier at any other given moment in time. Memories of the last night made her body ache pleasantly with a fuzzy and slightly exciting energy bubbling and stirring all over. She was quite astonished at how quickly the barriers of time and past regrets were removed by the touch of Tae Soo's lips, how his fast fingers held the most gentle softness in them whenever they came in contact with her skin. For the first time in their entire time together she daydreamt about the future without putting breaks on her fantasies. She could see it materializing in front of her: marriage, family, a couple of kids, a house in the suburbs of Seoul, her writing in some coffee shop, when the TV comes on and he is smiling down at her from the commercial...
He had asked her to marry him! And she agreed without worry, not even a moment's hesitation, she had no doubts or concerns. Fans – who cares? Paparazzi? They have not met her father! Moving to Korea – she always wanted to visit. And Tae Soo's mother – she will have a chance to get in her good graces, now that she will be dressed properly when he introduces his new bride.
. . .
Tae Soo was not sure whether he was dreaming. He even rubbed his eyes and pinched himself, because if it were only a dream, it would be the cruelest joke his mind had played on him yet.
Last night they made love and he asked her to marry him. He remembered every moment with astounding clarity that was ringing inside his soul and keeping his heart on overdrive as soon as his body woken up from slumber.
Giselle did not protest or worried or asked him questions, she accepted, like it was something very casual she heard him say over breakfast. And he still could not believe it. Maybe, he should have made her sign a contract or at least record her saying 'yes', because she was the queen of making things more complicated and difficult and coming up with rules. But this time she did not. There was no talk of rules or conditions or exceptions to any rules or conditions that she might suggest in the future. Ooof, his head was dizzy from even thinking about it.
Giselle was here. In his hotel room. She had not left, rather, not ran away.
She is his bride now!
Tae Soo allowed his face spread into a confident smile with the indentation of dimples on each side, crowned by the sparkling beaming eyes to complete the picture of a man in utter contentment. His Giselle was standing on the balcony, long sleek hair flowing lightly at the touch of the wind. She had a halo of sun around her. Giselle was shining. She was divine in her unfussy morning beauty. Effortless. Unassuming delight of seeing her bathed in soft morning light. Happiness.
She turned suddenly and smiled at him softly, cocking her head slightly. "Tae Soo-ya, did you know that we are catching the tail end of summer together again? We never got to enjoy our less a hundred days, like we planned."
"Do we have any more days left?" he replied, frowning. Was it a prelude to her causing trouble again?
"The writer in me wants to say – Their heated romance burned brightly through the smoldering season and as the long days of summer came to conclusion, the lovers worried about plunging into the cooler nights of fall and the winds of the winter. But then the hope for tender spring and another hot and sunny summer chased any doubts away."
The actor laughed lightly. She did have a way with words. He lazily got out of bed and not bothering with a robe, strode out on the balcony, hugging her from behind. Her hair smelled of sleep and love and he buried his nose in its silky traces inhaling deeply the scent of the future.
. . .
The mind blowing make up sex was without a contest the best they ever had in their entire existences. Stars burst and splattered, and the universe danced around them till neither of them had any thoughts left, and could only see reflections of themselves in each other's eyes – reflections of happy and satisfied lovers who were finally in each other's embrace.
"Marry me," said Tae Soo still holding her close.
"I will," she answered with a smile.
It was that simple. It was that easy.
My dear readers, this is the final chapter of the story. I am sad to say goodbye, but happy with the outcome. I hope you enjoyed the journey with me. If you did, please make sure to leave reviews and if you have time, go back and comment on the previous chapters as well if you had not done that already. I'm thinking of publishing this story, so any feedback, commentary, criticism and suggestions are very much welcome. If you see any typos or any grammatical errors, please let me know. Again. I really appreciate all those who left positive and encouraging reviews. You really helped and made me feel excited about completing this story. For those of you who wished for it to be longer, sorry, this is the end. But any questions about hypothetical future - please shoot them. I will answer and share my fantasies about Tae Soo's and Giselle's married life.
Hugs and kisses.