Smokes from his cigar forming the greyish circles, diffusing through the air, taking over the oxygen content in the limited space. Rays escaped through the blinds glittering his unlighted room. It looked like a normal office. Seats, tables, lamps- fixed. Big enough to fit in thirty over people perhaps? It could have passed as a decent one, if and only if the alive bodies weren’t struggling to get up from the floor.
Four down, two more to go.
He was standing by the large glass window - back facing the front. ” Six men not enough to catch a girl?” His voice was calm. But it wasn’t really calm for the remaining two standing still on their shivering feet.
“.. We..we were almost there...”
“Yes...! Yes..Sir. We almost.. almost!! ...had her in our hands!” the other continued.
“Almost?” he turned and flashed,“what if I tell you that right now...” Stopping an inch before them, he straightened out his hand onto the plump man’s neck in a split second, “... I almost want to kill you?”
“W-we....*coughs* ..b-beg...beg.. *coughs* for your forgiveness... b-boss....” he stuck his fingers forcefully in between, fighting for a thin gap to breathe.
“You don’t deserve my forgiveness! NONE OF YOU DO! ” he exclaimed, pressing deeper into his neck. “I paid for her to be here with me. I BOUGHT HER!” Gaping with his longing eyes at her photos hung on his wall, “You have no idea how much I yearn for this day to come. Her neck, the shapes of her breasts, her slender legs. I lust for them all,” he muffled through his palm he laid across his lips, sniffing as though they were the parts mentioned.
“We would have succeeded if he didn’t appear!!”
"He?” Moving his starving eyes to the speaking, standing man, “Who’s he?” he asked.
His strength paused at the mention of his name.
”Ahhh..." he mouthed, tossing strangled man across the room and flapped his hand.
“The rising star.”
Distant soundwaves of chatters rang in Clover’s ears, rummaging her under the huge fluffy blanket. Not bothered by the bits, she brushed away the itches on her face and kicked out her leg, finding another pleasant spot.
It only needed another step. She was reaching the entrance of her dreamland... little bit more...
“WHAT HAS GOTTEN INTO YOUR BRAIN?!!”
And that was it.
The scream successfully pierced through her mind, pushing away the entry to her dreamland. Clover jerked fully awake, tensed at the sight of the unfamiliarity.
Acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard, drum set.
Where is this place?
Shifting her weight to her back, she pulled her legs to her chest, rotated her eyeballs 360 degrees- trying to understand whatever she could. “...How.. how did I end up here?” she muttered, shaking away the blurriness clouding her mind.
Anxiety kicked in. Something was not right somewhere.
Clover jumped off the bed, walking to and fro, biting her already-short fingernails, forcing her sudden amnesia to disappear.
Okay, so before appearing here, there were the bad men, who captured me. Then I met the idol star- Kyle after sneaking in his car. He helped me because he believed me. And....I succeeded in escaping.. After that... What’s the last scene before I passed out?... Hmm.. the last scene.. the last scene.. The last scene before everything turned black...
Clover snapped her two fingers. Oh God.
“ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS??!” he screamed again, tearing her apart from her thoughts.
A commotion was going on outside. Too loud for her to ignore. Tipping her toes, hovering her arms as if she was walking on a thin stick, she went over to the door and placed her sense.
“She can just disguise as one of my make-up artists! What’s the big deal?!” It was Kyle’s voice.
“KYLE! Do you really think that your fans wouldn’t know that you’re keeping a girl in your house?!”
“Why are you saying it as though she’s my scandal? She’s just a mere girl that was facing troubles a couple of hours ago. And all I did is helped her. Brandon, you helped her too!”
“Yes! I helped her so that she could get on living her own life without disturbing yours!”
“She isn’t disturbing my life in any way! Look, I’m still standing perfectly fine in front of you!”
“W..What’s wrong with you, Kyle? Why are you taking her side when you know nothing about her? Think yourself! How many events have you skipped because of her?!! ”
She heard him sigh. More than once certainly. And no more replies after that. The noise from the conversation was soon replaced with approaching footsteps to the door she was hiding behind. Getting closer.. and... closer...
and... fast enough, the doorknob of hers was turning.
Crap! What to do? - Hide? Stay? Or sleep? she freaked. But it was already too late to hide, too nerve-wracking to stay. Third choice- sleep! Dashing back on the bed, accompanied by the screechings from her feet across the reflective tiles, she buried her face underneath the blanket and wrapped it around her just in time before the figure appeared fully in shape.
The door continued to creak open. Her back was facing him. She didn’t know where had he reached, nor how far was he away from the bed. One thing for sure, his slow paces sounded heavy. The jinglings of his rock and roll bracelets, the mint smell drifted along confirmed he was no one else but... Kyle. Clover assumed he was already within her reach the moment awkwardness grew deeper in the atmosphere, And that assumption turned on the butterflies in her stomach. Her breaths were getting stuffy with the heat rising inside her body-which only made her vibrations clearer to be seen through the blanket.
“What’s your name?” he asked, dragging a stool at the corner to lay down his butt.
He knew I was awake?! Clover yelled inside her mind.
“I wonder what’s your name...” he repeated. But this time it sounded more like mumbles instead of a question.
To the heartwarming corner, off he went. Stacks of fan letters on each step of the shelf, he brushed his fingers, feeling the piles running. He then handpicked a few of them and leaned himself against the wood, reading them patiently one by one.
“Kyle, thank you so much for being a star. Thank you so much for letting the world know you. No matter how hard things have been going on in your life, always remember that we are here for you.. And we will always love you now and forever. Xoxo. Love, Gabrielle.”
He let out a soft chuckle, “Love you too, Gabrielle.”
“My one and only Kyle, you’re just like a miracle to me. I never thought that I would fall in love with the songs composed and sung by Asians. But you made me to. Thank you so much, Kyle. Your songs are the reason that I’m not giving up, the reason that made me believe in myself when others don’t. I really love you a lot, Kyle Lee. Sincerely, Lily.”
“I’m glad I did, Lily. Wish that you would be able to live your dream to the fullest,” he said, sniffing away with his runny nose.
Then and now, every time he read the words of encouragements from his fans, tears would be swimming in his eyes. Indeed, there were many. He might take a very long time to finish reading all of them but he never ignored. The fan cards his fans made delicately for him, the gifts they bought for his birthdays, or any of his special days, he treasured each and every one of them. Since young, he was determined to live a life like this. Receiving lots of love from the people around. Composing songs for everyone to listen. Inspiring them with the lyrics of his songs. He finally materialize this dream of his, was he happy? He definitely wouldn’t say he regretted for chasing after this dream. But to say he was happy, most probably he couldn’t say it as well.
His legs stopped in front of a mosaic photo. One of the ones he loved very much. Lifting it from the floor, he gripped it with full force to withstand the weight. Those tiny pieces of the puzzles made up the entire photo were all pictures of him. Fixed according to the tones of colours and the features of his face. There were him receiving several awards, him being on variety shows, coming in and out of airports, fan services, live concerts and so much more.
“Thank you, so..so much for everything that you’ve done for me, lovely ones,” he hugged it to his chest, cherishing before putting it back to its original position.
Turning back to Clover, he released a familiar sigh and walked over again with the same hesitant footsteps he first entered. The blanket covering her face, he pulled at the edge and slid it down professionally without waking her up (though she was already awake), revealing her sleeping face.
“My parents gonna be so proud of me if I were to tell them that I saved a girl from becoming a sex slave, don’t you think so?” he laid down beside her, increasing the pressure on the bed and stuck his palm under his chin, “But...how.. and why did you end up like this? What happened to your family?... Where is your family?”
Extending his arm to touch her pinky cheeks, ” What am I going to do about you, little one? Can I just shove you away? Or send you back to the airport for you to return to where you are? Will you be alright if I do so? Are the men going to go after you again once I leave you?”
Hundreds questions, zero answers.
Kyle sat up straight instantly when he thought he heard someone pushing the door. He would be so dead if Brandon caught him lying on the same bed together with a strange girl. Thankfully, it was just his illusion. A silent breath was puffed through his mouth. The reflection of him on the floor dragged his attention. He stared, as though it could actually communicate with him and tell him what to do.
To let her go or to make her stay.
Rather than finding any answers, mirror of him was all it had. By right at this time, he should be at the Apple’s TV station, taking in interviews and doing multiple commercial photoshoots. But here he was, alone with a girl. A girl he barely knew her name nor anything about her other than her one-sided story as a sex slave.
Too weary to think any further, he gave in at last.
Getting down on the floor, he sat cross-legged, folding his arms on the bed, ”Whatever it is, I just hope that everything turns out right,” he whispered as he buried his head in them.
Clover sneaked a peep at him through her slightly-opened eyes. He didn’t notice her change in motion (Partly because she was too scared to even breath normally). She slid her tongue sideways, feeling the inner part of her cheek. The weird sensation of his touch was lingering on her, refusing to evaporate. For the first few minutes since Kyle shut his eyes, she remained stationary, not knowing what to do with him napping next to her. Only her well-hidden pinkies were moving daringly under the cover, removing the numbness generating throughout her body.
But it was only until he drew out his first soft snore.
"Ah...-..O-ouch..." Clover wept, pushing her ‘solidified’ body up the pillow she was lying. Numerous cracking sounds produced as she stretched each and every part of her body. The jumbled blanket on the bed came tumbling down out of a sudden, giving her a gasp. She froze, waiting for any extra noises to come upon.
Luckily, there were none. Kyle was still in the same position, engaged in his snooze. She carried the cloth messily in her hands while stepping closer to him. She didn’t want to disturb him in anyway since he was sleeping so peacefully. Idols normally don’t get enough rest because there aren’t sufficient hours to do so. She thought of moving him - to a better place or a better pose because sleeping in such position was just... too... pitiful? But on a second thought, she probably wouldn’t be able to do it the way she hoped she could do. Worse come to worst, she might just crush onto him and he will wake up thinking he just committed a sin by saving her life. Ambivalent to do any other gestures, Clover dropped the blanket blandly over him and reached for the door.
“So you’re up,” Brandon said the moment she stepped out. He was sitting on the sofa in his casual wear, munching the potato chips in his hands. “After a day and a half.”
“A day and...a half?"
“Yeah... Wait,” he paused, glimpsing at his G-shock, “To be more exact, it has been 38 hours, 45 minutes and 55 seconds since you were brought here.”
He continued, “By the way, please don’t get any misunderstandings. Kyle is the kind of guy that can’t just shake his ass and walk away when the matters are related to weakling girls. Like you.”
Clover opened her mouth to speak, “Wait, let me clarify one more thing.” Brandon held up his hand to pause her. “He is like that to all the girls. So.. please don’t think that he treats you differently.”
She parted her lips once again. But instead of saying anything she desired, she ended up taking his side and, “Of course,” was what she said.
“Good that you know,” his tensed-up shoulders slanted down a little. “Anyhow, when are you leaving?”
“Well... You gotta know that we aren’t some kind of charity organization,” he shrugged. ” Helping people in need, just isn’t our responsibility.”
Exactly. Brandon was right. So right. What was she expecting? She didn’t even belong here in the very first place. “.. I’ll--”
“Who said she’s leaving?” A voice interrupted.
“I thought I said that she’s going to work in my studio?” He was stern.
Brandon took a step forward and wanted to argue. But the look on Kyle’s face made him swallowed back all his words.
Gentleness took over as he turned, smiling, ” Don’t worry about him, little girl. What’s your name?” he asked.
Clover was shocked- like literally shocked. The efforts he put in to help her despite his status as an idol, despite the fact they had only just met, left her momentarily speechless. To be treated with such kindness in such a limited period of time, perhaps apart from her parents, he was the one and only. From the edge of her eyes, she could see and hear Brandon stomping his foot. Indeed, she needed to leave.
But, maybe lil’ bit later wouldn’t do much of a harm.
After all, she had nowhere to go..but here.
“Clover Hon,” she smiled. “My name.”
“Very well. Listen here Clover Hon, right now, right at this moment,” he grinned, displaying his straight lines of white teeth. “I hire you as my personal assistant.”