Chapter One – Scouted
The music mogul went by many names. To her close friends, she was Song Mun-Hee, an entrepreneur living the dream. To the western world, she was Flo Glitz, a ruthless manager in a big coat. With a passion for music and an eye for profit, she was branded the mean queen of K-pop. Tabloids preferred to call her the wicked witch of the music industry.
Flo Glitz had imagined a homoerotic pop duo causing chaos in the music industry. In the depths of her mind, she could envision screaming crowds pining over another two young men. The band’s schedule had been set for months. All she needed was the band members, and she already had two in mind: her godson and her ex-boyfriend.
Flo Glitz never recovered from her ex’s dabbling. After many violent fantasies about revenge, she went for a more creative route. She couldn’t choose between saving her godson or exacting revenge on her ex. In the end, she thought: why not both?
Sipping tea with Gang Ja-Lee, she snoots around at the beige furniture and wilting orchids. She waited for the right opportunity to make her a deal. She was the godmother to Gang-Ja’s youngest son, Taeyang. Flo Glitz wanted to give him a job. Ja-Lee was obsessed with her eldest son’s achievements like he was her only child. Fruitful words came to mind when she noticed Taeyang had been cropped out of almost every family photo.
Now, Flo Glitz may have been heartless, but she could not see how her best friend could not see the greatness her other child had. Biting her lip in discretion, she dug her fists into her lap. For the time being, she listened to Ja-Lee's boasts about Lee. Oh, what a glorious doctor Lee is! If only Taeyang could be the same. Lee is perfect in every single way.
Please shut up before I slap you, she thought to herself, but since she mentioned the word perfection, she took the chance to change the topic.
“You know, when it comes to my company, I will only accept perfection.” Sharp should have been her middle name. Flo Glitz knew perfection was hard to come by, but every time she thought of her godson, her own little precious cinnamon roll, she knew it existed.
“What if your staff have a bad day?” Ja-Lee asked.
“No such thing as a bad day.” Flo Glitz shrugged her shoulders. “One mistake always leaves to another. I don't want them if they can’t give me over 100% 24/7.”
Ja-Lee gasped, leaning over as her hands jittered. “You’ll kill your idols doing that.”
“You need to be rough in this business,” Flo Glitz said, “I’m harsh because I believe in them. I want to push them until their minds break. Then they’re reborn stronger.”
Ja-Lee crossed her legs as her teacup quivered in her hands. “I’m so glad my sons didn’t want to become idols.”
“You know, I like the way Japan hones their idols…They start off flawed and they’re then polished so their true beauty shines.”
“How are you going to do that?” Ja-Lee asked. “You’re going to take somebody from Japan for your project.”
“Why would I do that?” Flo Glitz asked, staring at the canvas with two boys. With her eye on the younger one. “I’m looking for somebody local with the right looks for my project right here in Seoul.”
“Who do you have in mind?”
“I want somebody that comes across as delinquent. You know, everyone likes a bad boy. Somebody who’s always late for school and has had more detentions than hot dinners.”
Ja-Lee stared at her. “Like my boy?”
“So this is why you’re here?” Ja-Lee stood up. To that, Flo Glitz nodded. With trembling fingers, Ja-lee circulated around the sofa. “You want to turn my son into an idol?” She gasped and sat down again. “He can’t even tie his own shoelaces.”
That meant nothing to Flo Glitz. What a pathetic excuse. He can be taught the essential skills in training. “Have you ever considered that academic life is just not for him?” Flo Glitz recalled one of her cousins failing English. He went on to become an English teacher in China.
“How can he succeed without school?” Ja-Lee cried. Flo Glitz never understood society’s obsession with education and grades.
“Some of the greatest minds in the world have been college dropouts. He’s got so much potential to rule the music scene.”
“He won’t be capable of doing any of that.”
“Ja-Lee you must be more positive. Taeyang is the best boy for the job!” Flo Glitz pointed at the trophy in the far corner of the room. “Wasn’t your son the top athlete in the entire school!”
“Well…” Ja-Lee nodded. “Yes! But that won’t pay his bills or get him a good job or school.”
“And he was one of the lead singers in the choir. And that choir won the competition. Ja-Lee, I don’t give these opportunities to people often. He’s just the kind of boy I need!”
“He’s only an average singer.”
“It doesn't matter. He’ll be trained by an experienced idol. As you know I have many good friends in the music industry. I’ll have the best producers and songwriters on my label.”
“But there are so many cockroaches out there!”
“There are cockroaches everywhere. You have nothing to worry about, my friend. I understand you are both struggling financially. You’ve spent all your life savings on your children. You can make all that money back.”
“What if Taeyang fails?” Ja-Lee’s mouth dropped. “He might not succeed… I’ll owe you billions of won!”
Okay “My dear, that is the wrong kind of thinking,” Flo Glitz told her, clutching Ja-lee’s shoulder. “He WILL succeed!”
There was a moment of silence before Ja-Lee spoke again. For Flo Glitz, this was a sign of victory. “I’ll see what the old man says when he gets home,” Ja-Lee said. “He’ll be here in a minute!”
The door opened, and two shadows hovered by the corridor. Taeyang came in first and hung up his coat. The other person was Mr Gang with his walking stick. Taeyang bowed to his mother and godmother. “Hello everyone.”
What a cutie, Flo Glitz thought. Rubbing her hands together, she wished that she could make Taeyang shrink and take him home like a plush toy.
“Evening, Taeyang,” Ja-Lee groaned. She gazed at the window as if she couldn’t bear seeing them.
“Hey!” Mr Gang bellowed, waving his stick around. It pointed at Flo Glitz. “Get that tramp out of my house!”
“SUNG-WO!” Ja-Lee shrieked, leapt to her feet and threw the television remote at his face. Appearing less than satisfied, she marched to her husband and slapped him with a kitchen towel. “That is not how you treat guests!”
Taeyang quivered and tiptoed his way towards Flo Glitz.
“So Taeyang!” Flo Glitz picked him up in his arms and snuggled him like a cat. “How would you like to be in my new band?”
“Well, I think that would be an amazing opportunity,” he said with a smile.
“Of course it is.”
“I can’t go without my parent's permission,” Taeyang said. He took a look over at his parents who were at either side of the room.
“How old are you?” Flo Glitz asked.
Flo Glitz cupped Taeyang’s face, digging her opaque nails into his boney cheeks. “Soon you’ll be an adult. You’ll be free to express your true colours.”
“Don’t do it!” Ja-Lee whimpered. “You’ll be useless at it. Stay here, at least you know where you’re at.”
“Maybe it’s best that I go,” Taeyang told his mother. “I know I’m useless. You always said things were great until I was born.”
Ja-Lee scratched her head. “You make it sound like we love Lee more.”
Flo Glitz couldn’t help but butt into the conversation. “That’s because you do.”
Taeyang’s mother hovered around the lounge and stared at her son. Shrugging her shoulders, she told Taeyang: “Ask your father!”
“Mr Gang… Sung-Wo?” Flo Glitz pressed her hands together again as if she was in prayer. “Sung-Wo? Please let me take your son under my wing. I can make him a star.”
“What do you see in our brat?” Taeyang's father slurred, glaring at Flo Glitz with folded arms as his walking stick collapsed onto Flo Glitz’s feet. “He's a disgrace. His grades are poor and he has no talent. He needs to work hard, go to college and get a proper degree and job. He needs to be a lawyer or a doctor. At least it will set him straight.”
Flo Glitz shook her head and patted Taeyang's head. “If only you could see the talent your son possesses. I think you should accept him for who he is rather than try to make him something he's not.”
“As I said, he should have a proper job like his brother!” Taeyang's father didn't seem to like anything that his son liked. Flo Glitz remembered Ja-Lee telling her that every time he caught Taeyang singing, he would be ordered to shut up and help his mother with the housework.
“Your obsession with Lee has made you both neglective.” Flo Glitz's harsh tone caused everyone to jump, especially Taeyang. It was perhaps the first time anybody had defended him. Perhaps he was assuming that Flo Glitz would say he was a failure because that had been brought up to believe. “And I'm saying this as your friend, Ja-Lee! Your son has a wonderful voice. His vocals always stood out at the school concert. Just because he's not an academic person, doesn't mean he's destined to fail.”
“What are you talking about?” Mr Gang mumbled, picking up his stick. He made unstable steps to the coach and jumped on the sofa to light a cigar. “You don't have children. You have no idea what it's like to raise children. Anyway, I thought I told you to get out!”
“Excuse me!” Flo Glitz howled with laughter. “I have step-sons. Both of them are the same age as your boys and they're both talented individuals. Thank you very much!”
Mr Gang puffed the smoke in Flo Glitz’s direction. “How long will he be away for?”
“It depends.” Flo Glitz told Taeyang’s dad.
“What good is that?” The smoke from his cigar circulated around the room. “My son should be a lawyer or a doctor.”
“And where are you working?” Flo Glitz asked Mr Gang.
“I’m a deputy manager of a supermarket.”
Flo Glitz howled with laughter. “Do I sense a hint of jealousy in your sorry old state.” She faced Ja-Lee. “You can do so much better than this drunken slob.”
“WHO ARE YOU CALLING A SLOB?” Mr Gang bellowed. “How dare you!”
Ja-Lee buried her head in her hands and muttered, “What am I going to do with my life?”
“Depends on him.” Flo Glitz had started at Taeyang as she spoke and licked her lips. “He's young, attractive and with a lot of training, he can excel. So it's up to your boy!” Flo Glitz took out a sheet of paper from her folder. “Here you go, have a read of this and if it all looks good, sign your life away.”
“I don’t think I have my parent's permission…” Taeyang whispered.
Flo Glitz took chunks of cash onto the table. “It looks like I’m your guardian now.”
Mr Gang’s hostile tone vanished the moment the money fell into his lap. “Go! The pair of ya!”
“I'll see you soon,” Taeyang said, bowing to his parents. “I'll miss you both. It won't be long till I'm back home.”
Ja-Lee sat next to her husband, leaned on his shoulder and wept. “Now both our boys have left home. Have we pushed them away?”
His father was less emotional, but Taeyang had inherited his social awkwardness. “I still think you should have been a doctor or a lawyer.”
Taeyang shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry.” What else could he say to a man who never liked him and only tolerated him because of biological obligations? Flo Glitz knew there had to have been some love between them all once. She was impressed with how affectionate and polite he was even after everything his parents threw at him.
With a deep breath, he signed the contract and followed Flo Glitz into her car. She had won, just like she knew she would. “You made the right decision. You’re going to be one half of the next big thing.”
Chapter Two – Kidnapped by a Fangirl
The ballad on repeat helps Ahnjong and Ara to sleep in their tiny beds. They do not know it is their father's voice on the record. Dal Gong-gi had lived a life that many would envy, but one he would not wish on even on his worst enemies. He had been grateful for the reality check; that military service had given him. As much as he loved music, he could not bring himself to endorse the music industry anymore.
Not all entertainment companies were as bad as the one he had worked under, but he had seen the way it had treated women in the industry, and he wanted his daughters to have no part of it. He was the one that got Mini-Rose pregnant, but his fans had branded her as the witch among other unholy words. His band broke up not lot after his public outburst. Strangers claim he’s ill and an unfit family man. Though how can one expect to be sane being a full-time pretender. Gong-gi had watched countless celebrities crumble under pressure, yet the cycle of abuse continued.
As wonderful as his marriage to Mini-Rose was, knew it would soon be coming to an end. There was no smashing plates or exchange of fists that caused it. They had worked well together in business and in raising their children together, but they were going nowhere. As beautiful as Mini-Rose's small face and petite features were, he could not bring himself to look her in the eye. He could stare at his children all day despite the fact that they were both spitting images of their mother in every single way.
Like everything, all good things must come to an end. There was no need for words. They both did their best to keep everything together for the sake of the children, but it had to come out one way or another that they were going to split up. Text messages weren't enough.
Gong-gi rubbed his hands together before turning his music station off. "What a day!"
Rose, or Mini-Rose as everybody used to call her hands glued to her phone. He had no idea who would be texting her at 11:50, but he never asked. Maybe it was another man. If it was a charming prince she was smiling at on the screen, he felt no reason to be angry. It hurt that she loved somebody else, but then he reflected on how fast they got together five days after meeting at a conference. He hooked up with her whilst he was with another woman, who just happened to be their manager. It was nothing but karma served as a cold dish. One of his old bandmates used to say if somebody cheated on you, they will cheat on you. She looked up at him from the sofa with her legs sprawled out. She had never been so relaxed in years.
"I'm sorry, did you say something?"
"I don't mind sleeping on the couch," Gong-gi said, finishing his beer can. He took a seat by Rose's feet with quivering lips. He knew and she knew that the marriage was coming to an end, but neither was brave enough to initiate the divorce proceedings.
"Are you sure?" Rose became fixated on the can in his hands. "How many of those have you drunk tonight?"
"Just the one," he said. It was a lie he didn't have to tell. He wondered if she found the cans from this morning. They both knew the minute Rose went to bed that he would be out at the convenience store splashing out on alcohol. She didn't even bother confronting him anymore. Rose knew all the hiding places, under the sofa, the overflowing bins by his little study area and his wardrobe. Gong-gi had even tried and failed to hide the evidence by throwing his cans out the window and pretending it was a drunken man passing by.
Gong-gi chuckled, trying to downplay the situation. "I know you love your bed." As much as he wanted to smile, he couldn't kiss her anymore, and she was the best kisser on the whole damn planet.
"I was wondering if you wanted to go to bed this time?" Rose stood up. "I think I can hear someone knocking."
Gong-gi tip-toed towards the door, only to see an empty doorway. "There's nobody there."
"Well, I'm going to bed..." Rose dashed to one of the open doors with the unmade bed. "Goodnight. I'll see you in the morning."
"Get some sleep!" Rose demanded. "No more alcohol tonight! And don't even bother going to the bar or the convenience store. I think the reason we haven't talked about our divorce yet is that..."
Rose shook her head. "No! I think we can still work it out. You just need to stop drinking, then we can be happy again. We'll have more money too."
Gong-gi ran to the fridge. He frowned when he opened the fridge to find that there was only one can left. "Can I at least have the last one?"
Rose sighed, folding her arms. "Fine," she scowled, pointing her fingers. "But that is the last one. After this no more! Goodnight!"
Ten minutes after Rose settled in bed, Gong-gi heard footsteps. The footsteps seemed too heavy to belong to a child and he could hear Rose snoring away. Turning around, he saw a silhouette from the door window. "I wonder who that can be?"
The last person Gong-gi expected at midnight was his former manager, Flo Glitz knocking at his front door. Not much had changed in Flo Glitz apart from the fact that her nose was half the size. Why couldn't she knock at a reasonable time?
Gong-gi stumbled around the hallway with an empty can in his hand. His manners crashed with his head against the door. As the door was about to slam on Flo's face, she jabbed the door.
"What are you doing here?" Gong-Gi whispered. "It's so late."
Flo dragged him out of his apartment. "You're coming with me."
Gong-gi pushed Flo Glitz away and went back into his apartment. "Why?"
"Don't question me," Flo Glitz pulled a gun out of her peacock feathered jacket. She aimed the trigger at his forehead. "You still belong to me."
"I don't understand." All he could do was stare at her. She had the face of an angel and the body of an anime pin-up girl. Her laughter only heightened Gong-gi's anxieties. One wrong move could kill. "We broke up years ago. I'm not a pop star anymore."
With Flo Glitz, it had always been her way or the highway. Hearing the sound of Flo's fingertips rubbing against the trigger was like walking the plank. She whipped him loads of times before he graduated as an idol. Nightmares triggered by Flo Glitz, tearing his ligaments so he could perform splits on stage never left him.
Gong-gi considered himself one of the lucky ones: Flo Glitz had never pulled a gun to his head...until now.
"Of course you don't understand," Flo said, tilting her head. "You clearly don't understand anything. You owe me money!"
He squinted. "Eh? How do I owe you money?" The last thing he needed was more debt.
"You broke the rules!"
"I'm not in the band anymore, it doesn't matter."
Flo cackled. "It matters to me. You know you weren’t allowed girlfriends. I made an exception for you when we started dating… and you still cheated on me. That's against the rules. All your other bandmates from VALENTINE COOKIE returned from their military service except you. To top it all off, you had the nerve to start a family and not pay your fees."
"I worked eighteen hours a day with little pay," Gong-gi snapped. A part of him wondered if it was wise to backchat an armed woman. When Flo's hands moved towards the handle, Gong-gi could see that the gun was a toy. The famous manager of Flo Glitz Entertainment would never let herself be seen carrying a weapon in public. "I owe you nothing."
"I will shoot."
"Go ahead," Gong-gi smiled, remembering the toy gun she used to carry around. "I bet it's just water in there." Flo jolted back as water sprouted in Gong-gi's face. For a few moments, the two stared at each other in silence.
"How did you know it was a toy?"
Confiscating the weapon, Gong-gi knocked on the hollow plastic. His fingers rubbed against the heart-shaped logo. "Your friend, Fanny Bru, has a brand of toys."
Flo's face sank with a sullen stare. With her hands on her hips, she glared at Gong-gi with disdain. "It still hasn't changed the fact that you
breached your contract, now you have two choices..."
Gong-gi tossed the gun by Flo's feet. "I don't have time for this. Can we discuss this in the morning?"
Flo shook her head. "You know me. When I want something I want it now."
"...Fine," Gong-gi muttered. "What do you want?"
"You owe me ten billion won."
"I don't have that money." Gong-gi was the lead singer of VALENTINE COOKIE, but only earned a fraction of the money that the band made. They had moderate success, not as big as BTS, Blackpink or SHINee, but enough to be recognised in the street. By the time Gong-gi had finished his military service, BLACK VALENTINE had dissolved.
"Then you'll have to come back and work for me."
"Why do you want me?" Gong-gi questioned Flo's desire to have him back in the music industry. "I'm thirty. It's not my type of music anymore, and I have a family to look after."
Flo shrugged her shoulders. "You're full of excuses. I'm sure your family doesn't want to be burdened with your debts..."
He couldn't stand the thought of his wife and kids having to live with the burden of billions being owned by him. They deserved better. At times where he questioned his ability as a husband, father and man, alcohol was his crutch. "Are you trying to reform VALENTINE COOKIE?"
"Hell no," Flo replied, waving her hands in the air. "The last two records weredisasters. And nobody wants them. You're gonna be in a new band called Taegong." Looking down at her platinum heels, she picked up her toy gun. "Anyway, we're wasting time! We've got a plane to catch in the morning."
"Huh?" Gong-gi didn't have the money or the documents to travel. He had lost his passport ages ago, and he was happy about it. He had seen the world once, he didn't need to see it again. After being a slave to the music industry, a peaceful life with his family was all he ever wanted.
"I got your passport here. I even renewed it for you," Flo explained. "You have another five years on your contract. So you should really come with me."
"Aren't you going to give me a chance to say goodbye to my family?"
Flo grabbed Gong-gi's arm and dragged him to the elevator. “Don't worry, they're going to read all about it in the newspaper tomorrow."
"As I said, you are property of Flo Glitz Entertainment. You've been a very naughty boy, and you deserve to be punished."
"You know what you are doing is kidnapping, right?"
She shrugged her shoulders again. "I don't care. I'm above the law. My husband is an outstanding lawyer, and my brother is a politician. You’ve got no leg to stand on."
Her unpredictable nature excited him back in the day. He couldn’t believe that he loved the woman once upon a neon city. "You can at least tell me where we're going?"
"We're going to Italy to film our music video."
"Don't we need to learn the song first?" Everything Flo had done made no sense. How was he meant to learn a song and dance routine without preparing?
"We can learn it on the plane."
Gong-gi had no words to say. It hurt being unable to say goodbye to his loved ones. They're gonna assume that he just got up and left. All the stupid mistakes he had made as a teenager came back to haunt him. Why did he pursue such an impossible life of fortune and fame without acknowledging the dark side? When the elevator doors opened, he saw three black limousines with a hoard of bodyguards blocking the flashing cameras and incoherent crowds.
Chapter Three – In the Car
Gang Taeyang sensed something was about to change his life. A change was coming. The moment his godmother gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The atmosphere had changed. Taeyang had been waiting for this moment all his life. He had read stories online where people whisked the main character away to another world where they became stronger and better. Today was his day.
Admiring his brother, Lee's many trophies, Taeyang wished that he could win more someday. His perfect older brother being who he was, could do no wrong in his parent's eyes. Lee excelled in everything that he did. No matter how hard he tried, it seemed he could never excel to his brother's greatness. So it made him wonder why Flo Glitz, an executive of her own music company, would be interested in scrawny old him?
His brother had moved out when Taeyang was in 12th Grade, but his presence still lingered. Lee was taller, muscular and superior to Taeyang in every single way. Every day, his mother would say how much he missed Lee as she cooked breakfast. Life at home would have been better if Lee was still there, but he had his own life, and Taeyang had to deal with it.
The only thing that Taeyang could overtake on his brother was his vocals. Taeyang had won a few nationwide singing competitions in high school. Lee could bring any woman to his knees unless he starts butchering songs.
All the family photos had Taeyang cropped or folded out of the picture. He gave it his all in his studies, he could not have worked any harder than he did. His father had told him many times that Taeyang was a curse whilst his brother was a blessing. How many times could he say sorry, I'm not the son you wanted. Flo Glitz and his parents were talking about him as if he wasn't in the room. For a moment, Taeyang felt that he did not exist.
Once he got in his godmother’s car, she bestowed him a music player and headphones. "Listen to this. You will be working with Dal Gong-Gi from VALENTINE COOKIE. You're gonna be rich and famous, kid!"
"Sure!" Taeyang liked their music and Gong-gi had always been his favourite member for his purple aesthetics. Taeyang had been drawn to the colour purple because its royal qualities. VALENTINE COOKIE'S album covers were many shades of purple and he felt relaxed just by looking at them.
VALENTINE COOKIE's debut single, Love Crunch blasted through Taeyang's headphones. Since he would be working with Gong-gi, Taeyang thought it would be wise to listen to their entire discography. He was unsure if the storm outside hindered or enhanced the music experience.
One thing he was sure of from the tensing of his fingers, he was in a different world. If the driver turned around and told him he had been transported to Mars, he would have believed him. He was at the age where he believed everything he read on the internet, but he was so used to spending all day studying for his exams. Any evening that was spent playing video games was a privilege.
As Taeyang's body rocked towards the window, his breath left vapour marks. He kept himself warm with his oversized pink sweater. Hugging his feline pillow, he admired the neon lights in the city's district. "Everything at night seems to be pretty."
It was as if there was nobody in the car, and was moving by itself. He would have struggled to hear them with how loud his music was, but he could see the driver and front passenger's tight lips. His manager, Flo was too busy applying make-up to care. She wasn't always like this though, she was a woman who cared about her appearance so needed the utmost concentration.
Everything about the bustling nightlife interested him: not even the rain was stopping them. Couples held umbrellas together. In a restaurant window, he could see people eating octopus legs with their beers. He bit his tongue resisting the urge to gag. It was clear from the distance that one of the legs moving. At least a dozen motorcycles whizzed by. He pressed his face against the window, watching what he saw as normal people having fun after a long day at work.
Taeyang never considered himself to be a normal person. It was likely it would never happen. People outside were having fun, but he had no idea what fun meant. His newly appointed manager, Flo Glitz, promised him fun, fame and glory. The fame and glory didn't bother him that much. He didn't even want to be a pop star in the first place. All the things he did at school were deemed as a failure. Baptised as a monkey in class, he wondered why he should care about his education when nobody else did?
Being the black sheep of the family was hard work. His brother was a doctor, and his cousin wanted to become a lawyer. How could anyone expect him to have a normal education if he came from a strange household? There was a time when his parents wanted Taeyang to be a famous singer. Both of his parents had failed to debut as K-pop stars. When Taeyang failed at a few auditions, they decided that he should follow in his brother's footsteps.
Taeyang saw millions of paths, but the only one that seemed open for him was the road to failure. Years of never being picked on the sports team, cramming studies leading nowhere and snarky comments from relatives, it was a miracle that his family never murdered him. Life being the bane of his family's existence wasn't nice. At the same time, he couldn't see himself being a doctor or a lawyer.
His brother always got all the affection. Taeyang couldn't bring himself to eat at the dinner table. His parents were so scared that he would become a hermit that they reached out to Flo. His dad was Flo's accountant whilst his mother used to be her PA.
His dream was coming true, but it was too early to celebrate. As amazing as the opportunity was to be a part of a K-pop band, Taeyang couldn't feel the joy. He faked a smile to his chauffeur and Flo to appear excited, but a part of him was dying inside. There was an emptiness that had to be filled.
Drifting off to sleep, he dreamed of a better world where he was no longer the shadow. The world around him became infested with golden roses as his clothes transformed into a regal cloak with a gigantic crown.
Taeyang widened his eyes, and everything had returned to normal. Feeling the rain splash on his face as Flo opened the car door. "Move over! Gong-gi is going to sit next to you."
Taeyang obeyed. His mother warned him via texting that annoying Flo Glitz would lead to serious consequences. She had a reputation for making people work so hard their muscles burn. Many had tried to sue her, but none succeeded.
The first thing that came into Taeyang's head was: WOW! He's sexy. He may not have been as polished and was missing the latex and purple quiff from the album covers, but he had that diamond-in-the-rough vibe about him. He was a man of experience.
"Nice to meet you," Taeyang said, shaking his hand. It was the first time in a long time that he felt warmth travel across his body. His lips trembled as he repressed gushes of praise.
Flo hopped into the car with them as the driver started the engine. Clapping her hands, she grinned. "We are all going to be so rich. Welcome to the band, guys. Your band is going to be Taegong. You're going to be an all-singing, all-dancing homoerotic K-pop duo that will smash chart records all over the world. From this moment on, you two are a couple."
"WAIT!" Gong-gi shouted. "We've only just met."
"It's love at first sight," Flo chuckled. "Isn't it romantic? You two are so cute and hot together. All the fans are going to go wild."
"Are we in a relationship?" Taeyang asked. He never considered himself to be sexually attracted to men, but he appreciated beauty when he saw it, gender had no role in that. He was only eighteen and he was still trying to discover his identity.
"Yes. You are going to be role models for the LGBTQ+ Community."
"We don't need a showmance for that," Taeyang said. Biting his lip, he knew he had stepped out of line, but he believed that love is love. He had heard many cases where celebrity romances were staged, and it never ended well.
"Denial is always the first step." What Flo Glitz had said reminded Taeyang of something he watched in an anime once. "You two are gonna fall in love and be the most talked-about couple on the internet."
Taeyang and Gong-gi glared at Flo then looked at each other. Was this woman for real? Taeyang wished he had taken a closer look at the contract before signing it. Now he wasn't sure if he would be able to see that contract again.