Chapter 6: Frigid

---February 25, 2012--- (9:00am)

The car horn blared from outside and Chaerin grabbed up her purse giving her mother a swift kiss before trudging down the driveway through the snow. "Bye sweetheart," She shouted from the doorway waving after her she cautioned. "Be careful of the ice!" "I will." She replied as she hopped into the backseat already shivering from the cold. "Can you believe the weather it dropped like 30 degrees these past two days and they say it's only getting colder?" "I like the cold everything looks so pretty when it snows." Dara said staring dreamily out the window. Himchan chuckled dryly, "I used to like the cold then I had to drive in it, now I'm over it. I going to have to put chains on the tires tomorrow." "Is that why you're driving so slow grandpa?" Chaerin asked mockingly to which he replied by flipping her off. "Stop it both of you. Hey, where is Jae Rim? I thought he was coming." "Yeah me too, but I haven't been able to get a hold of him since last Wednesday when he dropped me off." Chaerin looked down at her phone half hoping there would be a new text or voice message. "Oh, well its okay we are still gonna have fun." The thin girl bubbled practically bouncing in her seat making the other two laugh. "Speaking of fun, what are your birthday plans?" Himchan inquired glancing at her in the rearview mirror. The question had caught her off guard, with everything that had been happening she hadn't even realized her birthday was tomorrow. "Uh, nothing at the moment." "You can't be serious. You are turning 21 you do know we are gonna have to go out and get smashed, its tradition." He insisted playfully while Dara looked less than amused. "You don't have to if you don't want to, Mr. Peer Pressure over here drinks too much as it is." She scowled at him and he laughed. "Scotch a day keeps the doctor away." "Apple." The two girls replied in unison.

"Tomato, Tomäto." They rolled their eyes at him before he turned up the radio to drown out any further arguments. ---Klienfield--- (10:24am) "Welcome to Klienfield." A polished blonde greeted them as they entered measuring them up before finishing curtly. "Feel free to look around" At the moment it was just the two girls, noting the woman's attitude Chaerin shot a glare at her before starting to look at some of the many dresses lining the walls. The two staff members watched them carefully and she knew why, they looked young and definitely not like the high-class clientele they were used to dealing with and more than likely they were worried they would grab a thousand dollar dress and make a break for it. Chaerin chuckled to herself as she pictured the two of them bolting out of the shop hauling a mannequin with them. Dara looked ate her curiously, she simply shook her head to say it was nothing. Then Himchan entered catching the attention of the sales rep he hadn't gotten a chance to change after work so there he was in an Armani suit, diamond cufflinks, and fifteen thousand dollar Amvox watch looking very much the part of the wealthy CEO. It was not a look he enjoyed but it suited him well, he went to over to talk with the woman before saying a quick good-bye to the girls. Chaerin looked curiously at Dara who seemed just as confused by the exchange but the one who greeted them strode briskly over to them with a practiced smile and bubbled with enthusiasm. "Excuse me ladies, my name is Marissa and I will be helping you find your wedding dress." The girls looked at one another then nodded. The woman then began showing them a dresses in varying designs to allow Dara to see what features she would like before disappearing in the back to retrieve some to try on. The other politely assured them that if they needed anything to ring a small silver bell that she placed in Chaerin's hand. "What in the hell did he say to them?" Chaerin looked at the girl beside her laughing "I have no idea." Dara shook her head in stunned disbelief. "Perks of being filthy rich I guess." They had burst into a fit of giggles as the woman returned to take Dara to the dressing rooms she waved at her nervously and Chaerin gave her thumbs up of encouragement. She tried on a number of dresses most of which had big ballroom skirts which Dara wanted but they did not do the slender girl justice; she looked like a child playing dress-up. After about 4 failed attempts and the arrival of her parents Dara was ready to purchase a silk sweetheart ball gown which was undoubtedly a beautiful dress but one that was unsuited to the bride to be, Marissa tried to show her some dresses that complimented her small physique but Dara would hear none of it.

Her parents who simply gushed over everything she put on weren't much help either and Chaerin knew she had to step in. "Dara, you cannot get that dress." "Why? It is so pretty, I love it." She replied stroking the embroideries skirt. "Because it does not look good on you." Chaerin stated bluntly, Marissa quickly busied herself by straightening up some of the gowns Dara had tossed aside. "What?!" Tears welled her eyes as she looked at the gown then back at Chaerin. She sighed, "I know you like this dress but you would look much better in something else. We have known each other since we were 8 years old I know how important this is to you. I promise we will find you the perfect dress. Isn't that right?" She asked Marissa pointedly who nodded vigorously, "Yes, of course I have some lovely gowns that would look stunning on you." "Good, go get them." Dara had tried on several different dresses that were much better than the previous ball gowns one they had both liked was tip of the shoulder mermaid gown made of lace. It was simple but pretty and was $4000 which Marissa had assured her was on the lower end of prices for a high quality wedding dress, Chaerin scoffed as the woman took the other dresses back. Despite her feelings she bit her tongue as Dara's parents were the one who were insistent on purchasing the dress for their daughter and they were quite fond of the dress. "So is this the one you want?" Dara nodded, "I really do love it and it looks better than the other one did…" "But?" "But I don't know it is kind of…simple. I guess I was hoping for something a little more-" "Extravagant?" Marissa finished shrewdly with a glint in her eye. "Yes." Dara nodded smiling, Chaerin scowled she didn't like where this was going and had a feeling this women was intent on making a bigger sale. "See these ones here are the same price as the other you have there you may find another you would like to purchase." Carefully guiding the Park family over to some finely dressed mannequins. "Another, why would someone buy more than one wedding dress?" Chaerin asked sardonically. "Well it is becoming a common trend for brides to purchase multiple dresses. One for the wedding itself and for the reception some even get another, usually more luxurious and less comfortable, just for pictures." Dara's parents nodded appreciatively and CL groaned internally the Parks were hardworking

and frugal but in matters related to their first and only daughter they tended to be much more lax with their wallets. The woman prattled on and Chaerin's eyes narrowed but Dara was hanging on each word, the woman tossed her platinum blond hair over her shoulder and leaned in closer to the petite girl. "I have something that I know you'll just love." She motioned for the other women muttered something in her ear and she disappeared with Dara. Chaerin waited patiently and Marissa sat beside her confidently until the other girl returned and called for Dara to come out. CL's mouth dropped open and she heard the audible gasp from the two beside her as her friend stepped out from behind the curtain. She was clothed in haltered mermaid gown made up of intricate lace the girl turned in circle to show off a chapel train and open back embellished with beaded flowers. Dara looked stunning. "Dara you look like an angel." Her mother breathed in awe, her father smiled fondly. The slender girl wore a smile that lit up her whole face, "This is the dress, Chaerin. This is it." "Alright," Chaerin smiled. "How much?" "Twenty thousand." "What?!" Chaerin shrieked, the Parks looked as though they had been struck in the face. "That is a top of the line Pnina Tornai so the price is a bit steeper than the Jim Hjelm you were looking at before." She studied them carefully before adding coolly, "I'll give you a minute to discuss." "Make it twenty!" Chaerin snapped, as Dara paced trying to hold back tears. "Calm down Dara, its okay. We'll just get the other dress its fine." "No!!! I want this dress!!!" She wailed. Chaerin place her face in her palms. 'This could be a problem.' Dara's parents looked stressed as they tried to soothe their daughter to no avail, she was flying into a full on fit. Chaerin liked the Park's but when it came to Dara they had always handled her with kid gloves even now that their daughter was an adult. Both CL and Minzy have had jobs since they were sixteen and when they all had moved in together they earned their portion of their rent, but not Dara. Her parent's had paid for her just like they did with her car, her schooling, her phone and anything else she wanted. From time to time Dara would help her mother run errands which she liked to refer to as her job but more often than not she managed to weasel her way out of going with the excuse of studying which she never did.

Her parents had found themselves just as Dara had, in severe debt from living beyond their means to help support Dara's ridiculous spending habits. The main source of this stemmed from the situation unfolding before them, when they told her no or she realized she might not get something she wanted she would have a full on temper tantrum. They were good people but Dara knew she could manipulate them into doing what she wanted because they wanted her to be happy, it was one thing about the girl Chaerin couldn't stand; she had no respect for her parents. "Please don't cry Dara your dad is writing a check right now." Almost instantly her sobbing ceased and she nodded glumly at them so her mother quickly added. "And the other one we all liked." The girl smiled pleased and the couple turned towards Marissa. "I think not." They all turned towards Chaerin shocked, and the tears began well up again. "Dara, dry it up!" Chaerin snarled, and she gasped. "Your parents came out here with you today to buy you a dress and you are being an ungrateful brat! You know they can't afford that dress. You want it you buy it, you are a grown ass woman start acting like it." It was dead silent in the room and all eyes were on her, Dara stared at the ground like a scolded child but she turned to her parents and apologized. They gave Chaerin a look of gratitude and Dara returned to the changing room followed by Marissa after they sat on the couch waiting for her to return. After about fifteen minutes Chaerin was about to go after her when she heard the door open behind them. She turned, "Himchan I thought we were gonna call when we were done. You do know its bad luck to see the bride in the wedding gown, right?" "Yeah, well I am not superstitious… and Dara called she sounded pretty upset." "Dara?" She grimaced. He studied her expression, "Oh boy, what happened?" Chaerin gave him a quick summary of what had transpired and he listened intently. "So I imagine she called you when she realized I wasn't going to let her go bridezilla on her folks. She is hiding in the dressing room." He nodded, "So what do you suggest?" "Huh?" She looked at him quizzically. "You seem like you feel pretty strongly about it I'm guessing you don't want her to have it."

"No! It’s not that, it's just." She leaned in to whisper out of ranger from Dara's parent's. "This means a lot to them, you know buying their little girl her wedding gown. They wanted to pay for the whole damn wedding but they just can't afford it. I think it would hurt them if they can't get her the dress." He stroked his chin thoughtfully, "Well let me see if I can run damage control and work this mess out." He walked over to his future in laws and stood discussing for a few minutes while Chaerin sat on the plush couch wondering what he intended to do. Once he finished talking he walked over to the doorway where Dara had disappeared and called out. "Dara, I'm here are you coming out or do I have to go in?" There was a pause and the curtain rustled and she peered out sheepishly, he smiled reassuringly and she stepped out still clad in the dress. "Wow, you look amazing." He breathed, eyes wide. She smiled and he hugged her tightly lifting her off the ground and kissing her tenderly. "I'm sorry." "For what?" He chuckled, looking down at her curiously as she picked at the skirt of the dress. "For bothering you I know you had stuff to do today." "Nothing that was more important than being here with you." He tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "Now I got the gist of what happened here today." She looked down embarrassed but he continued stoically. "I talked with your parents and we came to an agreement and we decided that they are going to buy you the Jim Hjelm." "Oh." Was all she said trying to hide her disappointment, Chaerin was surprised that he was actually putting his foot down on the matter and not giving in to Dara and silently commended him for it. Himchan's mouth twitched as he failed to hold back a smile, his fiancée stared at him confused. "They are buying you the Jim Hjelm and I am buying you Pnina Tornai." The girl squealed happily and latched on to him and Chaerin shook her head but stayed quiet as the group proceeded to pay for the dresses and got ready to leave the store. They saw Dara's parents off before heading to their own car with the two gowns carefully laid in the trunk. ---Harry Winston--- (6:00pm)

After the dress store they went to meet with the wedding planner and spent 3 hours picking out colors, patterns, and other assorted decorations because Dara kept changing her mind about what exactly she wanted and when she changed one thing the planner insisted they had to change the whole set to match.

Albeit slightly annoying it didn't bother her too much and with Himchan there to lighten the mood it was actually quite fun. Then they went to go do the taste test which was a total blast Dara had wanted authentic French cuisine. Chaerin had ever eaten anything like it before but it was a pleasant experience. Until about 40 minutes later when they reached the ring shop. Any hope Chaerin had of the day being salvaged after the successful resolution of the wedding dress incident had disappeared. She was kneeled over the bowl clinging to the porcelain with her manicured nails, retching painfully. "That a girl let it out." Gently stroking her back and holding up her hair was Himchan, she clenched her eyes tightly and groaned. She would much rather have Dara doing this but with her weak countenance she would have thrown up on her and Chaerin would take being embarrassed than being vomited on. She had no idea where Dara was at the moment she knew she had ran away as soon as she started hurling or she most certainly would be in the stall beside her. Chaerin was just glad this place was so expensive it was relatively empty. After she had completely emptied the contents of her stomach and then some she sat trembling and lightheaded. Her throat was sore and her mouth tasted awful. Her legs were too weak to stand. She whispered hoarsely, "Thank you." "It’s okay, can you stand?" She paused before nodding using the walls of the stall to brace herself she struggled to get to her feet. A strong arm wrapped around her waist pulling her to her feet and helping to support her weight. She leaned back against him completely exhausted and inhaled deeply taking in the heady aroma, she wasn't entirely sure if he always smelled this amazing or if it was because she had spent the last fifteen minutes drowning in puke but either way it was heavenly. "God you smell good." He smirked, "Why thank you, I do always try to smell my best in case any of my friends have a puking episode. Although this is a first for me." "What holding a girls hair back while she pukes?" "No." He snorted, "First time holding a girls hair back that was puking but was completely sober." "There is a good retort for that but I am too damn tired." She peeled herself away from him regretting the decision immediately he was warm and she felt very cold her hands her shaking, everything was shaking. "You going to be alright on your own or do you need me to carry you out." He eyed her warily.

Burying her face in her hands she groaned. "Yeah, I'm good. I just need a minute to freshen up. You can go." He looked her over once more to be sure before he nodded and left; after a few minutes she stood swayed a moment before steading herself and went over to the sink. She took her time rinsing out her mouth to get rid of the awful taste and managed to find a mint in her purse for which she was immensely grateful. Then washed her face which felt and looked horrible, she had been sweating and some tears had been shed her make-up was a disaster so she just decided she'd re-do it all. After that was done she made her way over to the door pausing as she heard voices, very loud voices. It took her a moment to comprehend what was unfolding in front of her; a store clerk threatening to call the police, a security guard seemed to be breaking up some kind of fight and then she realized she knew who was causing the commotion, it was Dara. The guard stood directly in her path pushing her back while trying to gently shuffle the girl out of the store, Dara was livid. Chaerin stood utterly lost and was about to walk over to the two when Himchan rushed over to her looking extremely vexed. "What happened?" Chaerin asked as he approached keeping her friend in her sights. "I don't know, I came out of the bathroom and she flipped out and started screaming at me. She keeps saying I don't love her that I hate her, everyone hates her and she thinks that- that I-" He blustered holding his head. Chaerin placed a hand on his shoulder, "Don't worry I'll handle it." However, she wasn't entirely sure that she could; her heart was pounding this whole situation was wrong. She made her way over to the girl who had yet to cease her shrieking Chaerin nodded to the guard who stepped back slowly. "Dara?" She asked cautiously catching the girl’s attention. Dara stared her eyes distant as she seemed to struggle to recognize her. "Ch-Chaerin? You're okay!!!" "Yeah, I’m fine." She replied soothingly stroking the girl’s hair as she latched on to her. "What's going on Dara?" "Him." She pointed an accusatory finger at her fiancé. "He did it, it was all his fault." "Himchan? What was his fault?" Chaerin asked confused looking from her to Himchan and back again. "He killed him….I know he did." Tears spilled down her cheeks. "I thought he might've hurt you too." She buried her face in Chaerin's shoulder sobbing, "Dara, Himchan didn't hurt me I was sick from the food remember; he was helping me.”

"No! He did it, he made you sick. I know it." She gripped Chaerin's arms tightly her nails biting into her flesh. "Just like he did to Yong Guk." "Dara you have to let go you're hurting me." She replied coolly, Dara released her as if she had been burned, she take a clumsy step back. "I'm sorry CL-roo I didn't meant to!!!" She wailed she was panting heavily, CL stepped over to the girl looking her in the eyes. Her pupils weren't dilated she wasn't on drugs which should have been a relief but it wasn't. Drugs Chaerin could handle, this was something else entirely; this was in her head. She knew by looking at her that she honestly believed what she was saying. Dara genuinely believed Himchan had killed Yong Guk and tried to kill her. She looked over to Himchan who was keeping his distance watching them anxiously. "It's alright Dara you're okay. I am right here and I'm not going anywhere." The slender girls breathing steadied and collapsed onto the floor in a heap and started sobbing. "Hey come on you need to get up it's time to go home now, alright." It took a moment for her words to register but the girl clambered up to her feet, Chaerin sighed in relief and helped guide her out of the store. The crisp cool air was refreshing and blew away the grogginess that had clouded CL's mind; she heard the doors open as Himchan followed them out and neared them cautiously. Chaerin looked at the girl walking beside her who seemed calm she turned back and nodded to Himchan who let out a sigh of relief. Dara stopped and jerked away from Chaerin she looked around dazed as if she was unsure of where she was taking careful steps back. "Dara?!" Both of them asked alarmed but she didn't seem to hear them. Chaerin took a step forward but that was a mistake the girl bolted across the parking lot as was heading straight for the trafficked street. Chaerin ran after her but the girl was too fast for her in her heeled boots; then for what seemed like the thousandth time that day she found herself grateful for Himchan's presence. He was much faster than either of them bridging the gap between him and Dara just seconds before she made it into the street. She breathed a huge sigh of relief as he carried the squirming girl back over his shoulder. Chaerin met them half way and as they made their way back to the car Dara seemed to calm again. "We need to get her to a hospital something is wrong." Himchan nodded rigidly, he placed the girl gently on her feet, she stood still for a moment not looking at either one. "Okay let's go." Chaerin was turning when the shine caught her eyes, "Himchan!!!"

Dara swung she must have taken the keys from his pocket while she had hung over his should they were now clasped tightly between her fingers like small metal claws. He stepped back fluidly years of boxing paid off and he caught her hand easily in an iron grasp she started thrashing about and managed to claw him with her free hand leaving four pink lines across his neck and face. She was kicking and screaming trying to snap at him with her teeth while foaming at the mouth when Chaerin swung. The blow connected with the side of her face knocking her to the ground; suddenly everything was still. Himchan looked at her in stunned disbelief his expression mirrored what she felt. She hit Dara, she had never hit Dara. Chaerin had no idea what was going on she was terrified for her friend. Dara may act childishly at times by throwing fits and crying often but this; this was insane. Dara never hurt anyone had never even struck a person before today when she tried to punch Himchan in the throat. She had honestly tried to kill him just now. Chaerin's head was pounding, Dara stirred sitting up sluggishly. The two of them froze watching the girl as she rose to her feet she stared at them blankly mumbling something before turning and walking away. "Wait here." CL ordered him before jogging after Dara. "Where are you going? Dara? Dara?" She simply ignored her questions until they were nearing the car and Chaerin blocked her path. "Where are you going?" "Home!" She snapped glaring heatedly at Chaerin trying to step around her but she just mirrored her movements. "You're out of your mind if you think I'm letting you drive anywhere." Dara glowered at her feigned turning back the way she came only to snap back and punch Chaerin square in the face. Falling onto her backside she held her face as blood gushed from her nose, Dara moved past her unlocking the car and climbing in. Chaerin jumped to her feet as the car started and began to back away when she flung open the passenger seat and hopped in. The tires screeched as Dara peeled out of the parking lot Chaerin looked back in time to see Himchan standing outraged shouting after them. They barreled down the road scrambling to put on her seatbelt her fingers slick with blood. Warning Dara to slow down Chaerin dug in her purse for her scarf using it to stop the bleeding. A familiar sight made her look around at the road they traveled down at the end of it lay a riverbed that was crossed by a bridge, she hadn't been here in five years. It was the place Yong Guk had wanted to meet that night. It was where he was supposed to give her a gift, a gift she never received. "Dara, stop!!!"

A feeling of dread enveloped her as the girl beside her pressed on the gas showing no signs of stopping, they were nearing the bridge. Chaerin's heart leapt into her throat as she spotted them, a young couple trudging the snow sliding across the icy road in front of them desperately making their way to the dense forest on the right of the road as the car raced towards them. They wouldn't be able to get out of the way in time and they couldn't stop. She screamed, "DARA STOP!!! STOP!!!" There was no time to reason. Chaerin did the only thing she could she slammed her foot down on the break wrenched the wheel to the left. The tires screeched sliding against the ice finding no traction the car tore straight through the guardrail and then they were flying. Time seemed to slow as the front end of the car dipped exposing the view below them, the frozen river rushed up to meet them. Chaerin closed her eyes tightly and braced herself for impact.

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