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Second Chances

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Click. Click. Flash.

A flurry of cameras enveloped the stretch limousine that had just pulled up to the red carpet. The two women stepping out of it were no strangers to the limelight. The minute their stilettos hit the ground, a flurry of reporters were shouting questions at them.

“SuA, when will you be dropping the teasers for your next comeback? Your fans are chomping at the bit to see what you’ll do next!”

“JiU, is it true that you’re among the star studded cast for next year’s big superhero flick?”

“Who are you two wearing? You look divine!”

The two women, completely unphased by the attention, strutted down the carpet. They mostly ignored the sea of paparazzi except to pose for a few pictures. They had both been in the business for a long time and knew who was worth acknowledging. Most of these people would publish complete and utter garbage on their rags which sold at drugstore checkouts, but a few of the prominent media outlets were in attendance. SuA and JiU made sure those photographers got them at their best angle. Nothing was worse than having an unflattering picture pasted on a major magazine cover for everyone to see.

Since the two had gone public as a couple several years ago, they were no longer scolded about PDA in front of the cameras. When they’d first started dating, their joint manager, Yoohyeon, had nearly imploded trying to protect their image. She had forbid them from even linking pinkies outside of their penthouse apartment. They had been living together since they both got into show business, having been friends for many years before that. Now the two were known as the biggest power couple in the idol industry. JiU’s acting and modeling career was at its peak, and SuA was at the top of the music charts every comeback.

SuA looped her arm through JiU’s and threw a coy look at a nearby camera. Her dress had been custom made for her by one of the biggest designers in the world, and she knew she looked fabulous. Throughout her time as an idol, she had cultivated a figure that her countless fans both admired and envied. She made sure to show it off in her short, tight, custom black dress. It had just enough sparkle to catch people’s eyes without being gaudy. Its length and fit flattered her fantastic shape. To make up for the dress’s subtlety, she accessorized it with plenty of bling in the form of jewelry, a sparkly clutch, and diamond-encrusted heels. Her newly dyed dark hair was pulled into an immaculate updo with not a single strand out of place. SuA reveled in the attention as she was told how good she looked from countless onlookers.

Next to her, JiU looked just as breathtaking. While SuA’s taller companion was more subtle in her attention-seeking, she nonetheless smiled at her girlfriend’s antics and shared in her praise. JiU’s red hair was down in silky curls, framing her doll-like face. She wore a strapless maroon gown that swept down to her knees, allowing her iconic legs to be seen by the public along with her expensive strappy heels.

JiU, like SuA, was a celebrity whose looks were envied by all. Unlike SuA, however, JiU did not take pride in this. In fact, anyone who interacted with the girl claimed that she seemed almost embarrassed by the attention she received. While SuA thrived on the adoration of those around her, JiU preferred to just live her life with as few cameras as possible. They were an interesting pair given their different personalities and approaches to fame, but they complemented each other well. Everyone agreed they were the most in-vogue couple at the moment. Reporters were practically wrestling each other to get snapshots of the two together in their finery.

After posing for countless photo-ops and stopping for a few interviews, the two women made their way into the venue for tonight’s event. They were attending a movie premiere which starred one of JiU’s colleagues. The two had worked on several projects together, so she insisted on supporting him in his breakout role. SuA, as her routine plus-one at said events, was thus invited along by proxy. Even though the two had a tendency to capture the room, it was considered a huge career boost to have the industry’s power couple in attendance at your event. Thus, JiU and SuA were asked to attend just about everything as a pair.

At the premiere, JiU looked thrilled to be watching her friend achieve his dreams. SuA, on the other hand, was trying not to turn up her nose. She was mostly there for publicity purposes, and because the love of her life had asked her to come. Her plan was to dip after the screening and then hit up her favorite nightclub for a surprise performance. She and Yoohyeon had agreed that it would be an amazing way to get some publicity for her upcoming album. It worked out that the nightclub was near the venue where the premiere was being held. She had little interest in watching JiU’s friend as the killer in this cheesy slasher flick, but she would pretend to enjoy it in case any photographers were present for the screening. After that, she would be free to do as she pleased. The minute she and JiU took their seats, SuA was already counting down the minutes until she’d be free.

The next two hours were filled with grating, suspenseful music and over-the-top special effects. SuA pretended to be surprised by the predictable plot-twist at the end of the movie. JiU, either demonstrating her talent as an actress, or just being a supportive friend, seemed completely engrossed in the story.

Mercifully, the film eventually came to an end. SuA clapped along with everyone else, trying not to yawn or roll her eyes. The last thing she needed was another scandal. Several celebrities had already flocked to social media to victimize themselves in attempts to use her for relevance. She couldn’t help that she had a bit of resting bitch face and a tendency to speak her mind. While JiU was the industry’s sweetheart, SuA tended to be seen as a bitchy diva. Yoohyeon claimed that SuA was her worst nightmare as a publicist, but had been by her side since the beginning of her career. Speaking of Yoohyeon, it was time for SuA to meet her at their agreed pick-up location.

SuA turned to JiU, gently tapping her arm so as not to draw too much attention. Shouting someone’s name at a high society event was equivalent to farting in public. Celebrities were highly encouraged to be subtle unless they wanted their interactions broadcast to the world.

“I’m gonna head out now. You wanna tag along and see your girlfriend in action?” SuA whispered while texting Yoohyeon that she would see her soon.

JiU turned to her and shook her head.

“Sorry, but I’d like to be at the afterparty. It’d be impolite not to congratulate my friend and celebrate his hard work with him,” JiU insisted.

SuA rolled her eyes.

“You’re always so concerned about other people’s feelings. That film was a total snooze fest. Why anyone would wanna celebrate its making is beyond me. Oh well, meet me at the club later if you’re feeling up to it. I’ll probably be there until pretty late,” she muttered, giving her girlfriend a peck on the cheek as a farewell before jetting off.

SuA was greeted with a barrage of camera flashes as she made her exit from the premiere venue. Despite opting for the side door, an army of paparazzi had surrounded the perimeter on stakeout for photo opportunities. SuA didn’t mind the extra buzz, it would get people wondering what she was up to and would hopefully prompt more people to check out her performance. She waved at the cameras as she headed towards her exit vehicle where Yoohyeon was waiting. A limousine was too flashy for a discrete exit, so SuA had to settle for a luxury sports car chauffeuring her to her performance.

Yoohyeon had on her customary headset and business suit as she ushered SuA into the car she’d arranged to drive them to the club. Yoohyeon was constantly on the move since she managed two of the most powerful celebrities in the world. JiU and SuA had known Yoohyeon for many years, and she had always been meticulous about every detail. She was a perfect choice to be their manager. “Manager” was really an umbrella term when Yoohyeon’s real job was juggling the duties of publicist, agent, assistant, and friend to both girls. Yoohyeon handled it all with ease, though, and never complained about her work load.

SuA smiled at the taller girl who was in the midst of a rousing conversation with the club owner, arranging the final details for SuA’s show. Yoohyeon returned her smile and gestured for her to buckle up while still in conversation. SuA did as she was told. Once she was buckled, Yoohyeon urged the driver to put the pedal to the metal using hand signals. The car shot off towards the open road, a sea of cameras capturing its departure. SuA opened the window to blow some last minute kisses to the nearest reporters. She hoped she would be a front-page story by the end of the drive.

As the car rolled along on its way to the club, SuA was engrossed in her phone. At JiU’s behest, she had kept it off during the premiere. It had been agony having to sit through that crappy movie without any distractions, but she had done it out of respect for her girlfriend. She hoped that JiU would at least make it for the end of her publicity stunt. She could respect wanting to support a colleague, but was it so wrong for her to want some validation from her girlfriend? SuA was front and center at every fashion show, award ceremony, and general event that JiU attended. She had to admit she was a little bit miffed at her for opting to pass on this performance in favor of her friend’s dumb after party.

Yoohyeon had hung up the phone and glanced at her favorite client. She could see the smaller girl focused on her phone, which was typical. She was always taking selfies, posting on social media, or lurking on her hashtags to see what people were saying about her. Still, Yoohyeon could see that SuA was in a bit of a mood. SuA was cheerful ninety-nine percent of the time but when the girl was pissed she could be a real handful. Yoohyeon decided to tread carefully.

“Just so you know, everything’s all set for tonight. All you gotta do is show up and be your usual, talented, beautiful self. How was the premiere?” she opened, trying not to flat-out ask what was wrong.

“It was fine. The movie sucked, but at least JiU and I slayed the carpet walk,” SuA huffed, not looking up from her device.

“I see JiU chose to stick around. She texted me that she’d need a ride from the afterparty,” Yoohyeon observed.

“Yep, she decided her friend’s stupid movie is more important than her girlfriend of many years’s music career,” SuA snapped, looking ready to throw her phone at something...or someone.

Yoohyeon bit her lip. At least she’d caught on to what was wrong. That was the downside to being friends with both girls instead of just their employee. Yoohyeon was already tall, but she often found herself being stretched out as the middleman in lover’s spats between the two.

“I’m sure she’ll stop by when she can. JiU has never missed any of your concerts unless I screwed up and scheduled something for her on the same day. You know she loves you and your success means the world to her,” Yoohyeon assured SuA, who just frowned in response.

Yoohyeon was relieved when they pulled up to the alley adjacent to the nightclub. She could tell the driver felt similarly. SuA was small in stature, but her moodiness could fill the Taj Mahal.

“Looks like we’re here. I’ll go fetch the manager and make sure there’s security personnel to escort you in. We wouldn’t want any rogue fans catching wind of you being here and doing something dangerous. Wait here until I’m back, okay?” Yoohyeon instructed, stepping out of the car to enter the club’s side door.

SuA scoffed as an indication that she’d heard her manager’s directions. Yoohyeon ordered the driver to remain nearby until she got back. With that, Yoohyeon scampered off to find the club proprietor. The driver, obviously wanting to be as far away from the tiny primadonna as possible, informed SuA that he was stepping outside for a cigarette. SuA didn’t even acknowledge that she’d heard him, and kept her face in her phone.

“Bitch,” the driver muttered to himself as he emerged from the car, careful not to be overheard.

He lit up and looked around as the smoke wafted from his lips. While the club itself was one of the hottest spots in the city, the alley they were parked in was grungy. The only scenery was a nearby dumpster and the entire space reeked of piss and garbage. It was certainly no place for a famous popstar to be parked at.

As the driver noted their surroundings, a large truck was backing its way into the alley. He narrowed his eyes as he observed the gigantic vehicle coming towards his own. What kind of idiot was driving a big truck like that in these tiny side streets? Not to mention it was way too late for any utility workers to be on the clock. He had a feeling that whoever was driving this truck wasn’t qualified to do so.

His suspicions were confirmed when the truck continued to wedge itself dangerously close to the car SuA was in. The chauffeur felt his stomach drop to his knees as he realized that there was a possibility his beloved car was going to be crushed by this behemoth. Even more troubling was the fact that the pop princess had yet to exit the car. Was she aware that a gigantic truck was about to run her over if she didn’t haul ass out of there? Despite his dislike of the self-centered idol, he would never wish this upon anyone. He began yelling at the top of his lungs at both the driver and SuA, hoping one of them would come to their senses.

Inside the car, SuA had just received a text from JiU. Her girlfriend was practically shooting rainbows out of her ass at this afterparty. She had sent every happy emoji in her arsenal along with pictures of her with her favorite actor friends. SuA snorted. It was nice to know her girlfriend was having the time of her life at a dumb party for a pathetic excuse of a movie when she could have been here to support her. She smirked in triumph as she closed the app, leaving JiU on read. That would teach her. With her attention no longer on her mobile device, SuA realized someone was screaming. She looked up to see what was wrong only to see a giant truck careening towards her before the windows of the car shattered and the crunching of metal was all she heard. After that, the world went to black.

Yoohyeon stepped out with the club owner beside her along with a team of security guards. They came out just in time to witness the truck crashing right into the car with SuA still inside. Yoohyeon observed the chauffeur who was madly thrashing about and screaming at the truck driver to stop. SuA was nowhere in sight. The taller girl’s knees went weak.

“Oh my god! Is she still in there?” Yoohyeon screamed at the chauffeur, her face deathly pale.

The driver nodded, prompting Yoohyeon to fall to the ground and scream in anguish. The club owner and security personnel raced to remedy the scene, hoping to stop the truck before it continued its collision course and took the building with it too. One of the guards climbed into the truck and forcefully removed the driver, a young guy who was clearly drugged out of his mind. With the driver out of the way, the guard pulled the emergency brake system and the truck lurched to a clumsy stop, the sports car attached to its underbelly.

Yoohyeon, not bothering to see whether it was safe or not, raced to the scene. The proprietor was already on the phone explaining the situation to the emergency dispatcher. First responders would be there soon, but not soon enough for her. She had to know what happened to her dear friend. Yoohyeon joined the security guards who were trying to dig through the rubble and salvage any signs of life.

“SuA, are you okay in there? Answer me!” Yoohyeon shrieked, her voice sounding animalistic even to her own ears.

One of the security guards put a hand on her shoulder, sending a wave of panic through her. She hoped the next thing he said would be anything but that.

“Miss, I’m sorry. We can see the body from here. I don’t think she survived the impact,” he explained in a voice so small she almost didn’t hear him at first.

It took a moment for the words to register and send Yoohyeon to the ground with a heart wrenching sob. SuA was dead.