"You can't possibly be serious?" Eun Sang felt her head spin at the way events were unfolding. "Choi Young Do. We are so young— How can you possibly know that we— And your father's in jail—"
He placed his hands gently on her shoulders and squeezed, looking at her intently. "Cha Eun Sang." He shifted his gaze to her mother. "Park Hee Nam. You are my family. You told me that from the very beginning." He looked back down at her. "You have to know that. You have to understand. We can live separately. If there comes a time in the future where you no longer want to be in a relationship with me, then I will accept that. But, Cha Eun Sang, you will never stop being my family. For my plan to work, we have to marry, but I don't expect—"
Eun Sang silenced him with a kiss. "I understand," she said as she broke away.
The smile that spread over his face rivaled the sun in its warmth. "Let's go. Now. I'll explain on the way."
Twenty four hours later, Eun Sang was married and rich.
After a quick civil ceremony witnessed by Lawyer Kim and Eun Sang's mother, they were whisked away to the Zeus Hotel Group corporate offices. Lawyer Kim, using his power of attorney to act on behalf of the imprisoned president, and Choi Young Do, as acting president of Zeus, signed over ten percent of the stocks held by the family to the new daughter-in-law of the company, with bonus stock options paid out on the birth of each heir.
Sitting in her small room in the house she shared with her mother, she held the contract in her hand, running her fingers over the raised Zeus logo on the front of the portfolio.
Young Do's father would be furious when he heard the news, but it was his own greed that had trapped him.
Lawyer Kim, as trusted advisor and confidant to the family for years, had quietly been securing his own interests. He had struck a deal with Choi Young Do—Lawyer Kim was now the COO for Zeus, reporting only to the acting president, with an additional stock bonus to go along with the new title. An emergency meeting of the board had confirmed the appointment with a unanimous vote, mostly due to the fear that the company would continue to lose money unless drastic measures were taken. In return, Lawyer Kim provided the second signature needed to endorse the marriage contract that brought Eun Sang into the family and make her part owner in the company. The terms of the contract had been intended to secure Gang Noo Ri's name and family to Zeus and bring them under the control of Young Do's father—instead, Choi Young Do and Lawyer Kim had used it against him. Lawyer Kim, Young Do, and Eun Sang were now the controlling shareholders in the company. It was a devil's bargain for Young Do, but he knew that Lawyer Kim had as much to lose as he did if things fell apart.
They had effectively forced Choi Dong Wook out.
And now, looking down at the contract, rifling through its pages, Cha Eun Sang realized that her life would never be the same again.
"I hope this will be acceptable for now, eomma. I will look at getting an apartment for the three of us as soon as possible." Eun Sang noticed the note of concern in Young Do's voice and hid a smile. The hotel room was four times the size of their apartment.
Eun Sang watched as her mother stood in shock, eyes scanning the room. "This is—very nice, son." She could tell that her mother was feeling every bit as overwhelmed as she was.
Eun Sang translated for Young Do with a smile. He grinned back. "I'll leave you two to get settled now. Good night." He bowed low and started to move towards the door. Eun Sang's mother reached out and grabbed his shirt.
"Eun Sang, I want to talk to my son alone for a minute."
She watched as a pointed look passed between her mother and Young Do. He nodded and turned to Eun Sang. "Why don't you wait in my room? You remember how to get there?"
"Go, Eun Sang." Her mother's lips were set in a thin line, letting her know that there was no room for discussion.
She gave Young Do an apologetic look and walked out, closing the door softly behind her.
Young Do couldn't shake the feeling that he was about to be lectured.
It was a nice feeling, knowing someone cared about you enough to lecture you. He smiled to himself, but quickly sobered when he saw the serious look in her eyes.
He watched as Eun Sang's mother rummaged through her purse, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. She wrote several lines and passed it to him.
"I know that you two were together before you left. I was not pleased that you chose to do that in my house, but I understand that your emotions were running high."
Young Do felt himself flush slightly as he read, not wanting to look up and meet her eyes. "I am sorry, eomma. It was an affront to the kindness you showed me in bringing me into your home." He finally looked up at her, noting her arched eyebrow and pursed lips. "I have nothing but the highest respect for you and Cha Eun Sang. We are married, but I don't expect Eun Sang to live her life any differently than she does now. I don't expect—"
She held her hand up and he broke off.
He watched as she wrote again. This time, she held it up the paper with a small smile.
"Eun Sang made her choice when she agreed to marry you. I would like to request that you two wait until after Eun Sang has completed college before you think about grandchildren."
He started in shock. "Eomma, I—"
She nodded her head toward the door, clearly indicating that it was time for Young Do to go find his wife. Giving him a cheeky smile, she shooed him out the door.
Eun Sang stirred as she felt fingers smoothing her hair. She hadn't intended to fall asleep on the couch, but the events of the past day and a half had taken their toll on her. Blinking sleepily, she tried to focus her eyes in the dim light. She looked up to find Young Do, his face serious, lost in thought as he looked down at her.
"What?" she asked him.
"I thought that I would always have to live my life in the darkness—that I would always be under my father's control and never have anything that was my own. I thought that he would continue to take away everything I loved because he wanted me to be more like him. My desire for love and approval was a sign of weakness to him—it reminded him of my mother and he hated me for it. But now— In the space of a few short days, everything has changed. I have a family—a future. It's you, Eun Sang. You gave that to me."
He crushed her into a tight embrace, so tight that she felt like she could barely breathe. She didn't pull away, though.
After a moment, she spoke. "I should go. Eomma will wonder what—"
Young Do pulled back and looked into her eyes. "Will you stay with me?"
"Your mother isn't going to be looking for you. "No more sneaking around; no more fumbling in the dark. We don't have to hide anymore." He waited, hopeful that she would want this as much as he did, but wanting the decision to be hers alone.
She was quiet for a moment, then she reached up and wound her arms around his neck. "Take me to our bedroom."
He closed his eyes against the desire that rushed over him. Scooping her up, he carried her to the bedroom, kicking the door shut behind him.
That night they made a promise to each other—not in words, but through mouths and hands and bodies moving in sync.
It echoed in their heads.
No more darkness.