She took his hand and all I could do was watch. She smiled as her fingers laced with those of Ji Hoo. They began to dance and Jan Di's face held nothing but joy. She was like a star, shining so brightly, and it was all because of another man. I could hardly breathe, but I could also not stop watching. They glided together as one.
"She looks like a totally different person," Woo Bin commented, "Seo Hyun can do wonders."
Yi Jung joined in, "Maybe I should ask Jan Di to be my date to the next exhibition." I didn't comment, all I could see was her smile.
It got to the point where I could no longer hold in my anger. I walked out of the room. The nearest door led to the pool area. I picked up one of the chairs and threw it. I picked up another and threw it again. My chest hurt. To say I was angry was an understatement. I pulled at my bow tie and ruffled my hair. I didn't even know what to think. My mind kept playing the scene of Jan Di accepting Ji Hoo's hand and smiling as though she had never done anything more fun in her life. I thought I was right. I thought that everything I did was right. I was beginning to see that I was wrong. But I didn't want to believe that she had feelings for another man. Just the thought made my heart and brain hurt. I kicked air, knowing nothing was there. I sat down on one of the pool loungers and tried to breathe and control my thoughts. It wasn't true. I was right; I was always right.
I glanced over to the top of the lounger and saw something repulsive sitting there, "What's that?" The bug moved towards me and jumped onto my back. I leaped up from the chair and tried to get it off! I couldn't handle bugs! I thought it was crawling down my back, in my shirt. I kept jumping, not watching where I was going. The shirt had to come off. The bug had to go away.
Before I knew it, the ground was no more, and I was immersed in water. Now the bug wasn't the problem, the water was because I couldn't swim. I screamed while flailing about trying to keep my head above the water. It was doing no good, I was sinking like a rock. I didn't want to die!
Arms gripped my torso and I began moving, to where, I didn't know. I didn't even know who was pulling me. My brain was swimming, and my ears were full of water. I thought that I heard Jan Di's voice telling me to hold on, but I thought that was just my wishful imagination. I closed my eyes and let my imagination take hold. Jan Di wasn't with Ji Hoo; she was rescuing me. Yes, that sounded good.
The world became sharper, and I discovered that I was being dragged out of the pool by none other than Geum Jan Di. She was yelling at me. Me. Not Ji Hoo. I didn't want to open my eyes and her walk away from me again. I wanted her to stay with me. …And I knew just how to get her closer. I allowed my body to go limp and my head to drop to one side, where it rested on the ground. Jan Di turned my head to that it was facing upward.
"Jun Pyo! Wake up, please wake up!" Soft hands slapped my wet cheeks gently. Her hands then began doing compressions on my chest. After a few minutes, she stopped and slapped my cheeks again, saying my name in an urgent, panicked tone. She cared about me.
"Jun Pyo! Come on! Hey! Open your eyes!" She was screaming at me while trying to save my life. "Breathe, Jun Pyo!" I kept my breath very, very light. She then began just pounding my chest. I thought she was fighting the next step. It took every ounce of energy not to smile at what I hoped was about to happen.
I felt her fingers grip my chin and pinch my nose. This was it. One, two, three. She pulled my mouth apart slightly and her lips were on mine. Though I didn't press back, I felt their softness and the sweetness of her breath on them. It was only for an instant because she then moved back and took a breath. Then, she was on my lips again. I felt it coming. The smile and I wanted to see her face; I wanted to kiss her back.
She moved back to my mouth for a third time, and my eyes opened. She moved back but then noticed the very alive me down in front of her. She stopped for a moment and started to move back, but my arm shot up from my side and tried to wrap around her, keeping Jan Di in place and trying to move her forward. I closed my eyes and puckered my lips as I felt her get closer to me. Jan Di was beating my chest again and screaming, but this time, it was out of anger and not trying to save my life. She broke free of my grasp and pulled back staring down at me. Dark, wet strands of hair wrapped around her cheek. Her mouth hung open in a display of utter shock.
"Wh…What?" She stuttered. I cracked a smile and began to sit up. I looked up at her and she punched me in return. Damn that hurt. But it was worth it. The stamp of her lips on mine was well worth it. She stood up and I felt her glare into the back of my head.
"You are really something!" Jan Di leaned down and picked up her heels and stormed off. I watched as she left. The smile still didn't leave my face and I looked up at Yi Jung and Woo Bin who were laughing and wagging their fingers at me. I was sure that they were impressed.
I was on a cloud; my heart was floating, and that night, the smile didn't come off my face. I went to the hotel to grab my things. I didn't want to stay at the hotel and be so far away from poor Jan Di. I thought for a brief second. What would make her happy? Yes, I pulled a prank on her, but I was sure that she enjoyed having her lips on mine. Who wouldn't? People paid good money for these kinds of lips.
I reached for my phone to call her, but then realized that I didn't have her number. I supposed phone calls weren't all that romantic anyways. I snapped my fingers and two of my maids ran to me. "I need a piece of stationary and a pen, please." Their eyes widened slightly, but I couldn't figure out why. The two maids hurried off, and within a few minutes, I had pen and paper in hand. I sat down at the desk and wrote the sweetest, most endearing letter that I could think of:
Admit it. You have feelings for me. You feel blessed that you could have that kind of contact. I was your first kiss. It makes me happy knowing that I could give you something. Why else would you kiss me so many times at the pool? I was alive, dummy. So noticeable what you were doing.
Gu Jun Pyo.
"Please have this delivered to Jan Di." I said after the envelope was sealed. The maid who had brought the stationary and pen bowed, took the letter, and left. I changed into dry clothes and headed to the car. It was well past midnight, but my heart still hadn't stopped beating. I was still under the spell. I had never been happier. I looked up into the dark sky before entering the car and saw the stars twinkling at me from above. I knew that they approved of my move as well.
The ride home was silent. All I could think about was this evening. The scene replayed over and over again in my head. Once home, I proceeded to my bedroom and curled in, smiling into my pillow as I drifted into a dream-filled sleep. The main character: Jan Di.
I woke up the next morning feeling great. My mood hadn't changed, and I was still high as I could be with happiness. Today was a new day. I had plans for this day. In my dreams, I saw a pond with ducks swimming in the water. The sun beat down on the green lawn. Jan Di sat on a blanket on the grass. She looked around. The wind blew her hair in the wind, giving way to her slim neck and soft skin. She wore a yellow sundress and the bright color reflected onto her face, brightening and bringing my focus to her. I began walking towards her, and Jan Di's eyes locked onto mine. A soft smile appeared on her face. As I got closer, the world began to fade and so did she. The dream was over.
Nevertheless, I was inspired by the beautiful sight. I couldn't bring her a lake, but I had the next best thing. I whipped out my phone and called a few people, instructing them to fill the swimming pool at Shin Hwa High with white ducks. It was going to be great! She was going to come to me once again to yell at me. I needed to get to school early. I wanted to see her face when she saw the ducks. I called one of the boys that I could never remember the name of and asked him to record the entire thing while streaming it live into the lounge where we sat. I then called Yi Jung and Woo Bin. I knew that Ji Hoo wouldn't approve. Besides, after last night, I didn't want to see him.
My feet carried me to the bathroom. I washed my face and pulled my red bathrobe over my shoulders and headed down to the sitting room.
Grabbed the newspaper and scanned the stories, smiling as I did so. I read over the stocks and the slight increase in Shin Hwa's holds, and popped my lips together. Suddenly, I sneezed, but went back to reading the paper.
"I'm sorry, sir. I'll get you a new cup. Please forgive me." The maid in front of me suddenly apologized. I looked up from my paper and over to her. Forgive her? For what? "What?" I asked her. Butler Lee spoke over my shoulder, "Have you caught a cold? Shall I call Dr. Kim?"
I laughed and shook my finger at him. "Not at all. I feel great! Get the car ready. I should be getting to school."
Butler Lee looked aghast. "So early in the morning?"
"Students should go to school early. As they say, 'The early bird catches the worm.'" I went back to reading the paper.
"I'll fire the maid right away." Butler Lee commented.
I was confused, "Why's that?"
"Yes?" They weren't getting it.
I stood up from the chair and walked around the back of the chair to Butler Lee and wrapped my arm around his shoulder, "I think you're being too sensitive. Take it easy." Thunder suddenly boomed outside, but it was beautiful. "Ahhh! The weather is great!" I left the room and headed up to get a shower.
I sat in the lounge and laughed as I listened to her scream my name. I watched as she danced in fury, stomping her feet on the floor. She was mad, and it made me laugh so hard. The ducks were brilliant! "When I get my hands on him, he's dead!" She pulled her hands over her swim cap, stomping away from the pool. She mumbled and grumbled some more, but I was amused beyond belief. I was a genius for asking one of the regular boys to film her reaction.
"He asked us to come here early, but he's been like that all day." Yi Jung commented from the tea bar behind me.
"I've never seen him so focused before," Woo Bin said.
"But why does he have to pester the transfer student?" wondered Yi Jung.
"Besides, Jan Di saved his life."
"I guess he's taking her gratitude for granted."
Their conversation was annoying me, "What did you say? This is a way for me to thank her. Or else, I wouldn't be paying any attention to her."
Yi Jung fired back at me, "Most people aren't grateful for this type of attention."
"Be quiet!" Why did they always have to doubt me? "Are you trying to take Ji Hoo's place?"
The conversation changed. "Where the heck is he anyway?
Woo Bin commented, "I wonder if something just happened. He's been depressed ever since the trip."
"It must be a lover's quarrel…. Seo Hyun is out of his league."
Part of me felt bad for him, but I agreed with Yi Jung and Woo Bin. Though Ji Hoo was his best friend, his lifetime crush on Seo Hyun did not make sense. She was a model, one who would eventually take over her parent's law firm. Nevertheless, he had never even told Seo Hyun how he felt. He just followed her like a puppy. "What a dork. If he likes her, he can just be forth coming." Just then, Jan Di found the boy taping her tantrum and started marching…no storming towards him. The camera shook as she screamed, chasing the camera man down the halls. I died with laughter. My stomach hurt by the time I was finished. It was just too funny. I clicked off the TV and just sat in the leather chair, giggling to myself. I swore I heard tsks from Yi Jung and Woo Bin.
A flurry of footsteps came down the stairs to the lounge. I swung my head and saw the camera man panting heavily. "Jun Pyo, sir, I… I tried to lose her…but she followed me here."
"Give me that camera!" An angry Jan Di ran down the stairs and stopped in front of me. I stared at her. She still wore her purple and black swimsuit and swim cap with her goggles resting on top of her head. "You!" She shouted when our eyes met. As if my mind wanted to test her patience, I remembered her initial reaction to the ducks, and a small chuckle escaped my throat before I could stop it. "You think this is funny?" Her eyes narrowed at me dangerously. Woops.
"It's not that. I was just wondering why you were here?" I said casually, finding the floor really interesting.
"Well, as it seems your dog ran back to its owner, I would say that it was you who put the ducks in the pool. Are you crazy? Is anything going through your head? And why did you film it? Was my reaction that big a deal to you? Do you just feel the need to annoy me wherever you go? "
I tilted my head and looked at her inquisitively. I was surprised that she didn't ask the most important question. "Did you like my letter?" She stopped for a moment before her eyes flared even brighter than they had before. I didn't try to hide the smile of satisfaction that swept over my face.
"I am only going to tell you this once." She pointed a finger at me. "Do not ever speak of that again! I tore it up and burned it. There is no record of what happened. "Also, leave me alone. For good." Jan Di turned her back on me and started walking away.
"Don't forget that the entire school watched that. I'm sure that it won't be leaving their minds any time soon." She stopped in her tracks, I could see her shoulders tense for a brief moment, then she squared them and marched back up the stairs.
I turned to the side and saw that the camera guy was still standing there, watching Jan Di leave. "What are you doing? Leave!" I said to him, and he came back to his senses, bowed, gave me the video camera, and scurried off.
My plan worked, though I must admit, it was different than what I had originally envisioned. Nonetheless, she came to see me. Again. Ahh… sweet, sweet, knowledge. I wasn't even sure why I worried about Ji Hoo.
I glanced at my watch and tapped the sapphire-crystal surface; it was time for class.
After school, I went to the pool and found that the ducks were gone from the blue waters. The sun was shining brightly through the skylight above. I may not be able to swim, but I wanted to be in the victory waters. This pool had brought me so many good, exhilarating times that I would never forget.
I pulled a raft from the storage room and set it beside the pool. I had already changed into a t-shirt and swim trunks. I was dressed for a day at the beach. I wrapped colorful tiki beads around my wrists and lowered my sunglasses to cover my eyes. I called my minion boys on my cell phone, "I need you guys at the pool pronto. Oh, and bring me a refreshing drink."
About five minutes later, they were at my side. Drink in hand, I lounged in the yellow raft and asked them to push me into the pool gently.
I stayed that way for an hour or so, remembering all the great memories I had here. The smile on my face remained there the entire duration of my relaxing time. I waited for Jan Di to show up. I wanted her to see me, as well. Instead of
"Hey! Do you know what time it is? You shouldn't be skipping your swimming practice. I'm going to kick you off the team." I heard the clacking of heels, not the slapping of bear feet. I looked up to see the three fan girls. The ones who had messed with Jan Di at the party for Seo Hyun. I had never liked them. Well, I didn't like most people. I pulled down my sun glasses so that I could see them clearly. "What?"
"Gu Jun Pyo, we have something to show you… It is really saddening. Jan Di… she betrayed you." The middle girl, the leader, said solemnly.
"What? How?" I asked. I wanted to see if they had any proof.
She held up a camera, "It's all here. Let us show you, please. I can't stand to see you hurt."
I rolled my eyes at her. Nevertheless, thoughts of what could be on that camera rolled through my mind. "Fine. I'll look. Pull me to the side."
The three girls struggled to do so, but I was too curious to care for their struggles. They interrupted me anyway, so they really deserved it. Once at the side of the pool, I stepped out of the raft, grabbed the camera from the girl, and sat on one of the lounge chairs. The girls sat around me and pointed to the screen.
I saw Ji Hoo and Jan Di. She grabbed his hand, held it tightly in her own, and wrapped some cloth around his finger. He sat on the bench and she knelt in front of him, invading his personal space. As if from some horror movie, snow began to fall as Jan Di carefully tied the bandage. I had never seen Ji Hoo act like this before, and more to the point, I had never known Ji Hoo to betray me like this. Jan Di wasn't his. All this evidence and is was clear that they had something going on, but they couldn't. It was impossible and illogical. Jan Di was… she was… not Ji Hoo's.
Alongside me, the three musketeers or whatever were giggling. The video stopped, and I got up and left. Heels clacked behind me as my followers drew close. My emotions were silent, numb almost. It was just another blow to contend with.
"I think they've been meeting up for a while," said one.
"Ji Hoo isn't so protective of Jan Di for no reason," said another.
"So as time passes, friendships can even be affected because of a girl."
"So now you know…that Jan Di looks innocent, but her actions are those of a snake." The leader gripped my arm and held on tightly. I ignored them. My mind played the video over and over again, and still, I didn't want to believe what I saw. However, she spoke harshly of Jan Di, and that was not going to fly, despite all I saw. Jan Di was his, and his alone, to pick on. Leader had just crossed the line.
"Shut up," I said, turning to her, "If you say one more word, I'm gonna twist your neck." I meant it too. Her voice, her group, everything about them ground against my nerves. I needed to think alone and in silence. She raised her hand up to her throat and looked at me with fear and disbelief in her eyes. I tightened my grip on the camera and threw it to the ground. I walked away.
I returned to class after getting changed and going to class, I sat through hours of rambling, some in Korean, some in English, but frankly, I didn't hear a word. I watched Ji Hoo take notes occasionally and sit there like nothing was wrong. I saw the bandage. Jan Di's handkerchief wrapped securely around his finger. I couldn't help but look down at my own bare fingers. Something hot and violent boiled in my stomach. I closed my eyes and clenched my jaw, but all I could do was think about the video and the fact that for some reason, Jan Di had chosen to share her time with Ji Hoo…. Ji Hoo of all people.
I left the classroom as soon as the bell sounded, and I walked down the sidewalk, not really having a direction, but the cool air seemed to sooth my hot cheeks and wake me up. I looked up for a moment, and Jan Di walked across the side walk. Without thinking, I followed her. She went to the bench… the bench from the video, and I slowed down as she stopped and sighed. Ji Hoo wasn't there. My heart sank. It really was true, all of it was true… she was seeing Ji Hoo. Jan Di turned around and stopped as she saw a pair of shoes in her path. Her eyes moved to meet mine. There was a mixture of emotions within them: disappointment, sadness, tiredness. Too bad I didn't care.
"You're disappointed, since I'm not the one you're hoping to see?" I asked her calmly, though I shared some of her emotions. I had one that she didn't, though. That was anger.
"Gu Jun Pyo, why are you-"
"Why? Am I not allowed to come here? Did you two rent this place out or something?" She tried to move past me, but I wasn't done. I grabbed her arm to try to hold her in place, but she - as was Jan Di's style - tried to pull away, but I was stronger. "Where are you going?"
She narrowed her eyes at me, "Since I have nothing to say to you, I'm going home. Why?"
"I do." I wasn't finished speaking, and she was going to hear it.
"What the heck are you doing?" Jan Di pulled her arm again.
"I have something to say!"
"Let go and talk.."
No. I would do things my way. "Who do you think you are…to fool me, mess with us, the great F4?"
"Who fooled whom?" She pulled her arm again, shouting once for me to let go; this time, I let her break free.
"Was I a joke? Just 'cause I went easy on someone like you? I don't know if you know that… I'm not a person who gives back what I took. I'm dissatisfied with giving back the same." I grabbed her collar, her hair brushing against my thumb. Her eyes were sharp and watched my movements. I needed to give her a clear understanding of what exactly I meant by mine. She had messed with my heart, and there was no getting away with that.
"What are you doing?"
I pulled her close; she tried to pull away, but my grip was tight. I lowered my head to her face and puckered my lips. She whined and turned her head away from mine, and I tried to follow.
"I don't want to!" She cried repeatedly and threw her head to one side, tucking it into her chest, shielding her lips. Those cried woke me up… I suddenly realized that I was doing and loosened my grip slightly and stopped trying to chase her lips. She was breathing heavy and her uniform was slightly wrinkled from where my fingers were. I was not this kind of person. What the hell had I just done? Yet… she didn't kiss me… She screamed and tried to get away….
"You hate me that much?" It was barely a whisper, and granted, what I had tried to do was not the most romantic thing, I needed to know if she understood that she was mine… that she had affected me… that she wasn't Ji Hoo's girl, that she was mine. Geum Jan Di didn't answer, and I had nothing left to say. I walked away. Piece by piece, all that I had said came to me and I reflected on my actions. For the first time in my life, I felt something that was akin to regret. I hadn't meant to hurt her… I hadn't meant to scare her. I just wanted to secure my place next to her. I wanted to guarantee that she was mine. Through the course of it all, I was unsure of the precise moment, but something about Jan Di made me feel something. I could no longer deny the existence of my feelings, but I was unsure of their magnitude. Surely, there was some way to reverse this process. But did I want to? Yes, I resolved that I would try my best to fix my feelings.
I eventually went home. I had made up my mind. I would stay away from Geum Jan Di.
"Young master," Butler Lee's voice brought me from my thoughts, "I wanted to remind you of Min Seo Hyun's birthday party tomorrow evening."
"Ahh, yes. Thank you." I replied and headed off to my room to think some more. It seemed as though that's all I ever did anymore.
The party was quaint. Music played as the guests gathered around the refreshments and various acquaintances. Yi Jung was surrounded by three women. I spoke with Woo Bin about his family's recently acquired assets.
"Yes, my father has been working tirelessly on the new developments, and last week we saw the profits from the work, so we are quite happy."
Yi Jung suddenly appeared, tossing a girl into my view. I turned to look at her, and Jan Di stood there. Her hair was straight and the small, black dress she wore fitted her nicely, but I didn't care. She bowed her head in greeting when she saw Woo Bin, but her smile fell when she saw me.
"What brings you here?" I tried to be calm and relaxed. When I asked the question, her eyes avoided me, but she turned to reply, locking them on my face. "Min Seo Hyun invited me here, why?"
"Did you empty the department store?" Surely, she couldn't have bought that outfit on her own?
"I felt this last time, too," Yi Jung commented with a smile. "Doesn't Geum Jan Di look pretty good when she is dressed up?"
"Right. In here, you're the cutest." Woo Bin commented.
They were trying to wind me up, but my mouth opened before I could stop. "Cute? Can you transform a pumpkin into a watermelon just by drawing lines on it?" Okay… I think I was still a little affected by yesterday, and I didn't think my not feeling anything was going too well. Jan Di blew up at her bangs with clear annoyance, and Woo Bin and Yi Jung gasped at the comment.
"Gu Jun Pyo…" Began Yi Jung.
"Made it." Finished Woo Bin.
At that, there was nothing more to say as Min Seo Hyun was announced. People clapped and all attentions were turned to the two people entering the room. Min Seo Hyun looked elegant as always, and beside her, Ji Hoo stood. The way Ji Hoo looked at Seo Hyun reminded me that he didn't love Jan Di, he loved Seo Hyun. Yet, I felt uneasy because Jan Di didn't care for me; she wanted Ji Hoo all the same.
A pink and white cake rolled into the room, and the candles were lit one by one. Ji Hoo picked up his violin and began playing the happy birthday tune. The crowd began to sing; I didn't sing, but I paid attention trying to remind myself that my thoughts would no longer be occupied by the likes of Jan Di.
Min Seo Hyun began to address the crowd, "Thank you all for coming here to celebrate my 23rd birthday." I noticed the Ji Hoo left the room, and Jan Di's eyes followed him. "I would like to thank my family and friends for their love and care. I also have something else to announce to all of you. That was why I held this huge party, which is not like me."
Yi Jung turned to Woo Bin and me, "Where did that punk Ji Hoo go? They're not gonna announce their engagement, are they?"
"I'm going back to Paris next week. And I won't be returning to Korea. I've already packed and arranged everything and finished my modeling work."
This came as a shock to us all. Woo Bin asked, "What's she talking about?" I smiled and shook my head. My luck was either running high or running out. Ji Hoo would be free again, and Jan Di may become someone he paid attention to. OR. Ji Hoo would go with her. I couldn't help but smiling and shaking my head as I listened to the speech.
"I do not wish to rely on the fruits of my parents' labor. Instead, I would like to start afresh, relying only on my own abilities. I will not be taking over my parents' law firm because I want a life where I am able to experience more in a wider world. I made this choice since it seemed to be difficult to convince someone who has different ideas than me. Everyone… please me happy." Min Seo Hyun bowed her head, picked up her coat, and left the room. There was an air of sadness as she walked away. She was my friend and part of me would be sad to see her go, but I was not completely unfamiliar with this type of thing. New opportunities for the betterment of a family or the self. In a way, Min Seo Hyun was lucky. She was allowed to go forth to be herself. I did not have that luxury. The witch would never allow me to leave her clutches. Our future was decided by her. However, this was not to say that all people would be fond of his decision. Ji Hoo… he would not be happy.
Yi Jung turned to us, "Min Seo Hyun, she's always full of surprises."
"Ji Hoo. Did he know about this the whole time?" Woo Bin asked.
"Now we know the reason for his recent depression." I commented.
"It's impressive, but what's Ji Hoo gonna do?" Yi Jung commented. Jan Di walked away from the group, and the rest of the F4 stood in silence, listening to music. I watched her leave, and I knew that she was going to try and find Ji Hoo, but I didn't follow. I wanted to try and suppress these annoying feelings.
I began wondering around the party, greeting and briefly socializing with the people I knew. I hated small talk, but it was proper in our society. I conversed with various individuals of their families and their own contributions to society. I was treated with respect and smiles greeted me.
Once I finished my rounds, my legs began to pull me in some direction. I just let them follow. The hotel that we stayed at was a maze, but as I made one turn after another, I saw Jan Di close a door. Her eyes filled with tears and her face contorted with frustration. She slowly banged her head against the wall. I looked on curiously, and though I didn't like that she was going to cry, I did take satisfaction in knowing that she saw where she stood with him, and so, I could not remove the smug look of triumph I wore on my face.
"It would be really embarrassing if you passed out here." Her head shot up and she looked at me with a shock. "Such behavior really doesn't suit you. You know that, right?"
She sneered at me, her lip curling as she defensively asked, "Who says I was going to faint?" That was more like Jan Di. My lip couldn't help but tilt upwards in a small smile. She didn't wait for me to reply and began to stomp past me, her heels slamming on the wooden floor. The door opened as her shoulder was parallel to mine. Jan Di swirled around and postured her hands in front of her body, ready to bow. I looked at Ji Hoo and Seo Hyun as they walked out of the room, Seo Hyun's arm was looped through Ji Hoo's.
"Jan Di, you came." Seo Hyun greeted Jan Di. "But why didn't you come in?" I looked down out of the corner of my eye and saw her squirming.
"That's because…I was about to come to greet you and say thank you. I came by just now." I smiled because her excuses were terrible. She was walking away from the door, so how could it be possible that she came just now? Idiot.
Seo Hyun was nice enough not to say anything, though the same thoughts were running through her head. "The 'party was chaotic, wasn't it? We were thinking of going for a quiet drive together. Would you like to come with us?"
"Eh?" Jan Di uttered. She was clearly in a pickle. I knew that; she knew that. To save her or to not save her, that was the question. "No, it's okay.." And I bet she didn't have some excuse as to why not. Perhaps I could seize the moment and take advantage of the situation. She needed a savior.
"We have somewhere else to go." I addressed Ji Hoo and Seo Hyun. Ji Hoo looked at Jan Di then at me as if confused at my wording. Seo Hyun repeated, "'We?'" I nodded and spoke in the affirmative. "The two of us. We were also going to go for a drive." Jan Di smiled and clapped her hands; "Drive! We're going to… Then, goodbye." I could not help but smile at her outburst. There was something about this woman that made me laugh. Her countenance and mannerisms were constantly unexpected but expected at the same time. It was Jan Di's style. One minute she was kicking me in the face; the next, she was agreeing to go on a drive with me. Seo Hyun smiled and I wished them farewell.
"Let's go." Jan Di opened her mouth to address them again, but I wrapped my arm around her and turned her around. I was pleased to see that Ji Hoo looked mortified. As we began to walk away, a thought crossed my mind. I glanced back and saw that Ji Hoo was staring at me. I pulled Jan Di closer and tucked her under my arms. She struggled, but I tightened my grip. She couldn't scream because she needed me. I was a happy camper.
"I've paid my debt," I whispered to her.
"Saving me at the pool."
"You want to repay me for saving your life just like that?"
Apparently she was ungrateful. I didn't need to owe her anything. "Then shall we go back?" Jan Di pulled my arm to stop me. I waited to hear gratitude, but all that came out of her mouth was "Ten percent." I paused for a second before she continued, "Let's say it's even…"
Yeah… I thought not. "Fifty percent."
"Twenty-five percent." She then scuttled off. I watched her go, and a smile came to my face. She knew how to haggle.
"Hey! Do you even know where you are going?" I called to her as she continued to look around corners.
Jan Di turned back to look at me. "I have a strong sense of direction. I know where I am going. Specifically, I am going away from you."
Ouch. That hurt. Okay, maybe the events of yesterday caused me to deserve that one. But her logic was still flawed. I had thought of everything. "We are supposed to go for a drive. What if they see you but not me. It would be easy to say that we changed our mind and would rather spend time together here. Therefore, if you do not want to go on a drive, I know a place we can go and talk." She stared at me for a moment, her eyes narrowing slightly to detect any hidden motives. They weren't hidden; they were to be seen. I wasn't one to hide. "Fine!" She said and marched back to me. I smiled and began to walk.
There was a bar in the base of the hotel, and I knew that it was serene enough to talk but also a place where Seo Hyun and Ji Hoo would never show up. I had called ahead to send all of the customers out. Granted, I hadn't known that Jan Di would be with me, and I wanted the bar to myself, but as it was, fate worked out nicely.
We strolled into the room and the dim lights made the room look elegant. The bar itself was lighted with white light while the glasses stood on red or blue lit platforms. The room was empty, save for the bartenders. We were escorted to the bar by the host. Jan Di took in the room and said in awe, "Wow… this is nice. But why aren't there any customers?"
"I sent them out." I said calmly.
"I rented it out till morning, so do whatever you want." I meant that. Though I had not originally intended it for Jan Di, she could do whatever she pleased. At this moment, I thought she was the only person I could tolerate. Plus, I was sure she needed the space to let her emotions out. I looked around the bar to make sure that there was no one there.
"Do whatever I want, what?"
I looked back at her. "Yell or cry. If you want to hit someone, do you want me to call Mr. Portly to be on standby outside?"
She seemed taken aback, and I thought I saw some of her features soften. "Why would I do that?"
She wasn't getting it. I knew though. I knew it all. I knew what she saw, and I wanted to be there for her. "Didn't you have a heart attack after seeing Ji Hoo and Seo Hyun?" There. I saw it. She was affected, but tried her best to cover it up. She turned her eyes away and looked at the bar as if it offended her. "What? No way. Someone like me can't compete with Min Seo Hyun, right? I'm not pretty, or smart, either. And I come from a poor family."
I couldn't listen to anymore of her shaming, so I jumped right in. "And your figure is mediocre and your character sucks, too." I spoke directly, in my usual arrogant way, but deep down, I was pissed that she could think that about herself, that the situation could make her feel that bad.
"That's right!" she exclaimed. "How could a girl like me dare to be jealous of Min Seo Hyun? I lost to her from the start."
I needed to correct her vision of herself. "Even though there are lots of bad things about you, you're alright." I stopped talking and felt her eyes on me. I turned my head to look at her. Her hair was slightly disheveled, but that was Jan Di wasn't it? Slightly hopeless and peasant-like, but still someone who held potential and made me feel something, even if it was super small. "You have potential." I told her.
She still looked at me with confusion. "Huh?" she muttered.
I sighed and looked away. I knew that I would have to spell it out for her. This was going to be awkward, since I had never done anything like this before and didn't really want to, but it was what she needed. "If Ji Hoo had met you first, instead of Seo Hyun, then he would have liked you, definitely."
I continued. "Your looks, brains, and background may not be much, but you're the first girl I've approved of. Full of potential." I felt my heart slowly beat faster as she looked at me. There was an innocence that I had never seen before, and though I had probably just given her hope to the prospect of Ji Hoo, looking at her then made my heart beat, and I felt something simmer down in their cold depths. She looked at me with curiosity, not hate. Did I really mean what I say? Was I sincere? Why was I saying this stuff? I was sure those questions buzzed around in her head. I cleared my throat and broke eye contact. I suddenly felt uncomfortable and needed to leave. "Hang on, I need to use the restroom." I swung out of the bar stool and left.
I opened the door and went in. I was away from her. I was away from the conversation where I had given her hope that contradicted my own feelings. I didn't know what to do. Looking into her eyes and feeling a peace that I had never felt before was welcome. Yet, the nature of the conversation did not yield to a happily ever after for me (not that I wanted one, to be sure), but I was not able to comprehend what I was doing. Yesterday, I told her that I don't give back what I took, but now, it felt as though I was giving her away. If Seo Hyun was out of the picture, which she soon would be, Ji Hoo would like her. I was convinced that he already did. I sat on the ledge of the sink and fanned my face. My body was hot, as though my blood was on fire. I wanted the situation to be in my favor, yet it was not and could not be. I was left with the fact that if anything were to come of our conversation, it would be that she would feel the hope that she could potentially be Ji Hoo's and not mine. However, I did feel a connection when our eyes met and I didn't want to let that go.
I laughed at the irony of the situation. "Man, what the heck?" I laughed again. "Since when did you care about feelings? Since when did you care about making her happy?" I shook my head and walked out of the bathroom. Perhaps, I could find more information about the status of her feelings with Ji Hoo.
As I approached the bar, I saw that that Jan Di's head bobbed up and down; one of her arms moved in a circle. Something was clearly wrong. "Hey, dry cleaner!" No response. Was she asleep? "Hey! Wake up!" Still no response. I turned to the bar tender. "What's wrong with her?" He looked nervous and gestured to the glass in front of her. "Well, it's because of that…" I picked up the glass and smelled its contents. A strong smell of alcohol penetrated my nostrils. I looked back at the bar tender and asked, "She drank all of it?" He confirmed my suspicions. Well, this was just great. I turned to Jan Di an began poking her. "Hey. Hey. Wake up, woman!"
Her head bobbed, and she looked at me through half hooded eyes. "Woman?" she slurred. "Yeah, I'm a woman. What? Can't commoners be women too?" What the hell was she saying? I laughed at the ridiculous nature of the situation. "I know that my family background, my physical appearance, and my brains are all crap. Even I am aware of it. Even without you pointing that out, I feel it in my bones every day…" I took this opportunity to sit down. I was slightly amused by drunken Jan Di. "…you jerk."
I'm sorry, what? After my heartfelt sentiments, giving her away to my friend, being there for her. "What? Jerk?" I shifted on the bar stool. This woman was crazy.
"No…. I don't have time to waste on things like this. If you only knew how busy I am." She sniffed loudly. Her arms were crossed over her chest. Her words were slurred and her eyes unfocused. "I have to be a loser at an exclusive school where I don't belong, do part-time jobs because of a dad who causes so much trouble. And for tuition, I have to swim so I can get a scholarship. I don't have time to butt into you princes' love lives." Hiccup. Smile. I was amused.
Her head flopped down and her hair shielded her face. "You drunkard." I told her, though I knew that she didn't hear me. "Hey, gangster! Wake up! Hey!"
Jan Di's head shot up and hair still covered one of her eyes, but the other looked at me directly and there was nothing but mischief. She then started laughing. I didn't know what to think, so I kind of just stared at her. "I'm so sad lately. I'm a bit sad. You jerk, Gu Jun Pyo! You're the enemy!" I smiled at her statements. She was a hopeless drunk. Oh how she would regret all that she said in the morning. I then felt a hand against my cheek. She slapped me, each slap slowly getting harder. She laughed and chased my face as I leaned away. After a few slaps, she stopped. "Fine, I'll let this go because I feel like it. Fifty percent." Jan Di held two fingers up to the side of her head and smiled. She was back on this, again. I laughed. This was sad and funny at the same time. "I'm saying that I'll cut in half what you owe to your life saver." She made cutting motions with her hands and I watched on, not really sure what to say, but also unable to take the smile off my face. "Thank you, Gu Jun Pyo for saving me today. I don't really have anything I can do for you. Instead, I will… " I waited for her reply. I didn't really know what to expect, but I listened nonetheless. However, she stopped talking and looked at me as if deciding and preparing herself for what was to come. I felt my brow furrow in confusion and before I knew it, she reached forward and grabbed the lapel of my suit. I kind of just let her because I had never experienced this audacity. She licked her lips. Her red tongue sliding over the surface, and I thought I heard some kind of slurping noise. She wasn't about to do what I thought she was. I stayed still, and my mind battled on what was right and what may be perceived as wrong.
Jan Di was drunk. She was trying to kiss me. I shouldn't kiss her while she is drunk, but my collar is in her clutches. There was nowhere to go. I wanted her to kiss me. I didn't want her to kiss me without feeling anything, but she seemed to feel something. Right? People tell the truth when they are drunk. At the last moment, her head dropped into my lap; her hands still attached to the suit. I laughed at the argument that I was having and at the relief at mot having to make a decision.
Her head shot up once again, but there was an odd look on her face. I looked at her with concern, but then she heaved, and there was vomit all over the front of my suit and on my pants. I was disgusted. I felt things drip and the fabric soak in the wetness. She heaved again, and my body jumped. "Damn!" I screamed and started swatting her away. "Damn!" I said again as I saw the extent of the sick on my suit. I moved off the stool, and Jan Di began to fall forward. Great. I launched forward and caught her before her head hit the stool top. Damn, damn, damn. Jun Pyo, I think this is a good time to think about why you ever liked this girl in the first place. I pulled her higher, and thankfully, her butt remained on the stool. I wrapped my arm around her waist and used my other hand to fish out my cell phone. I dialed Butler Lee. He could be trusted and hopefully know what to do about this sad, sad, situation.
"Hello?" Butler Lee's calm voice answered the phone.
"Butler Lee, please send the car to the hotel that Min Seo Hyun's party was at and prepare the guest bedroom. I have a guest. Also, please lay out some clean clothes."
"Yes, sir. What type of clothes?" He asked. There was no surprise in his voice.
"Ummm.. just some of my pajamas. Those will do. Also! Have the maids draw up a bath. She will need to be scrubbed. Also, please look up the phone number for Geum Jan Di's parents and have the driver call them to let them know that she will be staying at the house tonight. Thank you!" I hung up the phone and realized that I would have to haul her up two flights of stairs to reach the front. Fantastic.
I looked down at the hopeless, passed out mess that I was left to deal with. I narrowed my eyes at her. "You are so going to die when you wake up. You thought it was bad before, then just you wait." The bartender, who was watching the scene, handed me a damp cloth. I wiped Jan Di's mouth and forehead of sweat. I was thoroughly soaked now, and I needed to get home before I vomited myself.
I placed my unoccupied arm under the crook of her legs and carried her out of the bar. Her head was nestled in the crook of my arm and I paused for half a second. She looked peaceful now. Her brow was not furrowed with anger and her eyes did not look at me with hate. She looked innocent and peaceful and vulnerable, and I wanted to protect her.
I wasn't sure what compelled me to do so, but I lowered my mouth and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. Her skin was soft under the brief contact from my mouth, and once again, my heart began beating faster than usual. I took a deep breath and began walking again. Thankfully, she wasn't too heavy.
By the time I reached the top of the stairs, my car was there, ready to take us back to the house. As I stepped into the car, I asked the driver about the call. He said that he has made it and that her parents didn't seem too concerned. Okay, that was less trouble for me. I kept her in my lap for the short ride home. My thumb skimmed her arm in small circles, and more than a few times, I had to look out the window because looking at her was doing strange things to me. I had not forgotten the conversation we had when she was sober. I could not get too attached, but I feared that it was too late for that.
Once inside the house, Butler Lee informed me that everything was prepared. I handed her off to one of the maids. "Be careful with her. If I see a single mark on her skin, you will be fired!" She nodded and wandered off to the bathroom. I went to dispose of the sick encrusted suit and take a shower. A long shower. I felt filthy.
After I was clean and vomit free, I went to check on Jan Di. She was curled in the guest bedroom bed snoring loudly. A smile appeared on my lips, and I looked on her with happiness. For some reason, this girl had gotten under my skin, and I had let her. I didn't care about the feelings of others, but for some weird reason, I cared about this ugly little girl and her feelings. To say that I wish I didn't care would be speaking the plain and irreversible truth, because at the end of the day, I did care. Somewhere along the line, I had begun to care.
I left the room and headed to my own for some needed sleep. It had been an eventful day to say the least. I fell asleep with my mind replaying all of the events of the day. The last thing I thought about was the number of times a smile came to my mouth today. Pleasant dreams greeted me.
I woke up early that morning and walked into Jan Di's room after asking Butler Lee to have my suit ready for exhibition. She was still snoring as loud as she was when I last left her. With newspaper and orange juice in hand, I sat down in the chair and began reading.
About ten minutes later, Jan Di began stretching and moving about. She started sniffing without opening her eyes. Man, she was weird. She yawned and stretched, then in a groggy voice, she said, "I know this is a really expensive room just by smelling it." Impressive.
"You have a really good sense of smell." I replied, not looking at her. I heard her twitch around. She moved back on the bed and gathered the covers to her chest.
"What happened?" She asked, breathing heavy. "Why am I here?"
I was happy reading the Wall Street Journal, so I didn't bother looking at her as I replied. "You're here because I brought you here."
"That's what I'm saying. Why am I here and not at my house?"
"You don't remember?" I wanted to watch her expression as the memories came rushing back. So, I began looking at her again. She tilted her head and looked confused. Okay. Well, this was why I used visuals. I folded the paper and snapped my fingers. Butler Lee and a maid walked into the room. I snapped again, and Butler Lee began his explanation. I went back to reading the paper. "This suit came from Milan two days ago, and was designed by the famous designer Yoshikuchi Kenzi, of Ermenegildo Zegna, as one of his new works for this spring/summer collection. The price is-"
"Hey, stop. There's no reason to shock her." I said. Butler Lee bowed slightly and walked out of the room.
"I'm not exactly in the mood to listen to you brag about your clothes right now, in this kind of situation." She snapped.
"That's what I wore yesterday."
"What's that got to do with me?"
"It was the first time I wore that suit, and my last, thanks to someone." I saw her face twist, and the process began. Memories. Sweet, sweet memories. Her head began to drop into her hands that were pulled up against her chest. I supposed she remembered now, but I should make sure.
"Do you remember now?" She nodded slowly. "Then, in that state, we had to come to my house. Or should we have gone to yours?"
Jan Di stared down at the comforter and mumbled in a soft voice, "Sorry."
"I have already notified your parents. According to the driver, they didn't seem that concerned." I took a sip from my glass of orange juice.
She sighed loudly and said, "I'll leave now. I'm sorry for all the trouble I may have caused you."
There was no need for all this, "Just do what you normally do." Before I could say anymore, Butler Lee walked into the room.
"Young Master," he sounded grave.
"What's the matter?"
"The lady of the house…"
"What about the witch?"
"She has arrived?" What?!
I stood up, shocked. I knew she was coming, but so soon? "Already? Why is she here already?"
He nodded and left the room. I stood still, unable to think. Jan Di was here, and I hated to think what would happen if she found her here.
I looked over to Jan Di, who still sat in the bed looking confused. "Come with me." I reached over the bed and pulled her to her feet. She began to scream at me, but I covered her mouth with my hand. "Shut up," I told her. "You don't want to be caught by the witch." I looked in her in the eyes for confirmation and let her see my own panic. She nodded, and I let go of her mouth, but kept a tight grip on her hand. I sneaked through the halls to my room. I plopped her down on the couch and began pacing, trying to think of a better place for her. Maybe if I sneaked her outback…. Then, she could make a run for it. I grabbed her hand again and headed to the door. As soon as I swung it open, I saw two of my mother's henchmen approaching my door to make sure I didn't run off. Damn. I put a hand on Jan Di's head and shoved her back into my room. I'd need help. I called each of the F4 members. They were the only ones who knew Jan Di and understood the gravity of the situation; plus, they were my best friends.
"It's an emergency!" I said to them.
Ji Hoo replied, "What?"
"The witch showed up here. Jan Di is in my room right now, but I can't get her out."
Yi Jung replied, "What? Jun Pyo, if you get caught, then…"
"You're dead meat," finished Woo Bin.
They all came over immediately. While I waited, I quickly got ready for the day. Jan Di stayed on the couch while I dressed.
Once everyone was gathered in my room, I sat on my chair thinking. I had a girl dressed in my old pajamas in my room. Was there any way of explaining this? I rubbed my temple trying to think, but eventually I could stand the silence no longer. Throughout this, Jan Di had stayed quiet, but none of the other's had come up with anything valuable.
"She finds an unfamiliar girl in her son's room, especially someone with Geum Jan Di's profile. I wonder how she will react. I'm really curious." Yi Jung commented. I continued to pace the room.
"I'll bet $1000 that she'll send Jun Pyo to Alaska tomorrow morning." Woo Bin commented.
"I'll best $3000 that she'll send him to Sejong Antarctic Research Center." Yi Jung countered.
"Rather than that, she'll probably hire a killer, first." Ji Hoo joined in.
"What?! Really? Is she really that scary?" Jan Di asked with wide eyes. Some friends they were…. I needed help and this is what I get.
"Do you remember the day we ran away from 6th grade camp?" Woo Bin asked. I remembered. How could I forget? The day I learned how scary my mom really was.
"We almost died." Yi Jung spoke the truth. "How can I forget?"
"It truly was horrible." I began the story. Jan Di needed to understand the true brevity of this situation. "I remember that we decided to venture out on our own just because we could. We packed up our backpacks and headed out. We made it to one of Woo Bin's family resort houses before they came. We played in the room, pillow fights, laughter, not a care in the world. It was late at night, and we didn't hear or see the SWAT cars appear at our door until it was too late. They called into the room not to move; the police swarmed the room and pointed guns at us. Sixth graders! Who were holding pillows. We moved back to sit on the couch. Red dots were at each of our throats from their laser pointers. We were escorted out of the house with our hands in the air. I remember that the rain was coming down hard that nights, and so, I didn't recognize the car immediately, but I sure as hell remembered the person who came out of it. My mother stepped out, and it was she who had arranged all of it. We were all scared, and she let me have it when I got home, accusing me of planning the run away. We all had guns pointed to our heads, and my mother had planned it all. She is no joke." When I finished, Jan Di had her mouth wide open and fear, rightful fear, was pouring off her.
"Well, what are we going to do about it?" She asked me. "I don't want guns pointed at my head."
Yi Jung chuckled slightly. "I think I might have an idea. Since it is an auction and there will be clothing pieces, Jan Di can model."
"Yo, yo, yo. I think that's brilliant. But… aren't the models already decided?" Woo Bin asked.
"No worries, I've got that covered." Yi Jung walked out of the room and returned shortly with an army of people, ready to prep Jan Di. For once, I thanked him for fraternizing with so many women.
We wasted no time, and Jan Di was speedily made presentable. While she was prepped, I sat in my chair, chewing my fingernails, trying to remain positive. Jan Di came back into my room and sat down. Her yellow dress was beautiful and her skin glowed, but I hardly had time to notice anything else, because though Yi Jung and Woo Bin were showering her with compliments, we still had no idea how exactly this would go down. Jan Di sat down, and she fiddled nervously with her hands while we waited. I heard heels clomp forebodingly on the staircase as a sign of what was to come.
"She's coming." I said simply, and we all tried to look natural. I quickly instructed Jan Di to sit with her legs crossed slightly and to sit with a straight back. I gave her a book to keep on her lap to make her look intelligent. She did so, and I retained my usual, composed posture.
The door opened, and my mother, the witch, strolled in. She gave everyone a hard stare, her eyes finally coming to rest on Jan Di. Under my mother's hard eyes, Jan Di fidgeted, and I began to panic.
"Who is she?" The witch asked me calmly.
Jan Di bowed slightly in her seat and greeted my mother. I couldn't afford to look at her, so I kept my eyes locked on the witch. "She's my guest, so don't worry about it." I spoke calmly, but my heart beat in my chest as I tried to get my mother's attentions off Jan Di.
With a sweet smile, my mother addressed me, "She's in my house, so she's my guest as well. Isn't that right, young lady?" I knew this routine well. I was trained in sweet talk with hidden agendas as well. She could not hide her true self from me. I silently pleaded Jan Di to keep her guard up.
Jan Di opened her mouth, but Ji Hoo quickly walked across the room and put his arm around her. "She's a friend," he said with a smile. My body instantly tensed, but I forced it to relax so that my mother's perceptive eyes didn't pick up on anything.
"Friend?" The witch repeated.
Yi Jung moved closer to Ji Hoo and answered my mother, "Yes, she's our junior at our school. She's a cute sophomore, so we're specifically training her as the F4 mascot. Something like that." I held my breath as I listened to the outrageous excuse that I hoped would work. I knew that she hated the F4; she saw it as a childish group that held no merit in her world. Our antics had built up over the years and the logic variable, so I hoped that this would work.
"Whose daughter are you?" She ignored Yi Jung.
Jan Di stuttered, "I'm the.."
"What does your father do?" She waited for response from Jan Di. Typical of the witch. I tried to think of how to save her.
"My father…" Jan Di continued to stutter.
"Has a business," Ji Hoo finished for her. I looked over to Ji Hoo. Annoyance pulsed through my system. Yes, I acknowledged that it was easier for them to speak, but it didn't help that it was always Ji Hoo.
"Ah. He's in the clothing business. No, I mean, fashion business. It seems pretty famous in the industry." Woo Bin commented.
Jan Di nodded and smiled. My mother seemed content with the answer. She smiled, "That's interesting. So, is there anything that interests you in today's auction?"
"Yes, she has more than an interest. With the new dress from Bella, she's the dark horse who will certainly raise a lot of donations tonight." I tilted my head; I was happy that she seemed to be falling for it, but slightly amused at the prospect of Jan Di being a model.
"I guess your mother has a very discerning eye. What does your mother do?" She stared down Jan Di. At that moment, Mr. Jung came in. "President, it's time for you to greet your guests." Thankfully, the witch dropped her interrogation. She turned to address me, "Jun Pyo, come downstairs and take your place." She then turned her attentions to the other men, "The rest of you, since it's for a good cause, do your part before you leave."
"Yes, ma'am." Yi Jung said. The rest of us nodded once, and with a lasting look at Jan Di, the witch left the room with Mr. Jung. Once the door closed, we all breathed a sigh of relief, and I watched Ji Hoo remove his arm from around Jan Di. Well, at least he had sense enough for that.
"Why did you lie?" Jan Di shouted at us. "How are we going to fix this?" Panic was in her face, and she stared in front of her with concern and fear in her eyes. "We should have told the truth."
Yi Jung answered first, "Then, should we tell the truth that your dad owns a dry cleaners and your mom, a sauna? If we did that, then no one knows what could happen not only to you, but to your family as well."
Woo Bin joined in as well, "It's not a joke when we say that you won't survive once you've been singled out."
Jan Di sighed once and turned her head to me. "It's genetic, huh?" Stupid girl. I was in no mood for jokes, but clearly, she didn't get that.
I excused myself from the room and went downstairs. People were gathered all throughout the bottom floor of the house. I went to the back and scanned the items for auction. One in particular caught my eye. It was a pair of swim goggles. My mind instantly went to the girl upstairs. I picked up the pack and the goggles and looked at them. I smiled a little as I thought about her swimming. I hoped she would enjoy them. "Butler Lee," I called, "please watch the bidding on these. Make sure that you get them. Call in your bid. I will pay for them." He smiled a little and bowed.
I left the room and moved to the auction area. I stood next to the curtain, next to Jan Di. All the guests were gathered and I heard the auctioneer begin. "Yes, this next auction item, once you see it, I bet your eyes will light up! It's coming out now, please look closely. It's swimmer Park Tae Hwan's goggles!"
Jan Di's eyes immediately lit up. I watched her reaction. "Park Tae Hwan's goggles?" She whispered and moved her body to try and get a better look. She was clearly interested in the merchandise. "We're starting at $500." The bid commenced, and I watched all of the people fruitlessly fight, yet drive up the price for these goggles. Woo Bin seemed interested in the goggles. Tough. They were Jan Di's. "Just now, a $10,000 bid has come via telephone. Are there no further bids? If there are none, we will go onto the count. One, two, three!" He slammed the mallet down. "Sold for $10,000!" Jan Di's jaw dropped, and hope surged through my belly. How shocked and happy she would be. I was happy. I wanted to do something for her.
The auction continued. Eventually, it was my turn to showcase a suit. I had done these functions before, and so, I thought it would be best to get it over and done with. My friends waved at me as I walked down the red carpet. My eyes locked with Jan Di, and our eyes held for some time before she broke eye contact. I slowly turned on my heel and stood there as the suit was auctioned off. I wasn't paying attention to how much it sold for. I saw my mother walk down the stairs. I was no longer able to concentrate on the auction. My mother stared at me, then at Jan Di. If she saw Jan Di walk down the red carpet, she would surely know that she was no girl of royal lineage. I didn't think she would actually stay for the auction. Normally, she just greeted the guests and went back to business. I knew it was because of Jan Di's presence that she was here. I didn't know how to protect her, but I would try. Jan Di moved awkwardly, and I wanted to shield her or tell her to straighten her posture to hide the obvious fact that she was the odd one out. She flinched and tried to hide herself under the gaze of my mother.
Ji Hoo walked up to her, "What are you doing? Hurry up. It's your turn." I was both grateful and annoyed with his interference, once again. Damn, this was annoying. Why was it that I could never do anything? He pulled her away, and I wanted to beat him for it. All I could do was stand motionless as another man rescued Jan Di.
Finally, I was done, and I moved to the side. I don't know how much my suit sold for. I didn't really care. Next, Jan Di was supposed to go, and I was looking forward to seeing her. "Yes, the next auction item, it's very dazzling. She emerged from the side of the curtain as though she had just been thrown. Knowing the other members of the F4, I was sure she just had been. For a moment, she stood there awkwardly, not really knowing what to make of the situation. I watched her act very much like Jan Di. She straightened and tried to walk as elegantly as she could. She stumbled on her heel, but recovered. Jan Di looked awkwardly elegant, and I couldn't help but smile. Her skin glowed and the dress fitted her perfectly. Her hair was done up in a bun and her bangs covered her forehead. She lightly held the black fur shawl to her body and smiled at the crowd. I was pleased with the way she was holding herself. She wasn't losing any of her Jan Di way.
The auction ended, and everyone began to disperse. I went to collect my merchandise and change out of the suit. After I had done so, I joined Jan Di who was standing alone in a corner. I think she was hiding from my mother. I didn't blame her. "Let's go," I said to her, and we began walking in silence. When we reached the foyer, she turned to me and said, "I'm going now. Anyway, thanks."
I'm sorry, what was that? I didn't hear her quite loud enough. She thanked me. Time to make her say it louder. "What? I can't hear you."
"I said thank you." Still not loud enough.
"I said thank you!" She screamed at me, again. Jan Di was Jan Di after all.
"Just a plain 'thank you' would've sufficed. For a commoner, you sure have a lot of pride."
"You heard it. I take it back!"
"I'm taking back the thank you!" Oh, how I loved messing with her. My entertainment in this dull world. "What was I thinking? People don't change that easily. I'm leaving."
They didn't? Time to show her. As she turned to leave, I called her back, "Hey Jan Di." She turned around screaming "What?" at me, and I threw the goggles at her. "You… don't drink when I'm not around." There, I told her that I cared about her, that I was changing. I turned and walked away.
The next day at school, I was distracted. My mind was far from the English lesson that we were having. I think we all were distracted. Ji Hoo hadn't shown up to school, and we all knew that Seo Hyun was leaving soon. I saw Ji Hoo in the garden, where he played his violin, and he cried. We didn't approach him. We knew he needed to mourn in peace. I spun the globe in my hand and glanced over at his empty desk. He was still my friend, despite how I did or didn't feel about Jan Di. I hoped, genuinely, that he was okay. I felt that things were slowly getting more and more complicated.
Once again, I find myself apologizing for the delay in my response. The past few months have been extremely hectic, and with the semester starting, I had no time to write this story. I can't say for sure when the next update will be. The chapters keep getting longer and longer. If you all would like me to start breaking the chapters up, please let me know. This is all of Episode 3, but it was considerably longer than Chapter 2. I have added in more off-screen sections to make the story flow and the characters develop more. I will soon begin work on Chapter 4.
Until next chapter,