"Oh, Hyun Joong," she said breathlessly. "I've never seen a diamond that big before."
Hyun Joong relaxed as he saw the awe on her face. It was one thing to turn down a proposal, quite another to turn away from a flawless four-carat diamond engagement ring. So Min wasn't so very different from the other women he'd dated after all.
He took the ring from its velvety bed and slipped it onto her finger. "A perfect fit. It's an omen." He raised her hand to his lips and kissed her. "So Min, please wear the ring, be my bride." His heart thudded with a strange, unnatural rhythm and he realized he was holding his breath as he waited for her reply.
She held her hand up, allowing the diamond to catch and reflect the candlelight. It sparkled and glowed as if with promise and Hyun Joong felt that promise in his heart. She would say yes. She had to say yes.
His heart plunged to the floor when she shook her head and pulled the ring from her finger. "It's gorgeous. A ring for a princess, but I can't wear this and we aren't getting married."
He watched dully as she placed the ring back into the velvet box. Funny, he was filled with a strange elation that she was different from all the others. But, the elation was tempered with alarm as he thought of living his life with anyone else. He couldn't imagine any other woman as his wife. He wanted and needed So Min.
"I don't want to play games, So Min. Forget I'm a prince, forget about my father's ultimatum." He leaned forward and gazed at her. "Let's spend a week together just as a man and a woman enjoying one another's company. No commitments, no pressures of any kind."
He saw the mulish stubbornness on her features and searched inside himself to find the right words to change her mind. "So Min, in two weeks' time I return to the palace and continue my duties as heir to the throne. The position will bring me tremendous joy, but with that joy comes pressures and enormous responsibilities. I'd like to spend a week, not as a future king, but rather simply as a man. I'd like to spend that time with the woman of my choice and that woman is you."
He saw her indecision and pressed his advantage. "Look, I'm putting the ring away and I won't say another word about marriage." He tucked the velvet box back into his pocket.
"Oh, Hyun Joong, you make it very difficult for a woman to tell you no," she finally said.
"Then don't say no."
"This is probably the most stupid mistake I've ever made in my life," she murmured. "Okay, one more week."
Hyun Joong released a sigh of relief. One more week. Seven days. He had seven days to figure out the way to So Min's heart.
To be continued?
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