Chapter 3. Jessica : Dream Comes True?
“I really like the one with tie-waist pants, where is it?” Sketches and fabric samples were scattered all over the surface of my desk. It took me a good while to find that one design I deemed great for the new collection.
“Ah. This one.” I added a few more details into the sketch before showing it to Kang Seulgi, my secretary. “What do you think? Light weight denim? With buttons as accessory?”
“Wonderful, unnie.” She smiled from her seat across the desk. “Should I add this one to the pile too.”
“Yes. Have them ready for the brainstorming session with designer team tomorrow, along with new fabric samples that will arrive today from Italy.”
Seulgi made a note on her phablet before looking up at me. “Friendly reminder. You have a meeting with the board members in Ritz Carlton at four.”
“I know. And I have to attend my mother-in-law's birthday dinner at seven. God help me, Seulgi.”
“God always helps you, Unnie. I never see you trip over a schedule before.” She smiled, started arranging sketches from my desk. “But you might want to consider a full day off, you've been getting paler and thinner since you arrived from Italy.”
“Really?” I checked myself on the floor length mirror mounted on the wall behind my chair. “I'm actually not feeling really well lately. Maybe the jet lag from the long flight reminds.”
“After four weeks? Such a persistent jet lag.” Seulgi made a comment. “Maybe you should get yourself checked or something.”
I glanced at the clock on the wall. “You can help scheduling an appointment with my physician tomorrow. But first, I have a lunch date with my sister. It has been forever since we eat together.”
“Oh. Krystal Unnie is in town?”
“Uh uh. Come join us.” I asked her as I put my phone into my tote bag. “We're having bulgogi at Gae Hwa Oak , your favorite restaurant.”
“I have to pass, Unnie. I have another plan. Sorry.”
“Plan?” I turned around to see Seulgi blushed a little behind her eyeglasses. “You always eat lunch at the office before, Kang Seulgi. Are you having a lunch date too?”
“Unnie... he's just a friend.” Seulgi whined, making me laugh.
“You have no idea how someone who used to be just friend might end up to be your soul mate, Seulgi-yah.” I couldn't help but smile at the thought of Yuri, how we used to be nothing but best friends. “Good luck on your lunch date.”
“Thank you Unnie. Don't forget to eat a lot.”
“I'll try, Seulgi-yah. I'll try.”
“Unnie. You haven't touched your bulgogi yet. Are you not feeling well?” Soojung stared at me from her seat.
“A little. I think I'm going down with a virus from Italy.”
“Your trip was last month. If it was actually a virus you would have contaminated the whole city already.” My sister pouted. “Have you went to see a doctor?”
“I'm planning to. I always feel so tired lately, losing appetite too.”
“You know Unnie, I also felt that way when I was with Jinki.”
I sighed, gulping my drink before finding words again. “I don't want to get my hope up, Soojungie.”
“Unnie...the signs are there. I think you should get yourself checked.”
“I don't think I will survive another negative test.”
“How long have you been late unnie?”
“One full month.” I bit my lower lip. I prayed and prayed for my dream to come true but was too afraid to actually find out because said dream might shatter overnight.
“The sooner you find out, the sooner you can decide on the next step to take, Unnie. Don't stall. If it's a positive, you might want to give yourself and your baby extra care.” Soojung's pout got deeper with concern but then she chuckled, covering with one hand. “Look at me, acting all wise and motherly like an ahjumma.”
“You are an ahjumma now.” I smiled, teasing her. “You are a wife and a mother.”
She laughed, bringing a slice of meat to my mouth with her chopsticks. “Eat. Pregnant or not. You need the extra nutrition. You are too skinny.”
“Arasseo. Ahjumma Jung.” I took it in. Everything tasted like lead to my tongue lately but I swallowed the bulgogi anyway. “Please pray for your Unnie, Soojungie. I want to have a Jinki in my life too.”
“I always do Unnie. Always do. Now eat.”
I pouted at my sister while silently thanking her for the endless support. Another slice of meat entered my mouth and I chewed under Soojung's glare, trying my hardest not to vomit it out.
“Good girl.” She patted my head, laughing.
I laughed too.
The meeting with the board members ended up taking more time than I had expected. When I entered Yuri's parents' house, people had started gathering at the dinning table.
I kissed my mother-in-law's cheek, presenting a birthday gift while wishing her many great years ahead before making a round to greet Yuri's close relatives.
My husband pulled a chair beside him and took my hand as I sat down. He leaned to kiss my cheek and I apologized for being nearly one hour late.
“It's okay.” He whispered so close to my ear. “You missed nothing but Uncle Doni's lame jokes and Aunt Coni's one hour monologue about her new luxurious apartment in Gangnam.”
I chuckled a little, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. Yeri, Yuri's young cousin, took turn to whisper to me, asking me about the latest fashion trend. We got immersed in a chat about frills, laces, and denim while the waitresses started filling the table.
The dinner went well, despite the fact that I only ate a little. I could feel Yuri's eyes on me when I put my spoon down after two bite of the Ojiuhn Dupbop. My stomach felt uncomfortable and I spent the rest of the dining time sipping water.
We moved to the living area where the relatives who had talents put on a performance to entertain everyone. I contributed by singing a song while Yuri played the piano. Gravity, a ballad from Sara Bareilles that I loved so much.
“Great performance, Sooyeonie.” My mother-in-law gave me a light hug as I stepped down from the platform. “You look so thin lately. Does my son even treat you well?”
“He always does, Omonim. I'm just not feeling really well lately.”
“I told you not to go to Italy. Their strange food doesn't suit us.” Kangin, one of Yuri's uncle barged in into the conversation. “You should bring your wife to our place for dinner, Yuri. Our cook makes the best bibimpap. We can talk about my company's fate over dinner too. Now Kwon Oilbank is merged with SK-Energy, I-”
“Come to my office to talk business, Uncle. Tonight is about my mother's birthday.”
I could feel Yuri tensed up beside me so I took his hand in mine and smiled at his uncle. “We'll surely come for the bibimbap uncle. I always find local delicacies more appetizing than foreign food.”
“Local delicacies are the best when it comes to fatten you.” Hara, Kangin's new wife chimed in. “You need to gain weight, Jessica. Aren't you guys trying to conceive? It won't work with a paper thin body like yours.”
It was my turn to get riled up. Yuri hugged my waist, motioning over Kangin's shoulder. “The photographer is ready. Let's take a photo, Mother.”
Yuri led his mother and I to the carpeted stairways where Yeri proposed to take a Kardashian-style picture. The girl even showed us picture from her phone, telling us where and how to pose.
Yuri helped me up the stairs, muttering something about Kangin under his breath. I touched his cheek, smiling. “Don't be such a grumpy boy today.”
“Can't help it. Kangin has been trying to shove his mess of a company my way since early in the evening. And her nosy wife, you have no idea what she had said to mother while you were not here.”
“I don't want to know the details.”
Yuri sighed, placing a hand on my waist, leaning on the railing to listen to Yeri's instruction. “Sorry. How are you, anyway? You didn't finish your dinner.”
“I'm full. The meeting-”
“Don't lie to me.”
There was no way I could battle his stern gaze, so I just leaned onto his chest, wrapping his hands around my waist. “I don't know Yul. My appetite hasn't comeback yet.”
“I'm so getting you checked.”
“I already asked Seulgi to make an appointment.”
“Everybody! Stay in your pose, okay? Mom! Smile! Auntie Kwon too. Great. Now on three , people. On three.” Yeri practically screamed as she also took her position on the stairs.
The photographer counted and I smiled to the camera. More pictures were taken under Yeri's direction. The last one being Yuri and I posed together with his parents.
“I'm so gonna write you off my will, Yeri-yah. You make this old lady climb all these stairways.” My mother-in-law favorite niece as she stepped down with Yuri's help.
I started my step down too, but stopped when a lightheaded feeling suddenly came over.
I took a deep breath and tried to step down again. It was getting blurry though, my view. A pang of dizziness engulfed me and I had to brace the railway to stop from falling.
“Jess!” Yuri ran to my side, holding me up. “What's wrong?”
“Dizzy.” I answered with my eyes closed. “Help me.”
He took me in his strong arms, lifting me up. I heard commotions from below and someone telling Yuri to take me upstairs.
It felt like the earth was moving around as my husband carried me up. When he finally set me down, we were already in our room.
“Hold on, baby.” He rearranged the pillows and tugged the bed cover down while holding me up. “Here, lie down.”
I lay down, hand covering my mouth. It felt like all the food I ate today was trying to come out of my stomach.
Yuri then lifted my feet, divesting me off my designer flats before tucking me in. “Thank God you were wearing flats tonight. You almost fell down the stairs.”
I didn't tell him that I had opted for flats instead of the usual seven inches heels because I was afraid of harming my child in case I was actually pregnant.
He sat on the edge of the bed, caressing the back of my hand. “What's happening, baby? Do we need to call a doctor?”
I didn't get the chance to answer because Yuri's mother had entered the room while holding onto Yeri's arm.
“I already ask the cook to serve soup and hot tea up here.” My mother-in-law came closer to the bed, checking my temperature with the back of her wrinkly hand. “Rest. Spend the night here. No excuse.”
“I'm calling the doctor.” Yuri fished his phone from his jacket's pocket but I reached for his hand, stopping him from making the call.
“No need to. Not yet.”
He looked down at me in confusion. Yeri too. Only my mother-in-law smiled at me knowingly.
“Come Yeri. Help auntie chase the noisy guests away so we can have some tranquility back in this house. Yuri, come bid our guests proper farewell.”
“Mother, may I just skip the pleasantries and stay with Jessica. She needs me.”
“Alright. Take care of your wife.” She patted Yuri's arm before doing the same to me. “Sooyeonnie, come morning, bring your mother-in-law a good news at the breakfast table, yes?”
“Good news?” My husband looked at his mother than at me. “What news? Jess?”
“Omonim... please, don't get your hope up.” I covered my eyes with my hands, almost fell into tears afraid of what was to come. “It might be just a flu or something.”
“Jess.” Yuri gather my hands in his hands, eyes filled with that one question only. “Are you-”
“I don't know Yul. I haven't took the test yet.”
“Let's take the test then.”
“What if it comes out negative again?”
“Then I will still love you.” He kissed my forehead gently. “The test result doesn't matter much, Jess. Your happiness do.”
The tears were falling now, I could not help it. “I love you, Yul.”
“I love you too.”
--- tbc ---
Author's note : Kangin & his wife will (maybe) play significant roles in one of the future chapters, take heed. :)
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