Chapter 8. Jessica : Rebound?
“Always remember to take things slow, Jess. One step at a time.” Youngae Unnie gave me a hug, rubbing my back as she slowly let me go. “And in case you find it hard to talk to anybody else, ring me. I'll always be available.
“Thank you, Unnie.” It was hard but I managed to keep my tears at bay. This woman in front of me, who was beautiful inside out, was a psychiatrist recommended by my friend Sooyoung.
Eight weeks ago, Yuri had succeeded in talking me out of my stupor. Together, we had arranged to get me some professional help. And now, I was all better thank to the help of Youngae unnie and the full support from my husband and my family.
No more living in a black hole.
No more feeling helpless.
Youngae unnie's approach had been different from what I had had thought it would be. Instead of talking to her from a cold couch in a closed room, we had spent most of the therapy session in this beautiful zen garden on her backyard instead. Under the sky, among the bamboo trees, while listening to the splashing water from the koi pond, she had managed to lure me out of my depression.
Sometimes Yuri joined the heart to heart session too. We talked a lot, to each other, to Youngae unnie. One of the most important things I had learned from my therapist was how to let go of things that don't mean to be and channel the energy to appreciate what I have.
Yes. I was finally able to let go of my child. The sadness remained but I no longer let the feelings eat me up. I had slowly learned to seek comfort in the presence of my loved ones, in my work, in my daily routines.
“Ready to go?” I felt Yuri's hand on the small of my back. “Thank you for everything, Youngae-ssi.” He bowed to Youngae unnie.
“My pleasure, Yuri-ssi. Bye for now.”
I bowed at the good unnie too, before following my husband to our car.
“I'll miss Youngae Unnie.” I gazed away as the Bugatti Veyron sped up.
“Hey... “ Yuri cupped my face, looking into my eyes for a brief moment before focusing back to the task of driving. “You can still meet her whenever you need to. It's just the routine appointment that ended today.”
I eyed the man beside me, the rare combination of good look and good heart that I had had almost taken for granted. If hadn't been for his love, I would have fallen apart long time ago. I took Yuri's hand in mine, kissing his knuckles before pressing my cheek against his palm.
“I'll miss you.”
“Do you want me to cancel my trip?” He sounded so earnest, so willing to give up everything for me.
“Nope.” I smiled at him, still reeling on the feeling of his warm palm against my skin. “I'll be too busy anyway.”
“I'm sorry I can't be there for the launching.” He braked slowly, focusing on me again. “Don't get overworked, okay?”
“It's okay.” A sigh escaped my lips as I thought of the few days we'd spend apart. “Go get that deal from Qatar and I'll be here happy and healthy when you comeback.”
He smiled, tugging at my hand and gave it a kiss. “Promise?”
“Areum! You stop running and come here now!” Sooyoung yelled at her daughter who was running around the crowded backstage.
“No!” The little girl in diaper just giggled, hugging my foot to hide herself behind me.
“Jess. Tell her to wear the clothes. She can't come out like that. This is a fashion show, not her usual play date.” Sooyoung shoved the spotty tule skirt and fuchsia shirt my way.
“You let your daughter wear nothing for a play date?” I laughed, lifting Areum up and let her perched on my waist.
I had never been in such a hectic backstage before. But I thought it served me right for having so many kids to model for B&E Baby and Kids collection launching. Half of the kids here were professional models but the other half were my friends' children or kid celebrities that I had invited to shake up the runway.
Hyoyeon was on one of the corner, trying to stop her twin girls from messing around with the giant rubber duck that was actually a property for the show. The Song's triplets were busy dancing around themselves in their matching army vest. While Jinki was crying in my mother's arms.
I shook my head in amusement. We had fifteen assistants hired to help around with the kids, but it still sounded and looked pretty much like a kindergarten in sinking Titanic here.
“Areum. My pretty princess.” I kissed Areum's cheek, pointing at the entrance to the runway. “The uncles and aunties out there will take our photo. Don't you want to show your dad the photo later?”
She nodded vigorously.
“Then put on these pretty clothes okay? So you will look pretty in the photo too.”
“Good girl.” I patted Areum's head, handing her & the clothes back to Sooyung who was rolling her eyes at her daughter.
“And you Jinki, what's wrong baby?” I took Jinki from my mother. Snout was creeping out of his nose and I waved at one of the assistants who was currently holding a box of wet tissue.
“No walking. Tied.” The little boy shook his head while I tried to clean his face with the tissue.
“Tied? Do you mean tired?”
He pouted his tiny lips and nodded.
“What if Aunt Jessi carry you? Will you go out with Auntie?”
“Cookies.” His rounded cheek puffed out as he opened his palm and shoved it under my chin.
I laughed again. “Okay. I'll give you cookie but you have to walk the runway with auntie once more. Understand?”
“No walk. Tied.” His little head leaned on my shoulder as he batted his eyelashes at me.”Cookies fwist.”
“Aigoo. Such a skilled negotiator just like your mom huh? Arasseo, we just need to go out there for a moment and then we can have lots of cookies with a tall glass of milk. Deal?”
He nodded, staying still as I made the second attempt on cleaning his face.
“Okay everybody. Final walk!” Kei clapped his hands. “Jessica noona comes here.”
“Smile, every body.” I took my place behind the line of models with Jinki in my arms and Areum in tow.
“Uh oh, he should be walking with Areum before you. Not in your arms.” Kei pointed at my clueless nephew who was busy his thumb. “You look like a baby sitter instead of the designer, noona.”
“Well... I'm a very stylish baby sitter then.” I grimaced . “Come on, let's go.”
“But the program said-”
“It's okay, Kei. We've worked so hard, let's just wrap this up with a bang.”
“Fine. Screw the program.” Kei threw his hands in exasperation. “Sarang have you gave Seola the bouquet yet? Good. Everybody, stay focus but please don't forget to smile! Show the world how cute you can be in your B&E. In three, one two three!”
The music played. The models started the final walk before I came out from behind the curtain. People clapped and cameras flashed as I walked in the middle of the runway with Jinki on my hip and little Areum holding my skirt as she walked by my side.
This was one of my biggest dreams came true, launching a clothing line for kids and babies. In my heart, a wish to walk the runway with my own child bloomed and I hoped it will also come true someday.
“It was so fun. I had never experienced such a chaotic fashion show before but it was totally worth every scream and snout.”
“Glad you enjoyed it.” Yuri's baritone voice seeped through the line and I couldn't even put in words how much I missed him already. “Are you home yet?”
“I'm on the way to my parents' place.” I smiled at my mom who had Jinki sleeping in her arms.
“You'll spend the night there?” Yuri seemed surprised.
“Not just tonight. I'm thinking of taking two days off and spending them with my parents.”
“Will it be okay?” He paused for a moment. “With Jinki around.”
“It's fine.” I motioned for my mother to rest Jinki's head on my lap. The little boy could do with a comfortable sleep instead of just curling up against my mother's chest. “I will be okay.”
I knew that Yuri was worried about my feeling if I spent more time with my nephew. He was afraid that I would feel sad and hurt again. But I was stronger than before.
Of course I missed my baby still. Yes, looking at Jinki sometimes brought sad memories back. But this was me trying to heal myself, one step at a time.
“Alright. See you soon, baby. Take care.” Yuri bid me goodbye.
“See you soon.” I gave him a kiss through the phone before ending the call.
“So,” My mother looked at me while maneuvering Jinki to my lap. “Going home with mom?”
“Yes.” I d Jinki's head gently. “I miss talking to you.”
My mother smiled, reaching a hand to make me rest my head on her shoulder. “I miss talking with my Sooyeon too.” She kissed the top of my head.
“Good morning.” I greeted Seulgi as my feet brought me through the door of my office.
“Unnieee! Have you seen it? Have you seen it?” Seulgi was jumped on her spot excitedly, it was the cutest yet the silliest thing I ever saw from her.
“What?”I set my handbag down on my desk before turning at my giddy secretary. “Who has turned the office upside down while I was on leave?”
“Omoooo,Unnieeee. You haven't seen it, have you?” She huffed. “Didn't you check your instagram at all?”
“I was mostly off the phone for the last two days.” I sat on my chair, reaching for my phone from inside the bag but putting it down again. “Know what? I'll just let you tell me before you self-combust out of excitement.”
“Kim Kardashian is in Korea, Unnie!”
“I know.” My eyebrows rose up as I took a sip from the cup of hot lemon tea Seulgi had served on my desk.
“And she brings her fifth daughter with her, Gaia.”
“Right. Kim's fifth daughter name is Gaia, what else?”
“You are so not fun, Unnie.” Seulgi huffed, shoving her phone my way. “Apparently there was some kind of baby wardrobe mishap on the plane and she ended up buying baby clothes from our store in Incheon.”
“She posted it on her instagram. She said she likes the design. Kim Kardashian likes Blanc & Eclare's Baby & Kids collection. How awesome is that?”
“Pretty awesome.” I nodded, checking the picture on Seulgi's phone. The baby girl indeed looked extra cute in B&E's jungle kids sleeveless blouse with a matching frilled tutu skirt.
“Stop acting so cool, Unnie. It's free publicity at its best. Marketing division already reported a sudden increase in demand. Pre-order are coming like storms. I have the initial report ready on your desk. You should have jumped on your feet too, Unnie.”
Grinning at my upset secretary, I took the report and gave the numbers a quick look. “You know what? Send a personalized gift set to Kim's hotel room, I'll choose what items to send. And while you're at it, make a list of Korean Celebrities' children who are popular on SNS and send them gift set too. We should grab this opportunity fast.”
“That's my boss.” Seulgi stood up and playfully saluted me. “Anything else you need, Unnie?”
“Notice our store in Hongkong, Singapore, and LA too. Ask them to do the same with carefully selected celebrity kids.”
“Consider it done.” Seulgi grinned before dashed to her station, leaving me laughing at her giddiness.
But she came back barely five minutes later, still grinning.
“What?” I looked up from the task of making selection for the gift set.
“A delivery just comes for you, Unnie.” She beamed. “Congratulations.”
“What delivery?” Seulgi didn't wait for me to finish my question, holding the door open to let seven guys in sleek black tuxedos came in. Each of these fine men hold this elegant glass vase full of beautiful flowers that made my office instantly smelled like a garden of blooms.
“What's is this? Who send this?”
Then another man strutted through the door, smiling in his checkered shirt and denim jumper.
“Good morning, Mrs. Kwon” He bowed, tipping his straw hat a little. “I'm Kim Jongkook the owner of Mujigae florist and plants. Your husband has been my best friend, best customer, and also a very considerate share holder of my company since forever. It's my pleasure to deliver these gifts myself.”
One of the men in tuxedo set his vase of pink carnations on my desk.
“Pink carnations, to express Yuri's gratitude towards your presence for the past seven years along with his wish to have you by her side for the rest of his life.”
Another man moved forward and also put his vase of flowers on my desk.
“Blue Iris, to represent how much you has inspired Yuri for greatness.” The florist read from a card in his hand. “Without you,I quote, he'll be nowhere near he is right now. His success and his happiness are all you, Mrs. Kwon.”
“And here we have freshly picked white Hibiscus to match your delicate beauty. Not only because Yuri loves to wake up to your sweet smile in the morning, but also because your kind heart sooth his weary mind at night.”
By the third vase, my wide grin had reached the point where it hurt my face. Yuri and his surprise always had the ability to mentally floor me.
“A vase of yellow tulip because he's so hopelessly in love with you.”
“And for the wish of your lifetime good health, purple yarrow.”
It was hard to hold back tears now. I watched in awe as each man arrange the vase of flowers on my desk.
“To represent eternal fidelity, green gladiolus. Yuri told me to read this rather long message but you can read it on the card yourself.” The florist grinned teasingly. “To sum it up, he's on your feet, Mrs. Kwon. Trample him or lift him up. It's up to you.”
I grinned back, knowing that whatever message Yuri had prepared would surely melt my heart.
“And last, but never least, red roses. The symbol of passionate love Yuri shares with you only.”
“Happy 7th anniversary to you and your husband, Mrs. Kwon. I hope these seven vases of flowers will brighten your day and will forever be the symbol of happiness in your memory.” The florist bowed one last time before leaving with his men and grinning Seulgi in tow, leaving me speechless.
I stared at the row of vases on my desk, feeling awfully in love with the man who had planned the thoughtful gifts. I hadn't even remembered that today was our anniversary.
The ring of my phone broke into my reverie, I picked up the call at the first sight of the caller ID.
“Yul...” The full sentence got caught in my throat, I couldn't find the perfect words to describe my feeling at the moment.
“Happy anniversary, beautiful.” His voice was hoarse and it dawned on me that we had six hours time difference between us.
“Happy anniversary to you too. Why aren't you sleeping?”
“Oh I was sleeping alright. Jongkook Hyung called me to tell me he had sent the flowers. Do you love them?”
“The hunks in tuxedos or the flowers?”
“Eyyyy, you know I don't handle jealousy well.”
I chuckled, fingers idly tracing the soft petals of gladiolus. “You know my heart only belongs to one man. The one and only Kwon Yuri who has sent me these lovely flowers along with romantic messages.”
“There's nothing romantic about googling flower's meaning while in a meeting with the ruling sheikh and his staffs. But I'm glad you find them beautiful.”
“They are beautiful Yul. Just like your love.”
“I'm sorry, babe. I should have waited until our anniversary before leaving. I had forgotten about it until this morning.”
I sighed on my chair, picking one stem of roses from the vase to enjoy the sweet scent. “What makes you think I remember? I guess I was so busy being selfish-”
“We were busy.” He cut my sentence. “That's all and that's that, baby. We'll make it up to each other as soon as I arrive in Korea, yes?”
“Definitely.” I smiled, twirling the rose in my hand. “Now go back to sleep, Yul. Rest well.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I was still busy daydreaming of my husband while spoiling my eyes with the colorful flowers when someone barged into the office.
“Jessica, we need to talk.” I recognized the man as Kangin, Yuri's uncle.
“Excuse me, Sir.” Seulgi followed the man, eyes narrowed in annoyance. “You can just barge in into our CEO's office. Not without making appointment first.”
“It's okay.” Hara, Kangin's wife, also came in. “We're relatives, right? Jessica-ssi?”
I had no idea what they were here for, but being rude and shoo them out of my office wasn't really a good choice either. I nodded at Seulgi, telling her that it was okay to let the uninvited guesses stay. “Please sit down, Kangin-Ssi, Hara-ssi. To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Cut the crap.” Kangin stood in the middle of my office with one hand pointed at me. “Your husband cheated with my wife. I demand some responsibilities from that spoiled brat!”
“My wife is pregnant with your husband's child, Jessica.”
--- tbc ---
Author's note #1 : Kwon Yuri!!! What have you done?
Author's note #2 : I apologize for both the long delay and the rather surprising ending. I hope this update finds you all happy and healthy. Comment please... ^^