~ Love Replacement P2, Vrene ~
For Joohyun, every man is the same, they are just seeking for a momentary fun and excitement and such feelings would not last long. The thing that happened between her and Taehyung, she chose to believe that he was just caught in a brief moment of confusion and his action meant nothing more. Perhaps he wasn’t really sober after all. In her world, she doesn’t deserve love especially for a man so well like Kim Taehyung.
Throughout the day, Joohyun avoided any direct eye contact with Taehyung and pretended nothing happened between them. She busied herself with the non-urgent tasks and even helped her co-workers when she completed her work for the day. Meanwhile, Taehyung hated the fact he had full day meetings awaiting him. He hardly gets to talk to Joohyun other than the time when she passed him urgent documents for approval. From time to time, he would steal glances at his secretary during his meetings in his office, just to check if the girl is doing fine.
“Minho-ssi needed this signed urgently,” Joohyun placed the document before Taehyung whilst checking on his IN tray to retrieved all the signed documents.
Before he could say a word, she took the file wanting to take her leave. “Wait…” he stopped her but was again interrupted by his ringing phone. He gestured for her to wait for him and answered his phone. Seeing how he frowned, she knew the call would be long, she immediately exited his office against his earlier order.
Joohyun rushed into the toilet feeling her hands quivered nervously. Looking up to her own reflection on the mirror, her eyes travelled down to her neck that was covered perfectly. Memories from earlier came gushing down her mind as she touched on the mark which is now covered with foundation.
She looked at the mirror into her weary eyes, “it’s not real…” she reminded herself again.
By the time Taehyung ended his con-call with Jungkook and Jimin, it was almost 7pm. He looked out to his large glass window and realized the sky has darkened. Turning to his secretary workstation, he noticed she’s not at her place anymore. It somehow surprised him as she usually would let him know before leaving the office. Tilting his head backward, he recalling when was the last time he left the office without Joohyun by his side and he’s gotten used with her company.
Feeling exhausted with the full day battle, he decided to leave. Walking passed Joohyun’s workstation, he was curious to why she didn’t keep her laptop in the drawer like she usually does. Brushing off the thoughts, he took out his mobile phone decided to text and check on the girl before stepping into the lift. Just before the lift doors closed, he heard the familiar beeping sound. The sound was soft. He stepped out from the lift and continued messaging Joohyun until his steps stopped at the lady’s toilet which was under maintenance.
“Joohyun, are you in there?” he knocked on the door.
He heard her faint voice. Turning the doorknob hardly, he realized the door was locked. He moved back a few steps before kick opened the door with great strength. His eyes widened upon seeing her lying on the floor, all wet.
“What happened to you?” he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and helped her up but stopped almost immediately when she shouted in pain. “Did you injure your leg?”
Joohyun squeezed on his blazer and from the grimace on her face, Taehyung could tell how much pain she was feeling. Lowering his arm around her waist, he crouched down to check on her ankle. It was swollen in red.
“I’ll bring you to the hospital,” Taeyung carried her in his arms, swiftly.
“No, I can walk by myself,” Joohyun argued, “put me down.”
“Don’t even think about it,” he walked out from the toilet. “What makes you think you can still walk? If you could move normally, you wouldn’t have just sat on that cold marble floor.”
“Mr. Kim…” the on-duty guards were surprised to see them. They held on the lifts to let the president enter the lift.
“Check on the CCTV at the ladies’ toilet and send me a full report by tomorrow morning,” Taehyung said, sternly before signaling the guard to withdraw his hand from holding the lift.
Joohyun sighed seeing his solemn face, “it’s not necessary to do that, I was just clumsy.”
His face darkened upon hearing her excuse, he didn’t say a word until they reached the car basement. Before he closed the passenger car door, Joohyun grabbed hold on his wrist and he finally looked at her.
“I don’t want to go to the hospital,” she said, pleadingly.
He moved her hand and closed the door before walking to the driver seat. “We’re heading back to my place and I don’t want to hear any objection from you,” he pointed at her with a hard glare and the car ignition.
Taehyung brought Joohyun back to his apartment and she dare not to say a word to oppose his decision given his darken face. He was already very annoyed with her choice of not going to the hospital. Placing her on the couch, he rushed into his study room hastily and came out with a bottle of ointment and bandages in hands.
“This might hurt a little but at least it relieves the swell,” he gently put the ointment on the swelling area and massage on her ankle.
Joohyun pressed her lips hard, forming a thin line, suppressing her pain.
He noticed, “why didn’t you call for help? You planned to stay there whole night till the cleaner come to work the next morning? Your phone was with you, wasn’t it?”
She chewed on her lower lip, nervously “I forgot to pay my phone bill and the service got disrupted.”
He huffed before walking away to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Handing the small capsule of medication to Joohyun, he said “muscle relaxant, it helps.”
While putting on the bandage, he asked “what exactly happened?”
“It just when I went into the cubicle, there’s a bucket of water poured on me and I accidentally slipped when I walked out,” she answered with a low voice.”
“This is definitely a trap,” Taehyung frowned and looked up to the timid girl who happened to be staring at him, intently. She turned away instantly when their eyes met.
“Are you avoiding me?”
She shook her head, hesitantly “no…”
He held on her chin and turned her to him, “then look at me,” he looked into her eyes and when she looked away, he knew she was hiding something “you’re avoiding me.”
“I said no,” she raised her voice slightly, agitated.
“Because of this?” he rested his hand on the reddish mark on her fair skin before looking up to her again, “you should know I didn’t do it for nothing, it meant something.”
“It’s getting late, I should leave,” she got up and wanted to leave.
Before she could take any step, Taehyung pulled her back and her body almost crash on his. His arms were around her waist, drawing her closer to him.
“Yes, it’s too late and I’m letting you go home alone.”
In split second, he swept her into his arms and carried her towards the washroom. She held her breath when she noticed how close they were for the second time that nigh.
“Take a warm shower, I’ve put some clean clothing at the counter near the sink” he said before placing her down on the shower area. “Call me when you are done. I’ll inform your housemate that you need to stay in the office tonight for urgent works.” Seeing her worried eyes, he knew what she was thinking “don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
Almost twenty minutes later, she walked out from the washroom with great pain. She held on the wall of the hallway as she walked towards the living room.
“I told you to call me when you are done,” Taehyung spat in gritted teeth as he rushed to helped her. “And why aren’t you wearing the boxer?” he forced himself not to set his eyes on her milky legs. She was particularly drowned in his dress shirt which looked oversized to her.
“The boxer is a little too big for me,” she pursed her lips. Taking a seat on the couch, she crossed her leg, uneasily.
“I’ll put the ointment for you again and then we’ll go to sleep.”
She gulped, “I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“There’s no option for you and I’m not asking you to choose either,” he said while working on her foot. Once he is done, he wasted no time and carried her into her room, ignoring her protests.
“I really can sleep on the couch; I don’t have to disturb you.”
“My bed is huge enough for both of us and how would you disturb me,” he pushed her down on the soft bed, “unless you’re telling me that you snore.”
“NO,” she retorted.
“Then sleep,” he replied and walked towards his side.
When he turned off the lights, Joohyun can’t help but to feel nervous, her heart was drumming inside as it if it would explode anytime soon. It worsened when she felt his arm around her waist, his head resting on her pillow.
“You can push me away if you don’t want this,” he murmured, eyes closed.
He was all ready to feel the disappointment but to his surprise, she did not push him away and instead held on his arm.
“What are we?” she stammered.
“What do you want us to be, your choice.”
The room was filled with silence. Joohyun did not give him an answer nor did he pursue for one. Gradually, he fell in slumber sleep with her in his arms. She could feel his soft breathing on the crook of her neck. Recalling what Taehyung said earlier, for that very second, she wished she could go against her heart and tell him her deepest thought, her little wish for them to be together but when reality hits her hard, she knew things will not be that easy. She knew they don’t belong together; they are both from two different world. Tears escaped her eyes when her past memories came haunting her again.
- 14 years ago -
“STOP!” Yerim grabbed hold on Joohyun’s free hand, pulling her away from the well-built men who too were holding on her left hand, attempting to bring her with them to somewhere. She wasn’t sure what’s their motive but Yerim knew she can’t let them bring Joohyun away.
“Young girl, do you even know the consequences of stopping us?” the leader who was enjoying his tea at the old sofa eyed at Yerim from head to toe. “Or are you interested to take her place?”
“Please, give us a little more time,” Joohyun begged, her lips were quivering, her whole body was trembling in fear. “We will settle the debt.”
“In what way?” the man asked. “Your mother isn’t working, your brother is lying on the bed counting his days, how else can you repay her debt other than selling yourself into the brothel?” he looked up at the young girl who is in her mid-teen.
“The time you given us is not due yet,” Joohyun bit her lower lip, trying her best to calm herself, “we still have 2 days.”
“Very well,” the man got up from his seat, putting the cup of tea on the coffee-table “2 days, you said?” he had one knee down on floor before holding on her chin and stared at her “I’ll give it to you, sweety.” He got up and instructed his men “let’s come back in 2 days’ time.”
“Hobi hyung,” the younger man worried “but Rapmon hyung asked to settle this fast.”
The older man snorted “that it’s just frustrated for not getting laid recently.”
“What if she runs away?” Hueningkai asked.
“Kai, you’re too inexperience.” Hobi chuckled and turned over his shoulder to peeked at the sobbing Joohyun. “Two days won’t make any difference, she’s too helpless to change anything. It’s her fate, Kai.”
After the men left, Yerim helped the older girl up, “let’s get help from the orphanage home.”
Joohyun shook her head, “I was adopted when I was 10, six years passed, do you think they would still help me?”
“They will, unnie. If they don’t, we’ll run away.” Yerim was persistent. “It’s your mother’s debt, why do you need to repay her debt by using your body. It’s ridiculous.”
Tears rolled down her rosy cheeks.
“Unnie, let’s give it a try, eo…” Yerim persuaded.
“As much as I wanted to help, but this is your family matter, Joohyun.” The lady in her mid-fifty got up from her seat and placed her hand on Joohyun’s arm “I’m afraid we can’t render much help to you. We can’t interfere this, Joohyun, you’re adopted by Mrs. Choi already.”
Joohyun nodded her head in despair, tears were pooling in her eyes.
“Sweety, that’s a cunning move from you,” Hobi stood by Joohyun’s room doorway, watching her packing her travel bag.
Joohyun was frightened “how did you…”
“Your mum let me in, of course,” Hobi seated on her small bed. “I didn’t give you 2 days for you to run away, sweety.”
Joohyun knelt on the cold floor, grabbing on Hobi’s leg and pleaded “I beg you, please don’t do this.”
He leaned in and whispered “look at you, a mess. Man hates it when woman cries.” Wiping off her tears, he said “your mum has signed the paper. There’s no way out for you. Didn’t you love your brother very much? You were striving to pay for his medical bills, don’t you?”
“Don’t harm him,” she stuttered.
Hobi chuckled “listen sweety, sacrificing your body will not only settle your mother’s debt but I can guarantee you, your brother’s life can be prolonged as well.” Caressing on her face, he said “trust me, within 6 months you would be our club’s trump card.”<