19. Train to IncheonBoy Next Door [ Hiatus ]
Double update make sure to read ch. 18.
I’m ambushed as I pass the Park house the next morning, but not by the preferred twin.
“We need to talk.” Shin hye’s arms are crossed, and she’s dressed in pale blue running clothes, the same shade of blue as her eyes. Chanyeol’s eyes. The twins also share the same almost black hair, although hers lies down neat and tidy. But their smiles are night and day. Chanyeol’s looks as if it can’t be helped, as if it can’t possibly be contained, while Shin hye’s looks practiced. No doubt it is. I know how dedicated she is to practice. She’s clearly been waiting for me to come outside before beginning her daily run. To say that I’m unnerved would be a monumental understatement.
“Talk about what?”
“What do you think you’re doing?” I glance around our street.
“Um. Going to school?”
“With my brother. ” Her voice grows even harder. “This stops now. I’m sick of watching you take advantage of him.”
“Don’t play dumb. You know exactly what I’m talking about. He’s always been this total er for you; he’ll do anything you say. So, tell me. Did you break up with your boyfriend last night before arriving home on Chanyeol’s arm?” My face reddens.
“He offered to help me because my glasses broke. I couldn’t see.”
“And all of that flirting and pressing your chest into his arm? Did that also help?” I’m too stunned to reply. “My brother isn’t like you,” she continues.
“He doesn’t have a lot of experience. He’s only had one girlfriend, and it wasn’t for long, and she was barely that. I seriously doubt he’s done anything more than kiss.”
The blush grows deeper. The implication is that I have done more, which is none of her business.
“In other words, my brother is pretty freaking clueless when it comes to girls, and he can’t tell when he’s being had. But I can tell, so I’m telling you to BACK OFF.” My vision is blurring. I still can’t find the words to speak. Shin hye takes a step closer. “The special trips home to see you, the crushing disappointment whenever he discovers you’re out with Minseok. Stop jerking him around.”
“You’re mistaken.” I straighten my spine, bone by bone. “Chanyeol and I are friends. Haven’t you ever heard of friends?” I pause and then shake my head.
“No, I guess not.”
“I have a best friend. And you’re messing with his head.”
“Messing . . . messing with his head? What about you lying to him, two years ago? Telling him that I didn’t want to come to his party?” This time, she’s the one who reddens. “You’re just worried you’re losing him again. Now that he’s gone to college, your life must be so lonely.” I push past her. “It must be hard when your head cheerleader moves on and gets a life.” She grabs my coat to stop me.
“This isn’t about me.”
“It’s always about you.” I shake her off, furious. “But just so you know, your brother has a life, too. He may not be performing for crowds, but he’s just as talented. But you’d never notice it because your entire family is stuck in selfish Shin hye world.”
“Actually.” The word is slow and venomous. “I have two talented brothers. And Chanyeol knows that we care about him.”
“Does he? Are you sure about that?”
“He would say something.” But suddenly she looks unsure.
“He does,” I say through a clenched jaw. “To me, to my family. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to be late for school.”
Shin hye’s accusations hang over my head like black clouds. Taking advantage of him. I’m not doing anything on purpose—I would never intentionally hurt Chanyeol—but I was already aware that I haven’t been doing him any favors. Hearing her point it out was awful, and I cringe every time I remember her mentioning the flirting. More uncomfortable is the knowledge that Chanyeol had a girlfriend. Even if he is inexperienced, knowing he once dated someone shouldn’t make me feel this way. Like my intestines are made of worms. I have Minseok, and Chanyeol should be allowed to have dated someone, too. To be dating someone now.
Oh God. The thought of Chanyeol with a new girlfriend makes me ill. Please, please, please don’t let him get a girlfriend until I become comfortable with this whole friendship thing. And then I feel worse, because jeez, what a selfish wish. Minseok calls me after school to announce another Saturday night. I knew the band had scheduled more shows down there, but the way he neglected to mention it earlier this week makes me paranoid that this is something additional, something booked to escape our brunch. I haven’t seen him since that awful dinner. All I want to do is burrow into his arms and know that everything is still good between us.
He offers to take me out during my dinner break at work. We meet at a crappy Thai diner, and I can’t keep my hands off him. I’m craving closeness. The owner shoots us dirty looks as we make out in the corner table.
“Come to my place after work?” he asks.
“Suho’s picking me up, and I’m still grounded. What about tomorrow, before you leave? I can pretend like I have an early shift?”
“We’re heading out early. There’s a music store in there we want to check out. Don’t make that face, Miso-girl,” he says when a pout slips onto my lips. He laces his fingers through mine.
“I’ll see you in a few days.”
The weekend passes slowly without him. It also passes without Chanyeol. All I see of him is a sign, and not a sign like something in a teacup, but a sign written in black marker and taped to his window:
SHIN HYE"S COMPETITION. SEE YOU NEXT WEEKEND.
Why didn’t he say earlier that he’d be out of town? Did Shin hye tell him about our fight? I want to call him, but I don’t have his number. And I could ask Mirae—I’m sure it’s still saved in her phone—but it’d give the wrong impression for me to go out of my way like that. Shin hye would probably bite me if she found out. So I do homework and stare at his sign instead.
Now it’s Wednesday. It’s still there. And the more I’ve stared at his handwriting—very blocky, very boy—the more I want to prove to myself