| CHAPTER SEVENTEEN |
Baekhyun took a writhed gasp of breath as he focused all his attention to the design he was working on. He had never felt this pressured in such a long time. It felt like college all over again.
Having this arrogant-looking y miss beside him, staring right through the deepest part of his soul while mentally yelling “GET DONE” right in his eardrum—at least that what it made him feel. She wasn’t actually yelling nor saying anything at all. The silence that she was suddenly giving him was making his insides chaotic, as ironic as it sounded in his head. It had been forever since he actually last used his drawing tablet.
He didn't necessarily draw extremely well—like on a professional level—but he had to learn some media design as he took on the many branches of photography and he had always been creative that way.
He always called himself a creative genius because he knew many aspects of creativity. That or he was just naturally cocky and would ing try anything with full confidence and call it art.
Photojournalism, studio and commercial photography were the main focuses of his career.
But he never thought he would have ever had to make a gothic album sample in under twenty-four hours while receiving the most scrutinizing stares from a despicably beautiful woman from Canada called Kim Jiwon, who was seated awkwardly still beside him. Why did he even offer to try and make the layout? Why was he so cocky that day? Why did he think it would make the jacket photoshoot perfect if he were to participate in this part at all?
What the was he thinking?
“What the are you thinking about what?” Jiwon’s intimidating voice made him stop. Did he just say that out loud? Well, at least it wasn’t anything disturbing that he said accidentally.
He didn’t answer. Jiwon tilted his head to the right, trying to catch his gaze but she failed. What happened to him? She really couldn’t figure it out? He was suddenly … distant. This all started that night at the ball. She shouldn’t have leaned in if she knew it would—
Why did she even care?
“Care about what?” Baekhyun then finally spoke. , did she actually say that? She cleared to maintain her composure before grabbing one of the folders she had brought with her. “Anyway.” She flipped through the pages while side-eyeing him. “These are some of the jacket photoshoot and stage outfits me and the coordi’s worked on so far. Obviously, we would have to set up a separate meeting for the fitting and stuff for the seven boys.”
Jiwon honestly didn’t get the gothic theme for seven young men who barely looked legal enough to cross the streets alone—okay, maybe that was an exaggeration on her part, but still. She had seen their individual photos, they really looked way too young to be doing a dark concept.
Welp, not her group, not her company.
“I’ve seen their photos; they all look dumb and young. Do they even know what gothic is? Or like … what would be their inspiration? Their classmate who took their candy during recess?” Baekhyun scoffed making her turn. He thought exactly the same as she did. Somehow, a smile threatened to curl her lips up. Jiwon fought it.
She had to, it was almost a way of survival for her to hold everything in and hide her emotions. She was good at it, really good … until today.
She laughed. Baekhyun stopped working again and looked at her. Her laughter, it was beautiful. She was beautiful. Everything was beautiful. In a perfect world—aka Korean dramas and Anime shows—there would be a light-colored background behind her, flowers and glitters falling only on her spot like confetti.
Baekhyun immediately shook the thought off and looked away.
Jiwon was fast enough to stop laughing quickly when she realized it. “Y-you’ll be shocked at how dark these young people think nowadays. They also go through a tough time. Maybe they’re not the best at handling it yet but they know, I’m sure they’d have an inspiration.” She then argued back, as if she wasn’t just laughing at the man’s opinion, literally one minute ago.
Baekhyun rolled his eyes. “Exactly. And you know what they should be doing? Therapy, not sing and dance their struggles out.” He managed to point out. “The more you entertain the feelings, the more it gets worse.”
Jiwon gave him a wide-mouthed scoff. “Why are you getting so worked up over this? Geez.”
Realizing his sudden anger building up, Baekhyun looked away and sighed heavily. “I was just … in that age too when all things got dark.” He accidentally opened up. Accidentally. Why was it so hard to just keep his mouth shut in front of her? “But instead of therapy, I just worked my off to pay tuition and other bills. Look at me now, all ed up in the head.” , he did it again.
He needed a zipper right on the edge of his lips so that he could have just zip his mouth closed whenever things like this happen. Accidentally.
He suddenly felt a quick yet gentle rub on his back. He froze, his eyes staring widely at his laptop screen. Jiwon just rubbed his back comfortingly, he wasn’t dreaming right? She actually did that? Before he could even give any reaction, Jiwon had stood up while chuckling. “I need to go to the bathroom, where is it?” She asked.
Collecting his thoughts for a moment—Yes, he had to—he managed to lift one arm and point inside. “First door be—beside the kitchen.”
Without saying anything more, Jiwon nodded and stepped in.
She ran like a mad man into the bathroom and locked herself in. “Oh my god. Why did I do that?” She breathed heavily while recalling what she just did moments ago. Her body acted accordingly to her heart and not her mind, for the first time in a long time. She wanted to comfort him, she wanted to rub his back.
And she ing did.
They weren’t friends, at least not that way.
She was confident that he never expected her to do that, nor would he ever ask for her comfort. All he ever wanted from her was , nothing else. He was a mindless playboy who probably never felt any emotion or sympathy towards women. She just made a fool out of herself, what would he think of her now?
That she liked him? That she finally gave in? That she was showing so much vulnerability? That she did that because she cared?
All those things made her chest feel even tighter than it already was. She looked at her watch and realized that it was already five in the late afternoon. They weren’t done yet; she wasn’t going to leave until they were done. But maybe it was time to forget about that initial plan. She wanted to leave. She wanted to stay away from him, as far as possible.
He was getting way too close in there. What was it that he did? What was it that he said? Her chest felt like they were about to burst. She held onto it, her eyes widening at the sensation of her heartbeat against her palm, they were strong; something familiar she had felt before which she later on regretted. She felt betrayed. So betrayed.
She betrayed herself for feeling this way. For feeling anything at all.
Not for him, not for any man.
Knock knock. She flinched from the knock and turned to the door before quickly pressing flush on the toilet, simply to make a noise. She then turned the faucet on and just let it run. Jiwon felt terrified of the feelings she was starting to grow inside. She used to love this. She used to be so open to these sorts of emotions. She used to be that girl who adored … romance, fluttering conversations, butterflies in the stomach.
Romantic comedies, romantic novels, romantic real-life stories from people around her. She loved all of them.
But she didn’t anymore.
At least, she had tried not to.
Once she was satisfied of the length of time she was inside, she opened the door and met eyes with him, Baekhyun. “Everything okay?” He asked, peeking inside the bathroom. She was there for a while, she just realized. Jiwon simply nodded and gestured him to move aside so she could get out. “By the way, my dad ordered food for dinner. Well, I guess you’re staying for dinner seeing as we’re not done yet.” Baekhyun did move aside and just followed behind her as they walked.
Jiwon took in a deep breath before quickly turning around to face him. “Maybe I should just get goi—” She paused when she realized the sudden close proximity between them. Wrong move. Baekhyun had to quickly stop walking when she turned and now their bodies were too close. But both stayed still. Baekhyun looked down to her, his mouth obviously opening and closing for a few times as if attempting to speak. “—get going, because,” Jiwon managed to say a bit more but stopped again when Baekhyun’s hand suddenly bumped against hers.
Bumped? Or did he just try to hold her hand?
The contact was so gentle that it caused goosebumps on the back of her neck.
“May—maybe you should just stay … for dinner. He would—he would insist anyway.” Baekhyun finally managed to say words. Again, their hands touched ever so lightly but this time, he didn’t do it. She did. He felt how her hand lightly brushed against his. Was she trying to hold his hand too? Before he could get into the thought more deeply, a voice interrupted them.
“So fried chicken is okay for dinner, rig—ohh, am I interrupting something?”
Within a flash, both Jiwon and Baekhyun took a few steps back away from each other’s bodies. Baekhyun put a hand in his pocket and covered his mouth with the other. “No, just—” He cleared his throat sharply before brisk walking out to the backyard. Jiwon on the other hand literally ran back into the bathroom again, not knowing where else to go at this point. Old Mr. Byun watched in amusement, his smile widening with every second that passed.
He then followed his son, peeking his head out of the glass door to the backyard. “Yah, son. That was—”
“Stop, ssh. No.” Baekhyun put his hand up to shut his father up. He vigorously shook his head, still lifting his pointer finger up to refrain his old man from saying anything. His father only laughed more. “I was just gunna say, that wasn’t the typical Baekhyun I know. That was so high school, what happened to you?” With that, his father went back in and he could still hear h