a present.

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Mina held back from bombarding her friend with questions over the short weekend. Still, she couldn’t bring herself up to ask. She slumped back in her chair loudly, making sure to cause enough commotion to catch Haemi’s attention. The girl beside her remained nonchalant about the distraction, which only led Mina to roll her chair over in distress. She needed answers. 


“Oh Haemi,” she began sternly as if her friend had committed an unlawful crime. With her hands clutched onto Haemi’s revolving chair, she turned the bemused editor towards her direction. It felt like an interrogation for a short moment, the faint clicks of her heels hitting the marbled floor exaggerated the confrontation further. 


“What is it?” the younger one gulped nervously.


“Last Friday…not only did you come to work with the same clothes you wore the day prior, but I saw something shocking on your way in,” Mina pursed her lips together, gathering her strength to reveal the scandalous scene she witnessed.


“Your ex-husband drove you to work that day. Tinted windows or not, his Mercedes was hard to miss.”


Haemi’s cheeks reddened involuntarily, it was an easy give away. To think that Mina would lecture her about it was wrong, she did just the opposite. The corner of her lips stretched into a playful smirk while Haemi sat, dumbfounded by her reaction. 


“Are you two back on?” her friend teased, lowering the volume of her voice to conceal their private exchange. Haemi scanned the office anxiously to see if anyone caught on to their conversation before signaling her friend to stop talking. The panic in her eyes was absolutely worthwhile, but Mina decided to hold back since they were in a full office at the moment. Even so, her heart felt somewhat contented by the sight of a very, flustered Haemi. It at least confirmed that the two had mutual feelings for each other. As an author, Sehun was definitely  difficult to work with. But from the few minutes she got to witness on that drunken night, she knew how important Haemi was to him. It seemed as if the two were the only ones oblivious enough to ignore their love for each other, she thought.


“Mina…” her friend’s timid voice intruded her thoughts. Haemi fiddled with her fingers out of habit, she couldn’t make up her mind whether it was appropriate to ask for this one favor. 


Mustering up her courage, she finally asked, “Are you free next week?”


Following Mina’s nod, she proceeded to explain her plan thoroughly. It would be Sehun’s birthday the following week, and with everything that she had learned recently, she wanted to be there for him as much as possible. Precisely, the fact that his father’s death landed on such an important date would no doubt scar Sehun one way or another. She didn’t want his birthday to be stained only by that memory. By choice, she only had Mina to trust. 


“I’m in,” Mina responded hastily, unable to hide her excitement. She took a slight pause, then opening once more as she turned to Haemi, “Let’s make this celebration a bit more thrilling though.”


While Mina’s valiant effort peaked, the fearless mother called out to a rather trustworthy new hire nearby. If the pair of denial lovers weren’t going to take that step forward, then she’ll just have to be that extra push. She held out a finger, motioning it towards her way for the employee to catch on. No longer an intern, newly hired Kai, found his way over to his senior editor as she signaled for him. 


“New hire, we have a team building opportunity for you,” she grinned. Haemi immediately scrambled to stop her friend from going forward with the unplanned sequence, though it seemed as if they have already agreed simultaneously. 



Maybe she trusted her friend a little bit too much; to be reconsidering her stance last minute like this, did not help either. At last, with a little help from Mina’a boiling patience, she finally managed to hit the doorbell once. Sehun, who did not receive a single warning about today’s intrusion, answered the door regardless. He figured it might be an important update on his novel, considering that all three editors decided to show up.


“H-hi,” Haemi stuttered. The speech she practiced in front of a mirror last night vanished the moment she met his eyes. This event was starting to become more of a surprise for her than Sehun himself. 


Catching on to her friend’s tension, Mina decided to step in for a quick rescue. “We’re here to—“ 


“Happy birthday!” Haemi’s bumping adrenaline belatedly coursed through. The sudden outburst had both of her colleagues fighting back their laughter. To save her from an embarrassment, Mina pushed past the author to make herself at home. Luckily, she stopped by the place enough to know her way around. The house owner couldn’t even stop her, his editor’s boldness kept him in check ever since she took over for Haemi. 


“Sorry for trespassing,” she whispered apologetically on her way in, followed by Kai’s loyal support. To be frank, he didn’t even know about this whole birthday plan until they revealed it in the car not so long ago. The girls told him it was to build loyalty towards their contracted author. Strange, but believable, since their boss thrived on building connections. 


“What are you doing here?” Sehun caught his arm midway, stopping the new hire before he could enter. 


“I asked him to come!” Haemi protectively pulled Kai along to avoid the writer’s menacing glare. Sehun scoffed in disbelief when all three of them walked straight in, as if they were invited. The trio sat around his sectional couch, spacing themselves out to take up the large space. It was awkward to say the least. Sehun walked in last, his irritation showed as he waited for them to speak. Haemi suddenly forgot her purpose of coming here in the first place, not under his intimidating gaze. She gulped, tugging on Mina’s shirt for support. 


“This is….” Sehun’s editor began, her head darting back and forth from the cake placed on his table then to her coworkers nearby. She too, was at a loss for words. None of them prepared beforehand. “It’s a company thing…we celebrate our authors’ birthday together…” Mina let out a nervous laughter to cover for her horrible lie. Even Sehun knew it was a lie, but something told him that it was Haemi’s idea. It just so happen that they brought a Tiramisu cake, an exact favorite of his. 


“I don’t celebrate birthdays,

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