Chapter 1

Fate Has Its Ways

Scrolling through his iPad, Seung Ri’s tired eyes rake through his schedule for the day which scream at him in bright white with the highlights of the 2 important meetings he has for the day. The latter is by 4 in the evening while the first one is in 2 hours from now and he seriously needs his caffeinated mocha and strawberry bagel to be able to survive the first meeting. Running on 3 hours of sleep, though he is used to that, after a tiring journey from Japan is definitely not the way he wants to attend this morning’s meeting but it’s not like he has a choice regarding those decisions when he holds importance as the General Manager of the bank he is working for and strives hard to live up to their name and expectations.

Groaning as he leans back on the seat of his Maserati Quattroporte and dejectedly flinging his iPad to the side, he glances in frustration at the posh café to his left; the one his assistant went running off to to get the boost Seung Ri desperately needs. Checking his watch once again, he sighs at no sight of his assistant who should have been running and huffing and puffing with his orders in his hands by now. It has been about 20 minutes since he entered the posh-looking café; promising him he would return as soon as possible. Seriously, how long does it actually take for a decently caffeinated mocha and a ready-to-eat strawberry bagel?! It’s not like Seung Ri sent his assistant with a list of specifications!

Deciding not to waste any more time, Seung Ri gets out of his car and locks it as he heads to the café whose insides he cannot see quite clearly due to the glass walls. The cool October breeze ruffles his hair, making him pull at the lapels of his trench coat as he nears the door and pushes it open. The antique vibe of the interior of the café hits him strongly and the strongest scent of the grounding of the finest coffee beans increases his cravings all the more. The people here are settled on high top chairs surrounding tiny circular teak tables; most of them busy on their laptops and their phones while a few others are making conversation with somebody else elite. Seung Ri can instantly recognise the affluence of the people here and he knows most of them are here for business and nothing else.

So why is his bagel and mocha taking the time it is taking and where is his assistant?!

Just then he spots his assistant leaning against the counter, trying to look devastatingly polite and courteous at a raven-haired guy who is sitting atop a high top chair near the counter. Quirking an eyebrow at the sight, he walks up to his assistant who gawks at him as he nears him, slight worry lines etching his forehead.

“I’m sorry, but am I getting my bagel shipped from Germany?”

Crossing his arms across his chest, Seung Ri watches his assistant grin sheepishly and rub his nape as he tries to come up with a satisfying justification.

“Seung Ri-ah, the office is only about 35 minutes from here…” He begins but cuts himself short on catching Seung Ri’s stern gaze.

“So? We’re both running on barely any energy and you’ve been keeping me waiting for about 20 minutes, hyung. What is even taking so long? Got carried away by the ambience, did we? Buying yourself the breakfast special, are we?” Seung Ri spouts off in annoyance at his assistant who gets a little anxious and fidgety where he stands and he is about to call him out for being so weird when a mellow and thin voice addresses him from the side.

“Um, actually, your assistant here came right after me and I had already ordered for a strawberry bagel but we were informed that the one I ordered was the last of the batch they made early this morning and they are about to finish preparing the 2nd batch right about now, I think. I saw how urgent this was for your assistant and I insisted that he could take the last one but he said he wouldn’t mind waiting. I’m sorry if this has caused you any inconvenience.”

Eyes locking with the warmest and most intriguing hazels he has ever seen, Seung Ri stays rooted to his spot as he faces the dark Kohl-rimmed eyes of the raven-haired guy his assistant was talking to. He lets his gaze flit to the shy yet most gorgeous gummy smile he has ever seen on anyone and he surprises himself when he feels immensely drawn to the other who is still smiling at him kindly and bashfully. The man next to him looks so beautiful that Seung Ri begins to get more self-conscious and possibly more aware of the ever-prominent eye-bags he must be sporting. Sighing at the situation and the impeccable timing of him meeting this ethereal being by his side, he offers him a smile of understanding and waves his hand in disagreement at the words of the other.

“Please, don’t apologise. I’m grateful that you offered so please don’t feel obliged. Thank you.” He adds, making the other’s eyes sparkle at his words and grant him another of his breathtaking smiles.

Caught in the moment of staring at the other, Seung Ri’s assistant clears his throat quite knowingly as he attempts to make conversation.

“Let me introduce the both of you. Lee Seung Ri, this is Kwon Ji Yong. Kwon Ji Yong, this is Lee Seung Ri.”

At that, Ji Yong sticks out his hand for a handshake with cheeks tingeing pink when Seung Ri grins at him and gently yet firmly shakes his hand.

“Hi!” They say at the same time, causing the both of them to chuckle and let go of their hands and Ji Yong is still smiling prettily at him. Unable to put words to how he feels and narrowing it down to the immense attractiveness of the other, Seung Ri finds himself making small talk with Ji Yong; his much needed strawberry bagel, caffeinated mocha, and his initial annoyance at his assistant’s tardiness completely slipping out of his mind.

Seung Ri learns that Ji Yong is the owner of the high-end fashion label called PEACEMINUSONE; the brand his sister immensely loves, and, honestly, he was not expecting any less from the guy who is currently wearing a Prussian blue turtleneck sweater with black skinny jeans and Converse High Tops. The very sight of him is alluring and stark all at once and Seung Ri is very appreciative of the view.

He also realises that Ji Yong is older by 2 years and what flatters him the most is how it seems that he easily makes Ji Yong smile and he certainly has been enjoying the slight brushing of their elbows when they gesture and the way Ji Yong’s perfume has been making him feel alive. It’s all freeing and intriguing and new until he gets served with his strawberry bagel and mocha; the sight of which now causes a tiny frown to shadow his face.

Realising it’s his cue to leave so that he can get to his office and prepare for the meeting on time, he turns to his assistant who is already ready with his orders in his hands and is looking at him with knowing eyes that Seung Ri really wishes to avoid.

Glancing at Ji Yong, he watches the other smile at him sweetly and it makes Seung Ri let out a warm chuckle.

“I’m wondering as to why you sat here? Is this your usual spot?” He asks, not really wanting to end their conversation and Ji Yong too seems uncertain on how to end it or just ending it in general.

Playing with the stud on his ear, Ji Yong lets out an amused grin at his question.

“Ah, I sat here because my cousin owns this café and he’s the one baking today so whenever he’s here, I usually sit here and eat.” He explains to which Seung Ri lets out a look of realisation.

Coming to the conclusion that Seung Ri’s feet are stubbornly stuck to the floor, his assistant clears his throat and gives him a pointed stare that is still highly entertained. It’s enough to get Seung Ri drawn back to reality when his assistant throws open hints at him to get his out of the café.

“I don’t think you want your bagel or mocha getting cold now, do you, Seung Ri?” Saying so, he bids his kind goodbye to Ji Yong who sweetly waves him off and heads out of the café.

Subtly glaring at the door, Seung Ri turns to look at Ji Yong who is already watching him intently, a soft smile on his face.

Blinking slowly, Seung Ri sticks out his hand for a handshake which Ji Yong gingerly shakes, his enamouring eyes never leaving his.

“I guess I should leave then. It was nice meeting you, Ji Yong hyung! Good luck on all your ventures!” He sincerely wishes, making Ji Yong’s cheeks tinge pink again.

“I wish you the same too! It was really nice meeting you!” He chimes in and the both of them share final parting smiles before Seung Ri pushes the door open and walks out into the October breeze. Standing on the pathway in front of the café, he breathes out a sigh and tries denying the seeping feeling of regret and a blooming surge that’s demanding him to head back inside the café and ask Ji Yong out on a date or get his number.

Anything.

He knows he is attracted to him and he is no teenager to beat around the bush to say how absolutely refreshing and engaging it felt to just strike up a conversation with him. He could sense that Ji Yong felt the same too.

Shaking his head at his thoughts and feelings as though that will stop him from being more pensive at the moment, he heads to his car and decides to carry on with the rest of his day.

He is too busy for a real relationship anyway and someone like Ji Yong deserves the real deal.

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