Giving her no opening, Jongin slid back into his blazer. Instinctively she should be displeased. His constant interruptions into her work, the dozen questions becoming more like an interrogation. None of it passed through her as she went after him.
“There’s a convenience store over there.” Namjoo said when he trotted toward his car. “Restaurants here keep the area in business f.y.i.”
“Good to know.” He didn’t sound impressed. On arrival he said, “I’m going to snack on noodles here. Your studio’s filled with chemical. It’s unhealthy to eat there.”
Scowling she split up from him. Scouring the aisles, but she didn’t want anything. If Jongin had forgotten they’d just eaten an hour ago. Upon finding him at the counter she didn’t think he remembered anything about the sumptuous meal he’d enjoyed earlier.
Grabbing a table in the empty lobby, Jongin helped himself to the microwave while she sat. Jongin’s choice of junk food was more interesting than expected. Banana chips, flamin’ Cheetos, dill pickled Lays chips, nacho cheese Doritos, and Takis. He was a guy of spice and extreme flavor.
Blowing steam off his noodles, Jongin joined her. “You didn’t get anything?”
“I’m worried you might have amnesia,” Namjoo said. “I clearly remember eating chicken for lunch. Do you have a twin by any chance?”
He scoffed then slurped a million strands of curly noodles, which was the most normal of him she’d witnessed. Not an uptight prosecutor dieting, but filling up on cheap snacks and shabby noodles.
Why was he letting her witness this side of him?
In an awkward position, Namjoo darted her gaze away. It felt weird to be watching him eating.
“That was the first time I didn’t enjoy a meal.” Jongin dabbed a napkin against his mouth. “I can tell I wasn’t wanted there.”
“You won’t have to go back.” Namjoo promised.
“Now this,” he nodded a chin toward the table, “is more like a date.”
“I never said it was a date.” She shook her head.
“Asking if my weekend is free and including lunch in the picture insinuates a date.” Jongin told.
“I may be inexperienced, but I know what a date is and what isn’t.” Namjoo stated.
“But you’re engaged.” He pointed out like that should explain all her know-hows.
Jongin’s expression held a moment of intrigue. “I figured from the way they talk about you getting married…”
“To Munho?” A laugh beseeched her. Growing a bit solemn at recounting memories, she stared out the window, “He’s my brother’s friend – was his friend. Although he’s some years older, they hit it off. They met at sports camp when my brother used to play baseball. My father ended up liking him and it spiraled from there.”
Knowingly returning to Jongin, she continued like she was speaking of a generation’s old tale, “There’s nothing to it.”
“He seems willing.” Jongin noted. “About the marriage.”
“You don’t know anything.” Namjoo shut him down.
“Coming from someone with experience,” Jongin said, “and a guy’s intuition, he might be serious.”
Her emotion toned down and somewhere from the back of her head an unease pandered. In spite of that, Namjoo loudly scoffed to thwart the feeling from coming to fruition.
She would never believe it.
In the end, Jongin never got an answer from Namjoo. More than what was going on between her and her family, anything regarding her uncle, or the mystery of what truly happened. Sitting at the edge of the bed staring at the painting of him, he thought about the silence that had incurred.
Namjoo wasn’t talking even if she was the one who’d been smart enough to say aloud, I need help than be miserable alone.
He’d been a bit worried when she’d gone off with Munho who had seemed nothing but upset with her. Namjoo may simply brush off Munho giving no regard to the extent of his innermost feelings, but not forever. The entire time at the table he never lifted a hand to touch his meal. Remaining all so still on the other side of Namjoo while she bantered with her parents and uncle.
What kind of fury a person like that could unleash was unpredictable. Namjoo could end up creating a situation she couldn’t escape at the rate she kept dismissing him.
She was a cunning girl but also impulsive and fearless. Traits that often led to trouble.
He wondered if she was still in the studio. He’d only helped her finish applying primer to the walls. Supposedly they were drying when he left. Said nothing more than, “Call me if you need anything.”
“How nice of you, but I don’t need anything right now.” Had been her goodbye to him.
Jongin didn’t think she would call, but he kept his phone nearby. Because, maybe, things could happen in a nanosecond. A person’s mind always changed.
A knock on his door and it cracked open. “Dinner’s ready.”
Grabbing his cell, he switched the lights off. His family cozily surrounded the table eagerly. Homemade food. Warm. Heartily prepared by his mother. Sometimes his father helped. Maybe tonight he had pitched in. Jongin wasn’t sure, but the servings would be delicious.
Compared to the cold luxury of food prettily set up in Namjoo’s house, this meal was not a top star’s creation. Ingredients from the local mart, items from the fridge mashed together into something wonderful.
He watched his mom nitpick about a stain on her plate. Nag his dad about scrubbing dishes more patiently. Jeonghun and Nagyeom both in good moods, plating each other’s dishes. Then there was Sahyeon on his left hungrily engulfing the food he’d grown up enjoying.
That was his family. What made family.
Jongin subconsciously glanced at his phone. Silent.
“Are you waiting for someone to call?” his father perked up. “You’ve been looking at it.”
“That’s suspicious,” Sahyeon poked at him teasingly. “Maybe he has a girlfriend.”
“Do you?” Nagyeom’s eyes sparked. Always looking forward to the day Jongin ended his singlehood. A topic hot among his family members, because it had been too long since Aeri.
Are you still hung over her? Get over it. She was never good for you. A shrewd girl who got pregnant by your friend. A woman like that would never had lasted in a relationship. She’s unfaithful, can’t be trusted, a rampant girl. I still don’t understand what you ever saw in her. You should have always listened to me from the beginning et cetera et cetera et cetera.
Everything boiled down to nothing but that.
“He was out all day.” Sahyeon repeatedly raised his brows suggestively.
Jongin flushed. “Of course not.”
“Don’t let them fluster you.” Jeon